This is the first time I have ever written a blog. I was inspired to write one after watching a BBC programme about mental health.
I am many things- a husband, a father, a veteran and a mental health survivor. These things are what give me the sense of self.
Now five years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. It was a life changing diagnosis. Before the Bipolar diagnosis I was a happy go lucky bus driver, doing a job I enjoyed earning a good wage.
Thing is I also knew there was something not quite right with me, known it for a long time. The best analogy I can use to describe my mental health was to liken it to a busted limb. I’ve always had it, I’ve walked on it, run and jumped on it but never realised it was busted until one day something happens and you look up and around and realise: I am busted.
Problem is that I had become very adept at hiding my problems from people. Putting on a façade, a “brave face”, glossed over the cracks. I could use a number of clichés. But I had became very good at hiding thing. Especially from my wife, Sarah.
Now I have always been a bit unusual- One minute happy, very happy maybe too happy and then the next sad, depressed and in a dark place. This rapid cycling would poison me making me angry and I would lash out. Especially at the ones I loved and cared for the most. Sarah, my wife, would burst in to tears and my eldest son, Kieran, who is also autistic, would runaway from me. There was a monster in the house and it was me.
Thing is – I thought this behaviour was “normal”. Well normal for me anyway. It was a case of “I’m alright, nothing wrong with me, it’s everyone else.”
Then one day it all came crashing down. I reached out to someone I had hurt a long time ago in my past. They rejected me, and my apology. And that was the trigger for my breakdown. Let me put it this way- it was that traumatic that it was the last time I physically cried. Unfortunately I hid my break from people, putting on the mask and pretended there was nothing wrong for a long time.
It wasn’t until I was encouraged by Sarah to seek help that I finally put my hands up and visited a doctor.
That was when the real journey began.
I visited the doctor who sent me to a consultant who put me on medication. I remember going to my manager at the bus company to up date him on my progress. I handed him the prescription and all he said was-
“Son, you’re not going to be back anytime soon.”
The medication was horrible. In my opinion was worse than the illness it was supposed to be helping. It took a long time to get the right magic little pill.
The first pill, Seroquel, turned me in to a zombie. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t physically do simple things like pull on my socks. It was debilitating. Sarah would get upset, as it would make me next to useless.
The second pill, citalopram, turned me into an arsehole. Here’s an example- Me and Sarah would be discussing what to give the boys for lunch and because I could not get my way I’d be shouting at Sarah reducing her to tears. Things would cycle like this until I refused to take the medication, as I know it would end my marriage or worse end me.
The third pill, aripiprazole, was just right. Aripiprazole is actually an anti-psychotic used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar and a lesser extent autism. It actually agreed with me and I have been on it ever since. Problem is I can’t drink heavily on it as it amplifies the effect of alcohol and also could lead to liver damage.
The downside to being on so many various and varying medications was that the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency had to be informed of my bipolar and the meds I was taking for it. The result was that they withdrew my car and bus license. Which meant I lost my job at the bus company. Which meant I had to get rid of my car too. I was broken.
What do I do next?
This has been my first blog. If I get a good reaction/response I will continue. Any questions please feel free to ask.