For those of you who have not seen the article I thought I’d run the details on here. There is more on the Sun’s website and further pics were used on the page itself but hopefully this will be enough to give you a bit of a flavor.
Enjoy and please feedback about the content, how it has been written or if there is anything which stood out to you. I am currently absurdly thick skinned so feel free to pull no punches if ther is something you need to get off your chest and if you would like the comment just be to me let me know and I will not check it and make it public after accessing it.
Diary of a Bipolar Breakdown
Ellie O’Neill told of how she suffered on Twitter page
By Lynsey Haywood
Published 10 Nove 2011
WHEN Ellie O’Neill was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she started tweeting to raise awareness of mental illness.
She planned to wear a different dress every day for a year and to post pictures of herself online in all the outfits.
It was a similar project to that of fashionata Poppy Disney, 24, who became an internet hit earlier this year with her fashion blog.
But halfway through what was meant to be a fun and lighthearted project all that changed – when Ellie’s own bipolar manifested itself with dramatic symptoms.
She became physically ill – fainting, sweating, losing blood – then mentally, she began to crumble.
Her Twitter page became a diary of her breakdown and her blog gave a heart-wrenching insight into the life of someone with bipolar.
She continued to tell her story from A&E and her hospital bed – to an audience of strangers on Twitter.
Ellie, 27, from Market Harborough, Leics said: “I didn’t really know much about bipolar when I was diagnosed after recurring bouts of depression in my twenties.
“At first I was told I had bipolar 2 – a milder form. Then things took a turn for the worse and I was told I had bipolar 1. It’s a very individual illness. People see stars like Kerry Katona falling apart and that’s what they think it is. But it’s different for everyone who is diagnosed.
“I’m back on track now. I’m working again and I’m feeling really well.”
Ellie, a local newspaper journalist, suffered her first bout of depression when she was 19 at Manchester University.
She quit and returned to her home in Market Harborough but returned to the university the following year.
It wasn’t until October 2009 that she was diagnosed. She had to take two types of medication – an anti-depressant and a mood-leveller.
This had been enough to keep her on an even keel but in September last year, after splitting with her boyfriend and having a few petty rows with her family, Ellie’s condition spiralled out of control.
The old feelings returned and she went to Kettering General Hospital. She was sent away but when she returned home she fainted.
An ambulance was called and she was returned to A&E.
Ellie found solace in her mobile phone, updating her account on Twitter and sending desperate messages to friends.
She even tweeted Sarah Brown because the wife of former Prime Minister Gordon was one of Ellie’s followers and had been keeping in touch with the mental health charity MIND. Sarah replied to say she was following her ordeal.
From A&E Ellie was placed on a ward where all she can remember is desperately wanting to escape.
She spent long hours in the hospital chapel, hiding from doctors, hiding from nurses, and trying to hide from life itself.
Doctors eventually found her medical notes and realised she had a history of mental illness and Ellie was taken by ambulance to the specialist Brandon Unit at Leicester General Hospital. She had been there before but only as an outpatient.
She said: “I genuinely thought I was in some kind of dream, but a dream from which I couldn’t wake up. I didn’t think I was a threat to myself or anyone else.”
But the doctors thought differently and Ellie was sectioned.
Describing the ward, Ellie likened the patients to those on any hospital ward, adding, “Their difference is that they are mentally ill, rather than physically ill. It is no big deal.
“It is partly why I wanted to do this article, to show that people with mental health problems are also normal people.
“I think people assume patients in there are going to be dangerous. They’re not. Yet we don’t speak about it we don’t discuss it as a society. We just brush it under the carpet.
“We’ve rid ourselves of so much stigma – about race, gender, class – which is good. But there is still so much stigma about mental health.” Ellie attempted suicide at her lowest – and urges anyone with similar feelings to seek help.
In her blog she admitted feeling suicidal, calling it the “S” word. “This morning I woke up with one thing on my mind,” she wrote. “Ending it all.”
Ellie had to get in touch with her psychiatrist, her lawyer and GP and there was a tribunal to see if it was safe for her to be released. She was discharged. The section overturned.The relationship with her boyfriend has now been repaired and Ellie is back at work.
She said: “I wanted to do this to let people see beyond the stereotype, to show that people can have mental health issues and still play a valid role in society.
“We can hold down jobs. We can have relationships. We can do everything ‘normal’ people can do.We are not defined by our illness, just as, in the same way, someone with a physical illness is not defined by theirs.”
For the full article, pictures and selected tweets from the time of the breakdown and beyond it go to thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3925423/Diary-of-a-bipolar-breakdown.html or alternatively Google Ellie O’Neill and find the link to the full article by the Sun on the first page of the search.
