NAME: Nicola (Nix)
LOCATION: Coventry, UK*
“I was diagnosed at 18, and some 10 years later I still find myself at rock bottom, but have finally discovered my way of coping.
I struggle daily with my mental health. But it is something I am learning to come to terms with. I never really struggled much growing up, until I had my first major bout of depression at university. It took months of counselling and psychologists, weekly appointments governing my life, wondering what was wrong with me, whilst still trying to be a student. It was so confusing how I could go from being so pathetically low that I couldn’t wash or feed myself, or change my clothes, to feeling normal, to just being completely wreckless. I remember the time I bought two wet suits and a trumpet. Neither of which I needed nor could I afford, yet at the time, in that mad moment, I really needed both.
Finally I was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, and suddenly I was hit with relief and sadness. Finally I had a reason. But this would be something I would live with forever. I felt dangerous to myself. How I could flip from feeling suicidal to thinking I could climb the highest trees, or buildings, or walk into the sea in winter, or cut my hair at 3am because I couldn’t sleep until I looked different. How I could flip from feeling disgusting to having an inflated self if worth. I was lost, was I insecure or vain? Was I happy or sad?
At first I was offered lithium, and, at this point, I refused to ever go back to my appointments. I did not want a life of pill popping and blood tests, watching my diet, cutting down on caffeine. I struggled without Medication, sometimes people made me feel better but then when they left my life I was broken again. Depression was worse, the mania was few and far between, I lost the buzz of feeling manic and tumbled into self pity, suicidal thoughts, self hatred, every penny I spent now was on trying to improve myself, better clothes, something that would make me cooler, nothing worked. I had fallen into a state of mind where only love could fix me, but I suffocated people with me need to be reassured. And I suffocated myself with people who did not show me any worth.
After a serious reality check, I took myself to therapy, specifically designed to work on my relationship with myself. I worked out how to channel my mind, still without lithium, how to see the signs, how to analyse what feelings were real and what was my bipolar playing tricks on me. It took so much work, but, I feel like me again. I can sing at work, I can do stuff and enjoy it, I have found things I am good at, i don’t do anything wreckless, I don’t splurge money. Some 10 years after I was diagnosed, still find myself at rock bottom, but have finally discovered my way of coping.
I write, draw, tattoo, let my mind spill out of itself instead of letting it eat away at me, boil and threaten to explode. I will always suffer, I will always be anxious, desperate and distraught at times, and at other times my mind will race. I can not delete my mental health, but I can embrace it, and I have discovered the creativity and art inside me.”
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*Correct at time of submission.