My name is Afrika and I’m a 23-year-old musician who was diagnosed with bipolar a little over two months ago.
Pre-diagnosis I kept up a busy life holding down three jobs as well as trying to climb the music industry ladder. My illness affected me by driving me to become over productive, filling my entire day with work, anxiety when not working, manic episodes and irritation. On the 4th of November 2013, I was admitted into hospital with hypermania, I stayed there for 2 months.
Whilst in hospital I found my preconceptions of mentally ill patients were strongly challenged. There weren’t padded cells, straight jackets or people being held down. But rather determined people working through their own issues by talking and coming up with a recovery plan with a specialist team of nurses, occupational therapists and psychiatrists.
‘There weren’t padded cells, straight jackets or people being held down. ‘
Outside the safety of the hospital I had fears about work that people would think I was faking my illness mainly because it’s not something you can see. I feared I would be treated differently in my music work, that parents would be concerned about me being left alone with their child whilst teaching them. I never told my employers about my diagnosis or why I was admitted into hospital, I just said I was recovering from stress. I believed that if they knew they wouldn’t take me back or would think I would be a danger to the students. My experience of informing people about my condition tends to be that I’m surrounded by friends who are walking on eggshells worrying about what could trigger a downwards spiral of my mental health.
I feared I would be treated differently in my music work
It’s too early to say whether I am getting better or what recovery looks like for me but I manage life by throwing myself back into my work
and trying to progress each day.What would make things easier is if I could be kinder to myself and if people could be kinder to each other and for friends to keep being understanding and supportive, but not oversensitive to my condition.
I believe people who have experienced mental health difficulties almost have a duty to break the stereotypes of mental health patients as being dangerous, irredeemably mad and useless. This could be done by re-engaging with friends, families and neighbours and talking about their conditions where appropriate and becoming just another member of the diverse communities that form our world.
‘..people who have experienced mental health difficulties almost have a duty to break the stereotypes of mental health patients as being dangerous, irredeemably mad and useless.’