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February 14, 2019

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Mind Matters

Mind Matters: Experiencing Bipolar Disorder

Rob Stephenson speaks about his experiences with Bipolar Disorder in ‘Mind Matters’, a series of mental health videos from SHP and The Healthy Work Company.

Mind Matters - Experiencing Bipolar DisorderOver the next few weeks, SHP and The Healthy Work Company will be publishing a series of videos featuring people speaking candidly about their personal experiences with mental ill health.

In the second of the series, Rob Stephenson discusses his experiences with Bipolar Disorder.

Rob speaks about the treatment and support he has had since being diagnosed, his feelings on finding the best treatment for him and what people can do with make it easier for friends and colleagues with Bipolar Disorder.

“Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness which is characterised by extremes of mood,” Rob told The Healthy Work Company’s Heather Beach, “from deep, dark depression, when I can’t get out of bed, through to periods of mania, where I can make very bad financial decisions, I believe I’m invincible and I believe always right.”

Rob says he “experiences” Bipolar Disorder, rather than suffers from it because there are periods in the middle which he sees as a strength.

“For example, my moments of greatest creativity are when I’m slightly manic, but in control.”

“I have a belief,” he added, “that we all have mental health and we all oscillate on a continuum, I think just oscillate a little bit more widely than that average.”

Treatment

Later in the interview, Rob speaks about his treatment. “When you’re diagnosed with a mental illness, you believe all of a sudden that you have an answer and that you’re going be fixed.”

“For a while that was the case, but after a few months it started to come back and that was shattering. You start to realise that the issue is difficult to fix, if it’s fixable at all.”

“The lowest point I had was soon after that realisation and the it took years for me to get where I am now, which is successful management of the condition.”

Making life easier

“I have a big issue with the question ‘how are you?’. The answer to which is often ‘I’m ok, ‘I’m good’, ‘I’m fine’, almost like it’s a ritual and then they move on.

“I want to challenge people to ask that question, twice if required, mean it, and on the flip side, answer it honestly.

“Some of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had is when a contact, a colleague, a client has asked ‘how are you doing?’ and I’ve answered with, ‘actually I’m not doing so great today, I’m struggling’.”

Watch the interview in full, here:

For more on the Mind Matters series, click here.

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