I have been battling with mental distress on and off for over 25 years and have been a mental health service user since 1994. This blog began as a means of dealing with my most recent relapse and re-diagnosis with bipolar disorder in 2011 and has grown in ways I never could have imagined. I was the proud recipient of a TWIM Award 2012 (mood disorder category) and am honoured to have received the Mark Hanson Digital Award as part of the Virgin Money Giving Mind Media Awards. In January 2014 I was voted joint winner of the recovery category #Twentalhealthawards “for the best mental health Twitter accounts” and runner up in the campaigning and patient experience categories.
While I want this blog to have a wide reach in order to connect with other people in similar situations, it remains my space for exploring what it is like to have a serious mental illness. No one is paying me to do this; nor am I any kind of public service. Debate and an additional viewpoint are welcome, comments which are abusive, judgemental or critical of me as a person rather than critical of ideas under discussion, will not be published.
Important update September 2017:
This blog has been mostly wound down; I am not longer able to connect with it. I continue to post very occasionally, but no posts from the last year have been open for comments. I appreciate that people continue to leave comments on past posts, but I am not able to check regularly and posts may go unmoderated for some time. This is not a reflection on the comment or the poster, but reflects the fact that I do not tend the blog in the way I once did. I’m certainly not in a place to go back to discussions on posts the I wrote four or five years ago. So please don’t take it personally if I don’t moderate or otherwise respond to your comment – it’s not you, I just don’t have the resources.
A few weeks back my daughter sent me your site. The time that I have spent on it I have really enjoyed. The day she sent me your site in my email was 9/12/2011. I started reading it if I remember correctly you wrote about how you felt, changing diagnosis’s, some of the real details of bipolar, I swear it seemed like I wrote it myself or my kids made a list of things I had told them. I could not believe it. It was the best description of what I have. The problems is I can’t seem to find the article. In addition to seeing parts of it in others articles the one I remember said you tried many medications (none of which I have ever heard of) and I was diagnosed in 1985. They have changed my diagnosis a few times but it has always come back to bipolar. Can you tell me how to get to that article?
By the way I am 56 and struggled with problems from a young age until 1985 when diagnosed and I can’t say all the meds and therapy are the big a help either. I’m not sure but you may have said this too so forgive me if you did. I do have times when I’m going along fine and it feels like someone ripped the rug right out from underneath me. I have to start over.
Anyway, I could go on for ever but won’t right now. I enjoy your site and plan to visit more often.
Hi Sherri, sorry for the delay in replying – I went away for a week or so. I think the post you mean is the one called “Are You a Green or a Magic?” https://purplepersuasion.wordpress.com/2011/09/09/152/ – let me know if not, and I’ll think again! Really glad to know that you like my blog and find it helpful, wish you well! C
I hereby award you the versatile blogger award! congratulations 🙂 http://showard76.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/versatile-blogger-award/
Just had a moment to read some of your posts (faster than I’d have liked since I’ve got my 14-mo old here tugging at my leg, but I am bookmarking your site to come back when I have more time and read more closely). I really love your writing, your honesty and openness. Keep writing. You’re doing an excellent job of saying what is probably on the minds of many others living with bipolar disorder. Thank you.
Thank *you* for reading. Having a slight dry spell at the moment – feeling full of “shoulds”, that driven feeling that can come with a slight up, and trying not to let blogging be yet another thing I feel I “should”/”must”/”ought to” do!
Just wanted to say hi, hope things have got better since the holiday blog. As odd as it sounds I find it really helps to read your thoughts, it reminds me that there are more of us out there and stops me feeling quite so isolated. Thank you for sharing.
