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DAY 31: Education

I'm feeling okay, don't worry - I'm back.

Today, I'm just going to share this as I realise a lot who are reading want some more awareness of Bipolar Disorder itself. Here is an interview I did on The Kaye Adams Programme with Allison from Bipolar Scotland last August.

I do encourage you to listen if you want to know about the illness, I explain an overview of my experiences here.




With actor Adam Deacon speaking out about his struggles with bipolar disorder this week we discuss how people cope with the condition and what sort of impact it can have on your life

Release date:


Credit: BBC Radio Scotland


DAY 30: Blank

I can't write much today. I feel truly awful and I can't focus. I don't want to be negative, you all deserve better.

DAY 29: Defeated

I almost don't want to write because I feel like I've failed myself. I've struggled to find any motivation and have spent most of my day in bed, its a strange notion because despite doing something that people would describe as 'lazy', I have just been lying about and stressing.

I've struggled at university a lot and I have very important deadlines to meet and it's just making me more and more ill. I don't get a great deal of support at university now, so I have not been coping. I feel like I keep asking for help and I don't get any, so now weeks go by and I've not produced any work whatsoever and it makes me feel even worse. I love being productive, I want to work but to be in an atmosphere with no support or understanding is truly making me suffer. I feel at this stage I will be very lucky to complete my degree, I just really don't want to drop out.

How horrible is it when you know you need to get your act together, but you just can't? I know I have things to do, but I just feel so vastly unsupported and ill that I can't get things done like I usually do. I crave the support of my old nurses and I feel worse just swallowing the fact that I was the one who said no to support last year. I had so many nurses and doctors and all I could see at that time was: 'they take up so much of my time, I want freedom' - and now that I have it, and I'm left on my own, I feel like I can't cope. It's sobering thinking that I do need the help of professionals to proceed in my life, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I don't actually know what's best for myself and that I need that constant professional help for the rest of my life.

The psychosis gets worse the more I stress too. Auditory hallucinations have been intense for the past week, when I'm feeling comfortable and content it's very occasional - otherwise it's like I'm having conversations with myself and it's both exhausting and disturbing.

I need help, because the optimism that I can get my - excuse the language - shit together on my own, is not realistic for me at this moment. I feel lost, I feel more negative than usual and I want to give up but giving up is just an exhausting act on it's own, how do I even give up? If my life was a job I would resign, but I just have to persist because there are no other options.

I really need support and I'm doing terribly.

DAY 28: Unsullied

Today I had so many things planned for myself, I put aside my evening as a 'get myself together' day. It didn't necessarily work out that way, I unfortunately ended up being lazy and lying around on my couch whilst eating an unholy amount of food. I was intending on going a shopping trip tomorrow but unfortunately public transport is sparse so I'm going to spend tomorrow 'getting myself together'. I have to tidy everything up and I have to put together a garment for university, so I'm definitely busy.

It's so difficult for me to find motivation still, once I start something I get on well with it - but I can't seem to figure out where to begin. When I wake up tomorrow morning I am going to start fresh: with a new and exhilarating To-Do list. I have a whiteboard in my room where I used to write my daily routine up but over time I stopped sticking to it, so I'm going to start fresh tomorrow. I am quite a visual person so I think my motivation will come if I just bin all my possessions and have a clean slate in my room, which will better help communicate my to-do lists.

In managing my illness I feel I have to do so many tedious things like 'to-do' lists, but it really does help me keep things in order. I hate university because my university just springs things on me and it makes my life really difficult, so once I get into university on Monday I am going to clear out all my studio space. I'll let you all know the success of my deep clean mentality and if I feel any better, but usually a clean environment does make me feel a little more productive at least. These are just little things, but they will better my life and they will definitely boost my motivation.

Having a plan, being in an organised environment and keeping things fresh keeps me stimulated, and when I am feeling unwell it's definitely what I need to push me on and accomplish what I need to.

DAY 27: Dignity

I spent today out with a bunch of female friends, enjoying some much needed ‘girl chat’ and it has definitely paid off. I feel so much better because of it! Afterwards we visited a friend, someone who – relevant to yesterday’s conversation – found out I was bipolar at the weekend. I would say I get on well with them, and I was pleasantly surprised and grateful to find that I wasn’t actually treated differently and that things felt the same. It’s nice not to have that awkward conversation where I have to detail events or discuss myself. I also wasn’t made to feel like I owed others an apology for the anxiety I had. It was a massive relief and was the signalling point that actually, things will get better.

