“My Bipolar Disorder diagnosis means I am able to accept my illness and build a life around it.” – Jay’s story

Jay, 47, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder amongst other diagnosis including a Personality Disorder, in his thirties. For World Bipolar Day, he speaks to us about how his diagnosis allowed him to not only access medication to make daily life functional, but also meant he was emotionally able to accept his illness and build a positive life around it.


All my life I have been of a nervous and anxious disposition with obsessive compulsion tendencies. Thanks to two different professional careers this was somewhat ‘kept in check’ with routines and daily schedules, which worked well for my mental health. When I had a change of career path and these routines were no longer there, the nerves and anxiety started to increase. The nerves became more frustration and the anxiety led to aggression. I think at this point, the only thing that stopped me from boiling over was the routine of the gym, but it soon became apparent that that was not enough and I started to enter very dark, dangerous and often violent mood swings. Once I had come out of certain periods, I would be exhausted and full of remorse, leading to long periods in bed, drastic mood swings and panic attacks.

Eventually, after a breakdown in my relationship and a heart-to-heart with family, I went to see my GP to talk about my mental health. Initially they advised me to have several sessions of counselling. As a result of those short sessions, I was quickly fast-tracked and referred on to a psychotherapist where I was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, and and put on medication. I was also offered 18 months of weekly psychotherapy. The therapy really helped, as it gave me strategies and an understanding of my mental health conditions.

"The mood swings are not as drastic, the mania is not as often and more importantly the aggression and violence has considerably eased."

– Jay

On a day to day basis, now that I am fully medicated, I am functional. I still have periods where getting up in the morning is still emotionally and physically a struggle. Currently I’m going through a very strange emotion where I’ve ‘lost my mojo’ for the gym, which is one of my biggest passions in my life. This has had a knock on effect in my relationships with my partner, my family and my creative works. Aside from the gym, walking and being out in the countryside is a big help. I still struggle when life throws curveballs at me, be it emotional or physical, and processing these is often hard and difficult.

I often get asked how can you have bad or down days when you are highly medicated, and the simple answer is that they are not ‘magic pills’. I feel that they help my brain to a degree, but cannot always help the emotions. That’s when the imbalance in my brain can override everything, including the medication.

Living with mental illness and trying to convey how it feels, is tricky. It isn’t the same as describing a physical pain, like a cut, sting, or a toothache or headache which most people can sympathise with. Mental illness is a very cruel, silent illness. You can look amazing, healthy, well dressed and yet inside, feel like an absolute mess and nobody would know.

"If I had broken leg it would be obvious to the eye but sadly with mental health its always hidden."

– Jay

Through therapy I am grateful that I have been more able to understand my illnesses, to accept them and to build a life around it. I never, ever, miss taking my medication and even my partner is aware of my medication times. My diagnosis has allowed me to now live my life without the dangerous path I was probably going to take before my diagnosis and treatment. Ultimately, I can still have big setbacks, even though I’m medicated, but that is okay. I will overcome them. Thanks to various opportunities I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to be able to share my mental health journey through my social media and my creative works.

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