I don’t know much about bipolar.
Myself – nor any of my close family or friends suffer from this – but I’ve recently got to know someone who does.
Where I work, I deal a lot with the public – we call them ‘consumers’.
Many of these consumers are classed as ‘vulnerable’ – which means they have a mental illness or are going through a stressful/financially difficult time – so need to be treated with extra care.
I recently spoke to a member of the public who was bipolar – and even though we were aware of this – I still didn’t know how to speak to him on the phone.
Was I to speak to him like a child?
Was I to write to him instead of speaking?
What if he suddenly got angry or upset?
I had a list of questions going through my head and didn’t know the answers to them.
This isn’t because I’m naive or stupid – it’s because I don’t know about this condition.
I began to seek guidance from a manager who pointed me in the direction of one of my colleagues (I’ll refer to her as T as I don’t know how she’ll feel me writing her name).
I explained my concern and T just laughed.
In similar words T said – “Are you changing the way you speak to me? Have you ever changed the way you speak to me, even if you think I’m being moody?”
Basically it turns out T suffers from Bipolar.
I had absolutely no idea.
The media and TV/films portray people with Bipolar to be – well to be frank – portray them to be crazy. When in actual fact they are just human beings.
I may have to be more sensitive and change my tone so I don’t upset or offend anyone – but there’s no reason as to why I should treat them any differently to someone else, unless I’m asked too…
The reason as to why I’m choosing to write this post is because of the lack of knowledge, and the stigma behind a mental health condition.
We go to the gym to help our bodies – why can’t we go to a therapist to help our mind?!
There should be no stigma attached to a mental health condition – if you speak to a therapist it should be “good for you” – the same as if someone was to say they joined a gym.
T told me that’s it’s Bipolar Awareness Day today, and gave me a great website:
This website isn’t just for finding out ways to be more aware, but also has links to get help and just basic information on all types of mental health conditions.
For example, today I learnt that:
Mental health receives less than 6% of all health research funding in the UK. Within mental health research, bipolar only receives 1.6%.
This is scarily low.
So many lives are taken each day because people are too scared to tell others that something is wrong, or simply don’t have the support needed.
This isn’t my usual post, but I feel quite strongly about this subject.
Mental health isn’t a joke and not something to be feared or ashamed.
Please let me know if you found the link useful, and let me know of any other upcoming days for mental health.