(I can’t be the only one)
By Sandy Knox
Key Themes: bi-polar affective disorder, practical issues, financial implications, benefits, recovery, re-building life
This book is about the reality of coping with Bi-polar Disorder when it has devastated your world. It’s about living with Bi-polar on benefits as opposed to, say, Bi-polar on Bollinger, which is all we’ve seen on TV and in the press, it seems. How many sufferers are there who have lost everything to this burden and face a bleak future? How many sufferers are alone with it, undiagnosed, wrongly diagnosed, untreated, unsupported?
Sadly there’s a deep-held view that those, particularly single mums, claiming mental ill-health and state benefits are lazy, ignorant parasites who should get a job! Those who genuinely want to be treated, supported and guided back to work and who, long after the episode has passed, are faced with crippling confidence and self-esteem issues, no money and no apparent opportunities, are at the mercy of boredom, frustration, tedium and illness. This book highlights these issues, takes a poke at the Government, addressing problems within the DSS, NHS and private psychiatry.
Bi-polar (or manic depression, whichever term you prefer) is hard to put form to, hard to describe and harder still for carers, friends and family to understand. Greater understanding could make the world of difference to the sufferer. This book goes some way to providing, for the carer, a little insight and, for the sufferer, a little comfort maybe, in knowing that there are more in their boat than they might once have thought.
About the Author
Sandy Knox was born and raised in Whitley Bay, Northumberland. In her early twenties she spent four years working in New York. Back in the UK she lived in Hertfordshire and worked within marketing design, married and had a son. She now lives in West Sussex with her son and two Greyhounds and enjoys, in her own words, ‘not a lot’!
I know only one other diagnosed Bi-polar, Cara, a published author on the subject of mental ill health and by some strange, perverted coincidence we are tied together in very similar boats. She is out there bravely facing the storm, struggling with the sails, trying to keep on course and I am the coward afraid to leave the relative safety of the harbour. We are just two women whose lives have been razed to the ground. Two intelligent, caring, strong, decent women, who have lost their confidence, esteem, marriages, careers, respect. Two women who we’re once successful (questionable on my part) now scraping by on benefits. A burden on the already overburdened back of society. Two single mums, scrounging off the taxpayer, who should pull themselves together and get a job!
If only we could. If only we could get consistent, appropriate medical treatment we would. And we are asking for it, no matter how many times the NHS and the DSS screws up and knocks us down we’ll keep banging on their door, we have no choice.
It’s fair to say that depression is the opposite of mania. I am still the same, recognisable person; it’s just that my mindset is different. In depression I see impossible and in mania I see possible. The issues that haunt me in depression are considered mere trivialities in mania – just hiccups in the grand scheme of things, so trivial in fact, I brush them off or simply just ignore them… now which credit card should I put this holiday on?.
I go with the analogy that my brain is a computer, silly though it sounds. To operate efficiently, all my software has to install successfully every day. As I write this, I can safely say that my writing software did fully install this morning, whereas my “personal appearance” software didn’t!
I have divided my mindset into three. I’m depressed, not depressed or manic and there are three levels within each. When I’m depressed, which is most of the time these days, I’m depressed, very depressed or really depressed. And if I’m manic I’m either a bit manic, quite manic or really manic and when I’m neither depressed nor manic I’m usually flat, okay or shell-shocked. That’s it. There is, of course, the fear, anxiety, etc; they also have their own levels.