I will not even begin to go into the amount of ridiculous things I have bought when high in the past but it is enough to say that on one occasion I spent my entire student loan payment for my second year on some stunning knee-high boots, a trench coat and countless other clothes which are now not nearly as lovely as the day I bought them. To deny that shopping is a part of my psyche, indeed that it is a hobby of mine, would be wrong. I love to shop and indeed the boy has said to healthcare professionals in the past that he first noticed I had become depressed when I stopped being interested in shopping. Despite my earlier naughty days of spending in the high of a haze I like to think that for the most part I now have my shopping habit under control. Rather than going out and buying a £350 coat from Jaegur, an antique tea trolley or dolls house from eBay which I am still yet to collect, I try instead to focus my attentions on charity shops and even Freecycle. This way I get the buzz of the shop, the hunt and the find with little of the cost and subsequent inevitable bankruptcy this habit may have brung me to had I not nipped it in the bud.
Nevertheless there are times when I am flying a bit high, and for once I have enough self perception to see that this has certainly been the case since last Tuesday, I feel compelled to shop. This week I have found myself considering, in no particular order, buying a house, a classic black Porsche in shocking repair (only put off by cost of insurance which is huge) and a beautiful white dressing table complete with stool and stand alone mirror.
Part of the problem is I live in Market Harborough which is not only a charity shop heaven but also home to Joules, Halo, Thorntons Jewellers and Gildings. The other issue is the internet and my ever so overworked debit card and paypal account. I truly think there should be a box to tick when you buy something, online or otherwise, that states that you are not currently in the sways of a semi hypomanic episode. Unfortunately there is not so my latest solution is t get out cash for the week and give my card to a trusted person to look after till the spending buzz is over.
Nothing illustrates how random my shopping becomes when I am high more than the list of things I bought at a car boot sale on Sunday. One thing that I think is not as often reported about bipolar is that sufferers do not only buy things for themselves, more often than not they are compelled to buy things for others, work colleagues, friends, family, even the nice lady they interviewed the other day because she said she loved nursery rhymes.
I am trying to keep a check on this high and sometimes writing down my racing thoughts can help so forgive me please if I am babbling somewhat. But here, if you want a bit of a giggle and have a little time on your hands, read this list and let me know below what the most silly thing you have ever bought is, even if you’ve never been ‘high’ in your life. I think my mummy who bought a set of golf clubs the other day at the same sale would be a good one to start.
For baby -
Shape sorting bath whale
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
Next jogging bottoms in red and blue
Polar Bear T-shirt (nephew loves bears)
Beige combat trousers
For me -
Antique tea set
Mini children’s wasp protector (looks rather like tennis racket but have found out the hard way is best not to touch it)
For someone else, not entirely sure who yet however
Large wine glasses times two in bottle green
Golf bag carrier
Girls aloud hits (okay admittedly this is for the boy because I know he would never dare buy it himself but loves some of their tracks)
American Songbook triple CD
Viva La Vida album Coldplay
Take That, Beautiful World
Maroon 5 (an ex bought me this but he ruined it for me for years as he had written all over the CD so now I have one that has not been tainted by old memories)
Damien Rice (Only the most awesome album in the world)
Fat Boy Slim, You’ve Come A Long Way Baby (was apparently bought on an offer of two CDs for £22 in the days before the birth of download and Amazon domination of the music trade)
The Greatest Songs From The Musicals (The lady who this is going to will know it could only ever go to her as she is herself the star of a hit musical and all round generally brilliant singer)
I wont bore you with the individual price tag but the total cost of this hour of decadence and abandon at Market Harborough Rugby Club car boot sale was £26.50. Oh and I bought a lion but my mother has dropped him off at an undisclosed charity shop as she said we didn’t have time to wash him. If anyone sees a lion in the Harborough area, please let me know.
Reading it back my last post here seems a little final. Just a simple report of the project. The basic details of how much was made, who came to the after party and the ever essential thanks to all those who supported 365 Dresses: The Mind Project.
It was never meant to be a final post but at the time I felt I needed a break after a year of exposure and poorly head confessions for which I had only myself to blame.
There have been so many times since that last post that I have meant to write. So much has happened and yet so little. I have stayed well, out of hospital and at work. But yet I wasn’t writing and I wasn’t feeling quite ready to do so again.
As I write this there are two articles on my mind. One is in a national paper while the other is in the local paper for who I work. One article is about a world record holding athlete who I may well have fallen a little bit in love with and the other article is about me.
As the dawn breaks, and I think of people buying the Sun and the Harborough Mail and reading these articles I find myself fretting over whether they will ‘get it’.
It is my job as a journalist to convey meaning in a way that is clear but also to capture events important to the community. But it is not the article I have written about Jonathan Edwards bringing an Olympic buzz that I am most worried about. It is the article written about my blog and illness last year.
The journalist who has written it was sensitive, delicate and never once pushed me into doing it. She sent me over the rough draft consulted with the feature writer who I first told the story to in October last year but still I am worried. I know how different a story can look after subs are through with it, the difference a picture makes and above all the fact that once it rolls off the presses there is no going back.
The papers are both on sale but maybe now that the tale is told it can be a chance to begin to blog again. To say goodbye to the dress project but to return to writing, warbling and generally just waxing lyrical instead. The blog will not always be done every day and I cannot guarantee you it will make thousands for charity or feature mad dresses and tights but it is back and I hope you enjoy it.