In 2016 I experienced a lot of change and found myself fumbling from one job to another; signing the dotted line on yet another zero hour contract. I wanted remain but lost and my mind became hazy. I felt detached until it suddenly occurred to me that what I really wanted to do was something fulfilling, constructive and meaningful.
Pick up a women's or men's magazine and the dominant features will be appearance, nutrition, fitness, work, sex and romance. We want to be strong, fit, healthy and attractive and enjoy our work and love life. We want them and expect them to go right, but we can be in for disappointments when they don't go according to plan. We need a Plan B: a fit mind to back us up.
Last year I realised that life is too short not to be doing something that you're passionate about and so with that I left a flourishing career in venture capital to move out to Uganda, East Africa. Rather than packing up my belongings and spending a fortune on storage I decided to sell everything instead.
For me, the diagnosis was a relief, for it accorded with the maxim "know thyself" - and, for any human being, this is a fundamental part of life's journey. As time goes on, I have begun to see bipolar not so much as an affliction, confined to a certain, unfortunate percentile of the population, but as something that lies in the further reaches of conscious experience.
I've only scratched the surface of this issue and yet despite all of this stigmatisation, there is only ONE day of global awareness! We need to have an open dialogue surrounding mental health issues. Our media needs to be less sensationalist in how they portray mental illness. We definitely need more than one day of awareness a year to do this.
Earlier tonight, I had a look at the shortlist for the Mind Awards. Out of the 5 nominees in the blogging category, no male bloggers were nominated. Now, I'm not sure if it's a reflection on the talent of male writers or, more likely, the notion that men still feel such a weight of shame and adversity if they speak out about mental health.
The new academic year will soon be upon us. Some parents will see their child head off for university. You may look at this as freedom-at-last: your child will be leaving home, allowing you to do what you have longed to do all these years. Some of you will fear the empty nest syndrome. And for others, possibly most, a mixture of both.
We all have our own way of doing things, our own internal rule book, if you like, and we don't take too kindly to other people or situations messing that up. Holding on to a set vision in the face of challenging circumstances is, in most cases, a sure path to disappointment, anger, resentment and a variety other negative emotions.
Part of my illness (a trigger) is when I hear I'm going to meet someone like Matt and I immediately want to look up which one of us sold more books. I have learned to hold back because if it's him, I know I'm going to get that jolt in the stomach that signifies envy and if I accumulate a lot of them, I can tip into the foothills of madness.