Thank YOU for the feedback! I’ve been up and down. But the important thing is that the range is narrowing – the highs aren’t so high, and the lows aren’t so low. I was discharged from Consultant care yesterday, he offered to increase the dose first to see if it evened out the last wobbles but I told him I’d rather take it from here using my self-management strategies. I would never have thought of blogging were it not for how helpful I found other people’s blogs, especially after the changed in diagnosis back to BP a couple of years ago 🙂
An absolutely fascinating insight into what I perceive as a taboo subject in many walks of life,medical among them. Having had a major”episode” in Jan 2012 due to the sudden and totally out of the blue end to my 21 year marriage,I now find myself a regular visitor to my local CMHT on the South Coast, sampling various meds and therapies to stave off my demons,most unsuccessfully. An amazing account of your daily struggle and I can fully engage with around 90% of your emotions etc. Considering what I’ve done in my life,I would have said I was the last person to crack under pressure and be carted off in the early hours, an emotional and physical wreck. Just reaffirms the old adage that we don’t even know ourselves properly.
Best wishes from the sunny (yeah right) South Coast.
I really loved reading this, thank you. You write so well and eloquently and I hope that you can forge ahead with a new career in the future. I’m the same age as you, my experience is that I’ve gone through losing my family and having DV in the past few years, so I am nervous about having a label ‘affixed’ to me at the moment and am not as compliant as you were with doctors 😉 I have found it very psychosomatic though, if you have your mental health questioned, you feel less mentally healthy.
It really IS like ‘through the looking glass’. Wish you all the best and glad you have lovely children and partner, will check in again to find out how you are getting on.
Congratulations on your award from all of us at the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, and on an excellent interview on Woman’s Hour. Great to hear you describe how this illness can affect women antenatally and postnatally, and to hear your robust self-management of your own illness. As a psychiatrist I see my primary role as providing up to date information and helping people to make sense of it and use it, but not to make their decisions for them. Keep up the fantastic work.
Hi there, I heard you on Radio 4 a little while ago. It was amazing.Questions had be going through my mind like Am I really BP? I don’t think so as I am OK now but I always think that when I am ok. I hate the meds and vacillate on taking them. But then I heard you and I listened absolutely enthralled. I was shocked – it was exactly like me. I have been feeling so alone and isolated but hearing made me feel a whole lot better. Thank you.
Thank you so much for letting me know that! I’m hoping you might some of my blog posts helpful – I’ve written quite a bit about coming to terms with my diagnosis and the need to have a self-management plan and take meds regularly x
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Awesome!!! Feel motivated myself setting my eyes on your heart written words☺️Stay blessed
Thank you for being open about your struggles. You have inspired and encouraged me and many others.
I came across this blog through an article in the Evening standard that lists 20 best bloggers in London. I find this blog very interesting. I am eagerly waiting to go through more posts from this blog.
That’s really nice of you! Nobody else has said they found me via that article, although I hope some people did!
Actually I was searching for the top twenty bloggers in U.K and I found the article listing your blog. Thank you very much for your kind reply. I will keep coming back to your wonderful blog regularly.
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Hey! I started reading Jagged Little Pill (I got distracted with the kids) but half-way into it, I kept thinking yes, YES. I started following your blog and when the kids go to sleep, hopefully I can curl up and read up 🙂 I have a blog in the works – I think I’m too scared to publish – but I wanted to share with you that I have bipolar I disorder and ADD. And I’m a mom…with four children aged 16 on down. Mis-diagnosis when I was 13 prompted too many years untreated and too many medications mis-fires. Re-diagnosed (?) in 2005 and put on meds to help make time not so tough.
Ugh…I don’t want to clog up this page but thank you…thank you for saying something to make me feel a tad saner tonight 🙂
I just read your piece on the BBC news site and I was really impressed with your writing. Mental illness has been part of my family life for a long time, although I am not a sufferer myself. What you write is very helpful. You have my respect, admiration and love.
Thank you for letting me know that, Chrissie. While my editor and I were kicking around ideas for the piece we were hoping that it might be useful to friends and families too and shine a bit of a light on the needs of people with MH problems. Thanks so much for getting in touch! Cx
thank you for the companionable words about Christmas not going with mental un wellness. I am curious about ‘purple persuasion’…have you posted about the title?
