From one week to the next I’d swing between elated and sad. I’d wake up some mornings and wish I hadn’t. I’d drag myself out of bed and put my face on for the world. I couldn’t understand how everyone could see the good in things. To me, everything seemed so bad.
Then came the weeks when the sun pushed away the clouds. I felt like the luckiest and happiest person in the world. I was popular, young and healthy. The world was full of opportunities and the bar was full of drink.
Drinking went hand in hand with my high moods. When I was hyper I’d hit the wine. The numbing buzz married well with my natural high. I took unnecessary and dangerous risks. I felt invincible.
By the time I was twenty I’d sought help for my depression. The Black Dog’s loyalty was becoming a problem. Medication evened me out to some degree but there were still times when I was out of control.
I didn’t care about the consequences of my behaviour or think about the impact it was having on others. My family would be fine without me anyway. No one would miss me if I were gone.
There was no defining moment when I realised I needed help. I just got sick of feeling mentally ill. I hated opening my eyes and not knowing what lay ahead. Would today be the day that I climbed the cliff in achievement or teetered on the brink?
The subsequent bipolar II diagnosis was a shock. I didn’t know much about it, but all my behaviours and moods ticked every box. The ups, the downs, the sickening rollercoaster with no end in sight. Still, it wasn’t easy to accept. Carey told People, “I refuse to allow it to define or control me”. But it can take a while to get there.
The stigma, taboo and the lack of knowledge made me feel isolated. I felt like having a diagnosis wasn’t so much a help as a hinderance. I read stories online by other sufferers and denied that I was the same. It took me a long time to accept the truth.
Now life is so much better. Diagnosis, medication and lifestyle changes have helped me see the light. I no longer drink. I exercise daily. I eat healthily, and I nurture the relationships I have.
To quote Mariah, ‘I’m in a really good place right now.