ADHD, Bipolar, Mental Health, Mental Health Nursing, Mental Health Treatment, Recovery, University

My journey through uni and a bloody bipolar diagnosis….

Well here I am now in 2017 aiming to pick up the blog that never was… oppsie! This is the thing I have trouble with a lot – starting things and not finishing them. Much has happened since I wrote my first post in 2013.
At that time I was forced (by myself) to take early mat leave from my nursing degree.
A bit of background before that though which is so relevant to my life now. I had chosen to do a mental health nursing degree following recovery from postnatal depression (2007-2009). It was a change of career from admin. I wanted to help others. It was like life’s calling. An epiphany!

I’d started the course in 2010, finishing the 1st year.

2011, I started the 2nd year and decided to have a baby. The timing was perfect I thought. I had a wonderful plan! I was due summer 2012. I’d break for summer, give birth and my partner would be the stay at home dad. I’d return back 6 or so weeks post birth for year 3. Simple right? No.

It didn’t work out. My attempt to come off of psych meds during pregnancy failed and there ensued antenatal then postnatal depression. Treatment failed, I entered mental health services again and was ‘reclassified’ with cyclothymia. This is on the bipolar spectrum and requires different treatment so no wonder I didn’t respond and I kept getting unwell. To make matters worse (it felt) my uni also had no space for me to return so I had to wait until Sept 13. In a way, all good for recovery and a blessing in disguise…

Sept 13 arrived and although difficult I completed year 2. Summer passed without event as I recall.

Sept 14 arrived and I began year 3… it wasn’t meant to be. I became seriously unwell again just 3 or so weeks later. Thus followed an acute psych inpatient admission (my first and only to date) 4 hours away from home. I had to be intermittent off the course. AGAIN.

I was discharged 6 weeks later feeling very scared about re-integrating. As an outpatient a number of psychiatrists saw me because they kept leaving. Not my fault 😂. The NHS is in short supply. All of them did their evaluations and I was diagnosed eventually with bipolar affective disorder (type 1). It was really fucking scary, the scariest time of my entire life. Turned out I had gone through a mixed episode (mania and depression at the same time) which is why I went to hospital. I then rapidly cycled for the following 6 months.

Sept 15 arrived. I returned to university to complete my final year. The university and NHS put in and funded me for various reasonable adjustments making sure I was fit to practice. They arranged an educational psychologist to assess me for ADHD. So now I have a diagnosis of the inattentive type of ADHD too which is no surprise really when I reflect on my life. Fabulous. All the staff were wonderful and got me through the challenges of the year. It was really tough as I wasn’t and am never without symptoms to some extent. However I did it!

Summer 2016 I qualified and registered as a mental health nurse. I was overjoyed and had done really well. Within 8 weeks of my first post (inpatient staff nurse) I was struck with a deep bipolar depression and off bloody sick. Embarrassed and deflated.

This is the problem with bipolar and something that sometimes gets me so frustrated. I try so hard to move forward, get stable, then become unwell again. Bipolar is a cyclical illness; some people have two episodes in a lifetime (the criteria for bipolar being at least one manic or hypomanic episode. Then a depression.), but it’s quite common to have more. The more you have the more likely you will continue to have them (kindling theory for another post)….

Anyway that’s my update for now and I will post again soon.

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