Guest blog by Andrew Yorke
This is a guest blog by Andrew Yorke who has had a long career as a practising paramedic and educator
This is a picture of me.
What do you see?
Would it surprise you to know that when this was taken 5 years ago I was experiencing a significant relapse in the bipolar 2 disorder I have lived with all my adult life? That I was feeling so depressed at the time that I was getting some very frightening impulses and could not imagine myself ever feeling 'better'? That despite being an academic with a long career based on being able to read, write and speak publicly, there were days when I could not read, write or speak to anyone.
The point of this picture is that even I looking at it now cannot truly see the pain I was living with at the time (like the pictures of me that I have used for each of my blogs), and I now know that I managed to keep it pretty well hidden from everyone other than those closest to me. I know that if anyone asked how I was I would tell them that I was “fine” or “good” or “OK” when I was anything but.
This blog is dedicated to everyone living with mental illness who, like me understands how it feels to be asked "how are you?" and reply "Oh, I`m OK....I`m good thank you" when nothing could be further than the truth.
Although you might look a little pale or tired, from the outside no-one can see the pain you are really experiencing. You might be living with stress, anxiety, depression or a combination of all three. You might have a formal diagnosis for how you are feeling, or managing on a day by day basis with an invisible pain that as yet has no name. Or you might be living with, or otherwise supporting someone with a mental health condition.
"Actually I’m not OK" started as a regular column published in the Nursing Times (columns are reproduced with permission), and has enabled me to share my thoughts and experiences of living with bipolar disorder, and to make my own small contribution to challenging the ongoing taboo of mental illness.
Thank you for reading.
Very best wishes,