So why have you come in today?
Here goes nothing.
"I have suffered from depression my entire adult life but I have never taken any medication. A doctor offered me some anti-depressants in 2009, but I didn't take them. I have recently decided that I would like to give something a try to see if they help. I don't have depression... I have bipolar because I am either peel me off the ceiling high or cripplingly low."
mmm... could you describe what you mean by high?
"I talk at 100 miles an hour, even my partner notices this now, I feel drunk, or on drugs, I feel overly confident, I can't sleep, I don't need to eat, my mind is in hyper drive and I am incredibly impulsive. I make impulsive decisions. I sometimes can't remember what I have done."
mmm... how long do these periods last?
"They used to last months, but I noticed them getting shorter - and now I can switch in an instant. With no indication or cause. I can 'feel' it in the middle of the night - suddenly descend on me."
mmm... and do you want to harm yourself?
"No, never, not since I was much younger - I have lived with it for so long that I 'know' what it is and can take myself out of it and know it will pass".
mmm... I will just go and speak to another doctor.
Moments passed. I am amazed at myself for speaking so calmly and not crying. How sane I must look.
OK, we do not think you have Bipolar because people with Bipolar make incredibly impulsive decisions like gamble away thousands of pounds. And you don't sound that impulsive. Also the periods are too short, people with Bipolar have highs for months.
So.. I can give you some anti-depressants if you want me to give you them or if you really want to - you can be assessed by our mental health team. (separate number, separate place, separate time, waiting list).
From somewhere deep inside I found a surprising amount of courage and insisted I was assessed.
I didn't realise you 'specifically' had to be a gambler to qualify as Bipolar. I didn't realise I would have to play a game of 'I'm more impulsive than you'. I didn't realise it was a competition. I didn't realise I would have to convince you of how manic I can be.
Perhaps I didn't fit the picture of 'Bipolar' she had in her head. Perhaps I came across too normal, too calm! Perhaps my clothes were too smart or my hair was too styled? Perhaps I didn't look dishevelled enough? Perhaps she thought I just wanted to jump on the bandwagon or my idol was Stephen Fry?
I can honestly say, no - I haven't gambled with money in my life (unless you include credit cards).
But I have gambled
with my own life,
with my own health,
with my heart,
with my career,
with other people,
with my relationships.
I have quit more jobs than I can count - gambling with my career, my future.
I got married on an impulse.
I had an affair on an impulse.
I have made catastrophic choices and spent long periods of time languishing in the ecstatic warmth of a high - before nose diving into a murky hole of utter self hatred and despair.
I am the gambler you were looking for - I was sitting right in front of your nose, and you missed me.