It all started for me from being in situations which would put me under a lot of pressure. I would become elated, confused and paranoid. Things which I could do before became harder to achieve. I would set my personal goals and standards up so high that before I reached them I would have a break down.

During College I went to America for a summer and while I was there I worked long hours in a labour intensive job. I worked 12 hour shifts. This eventually caught up to me and one night when I was trying to sleep I thought I heard noises outside and thought someone was trying to break in. As the night drew on I had become so confused. I thought I was being possessed by evil spirits. I didn’t sleep that night and started the morning as if nothing had happened. I was losing my mental health but I was the last person to know it.

Because I couldn’t see the signs of myself slipping I was unable to prevent my breakdown. People around me were unaware because I hid as much as I could. Eventually a lot more people started to see as it became more obvious. I began laughing out of place and making strange gestures and facial expressions. My family were hurt by this very much as they tried to get me to go to hospital. I refused and the doctors could not commit me unless I was a harm to myself or to others. This was a horrible scenario especially for my family. Eventually I did decide to go to hospital.

At first I denied the fact that anything was wrong with me. No one wants to admit they have faults. Eventually after not taking my medication and being hospitalised again, I grew to accept my illness. I matured as a person with Bi-Polar. Everything seemed a lot clearer after that. I became a healthier person physically and mentally with the help of a good lifestyle and compliance with medication.

After hospital I started attending my local GROW Mental Health support group. I found it useful to talk about the problems I was dealing with other people. I have even gone back into hospital to tell my story at an information session for patients.

Now I am not as scared as I was before. I am more open about myself and my feelings. I don’t hide from the truth and I discuss my problems with the right people. I discuss my difficulties openly with medical staff. I take my medication regularly. I listen to people’s views on my health but have learnt over time that althoughall are caring comments only few are right. I listen to myself first and seek guidance and support when needed. I am able to identify early symptoms now and act accordingly.

David's Tips

Sometimes you can't trust all your thoughts and emotions no matter how real they seem - go by what you know, if in doubt ask for advice
Talk openly with the right people
Take your medication if your doctor prescribes it. Without medication you might slip into your own world
Try and keep a positive attitude – things will improve slowly but surely with help and support