Obviously, my name is Nicci and I thank you for taking the time to visit my (new) site.
16 years ago at the age of 35, I was diagnosed with Bipolar and OCD tendencies; 21 years after I was first diagnosed with depression at 14. During those 21 years I had been under the care of a few Psychologists and Psychiatrists, but my hypo/mania was never picked up; mainly due to my not seeking support when hypomanic. I mean, who needs a doctor when you feel great, right? Or I was too irritable or paranoid to leave home when manic.
It was only when I was barely sleeping, had elevated energy, was extremely irritable and enraged (so much so that I was scared for those around me, scared of myself and what I might do), that I requested a referral to Psychiatrist in the region I had recently relocated to. It was at this point in time my Mum told me my Grandmother had had Manic Depression; I had known she had depression and that she ended her own life, but this information was a revelation. This, combined with my answers to the Psychiatrist, was the reason for the final diagnosis.
As with many people, I was given a script for medication and sent on my merry way with no information about my illness or the medications I would be taking, just the instruction to return in two weeks. As I was struggling in the midst of my mania I start looking for support groups in my region. I rang over 20 (no exaggeration) mental health services and hospitals to try and find a support group close by. Finally after being referred to VMIAC (Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council) did I get a straight answer. The gentleman I spoke with advised there were only two known Bipolar support groups in Victoria; one in Burwood and one in Geelong. Both of these groups were over an hour from where I lived and not viable options, so I consulted Dr Google, educated myself through reading a variety of books and found FyrenIyce (Australia’s Bipolar Website and Online Support Group).
Still in my heightened state, I wondered how many others were out there struggling by themselves that would benefit from a local support group. I put the wheels in motion and within three months had the Melton Depression & Bipolar Support Group Inc. up and running; run by sufferers for sufferers (I hadn’t yet learned about the term Consumer). I facilitated the group for the first two years, co-facilitated for two years and then when I moved to Geelong it continued on for another 3 years. It was a very well attended group and I am grateful every day that I went against the insistence that I encountered from several mental health professionals not to establish the group ‘because people with Bipolar are too volatile’.
Approximately a year after starting the support group I responded to a somewhat scathing article by a journalist, who as part of a group of mental health articles, wrote about the selfishness of a friend and her anger when her friend took her own life. In my response I laid bare my experience of living with and travelling through suicidal depression, again and again and again and again. The newspaper contacted me immediately after receipt of my letter, asking if I would be willing to be interviewed for an article in the upcoming weekly addition. Interview done, picture taken, it went to print. The response was overwhelming; the number of people who contacted me and congratulated me on having the courage to be so open and honest, was outstanding. I realised from this, that sharing first hand insight of our experiences with mental illness is a very powerful tool; to educate, to increase awareness and understanding and reduce stigma. As a result the idea of producing a living manuscript collecting stories of mental health lived experience was born and so ‘Glimpses – a collection of uncensored personal stories of living with a mental illness’ came to life. Glimpses now has over 70 personal stories and continues to grow as people continue to submit new stories. Take the time to have a look at the stories when you next pop into the site.
Now with the leaps and bounds in technology I have decided to move into the present to hopefully achieve what I was aiming for when I originally commenced Glimpses, to use first hand insight into living with a mental illness to help educate anyone and everyone, 1. To see that I/we are the person, 2. The illness is secondary to the person.
I also wanted to capture and provide links to supports, courses, research studies, etc, along with information on different treatments and therapies in the one place. I ask that you bear with me as I research, collect and collate information and research findings for This Is My Reality. I am but one person who doesn’t have a clue on how to set up a web page, but am doing so with the assistance of my friend’s wonderful son Jeremy of Infinity Cases - https://www.facebook.com/infinitycasesgeelong.
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