Hi Anne, it’s something I always dread people asking about, haha, because I of course wish in retrospect I have picked a name that is more related to mental health. Thing is, I thought I was going to be a book blogger, and that hardly anyone would read it – probably just Twitter friends that I had at the time on my now defunct account, purplepersuasion (as in, I love all things purple, I am a person of the purple persuasion!). But I only had time for a few book posts before I had a major mental health relapse and I just started writing a few bits about how I was feeling as a way of coping as I waited to go back under a psychiatrist’s care. Even then I wouldn’t have called it anything to do with bipolar as I was yet to have my diagnosis changed back to that. So there was no good time to come up with a catchy name! Now it’s too well known for me really to tinker with 🙂
Charlotte thank you so much for this blog. I do not experience bi polar but am experiencing difficulties due to a life crisis at the moment and am finding things hard at this time of year. Thank you for sharing it does mean a lot.
Hi there! I just want to thank you for sharing your journey with MI so that others with similar struggles know we are not alone. It often feels that no one else will ever comprehend the challenges and lonliness of a mental disorder, including those paid professionally to help. Sometimes I just need to know that I’m not the only one. So thank you for that, it helps😊.
I saw your article on the BBC and it chimed a lot with what my Xmas was going to be about, after years of being violenty abused by a spouse, as a child, terrible nay horrendous treatment in battling for my daughter 16 years against vindictive social services who refused to accept a single father, it left me fighting for purchase in the water and they got their revenge when I lost finally the bitter battle for custody of my grandchildren and the last vestiges of my sanity crumbled therein.
Ironically, I trained as a mental health nurse back in the late eighties but find none of it of any use to myself but it did help with my father who is bipolar, I am unipolar, severe agitated depression, clinical heartbreak and severe PTSD says the diagnosis but I do have a very good and kind consultant, my lifeline if you will and it was he and two GP’s who have kept me going and cats, the healing power of cats is very understated and I am a short haired covered in tattoo sort of burly chap to be soppy about ’em but they know when I am sad and curl up in me arms like a little baby and I find it calming, soothing, their little eyes so full of concern, my doctor has named the tiny dwarf girl cat as one of my “therapies” because he has seen the positive reaction I have with her and the others.
Anyway, a little catharsis there from a fellow sufferer, I don’t know what made me follow the link and read your blog as I find us sufferers tend to hide it all away, even my two daughters both grown up cannot understand and I have tried so hard to explain the difference between understanding a disease or a broken limb and the inner disease, the inner broken limbs and how we can seem oh so good on the outside.
As I say to my girls, I may be bent on one knee, the powers that be seem to want to crush me still but I still shake my fist in defiance at the sky, broken a little but not defeated… yet 🙂
All praise the Beeb in bringing you to my attention. I identified very well with your reflections on Christmas and found it helpful to experience some empathy by proxy!
I’m a community psychiatric nurse by trade and have been now for some 25 years and know that I have been damned good at my job. That said, over the last 4 years, I’ve acquired a reactive, depressive illness that has seriously spannered me. Gotta say that this hasn’t been due to the pressures of working with others, but as a consequence of appalling management.
Management of my condition has been challenging, to say the least. On the one hand, I have no stigma about my condition and experiencing anxiety doesn’t spiral out of control, because I know what it is. Likewise, I have no worries in using medication and, intellectually, I know what’s happening to me and this will sometimes help me manage my emotional self.
Problem is, you see, is that knowing the many psychotherapeutic tools available to me to help others, I now recognise those tools as exactly that and they lose their effectiveness when employed by others trying to help me. I can spot any attempted therapping a mile off and, even though I don’t want to resist, I find myself not getting any benefit at all.
Your comments on how you found yourself coldly and intellectually working out suicide hit some serious nerves in myself. I’ve been low enough to now know exactly how and when I can exit this life and have it all worked out, including an awareness of how it would probably affect my wife. No-one could convince me of staying around and I am comfortable with the idea of me not being here. I suppose I’ve now developed an acute empathy for those who advocate voluntary euthanasia and have a better understanding of those who either take their life or make a serious and determined attempt to do so.
Therapy/counselling doesn’t work and medication seems to clear my mind enough for me to actually plan an effective exit.
Then I started reading your blog and reading it properly. I looked for other similar bloggers and found similar and I have to say that yours remains, for me, the most influential…in a positive way.
It would be nice to be bi-polar, ‘cos than I’d at least have some positive periods, (kidding). Having depression is a ‘mare and I’m well tired of it.
