Breaking The Silence of Stigma: Mrs. Bipolarity

Laura SQ

After a long hiatus, our weekly Wednesday interviews are back!

Today’s edition of Breaking The Silence of Stigma features Laura SQ, also known as Mrs. Bipolarity.  Laura is a passionate campaigner against the stigma attached to mental illness.  She’s an active Mental Health blogger, a mom, and a driving force in the anti-stigma campaign, Faces of Mental Illness.  For more information and to participate in the campaign, please feel free to contact Laura SQ or myself.

So without further ado, let’s launch into our interview:

BSS: How long have you known that you are living with a mental illness?

LSQ: I’ve been dealing with it for about fifteen years.  However, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002, when I was nineteen years old, just a few months before my twentieth birthday.  Looking back, I was REALLY struggling, starting about the age of sixteen-ish or seventeen years old though.

I hadn’t even heard of mental illness, bipolar disorder or any of that before.  I’m not sure I even knew what depression was.  I lived in the UK for most of the 1990’s though, and times were different then–for me anyways.  I can’t speak for the rest of the country, but as far as I knew and as far as I can remember, no one spoke of mental illness.  Today, I’m quite certain it was present, but it wasn’t in my pool of knowledge.  I was completely blind-sided.  It was shocking when, out of the mouth of my therapist came a name, a label, a reason, a word to describe not only my erratic, rebellious and crazy (for lack of better word) behavior, as well as thoughts and feelings.

BSS: How was it diagnosed?  Did you have any special testing?

LSQ: It’s all a bit of a blur really.  I was drinking so much, I don’t remember a lot of that time in my life.  Maybe throw in a little repression…either way, it’s a bit hazy.  I do know that my therapist, (a psychologist) diagnosed me and referred me to my first psychiatrist–for confirmation I suppose and to start medicating me.

BSS: Was your illness diagnosed correctly the first time, or did it take time before the right diagnosis was arrived at?  Do you feel that you do indeed have the correct diagnosis now?

LSQ: I believe the diagnosis was spot on, and I think it still is.  It’s only taken me ELEVEN YEARS to come to terms with it.  For the longest time, I would think it might just go away, or I would doubt the reality of the diagnosis.  Year after year, time after time of doubt, it would be confirmed with a bout of depression, mania and or mixed episode.  I also like to rapid cycle.  (And by “like” I mean–it just happens.  I don’t like it at all).

BSS: Have you ever been hospitalized due to your illness?  How many times?  Do you think it helped?

LSQ: I’ve been hospitalized at least three times.  It definitely helped, and was definitely necessary.  The final time I was hospitalized, I was also switching to a new psychiatrist.  He’s my current doctor and I’m truly, truly thankful for him.  He’s the one who got me headed on the right track.

BSS: Are you on medications for your illness?  Do they help?  What about side effects?

LSQ: Yes, I am medicated.  I take three things for bipolar disorder, and an additional med for ADHD.  They’re my life-line and I take them exactly as they’re prescribed.  That’s something I don’t mess around with.  In the year 2003, or maybe it was 2004 I was taking ELEVEN medications–AT ONE TIME.  It was awful, and I don’t recommend it.  I was doped up, fat, and riddled with side effects.  I couldn’t read for the blurred vision.  I couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking and tingling.  And I had a terrible restlessness in my legs, which I would now refer to as restless leg syndrome.

As for side effects on my current meds, I don’t really have any.  Or maybe I do and I’m used to them?!  Ha!  I hope that’s not the case.  But remember, it’s taken years and year to get to this place, several attempts of new meds–very much a case of trial and error.  I don’t publicly share what meds I take.  Basically, everyone’s body chemistry is so different, what works for me, may not work for you.  And what works for you might hurtle me into hallucinations or a psychosis.  Yes, because I’ve been there.  And yes, because I’ve done that.

BSS: Have you ever had ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy)?

LSQ: At the point in time where I was on eleven meds at one time, my psychiatrist at the time was (I think) at the end of his rope, with no more suggestions.  He brought up ECT, but it scared me.  I didn’t understand it, I didn’t know enough about it.  And even in the light in which HE talked about it, made it sound antiquated, dangerous and wrong.  So, I didn’t really feel the need to research it, and I declined.  Whether or not that was accurate or true, that’s what I was lead to believe about it, back then.  Shortly after this conversation with my shrink, I was referred to a different doctor, who is still my doctor to this day.

BSS: Have you ever  felt discriminated against because of your illness, or had to deal with disparaging comments, denied a job or other opportunities?

LSQ: Yes, yes and yes, so many times I cannot count.  People flat out don’t understand.  And that’s why I started openly blogging and telling my story.  I was very private and secretive about my bipolarity until six months ago.  I’ll admit, it’s hard (still hard) but it’s so worth it.  I’m passionate about helping other people through sharing my life with others.

BSS: If you could give advice to someone else struggling with mental illness, what would it be?

LSQ: I don’t think I have enough time in the world to offer advice to someone struggling.  Bottom line is this: NEVER GIVE UP.  It does get better.  When you’re in the middle of a deep depression it seems like it will never end.  But it will.  When your encased in a euphoric mania, it seems like you’ll fly that way forever, but, thankfully, you’ll come down.  This too shall pass.  Things happen in seasons–lasting for varying amounts of time.  You have to keep fighting, and hold on to hope. Bipolar disorder is work, unfortunately, but I promise you this–it’s worth it.

Always ask for help.  Always receive help.  Find “safe-people” and get rid of the people who aren’t healthy, supportive, accepting or loving.  If it’s your family who aren’t supportive, that doesn’t mean you have to cut them out of your life forever, it means, surround yourself with others, and don’t let the negative ones be your primary source of human contact.

Finally, take your meds, communicate with your doctor endlessly and don’t give up hope of stability–seek acceptance of your bipolarity.

BSS: Anything else you’d like to add?

LSQ: I just want to thank you for this opportunity to share and I want to encourage other people who AREN’T ready to share their story as openly as I do.  It’s okay, not everyone can or will, it’s a mean world out there, and stigma is still running rampant.  Just remember, I didn’t say it would be easy.  I said it would be worth it.

Hang in there,

Mrs Bipolarity logo

Twitter: @MrsBipolarity

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18 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Mrs Bipolarity and commented:
    If you don’t know me well enough by now (or you’re just getting to know me) here’s your change to delve into my bipolarity even more. The amazing blogger over at Bipolar for Life interviewed me for her weekly Breaking the Silence of Stigma series. She’s become a blogging friend and an excellent supporter of Mrs Bipolarity. I’d love for you to check it out!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    Reply
  3. LOVE this interview!! Laura, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “I didn’t say it would be easy. I said it would be worth it.” SO TRUE. Thank you for this.

    Reply
  4. LOVED this interview!! Laura, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “I never said it would be easy. I said it would be worth it.” SO TRUE. Thank you for this.

    Reply
  5. An excellent interview with a very special blogger battling bipolar. Well done.

    Reply
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