Jayne Collins lives with bipolar disorder and talks about what 'recovery' means for her 

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2002, and since then I have found myself going down the recovery road many, many times.

Recovery to me is a period of stability. 

You can't completely recover from an illness that is incurable, it's for life, but you can learn how to manage it with good coping skills and medication to get back on an even ground.

To achieve stability I think you need good support from psychiatrists, doctors, support workers and family.

'I cannot stress enough how debilitating my manic episodes are for me. Afterwards it's like starting your life from scratch all over again with all the shame and damaged pride'

Patience, understanding and empathy play a vital role with obviously the support of correct medications.

Integrating into society 

However I do feel that there is a gap in the recovery path for integration back into society.

I think more help is needed to help people with bipolar disorder regain social skills, confidence and self-esteem after an episode.

I often find it very difficult to feel on a par with the general public. 

Your confidence is shattered and to only see a professional once a week is not enough after an episode.

Feeling worthless 

I cannot stress enough how debilitating my manic episodes are for me.

Afterwards it's like starting your life from scratch all over again with all the shame and damaged pride, not to mention the emptiness and worthlessness you feel. 

Being so close to death after suicide attempts and realising how close I came to ending my life is terrifying when I ruminate over my actions. My state of mind took me there.

A slow process 

'Just when you think everything is going well you experience a mood swing and it tips your balance and requires input from your psychiatrist and lifestyle changes'

I have been recovering since diagnosis and it is a slow process, 15 years on I’m still searching for the right combination of tablets. 

Just when you think everything is going well you experience a mood swing and it tips your balance and requires input from your psychiatrist and lifestyle changes.

Before I was diagnosed my whole world had fallen apart. I had lost my job, my house, a husband who just didn’t understand me, my car and my dog and my life’s savings.

My life now is unrecognisable.

I am happily remarried to a man who understands me, I live in a cosy cottage in Cumbria, have a cat, run the Serenity Community Café for people with Mental Health problems on a weekly basis and run a Bipolar Group every month.

I am on the advisory panel at the Spectrum Centre at Lancaster University.

Knock backs

With an illness as unpredictable as bipolar disorder there will always be knock backs. 

But you have to learn from each episode and be armed for when it happens again, acting faster on your early warning signs and putting steps in place to ease the severity of the mood swing and maintain the balance to move forward in obtaining further recovery. 

Bipolar is an illness that doesn't have to define who you are and on your good days there’s no better person to be around.

It’s important to have hope and believe in recovery to achieve the lifestyle you desire.

Mental Health Today campaigns to make crisis care more compassionate and humane. We are all entitled to better mental health care but we rely on voluntary one-off donations from our readers: please consider a small donation if you would like to read more articles like this one.

JustGiving Donate Now

Donation Information Mental Health Today logo