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YOUR VOICE: Everyone needs a sounding board…

I am a 51 year old who suffers from bipolar disorder, and I have done for many years. It’s the textbook kind: Crushing, debilitating lows locked inside a deep depression, then euphoric highs where risk-taking and spending money I can’t afford are the absolute norm and no one could tell me otherwise.

On top of that, and the reason why I’m writing this post today, is that I have had two suicide attempts, about 10 years ago and within 6 months of each other. Not “cries for help” (that overused term usually uttered by people that don’t understand) but genuinely not wanting to be around.

Close friends and family know the details, but those on the fringes – employees, employers and friends of friends – are totally unaware.

When I think back to those incidents, I recognise the triggers, all those small things tacking themselves onto other small things, which amounted to me feeling hopeless, empty and completely alone.

Now, on the other side and 10 years on, I still really struggle with my mental health and I know I probably always will. However, thankfully suicide doesn’t cross my mind anymore. I haven’t turned my life around with a great job, big house and an envious social circle, but what those dark dark days did teach me is that there are people out there that care if you can have the courage to let them in. 

I purposely don’t spend time with the “what have you got to feel depressed about?” brigade. I have a few close male friends, who have heard all my stories and would never dream of judging me (good news when you waste so much energy judging yourself!) So, think about which friends and family members will be there for you and be as open with them as possible. 

Pressures on men and women are different but everyone needs a sounding board, even if it’s just one person who is totally sympathetic – a stranger at the other end of CALM’s helpline even. I still battle most days, but I know that I don’t need to fight alone.

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