I dwell a bit on how things could have went differently instead of feeling ashamed. Whilst I felt alone in these emotions, over the course of the week more and more people have voiced their support for me – thinking back to my anxiety attack at a party on Saturday, so many people that saw me quite distressed are actually coming forward to me and saying that they understand and support me. I felt like everyone hated me earlier this week, but now I realise it is a minority because so many people can see past the one day I was unwell and in fact, some people have become closer to me as a result of that vulnerability. Outside of what friends of friends think or families, those of you reading have been incredible. I didn’t realise how many people have had a similar situation to me and it has really made me feel part of a community as we all come to terms with our struggles together.

So now, after what can only be explained as a week from hell that even boasted the ‘worst day of my life’ – I am much less critical of myself. Taking away the context of mental health, accidents happen and there will be things that people will condemn you for but you can’t condemn yourself. I am my biggest critic so I can truly torture myself over other people’s opinions. I realise at the very least I have to let go of what I can’t control and regardless of what stands against me, I have to strive to progress with love and kindness even when it is difficult. 

I’m finally giving up on torturing myself because of my mental illness, it’s been a heavy week but I will never be able to please everyone. As long as I go forward being thoughtful, understanding and good-natured to others, there is nothing to feel ashamed of.

DAY 26: Label

Today I went for a calm lunch, perhaps what I would name as a ‘relief lunch’. An hour or two to just take my mind off all the things attacking me. I spoke to my sisters today about what has happened over the course of the week and it was immediately met with anger. I’m not the kind of person who meets things with aggression, so I just feel a looming upset from the repercussions of things. My family however are very protective and they can’t seem to get their heads around why life can be very unfair without a massive amount of reasoning.

It’s one of those situations where I feel hurt, I feel offended and I feel like I don’t actually like myself at all – and that I have no entitlement to feel sorry for myself, even though it feels like all my family do. It doesn’t sit with me well knowing that an unfortunate situation can make people view me as one of two things: a victim or a villain. When quite frankly, in regards to my mental health I shouldn’t be seen as either. I edge closer to a victim as I can’t control what happens to me but letting a diagnosis victimise me contradicts the idea of even battling the illness.

To be left feeling like not telling people my diagnosis too – is me refraining information from others – makes me feel very vulnerable. I have been very open with mental illness; I mean this blog alone dates back two years! I think when you discuss your disability to someone, it can allow someone to best support you but in opposite of that: people may treat you differently. I’ve learned now that stigma is all too real, and until this moment I really don’t think I’ve faced that much directed stigma – I’ve been very lucky in that the people who know me and know I’m unwell are supportive and can differentiate an episode from my character. With mental illness, just telling people you are ill isn’t enough. Knowing that not having an open communication about my illness with some people made them angry and shocked – makes me feel like my illness SHOULD be common knowledge, as if I am some kind of liability and that people need warnings. When I look back at so long where I don’t discuss my mental illness directly with people, maybe the shock lies in that – surprise, I’m a normal human being! The fact that my mental illness 9 times out of 10 isn’t identifiable tells me that my bipolar disorder shouldn’t be massively unsettling to others.

My university and employers all know about my illness. I’m also not ashamed of my illness so if people discuss it, it’s completely fine with me. I just don’t think it should be offensive if people don’t know about my disability. I would not take offense if someone never told me about his or her pancreatitis or diabetes. I understand that knowing someone’s struggle can make people support you – but half the battle, when you have something that you have to live with for the rest of your life, is knowing that people can and will look at you differently for it.

When I was 19 I asked my psychiatrist: ‘Can I stop my medication now? I think I’m cured, I feel okay’. That was the moment I found out that I had a lifelong disability. He told me ‘Bipolar Affective Disorder is treated like they treat diabetes, you may not always have the signs of it but you should continue treatments – just because you don’t have low blood/sugar doesn’t mean you’re no longer diabetic. Just because you feel good doesn’t mean you’re not Bipolar’.

