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Suzanne's Story

“My parents began to question whether I had bipolar from late-primary-school-early high-school, along with ADHD. I had several trips to the doctors with my parents being told the usual: ‘oh, it’s just a reaction to food additives’. 

As I got older I began to notice myself that bipolar/ADHD was right as my parents had suspected. I began to live for the highs, being so manic I thought I was invincible and could do anything. People often flocked to me when I was high and disappeared when the depression, anxiety and paranoia would hit. I found myself relying on a number of drugs: anything that would give me the lift that I felt on my highs. 

When I met my partner at the age of 23 I found myself shying away from drugs as it was not something my partner was into or approved of. I began attending the doctors regularly, crying out for help. I began to stop being honest with the doctors as I felt I was never believed and always fobbed off with antidepressants.

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It took a house fire in November 2022 to fully breakdown, this was the lowest I had ever been. I felt mentally and physically broken; I gave up. It took my partner and parents to step in and attend doctors appointments with me – they knew I would never be fully honest as I was never believed.

I attended the doctors believing that I was done, I had nothing left in me to give. Knowing that I was so low that I could seriously hurt myself I begged to be committed. Thankfully with my parents and partner in attendance, the doctor agreed with them that being sectioned would not be the right thing for me. I, being a grown adult with a partner and children, found myself having to move back in with my parents for a period.

The doctor also made an emergency referral to psychiatry and I received an appointment within a week. I was reluctant to attend as I had never been believed. The psychiatrist, however, put me at ease right away, as he had taken time to go through medical history and straight away told me that he could see that we had all been crying out for help for years with no help or support.

I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 and ADHD a month before my 40th birthday. Although I knew that there would be a diagnosis, I still felt shocked at receiving this diagnosis as I thought this would make people look at me differently. I always felt that with every low that I would lose a part of my personality to the point I no longer felt like me. (I still dressed like me, as I do like to stand out in a crowd with my hair, make up and clothing all being very bright colours; I just felt like an imposter in my own body.)

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Thankfully I have been treated with lamotrigine ever since diagnosis and have now began to see a bit of the old me. I have control over my own body and my own mind: I still feel like a bit of an imposter but as I gain control over myself finally I know that feeling will go. I can be part of the conversation or not now. I am so thankful to my family, especially my sister, who sat by my side night after night holding my hand, my youngest son who hugged my when I cried, sat with me and told me everything was gonna be OK, and my partner, who through it all stuck with me and just loved me for who I was. My psychiatrist has been amazing and I truly believe that between him doctors and my family that they all truly saved my life.

Since my diagnosis I feel that my life has been saved. Although I have taken a significant leave of absence from my job, I am still starting to feel that I have a purpose in life in just being alive. I have reconnected with my closest friends and am just happy to be part of something again. I feel that my medication puts a boundary on how far my moods can go, and although I can feel restricted at times in how I want my mood to be, I know that feeling is temporary. I understand I still have a long road to go, as after that house fire PTSD has been an issue, but that’s something I can work through; something I feel is not permanent and that I can yet again survive.”

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