They walk among us

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I was 18 the first time I went mad. When this was taken I had already been depressed, tried to kill myself, had one manic episode, gone to a mental health unit, come out, done my A-levels and just got back from trekking round Mongolia (Picture: Yvette Caster)

For most of my life I tried so hard to be perfect.

The perfect pupil, the perfect student, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect employee, the perfect boss, the perfect girlfriend.

Not only was it exhausting but it made me hide something about myself that I believed to be indisputable proof I could never be perfect.

The fact that I’m bipolar.

Earlier this month I essentially ‘came out’ as this to most of my friends, extended family, colleagues and readers via an article for World Mental Health Day.

It was called 14 things you only know if you’ve gone mad and, if you missed it, you can read it here.

As you can see from the comments not everyone agrees with my points but then the world would be a very dull place if we were all unanimous in our opinions.

Writing about being bipolar wasn’t easy. I have never been so nervous of hitting publish.

I’m not sure what I thought might happen – if the sky would fall or I’d never work again or my friends would block my calls.

All I know is I’d had enough of carrying around the secret.

I can’t speak for anyone else who is bipolar but, for me, it’s enough managing my condition without the added weight of pretending to be perfect and perfectly ‘normal’ every day.

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On the Great Wall of China, aged 18, with my travel buddies. LOOK HOW THIN I WAS.

And, now that I think about it, I wonder what it must be like to go through life on an even keel.

To never have had so many neurons firing in your brain you burst with ideas and stay up all night writing.

To never have drifted up, past that point, and lost touch with reality.

To never have fallen so far afterwards that you sleep all day because you’re too tired to end it.

To never have despised yourself so much you itch to snuff yourself out.

When I first went mad, at the age of 18, I thought that because I was no longer perfect I’d either have to kill myself or spend the rest of my life as the world’s greatest undiscovered actress playing the part of ‘normal woman’.

Now the show’s over it’s a relief.

Several friends have said ‘I’ve known you for years and I never had any idea because, well, you seem so normal.’

I guess that counts as rave reviews.

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