I’m stuck with my disability for the rest of my life, so I will always try and find peace with my diagnosis – because it will not go away. If people could find peace with mental illness, that takes away half the battle. I’ll constantly be on the question, with every person that I meet, should I tell them about my Bipolar? Perhaps if people understood mental illness as a whole, we wouldn’t need to view disclosing illness as a ‘warning’, the mentally ill are not complete liabilities. I look at these questions when deciding when to discuss with others: Is it relevant? What benefit is there to disclosing my illness? Will I be stigmatised?

As ever, if anyone wants to talk or discuss you can find me on twitter @aymieblack. I hope you’re all doing well.

DAY 25: Family

I am my mother’s 5th and youngest child. My dad has sons from his previous marriage totalling me with a large 7 siblings. My dad grew up in a children’s home after my grandmother died of breast cancer. He has 3 sisters and 2 brothers. I never knew what it was like to have grandparents as they had all passed away before I was born in 1995. My mother’s sisters had a lot of children so I’ve never felt short of family.

From my dad’s side, depression and alcoholism has been a running theme. From my mum’s side, depression and heart disease runs through. My siblings have had diagnosed mental health issues, bouts of depression and anxiety to Schizophrenia. It is common knowledge that Bipolar Disorder is genetic, from my own guess I would pin that onto my dad’s side where some have suffered addiction, which sometimes points to Bipolar Disorder – but that’s just my guess. I’ve grown up being around people with mental health issues and I never really realised it, I guess nobody spoke about it openly and we just assumed it was ‘just one of those things’. It’s funny that in my family we can all review anti depressants together: ‘Oh no, that one – migraines!’ or ‘have you tried this one?’ are phrases I’ve heard. I used to think us all assuming it was ‘just one of those things’ was a bit ignorant to our suffering, but now I am grateful to realise that my family have been treating mental illness as an illness. There is no ‘that’s not real’ or ‘it doesn’t explain this’ – we all have compassion and understanding because it has ripped through my family through unlucky genetics.

Before I realised mental illness was genetic, when I was a teenager, I just assumed a lot of us felt sad because we weren’t afforded much opportunity in life. We all have so many interesting stories to tell, and trauma hits my family like no other. In my household, we grew up with no money. I didn’t know if I’d get to go on school trips because I couldn’t afford the bus fare, but my dad worked as a farm labourer and he always tried his best so I wouldn’t go without. I have a thousand unhappy stories that people can’t relate to, and my siblings do too. To say we were unfortunate is an understatement, but now I look at it all and I realise we are all so fortunate to have one another and to have such a large diverse group that we can actually relate to. There are often periods of times where we don’t talk much, I live alone with my dad and all my siblings have their own lives and children – but the power we have as a family is our ability to understand and relate because of our struggles.

I find things like families kissing each other or saying they love each other peculiar – because we don’t have it, it was never tradition for us to show love in that way. We don’t go for family meals, because it seems like a middle class privilege that will never apply to my family. The way families normally bond and love each other just doesn’t apply to mine, but it isn’t until now that I notice our family has such a different way of showing compassion and love and it’s more important than ever. We are all bonded by experience and we show our love by supporting one another through our challenging times.

I detail my family as wacky, peculiar and vast. My auntie died in October, and when we all got together: all you could feel was love. We drop each other messages with nothing but support, unconditional support. My family appreciates acceptance like no other and it’s bred into me that I am no better than anyone – and significantly, nobody is better than me just because I have an illness.

I have 6 nieces, 2 nephews and a great nephew. I think of myself in relation to: what kind of role model am I? They relate to me on a scale because I am the youngest auntie at the age of 21 (and, the coolest, not that I’m biased). I feel fear in admitting my illnesses and my struggles because I don’t want them to feel I’m not okay, but just today I discussed mental health and my sweet younger nieces, who are still at school, reached out with messages of encouragement. Those little girls have maturity beyond belief, and that acceptance, compassion and resilience bred through my family has definitely reached them too. I am so proud to see girls grow up and be so clever and wise beyond their years, so loving of everyone – a practice even adults struggle with.

So I sign off this post like this: consider talking to your family. My family are not wealthy, we lived in a horrible area, we had personal problems, social problems and health problems – but our struggles unite us and the ability to relate creates unconditional love and appreciation. Bipolar might run through my family, mental illness runs through my family – I would even say bad luck! However, courage, compassion and acceptance are our best genetic traits so now when I see my sweet nieces, innocent with no judgment, I know that we’re all going to be okay.

To my family: I love you all, unconditionally.