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Deborah's* Story

“I’m a left handed Gemini and was born on a Wednesday. I was the daughter my mum tried so hard to have. Having bipolar is a blessing or a curse. Apparently I was born with hairy shoulders. As I grew older I knew I was different. In those days keeping up appearances was essential: I learned how to put on a mask, how not to burden my Catholic family with my “feelings.” It wasn’t the done thing. I fitted in at primary school and was in the “cool group” – not the nicest place to be when you are wearing a mask. Being in the cool group took its toll on me privately. Some of them were bullies. I didn’t get the rule on who and who not to be friends with. I was sociable. I made people laugh! I was a people pleaser. A really cheery nice girl. But deep down I knew there was something dark within me. It was repressed anger. 

High school was kinda rough. I survived though. Got good enough grades. I was square. Robotic. Intelligent. Therefore they didn’t think they had to worry about me. And they didn’t, until I was in my 20s. I had finally escaped a childhood relationship at 20-something, and the Catholic guilt kept drowning me. Self harm entered my life temporarily. Shoplifting. Binge drinking. I became an English teacher. I probably wasn’t really sure or ready but what else was I supposed to do with an English degree? I blew all the money I had on stupid purchases. I went to LA and Canada; met Katy Perry a few times and a famous actor gave me the glad eyes. I was out of control for a while. 

I met my son’s dad in Edinburgh and within three months I was pregnant. Impulsive? Me? Never!

That was a challenge. Weight gain. Responsibility! I had to move from Glasgow to Stirling. I had no health visitors. I was swept under the rug. I was trapped in an area I didn’t know. But I loved my baby so much when he was born. Unfortunately it was expected that I return to work. Looking back it was too soon after giving birth, but someone had to pay half the rent. I went to the doctor who prescribed me 200mg of Sertraline. I’d previously tried Prozac but that pill made me mental. I wore my heart on my sleeve. I left the father of my child which was not an easy choice. We co-parent now. I threw egg mayonnaise at him one time. I was a challenge. Aren’t we all?

I started shoplifting again for no reason. Police were involved. It was humiliating. Until I felt so lonely I returned with my tail between my legs back to my childhood home, with my travelling circus. I found a lovely partner. My cat and my son and partner made a comeback to Clydebank.

Deborah quote

During Covid I had all this free time to do a million projects ( I started a sweet bouquet business, a kids’ party mascot business for garden parties…) all at the same time annoying everyone around me! Deep down I felt that the world was ending. One of my best friends got me an appointment with The Priory. On the phone. Overpriced to be told I had ADHD and PTSD. My other best friend had never seen me so aggressive. It was suggested by a few smart people that I might have bipolar; I wasn’t particularly happy with this.

One night I wrote all over the walls with sharpie pens: the story of my life, with numbers and equations. The next day I went for tapping therapy and I proudly showed her my writing on the wall. She asked me to name three things I could see. I named them. See. I wasn’t crazy. I looked up and saw a framed photo of Michael Jackson and I ran outta there as soon as possible. That night I stayed up all night wiping the writing off my wall.

After Covid I decided to juggle 3 days of supply work and two days at college to learn how to run a podcast. However, my attitude was bad and I was an annoying mature student. I could have listened and learned, but my illness made me arrogant and incapable of listening. Managing my acting skills started to slip. I got cheeky. Confrontational. Disruptive. Rude. Became a college drop out. Then I quit the teaching gig. I felt like such a let-down and a loser. Then slid into a depression. I now see that I was in psychosis. 

I suddenly struggled to keep jobs. I worked two cafe shifts. I tried data entry. It bored me. The final straw came when I was determined to make my friend’s 40th in London. I caught an uber to my brother’s, where I was staying; I was like a hurricane there. I felt my independence slowly slipping away and my behaviour was horrible. I even wet the bed. I then stayed in a hostel and brought a knife with me because it was unisex. A man I was boarding with took a photo of the knife and called the police. The police arrived expecting to see some gang fight; it was just me, sobbing. I’d lost my phone and the train ticket home. The police were actually very kind, and, delusional as ever, I offered them my CV. Kind people in the world exist – like Andrea who helped me print out my train ticket, who waited with me and bought me a Burger King till my train arrived. At that point I secretly fantasised about the train crashing, I hated myself that much. I was then immediately seen by the local mental health team as my kind doctor from ADHD direct phoned them urgently.

I got diagnosed. I got medicated. I was so ashamed of my diagnosis and behaviour. I put on a lot of weight. I lay in bed too much. I showed up for teaching jobs with zero enthusiasm. I lost interest in the things I love. Writing. Being a mum. Cooking. Yoga. 

I’m a human being who made mistakes. I thought I was just a chocolate teapot or a bad kebab. I was neither. I had bipolar. I was sick. If it was cancer it would be a completely different story.  I understand that due to my disability some see me as unapproachable now. I’ve burned some bridges. I’m finding the stigma a challenge, particularly in the workplace. On a brighter note I am back in my own house and I am started to feel a bit like my old self again. 

I continue now to seize the day and forgive myself. Because if I don’t love myself how the hell can I love anyone else. My son is my rock. And I’m getting stronger every day. I hope.”


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