I'm learning now not to be so hard on myself, and to accept that mental illness rarely fits a neat recovery model. I'm learning that it's ok to see the funny side, even when everything seems bleak. And I'm learning to live and function more effectively with the emotional ebb and flow of bipolar disorder. All humans are bipolar to varying degrees - some of us happen to experience more extreme highs and lows. Or react in more extreme ways. And that's ok.
So - chin up, best foot forward. I'm doing the best I can, being mum to an increasingly hilarious two year old, and partner to an ever-patient man who makes everything I do possible. Blogging and social media have both taken a back seat, and that's been no bad thing, but I think I'm ready to re-engage with the world of mental health advocacy and peer support. There is a lot to do.
The original purpose of this blog was to document progress towards establishing a local social enterprise cafe. While it all began with a (in hindsight) flurry of manic over-ambition, the original aim remains. My goals now benefit from both a sharp personal reality check and some invaluable advice from new friends and colleagues in the maternal mental health community:
- the need for safeguarding and professional oversight (don't risk personal health and safety, and that of potential service users)
- the importance of a multidisciplinary team/committee (don't try to do everything yourself)
- a phased approach to project goals (don't try to do everything all at once).
At times over the last six months my brain has been full to bursting with ideas, plans, thoughts. While being in a "bipolar mixed mood" can be dangerous, it can also be intensely creative and inspiring. I would love to take some of my ideas and see them through. It will take hard work, and a lot of planning and perseverance, but I will get there.
More than anything, I want to be useful. I want to help make the change needed in the world my little boy is growing up in. Ok, so maybe I can't change the world - but if we don't at least try to improve our local community, to use our experiences to help others, then what's the point in any of it? In my sphere of maternal mental health, local children and family services are at grave risk of government cuts. NHS mental health services are stretched to the limit, and the cracks are getting wider. If voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises don't step in then who will?
To be continued... I will leave you with one more gratuitous island paradise shot: