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My Mental Health Story

This was posted: Saturday 25th April on my first blog. It was the first time I opened up and told everyone, including my family that I had Bipolar Disorder.

"Time to Open Up"

Hello - if you do not know who I am properly, my name is Aymie and I am a 19 year old Student from Scotland. You may know me from social media and that's why you're here, or you may know me personally and interact with me in different situations.

For months I've intended on opening up on something I've been harbouring but because of lack of information and fear - I've kept it to myself, only recently opening up and telling friends in the past few months. The idea of this becoming general information and possibly my identity is crazy, but I've always encouraged those around me to be brave and honest with who they are and their story. I've been ill for years and now that I have finally managed to tell those dearest to me, I feel I have to just come out and say it.

If this was something that only affected myself, I would keep it to myself for the rest of my life but this is something that explains my being, my attitude and the person I am with you. For that, I owe people an explanation. To anyone who may declare this piece 'attention seeking' or anything of the sort, I'm doing this to explain something about myself that can affect how I am with others and I hope by opening up others can feel they can too.

I haven't been living properly for the past few years and I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 1, with psychotic element. I've had a while to come to terms with things and accept the way I am and my illness, and I feel more ready to come clean.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness which is lifelong and often genetic. I have an imbalance in the brain which affects my mood - which means my behaviour is peculiar in many respects. How long have I had symptoms? I'm not sure, it can date back to possibly when I was 14 but it had went unnoticed. When I was fourteen I had an eating disorder, and my hair had fallen out. I have a form of alopecia that was basically inflicted through stress - these were the first underlying problems that insinuated there was a bigger issue. When I was younger, I was really insecure and had created ideas that everyone was against me - I would break up with boyfriends then act ridiculously in a bid to 'get over' them. I caused fights, I got involved in fights, when things went against me - even if I had been innocent - I would react in the most absurd ways, often ending in an inevitable depression.

Bipolar Disorder (Type 1) has various elements, but there are the main two - Depression and Mania. When I had one of these extremes, I would not notice. When I was depressed, it would be for months and months. I was mistakenly diagnosed last year as having Depression and Anxiety Disorder after complaining about how I deal with stress to my GP because my hair was falling out and my skin went cystic. I realised much of my teenage life I had indeed, been 'depressed'. In depression, I am inconsolable. I may present perfectly normally but I avoid university often vowing to leave my course, I cry constantly for no reason and I have created plans for suicide all the way up to the date/time and leaving letters and plans for those I was leaving behind. I also had anxiety, most people who have bipolar disorder experience anxiety - I avoided situations, but the most difficult thing is how I built everything up to be so terrifying. I was scared of my course mates so I would get really upset if I had to be in the workshop with no technician. I would have panic attacks several times a day. I started having hallucinations after a few months into my depression, this was very hard to deal with. I heard my mother screaming my name every few minutes, a woman stood at the end of my bed every night when I tried to go to sleep and the scariest being the times I ran home because these people were following me. I was given various different anti-depressants but because I was bipolar, I reacted badly to them and it sent me in another direction entirely.

My Bipolar diagnosis came after I spiralled from being suicidal to becoming euphorically happy in a few days, this is mania. In mania I act recklessly. I went out to drink - even though I would never drink before - and I would challenge myself on how many cocktails I could finish. I went out to spend money on essentially everything blowing £1000 of my savings in the past 3 months, I would buy lipsticks convinced I needed every single shade. When I was younger, states where I was manic were evident in how angry I would get, my addiction to dying my hair various shades and times where I would hear music in silent rooms. Mania was considered dangerous to myself when things turned delusional and violent. I was so high I stopped caring about everything, if someone was even a little rude to me - you can bet I deleted them off all my social media and flipped my middle finger at them a few times. I became short tempered and had quite a few yelling matches with people over essentially nothing. My psychosis meant I had out of touch experiences that weren't happening, these of which I am currently experiencing. The ground often glows different colours, almost like a dance floor. I also hear opera like music when I walk in the street, I feel like I'm in a video game it's like my life is just too awesome - it's like having a soundtrack of some sort. When I am in full blown mania, the scariest delusion I have ever had thinking back was my 'god delusion'. I have been an atheist since I was a young teenager and don't believe in God, but I heard God speak to me - telling me that I had to prepare myself. I knew what this meant, I had to physically train and since I couldn't leave my house that day - I ran frantically up and down all the stairs in my house.

I've explained just a little part of what it is like, I'll briefly explain my treatment. I am receiving further physical testing before I'm put on lithium, the appropriate drug to sustain stable moods. It's highly toxic so for the rest of my life I need to monitor my diet, ensure I am not dehydrated and drink/eat essentially the same things so it doesn't adjust my blood levels too much. I regularly see a nurse for bloods, my GP for overall reviews, a mental health nurse for CBT, a mental health nurse as a 'personal mentor', my psychiatrist to ensure my wellbeing and oversee adjustments, university support mentors and now I attend a bipolar support group. It's terrifying, the whole thing is scary because I can't control my mind but that's my life now I guess.

Apologies for the huge explanation, but here is the part that I feel is most important. For those of you that don't like me and have questioned my actions before you are probably scoffing to yourselves how you always thought I was 'mental' or something. Not everything I do is because I am ill, it explains a lot - I flee a lot of situations, I avoid people, I create dramas - but I am still a human being. I HAVE bipolar disorder, I AM NOT bipolar. I am Aymie Black before anything, my illness is not me. My illness has not been created because of something, however my moods have appeared usually on the back of something. I have been bullied a lot and depression usually comes after that, it shouldn't - but my mind is extreme. Mania, usually comes after stressful situations or just generally out of nowhere.

I apologise because my illness can make a cruel person. I have lost so many friends because I have thrown them away, I have messed up my relationships with partners and even my family because I just don't care. I will also say a lot of people - who dislike my behaviour, walk away from me. I've even had 'friends' who found out I was bipolar and treated me like shit, which is the most hurtful. I have an illness where I can be so cold or so ignorant, this does NOT justify my actions - I am a kind, loving person and if I am out of line with you because of this illness it still doesn't mean it is 'okay'. Although I have a valuable excuse, when I see normality - there is no reason why I should not apologise, and thats why I am. I apologise to those that I love that I didn't show love, and to all those friends I lost - who I still love.

Where do we stand now? Well you don't have to treat me any differently, it does make you aware of what I can be - but please don't think because I have bipolar that I can't be trusted or that I am weird. It's hard to understand, I know, but my brain is just a little... pickled. I hope one day I will achieve stability and won't have to worry about my life or how I get through my day, but that day isn't today. I hope you can understand me a little more now.

The saddest thing I guess was that nobody noticed anything was wrong for years, no boyfriend, no parent, no best friend, nobody. But now, I am receiving that help that could give me the best life. I may have messed up a little before but I am going to be okay.

In July 2015, I was given the diagnosis of 'Prodromal Schizophrenia' and began treatment with anti psychotics. This diagnosis may change.

My name is Aymie Black, I'm 19, a student at art school and I love being alive and making people happy. I make loads of jokes, I am very kind and I adore animals. I might present myself a little differently to you on different days, but please remember who I am deep down. If you start forgetting the person I really am, I might too.

Thank you to my best friends, my parents and my wonderful boyfriend for dealing with me