I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2012 but the truth is that I had been suffering from crippling mental health symptoms since my early 20's. I am now 34 years old. Initially my symptoms were bearable and I could muddle through everyday life. Throughout my 20s the symptoms of depression became more and more intense and much more frequent.
I regularly get told the classic "You'd never know it to look at you" and, "You seem like you've got it all together." Believe me I very much do not, the battle in my head is so tiresome. Often I'll smile at someone whilst thinking, "gosh I want to die so much" and I'm by in no means the one swimming in the choppiest water.
The government like to paint a picture of benefits claimants as being debt-ridden addicts who can't be bothered to work. I want to try and dispel this picture a bit, if I can. I don't smoke, drink, take drugs (except what is prescribed to me). I only claim ESA and PIP not housing benefit or anything like that. We don't claim carer's allowance for my husband even though we are entitled to it.
Love is not a cure for mental illness, in that the simple presence of love in someone's life will never be able to change the fact that they are mentally ill, or the way in which their illness presents itself. The presence of love alone is not what cures ailments, or heals wounds, or makes a life worth living.
Suicide is the biggest killer of young men in the UK. More than a 100 people die of suicide every week yet no one talks about it. As a society and community, as teachers and parents, as friends and colleagues we need to educate ourselves, ask questions, demand better care for ourselves and our loved ones, especially the young.