But Life does continue and misery does not remain, it just feels like it does at the time. I believe that we do have personal resources to help us survive and one of those is an ability to identify with others and share experience and life and to you, for that, I am grateful. I hadn’t realised how lonely I had been and, now that you’ve facilitated that insight, I can probably do something positive and, dare I say it, even therapeutic, about it.
Misery loves company and it’s true that it is my madness that keeps me sane.
So, Charlotte Walker, keep being. You do do good.
Aw, thanks Bruce! And for taking the time to write. Depression is very tiring and soul-sapping… there is something in what you say in that hypomania can be fab! For about 3 days. Then it starts to get exhausting and horrible or I start shouting at people. I won’t lie, those three days are fantastic. But ultimately not worth the price. Do you “do” Twitter at all? The connections I’ve made on there have kept me going in recent years. Without it I think I would very lonely and find it hard to explain my feelings to others, knowing they didn’t really “get it”. I know it’s not for everyone of course, but I’ve made some close friendships which have been very sustaining when I could not deal with people in real life. Anyway! Here’s hoping is as 2015 for us as it can be. C x
Hi, I’m not sure how to start this really… A link to your page on BBC News came up on my Facebook newsfeed and I’ve just read a few of your posts on here as well. I’m 18 and I’ve been struggling with self-harm for four or five years, I can’t seem to pinpoint where it began any more. I’ve been in counselling twice and have now put myself back in again. I keep seeming to get better, this time for almost 8 months, but then I hit downward spirals and get worse all over again.
This Christmas is going to be awful, I was supposed to be with my long time boyfriend and his family but we broke up a month ago and that’s when my down started and I still haven’t pulled myself back up. He was always there for me and now he isn’t as often as he was. I always needed him more than he needed me, not that I’d ever admit that to him but next time I see him I might have to talk to him and ask for his help again. I think I’m going to become an avid reader of yours, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in how I’m feeling but awful that others feel as bad or worse than myself.
Hi B, I really relate to that, I haven’t managed to have any last stability for almost 5 years now. Sometimes I think I can cope with that, sometimes the thought of going on like this is overwhelming. It can be difficult to feel like investing in anything if you think that next spiral will undo it all. Relationship breakups are bad enough anyhow, but when you already have some mental health issues and Christmas is coming up – well, that’s got to be really hard and my heart goes out to you. Wishing things are as good for you as they can be under the circumstances, C x
I’ve just stumbled across your blog. I’m not bipolar. I have been diagnosed as clinically depressed on-&-off since I was 17. I’ve recently been diagnosed as having SAD plus suspected of being ADD. All good fun. Just as well I’m an optimist.
Your views on Christmas chimed particularly clearly with me. It has gotten all too caught up with the social media obession to be perfect. Happiness is not the same thing as being contented. Being contented is what is actually important. You I think have just come to realise this as I have I.
I’m finding your blog really helpful Charlotte. I was diagnosed with depression 8 years ago and take 100mg of my antidepressant daily. But I have big highs and lows that I have never talked to my GP about and often wonder if I may have bipolar, or if not, God knows what. What most resonates with me at the moment, and also somehow shocked me that someone else has the same issue, is the duality of living my life and wanting to end it. The thought is present daily, I cannot get away from it. Meanwhile I am starting a new job in 6 weeks time and am planning an Easter break with my son. It’s bizarre and draining. My partner has bipolar and sharing my life with someone who understands is wonderful but sometimes so hard…her mental illness forces me to look beyond myself but we are each others punching bag (mentally and emotionally), and while we understand the challenges and love each other so much, we are very co-dependent. I could write a book here but just wonder if you’ve experienced or encountered couples like us. Is there any support out there aimed specifically at couples who suffer from mental illness?
