Inspirational Stories of Recovery

My Recovery from Bi-Polar by Annette

I have bi-polar and fibromyalgia and wish to talk about my recovery. 

I currently teach piano and look after my young daughter. My volunteers from Group61 have provided invaluable support with weekly or fortnightly visits. Both have provided after-hours support when professionals are not readily available. This support has helped with day-to-day stresses that occur with normal living. As I no longer have my parents, it helps to have reliable support. 

I also have a supportive husband who listens patiently to me, visited me in hospital daily and is dedicated to encouraging me to become the best I can be.  He has a demanding career as a scientist and goes away with work regularly.  During his absence I rely on my friends, family and own resources to manage.

My supportive doctors will spend time gently and patiently listening and understanding my health issues.  It has taken a while to find the right psychiatrist and GP in the right location for me. My current ones have been seeing me for many years and were based on recommendations. 

A network of supportive friends, built over many years from churches, school, Group61 and other friends that I meet everywhere, are always ready to offer help.  I have learnt not to rely heavily on the one friend but spread myself out.

The trigger for my illness was when both my parents became ill. My mother was diagnosed with early-onset dementia and my father had three heart attacks and a heart tear.  My father later developed dementia too.  My father was very close to death with the heart tear.  At that time, I was the sole Enduring Power of Attorney for my parents’ affairs. The family house and affairs were in a complete mess and the taxation was years behind.  My father was very abusive to me and uncooperative with working on matters of the Enduring Power of Attorney.  I was also facing marital issues which you would normally face under the pressure of a period of ongoing stress from external forces.

I had a long period of illness over many years, originally with depression in childhood and with bi-polar commencing in mid 2004. My first hospital admission was confusing - I didn’t know what I had.  I later learnt that my grandfather and aunt had suspected bi-polar.  I had a second admission to review my medication and came out feeling upset.  I came across Group61 and was put into contact with a volunteer who has been fantastic.  Group61 volunteers visited me in hospital during my further two admissions. 

I was working in a government department as a document controller, and in August 2005 I was told to take a payout or find a manager that would take me with a medical problem. I left and wondered how I was going to fill in my time productively.  Sadly, I then lost my mother in October that year. 

In August 2007, I was employed part-time in administration, a job I heard about through the volunteer.  My confidence increased through working and ongoing support.  Sadly, I lost my father in October 2007.  In January 2009, I resigned from the job for my manager got too difficult to deal with.

I read material on depression and bi-polar to identify ways to improve.  Mary Ellen Copeland’s writings are particularly helpful.

In 2011 I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Bridget, who is a wonderful blessing to us and others.

Finally the good news is that my psychiatrist has said I have recovered from bi-polar.  I have residual anxiety but I am working on managing that with exercise and a good support structure. I have lots of supportive family and friends who love spending time with me and my family and I enjoy teaching piano.


I’m Normal! by Julie Richardson                                                                         

On Friday morning I had trouble getting going. This is always a sign that I’m stressed. After breakfast I did my meditation as usual but, after having my shower, I felt like lying down again. Although it was a work day, I made another cup of tea and read my book as I drank it. There was a lot to do at work but I decided to listen to my feelings rather than let my worries consume me.

I have been walking from Clayfield to Lutwyche in the morning to get some exercise and also to catch just one bus to work. Although exercise is good for my mental health, I felt my best option this morning was the ten minute walk to the Clayfield bus stop. I would then catch a connecting bus in the city.

It was also time for some mindfulness activity so I listened to music on my mobile and enjoyed the sunshine as I walked to the bus stop. Walking to be beat of the music probably made me look rather peculiar but ‘who cares’, other people can think what they like. Walking this way helped me stretch and relax my muscles.

On the bus I continued to listen to my music and enjoy the sunny day. Waiting for the bus in the city, I indulged in a little more muscle stretching to the music. This was done as unobtrusively as possible to avoid unnecessary attention. I do still worry what others think, however it would be great if people felt comfortable to dance in the street!

By the time I arrived at work I was feeling really relaxed. I prioritised my tasks and began work with surprising concentration. By midday I’d completed all the tasks I’d allocated for the day so I allowed myself a leisurely lunch sitting outside in the sun and refusing to think of the remaining tasks on my list.

By 2 pm I began to feel fatigued again so I decided that, as it was Friday and I’d done my required hours for the week, I would take an early mark to go shopping. Shopping is a relaxing activity for me and I needed some new shoes. I took my time trying on several pairs before making a choice. Instead of a fattening snack for afternoon tea, I bought a Subway for an early dinner and had time to browse in other shops before I caught the bus home.

Arriving home, my weariness had returned and I realised that I would need an early night. But I also appreciated how much I’ve grown in the past six months or so. Previously these tired feelings made me anxious. I would begin to worry that I was abnormal and I’d be exhausted all day and wouldn’t get my work done on time. Then all the comparisons to others would start and, before I’d left home, I had branded myself was the world’s most useless person.

Now I understand I’m an individual who tires easily but, if I listen to my body and I do what it tells me, I can easily get through the day without tiring myself even more through constant worry and negative thinking. I don’t need to push myself or refuse myself breaks to allow more time for work. I can be gentle with myself just as I would be with anyone else who was suffering from stress.



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