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In the Mind: The not so secret life of...

I watched the Stephen Fry Documentary “The Not So Secret Life of The Manic Depressive” with some trepidation. I’m not a fellow Bipolar sufferer, but I do have mental illnesses and watching programmes can be a trigger.

I’m grateful for his frankness and for those who came forward with their stories, it’s not easy to show the world your naked mind. And that is what it is. It’s like undressing in front of an audience. I have depression, Borderline Personality Disorder and PTSD and when the symptoms surface they cause me problems. Going to the park with the children and then not being able to get out of the car sounds ridiculous until you’ve actually been there. Sat there, sweating, cursing at yourself and your own inadequacies,tears stinging your eyes and wondering, hoping, praying if this monster will ever give you some peace.

My monster erupts infrequently, there is no pattern to it, I don’t know when it will arrive on my doorstep, with it’s teeth gnashing and claws sharpened ready to rip into my life and cause disruption. I don’t “mess around” with my medication, I take it religiously at night, I don’t take any unprescribed drugs, nor drink excessively nor give this monster any invitation to enter my life, but he comes anyway. Bold and furious, thundering or whispering, depending on his mood, disrupting my day to day life.

I have choices, I know that. I can accept that this is my lot, accept and embrace “my monster” and stop fighting it and allow it to become part of me and perhaps this means that it will lose its power, but somehow this just doesn’t sit right. Or, I can keep on fighting, trying my best to place the monster back into it’s cage where it belongs and do my best to ignore it. Though at what cost?

Watching those people on the documentary at different stages of their own battles is food for thought, a young girl who thought she could fly and now can no longer walk. The young man who was publicly humiliated on the underground whose life could well have been lost by a thoughtless fool has gone on to do great work to help others. And Stephen himself, a recognisable figure baring his illness, I take my hat off to him. It takes courage and conviction to stand up and be counted.

The fact we are still having to make these sort of programmes means there continues to be a long way to go before mental illness is accepted in everyday life like the common cold, but with the bravery of Stephen Fry et al, we’ll get there.

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