Hi Jim, that’s a really good question. In my previous relationship we both had MH issues but we never found any support for that and we ended up not being about to sustain things. I do know a few people on Twitter where both parties have a MH problem. I’m honestly not sure about the support thing, but I’ll ask around on Twitter and see if anyone knows of such a thing. C x
I especially like your open discussion of Thanatos, the natural urge towards death wish. Psychiatrists seem to think it’s unnatural. Any ways, thanks for your blog. I also want to share with you that I also wrote a book, called Little Porcupine Goes to the Psyche Ward. I am running a campaign to get it published at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/little-porcupine-goes-to-the-psyche-ward–2/x/9701346 where you can read all about it and see a video. I am also bi polar and want to tell people about the horrible reaction I had to prozac and the poor treatment I received in the hospital. All the people in my story are turned into animals. I think your blog is very well written. My graphic novel is essentially a comic book. I hope you’ll check my campaign out because it’s hard to find people like you.
Hey! I hope you are doing great. I wanted to ask you for a favor. My younger sister is pursuing her masters in Psychology, and she is currently taking a course called Neuropsychology. For that, she needs to do a case study of someone who has faced, and conquered bipolar disorder. As a lucky coincidence, I came across your blog. If you are comfortable about that, kindly shoot me an e-mail at email@example.com. I can connect you with her. Thanks in advance.
Thanks but I definitely have not conquered bipolar – for all I know I could be back in the loop tomorrow!
Hi, I’d like to say thank you. Thank you for posting such an honest account of your Bipolar disorder experience and how Yoga has helped you. I’m in my early forties, just left a corporate job I hated and trained to become a Yoga Teacher – I’m also Bipolar and have a touch of Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m high functioning (to the outside world) but know deep down, I’ll never be ‘normal’. But I don’t mind anymore as I have found that yoga gives me the freedom to simply ‘be me’ and that’s okay. The next step for me is pass on this wonderful realisation to my students in the hope that they too can gain some comfort from doing yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or just allowing themselves the space and permission to just ‘be’ too… Thanks again. Namaste
I so relate to being “high functioning” to the outside world while actually being very ill behind closed doors. The more yoga I do, the less I care about stuff like what I look like and whether I’m being “normal”. In fact my next post may be on whether we are normal between episodes? Or are we never normal?
Happy to be here and get up to speed on the latest, Charlotte. I just tweeted this link to my followers. I’m a big believer in promoting cool moms/writers who love purple…and happen to have bipolar
It’s great to see that you have a comments policy. I’m starting to encounter comments on my mental health blog that border on judgmental on me or suggesting treatment, rather than discussing my ideas and feelings. Figuring out how to handle this has been a journey. I’m looking forward to reading more of your site, haven’t taken a look around quite yet.
I’ve just briefly read parts of you blog and I think it’s great…I’ve always been really interested in mental health and love reading an honest blog, it gives me the opportunity to understand what it’s like. Speaking to people through various outlets, http://www.reachout.life, who are people living with mental health and people who work alongside them is always very interesting and I will most definately be passing this along. 🙂 Look forward to reading more, Maria
I liked your ‘Why “Crazy” is Lazy’ post. Have you seen this letter to the New York Times from Allen Frances, Professor Emeritus of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical College, who was chairman of the task force that wrote the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (D.S.M.-IV). As he says, “I wrote the criteria that define this disorder (narcissistic personality disorder). https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/opinion/an-eminent-psychiatrist-demurs-on-trumps-mental-state.html?_r=0
Quote: “It is a stigmatizing insult to the mentally ill (who are mostly well behaved and well meaning) to be lumped with Mr. Trump (who is neither)”.
I like that you pen out your thoughts honestly, both the good and the bad. Biggest challenge I find as a practitioner is when many patients lack the insight to their problem. I just read the bed crises, and it made me reflect in the differences in admission policies world wide ( I am practicing in East Africa) Keep up the good work of motivation.
You’re a real inspiration to me. I’ve been writing about life with bipolar for 3 years now, and I’m really worried I’ve plateaued. It’s so hard to keep up the effort of writing daily. You write very candidly and honestly, and it’s great. I love your writing.
My own blog http://www.manicgrant.com is getting some traction and doing well on Twitter, but it’s hard to stay on top of comments and replies… I feel exhausted. I really want to emulate what you’re doing, and hopefully you see my imitation as flattery – I enjoy your posts.
Nick Grant (a.k.a. maNic Grant)
Powerful Workplace Mental Health Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c0mreYJIlc&t=266s