Living With Bipolar and Manic Depression
Bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression, is a complex illness affecting between 1% and 5% of the population. People with the condition have problems with their moods, experiencing periods, or ‘episodes’, of extreme highs (mania), and usually periods of depression.
It can also cause problems with thinking and perception, which can include delusions and hallucinations. Star Wars actor Carrie Fisher, who died on December 27, was one of several celebrities to talk openly about their battle with the condition.
‘I thought I was just ‘happy’
Anna Preece, a volunteer phone mentor at Bipolar UK, said: “I was diagnosed with depression when I was 23, but my bipolar disorder wasn’t picked up until much later.
“I was going through what I now know were manic episodes, but at the time I thought I was just ‘happy. It wasn’t until a good friend sat me down and pointed out some of my manic behaviour that I started to ask for help. After seeing a lot of doctors, I was finally diagnosed with bipolar when I was 37.”
“This gave me the push I needed to really do something to get back in control of my health.”
‘Now my illness is very well controlled’
Anna started attending a Bipolar UK support group in Cardiff which she claims saved her life. She added: “Meeting other people with bipolar, talking to them and being able to relate to what they were saying was fantastic.
“It was such a relief to know that I was normal, and it helped me to identify which aspects of my behaviour were my personality and which were my illness. “Being able to separate the two is very helpful – I know when it’s me, I know when it’s ill, and when it’s ill I can do something about it. Now my illness is very well controlled with medication and self-management, but of course I still get blip.”
‘I can go weeks without drinking’
Anna stated that alcohol was another major trigger for affecting her mood. “I’ve set myself a rule – if I’ve got something to do the next day, I won’t drink anything the night before. This has really helped me cut down and I can go weeks without drinking because I’m so busy with my volunteering.”
Words by Walesonline