Steve was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II in 2015 and has used self-management tools to improve his mental health. He runs a website that shares mental health recovery plan ideas to help others.
I’ve always felt that I was somehow different to others.
As a teen I often felt tired, disconnected from other people and that I was missing out on some secret in life that others enjoyed.
I never suspected that I had a mental health problem, just that I was somehow not as good as others in many ways.
I found it hard to be interested in anything much and spent a lot of my teens and adulthood drinking and doing drugs rather than building hobbies and life skills.
I first experienced hypomania after a relationship breakup in 2001. I suddenly felt more alive than I’d ever been. I was able to connect with others and able to talk to almost anyone. It was like my life had switched from black-and-white to colour overnight.
After a few months, however, I went back to feeling tired and slow again and couldn’t work out what had changed.
Over the next few years I had some flashes of colour again, where I was suddenly able to take more interest in hobbies and activities. I tried to work out when they happened and it seemed to coincide to periods where I was exercising or had changed my diet somehow.
In 2007 I quit my job and set up my own company.
I’d work tirelessly and needed little sleep, often getting by on 3 or 4 hours a night. My business thrived and my partner and I spent the next three years travelling around the world while working and we lived the most amazing life.
Then in about 2010 I started to feel the crash and would alternate between feeling very low or very driven, sometimes both in the same week.
My partner indicated something was not right and eventually in 2015 I went to see a psychologist. He diagnosed me with Bipolar II and suddenly my life seemed to make sense.
I immediately did as much research as I could to work out ways of managing it.
It took me quite a few years to reach the point of “stability” but by making use of several tools at the same time I finally found a balance that worked for me, including lots of exercise, diet changes, good sleep and work routines, daily mindfulness practice, CBT, learning to take full responsibility for myself, avoiding stress, accepting my thoughts and feelings and more.
These days I find that my ups and downs are very slight and very manageable. I still keep on trying new things and get better each year.
Someone asked me if I see bipolar as a gift or a curse, and looking back at my life I would have maybe described it as a curse but these days when I look at how much I’ve achieved, experienced and progressed I definitely see it as a gift.
Visit Steve’s website Bipolar Control.