It's taken me seven years to summon up the courage to write anything about the death of Josh. There's always been a lot of residual guilt (this is common when a sibling dies) but I could no more help that Dale died due to a 'cot death' than I could that the mental health services let my brother Josh so horrifically.
It's a complicated subject - it can mean different things for different people, it isn't talked about anywhere near enough, and there's often an overly simplified, one-sided portrayal of it in the media. If we're ever going to be able to defeat prejudice and make mental illness a less taboo subject, there's going to need to be a clearer understanding of it.
With the clocks going back this week, the season of S.A.D is upon us, and with that comes a surge in diagnosis. Seasonal affective disorder is type of depression that comes with the changing seasons, hitting at the same time every year, usually in the dark depths of winter. It's estimated to affect about two million people in the UK.
Having suffered with bipolar for near 10 years, I can safely say it's a tough battle and on the whole a mostly negative experience. I've spent much of the last decade feeling ashamed of who I am, not merely because of the illness itself, but largely thanks to the public and media perception of what it is to have bipolar disorder.
I have been wanting to write this article for an extremely long time. I have stumbled and tormented myself so many times with this piece as to how I could even begin to voice my boulders of darkness. I wanted to translate to you, the reader, the horrific pain mental illness can bring, and to put the raw emotions into words which you will understand
Understanding that there is no conscious reason for these feelings puts mental illness on a par with other illnesses. You wouldn't ask a woman with breast cancer why she had it, or why she was ill - saying "I have breast cancer" is a pretty satisfactory argument for most. Mental illness isn't any different, and it's just as much of a scary, alien thing to sufferers than other illnesses.