As part of our mission to raise awareness we’ve been hearing from supporters, staff and volunteers about their experiences of mental health issues. Today’s blog is from Anna.
11 years ago, I suffered a mental breakdown where I experienced two manic episodes followed by severe depression. I was in my early 20’s. This was incredibly traumatizing. Thankfully, I have not experienced this again, but it has left me with an anxiety disorder. During this episode I got into trouble with people around me who didn’t know why I was behaving so erratically.
I went out on a night out with friends, and we got separated. I was arrested for drunken and disorderly behavior. As I was behaving inappropriately, I talked myself into trouble. I was prosecuted for assaulting a police officer. This was during a manic episode. At the time I was incredibly vulnerable and I did not understand my own illness and I did not have the capacity to explain or defend myself. The police came down hard on me because my behavior was bizarre, and to them without context unexplainable and inexcusable. Because I pled not guilty and lost, I received a heavy fine. This experience and everything that happened at that time was humiliating and traumatizing.
What did your experience of mania feel like?
I was speaking a mile a minute, dressing strangely and acting differently with no control over my behavior – which was completely out of character. I felt powerful and on top of the world but out of control and intense. If it rained I thought it was a sign, I lost all inhibition.
Losing control in this way was scary and when people around me didn’t understand, it felt very lonely. I have moved on with my life since my breakdown and had lots of counselling to help me work through things. I have found campaigning and raising awareness of mental health problems has helped. I empathize and care deeply about mental illness and the need to challenge stigma and discrimination because these issues stop people from recovering and getting on with their lives.
I take a lot of pride in helping others and being able to say – I survived a mental health crisis.
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