2002 is a year I remember well, life was very difficult I had lost my job in 1997 and I had recently been married and had a mortgage. The pressure was on my husband who had to take two jobs, so we were able to survive and make ends meet. Things had gradually been creeping up on me, I had not even realized. I went to see my GP for a routine appointment and she remarked on how much weight I had lost. She asked me how my mood was, and when I thought about it I said I felt very low in myself. She asked me if I would like some anti-depressants I said I would like to wait a while and see if things improved.
As the weeks went on I started to feel worse I was only getting a couple of hours sleep a night I would wake around 2.30am, with the same awful feeling of dread I started to get really bad panic attacks and was petrified that something bad was going to happen. I remember screaming at my husband and begging him not to go to work and leave me. Of course he had to earn the money, so I was forced to move back to my parents and only go home at weekends. I was constantly agitated I could not relax and had to get my dad to keep taking me out. My anxiety would get better in the evenings but the same pattern followed I would go to bed and wake up around 2.30am and have to wake my parents up and tell them how scared I was, as if the walls were coming in around me. It was an awful time and by this time I was on a cocktail of medication and was so ill I was not sure if the medication was making me worse. At this time I felt suicidal, and if I had the guts I probably would have taken my life.
I was unable to settle in my own home in the end my husband took time off work and ended up losing his job because he was always off. The weeks went into months I saw different psychiatrists, and was given different diagnosis anxiety disorder, with depression and agoraphobia. My symptoms went on into months and years. I was a complete mess, I was unable to eat and was in what I know now was probably a manic episode. I got myself into thousands of pounds worth of debt and was unable to pay it off. I attended anxiety management groups and psychotherapy but it did not help.
I was scared to go out but could not stay in due to my agitation. My shrink was pretty useless and just kept telling me to take Diazepam. I felt totally disorientated. I was asked to go into hospital but did not want to. I remember seeing a different GP and he put me on a different tablet which worked, it lifted my mood and I started to function again. By this time I was addicted to Valium and it took two years to wean me off of it.
I started to feel better but everything took its toll on me and my marriage and I ended up getting divorced. Things improved until 2007 when I suffered another major breakdown as a result of workplace bullying I was very ill and had the same symptoms as before. I went back on medication and eventually things did improve. In 2015 I felt unwell again so asked for a second opinion. My shrink who I see now is lovely he went back through my history and diagnosed me with Bipolar Affective Disorder, it had taken all those years. I was put on a mood stabilizer and things started to improve. I still have really bad days but at least I know my triggers I have to avoid stress. I have a lovely partner who looks after me.
Often people think they will never see the light but there is light at the end of the tunnel. But believe me things can get better with the right help and support.
Never give up xx
Claudette is a passionate campaigner and activist for mental health stigma and domestic abuse. She believes that everyone should be treated equally regardless of their disability or gender. She has diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder, endometriosis, Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. Claudette has a certificate in Management studies. Her interests include beauty, makeup, animals politics, current affairs and social networking.