Stephen Fry has been diagnosed with cyclothymia, which he has described as ‘bipolar lite’ a milder form of bipolar disorder. Coincidently I have also been diagnosed with cyclothymia. So when I heard Stephen’s podcast interview with Richard Herring in which he shared details of his mental health issues, including a recent suicide attempt I felt an affinity with what he shared. I knew how hard sharing that must have been for him.
I have shared details of my mental health issues with you here and here. I’ve shared these feelings in hopes that I can lesson the stigma, normalise the illness for others. However to be honest I find sharing the details of my faulty brain excruciatingly embarrassing. I don’t want to be the ‘crazy girl’ the ‘unpredictable one’ or the ‘unreliable one’. I want to fit in, and when I’m well I just want to pretend that the illness is not there. I’ve experienced unstable mood for as long as I can remember. I’ve had a diagnosis for these mood swings for over ten years and yet I’m still somewhat in denial. I don’t want it to be my story.
I take medication now, daily, and it works really well. Regardless there are still some days on which I want to skip it, to prove to myself that I don’t need it. Perhaps the doctors have this wrong, perhaps without it I will be just fine. So I don’t take my daily dose, and perhaps the first day I’m fine, but by day two or three my paranoia returns, my low self esteem paired with an irritation level unbearable for me and those closest to me.The world begins to close in against me. So I sigh, accept defeat and pop the little white pills once more and everything is fine. I hate it. I hate accepting that to achieve ‘normal’ I need medication. It’s embarrassing!
However what Stephen shared takes some of the sting out of my shame. It makes me feel less alone, less odd, and helps me accept myself more. Because he is a national treasure and this status isn’t changed by his illness, it isn’t him, I’m not thinking about his illness when I watch him perform. It’s one facet, it doesn’t define him. If this can be true about Stephen Fry then it can be true about me. So I’m thanking Stephen Fry, and hoping his medication is working as well as mine.