Ways that Professionals have Helped Me

I’ve been under mental health services for the past decade or so and, in that time, I’ve had a range of experiences – whilst some have been (very) bad, others have made a big, positive difference to my recovery.

So, I thought I’d share some of the ways that professionals have helped me…


When asked what professionals can do to help, my number one tip is simply listening. Instead of tarring everyone with a certain illness under the same brush, it’s about finding out about individuals’ experiences, and hearing what they have to say. 

This is also important when it comes to treatment – whilst, for some (including myself) medication can be life-saving, this isn’t the same for everyone. I know that there are a lot of pressures which can make it hard to speak to patients for long periods of time but, using any time you do have to truly listen to them, will likely make a big difference to their recovery.

Believing Me

I’m someone who’s described as ‘high functioning’ when it comes to depression. Over the years, I’ve become a master at masking my feelings when I’m down, with others only finding out how I truly feel after a suicide attempt. 

I once made the mistake of reading my medical notes, where a member of staff had implied I was making up being depressed, simply because I was still exercising and chatting with other patients – and it really hurt.

It shouldn’t even need to be said – but, when someone tells you they feel a certain way, please believe them. It can be hard enough asking for help without having to ‘prove’ you’re telling the truth. 

Learning my name

When it comes to hospital settings specifically, it’s easy to be treated as a room number, as opposed to an actual person. I’ve heard countless tales of people being referred to as ‘six’ or ‘eight’ – instead of their actual names.

Taking a few moments to find out a person’s name makes a big difference. Instead of learning the name at the top of their medical notes, please find out if a person has a preferred name. My actual name is Charlotte – but I’ve been known as Charlie for almost two decades. I’ve found it much easier opening up to people who use my preferred name, instead of what’s on my records.

Writing things down for me

When I went through a manic episode back in November, I found it hard to retain information. When I had my weekly reviews or had medication changes, I soon forgot what had been said.

However, there was a brilliant nurse who worked on the ward who took to writing down all the important information I needed. She even went as far as colour coding it, which massively helped.

It meant that, whenever I was confused about what was happening, I could look at the sheet sat on my bedside table that contained all the information I needed to know.

Involving my wife and family

I know that, for some, the last thing they want to do is involve others with their care. But, for me, having my wife and parents included makes a positive difference. 

When I went through a (smaller) manic episode quite recently, my psychiatrist made sure to speak to both my wife and I. My parents were out at the time and arrived back at ours just as the appointment came to an end. However, the psychiatrist went out of her way to stop and speak to them.

Knowing that everyone was on the same page meant I didn’t have to work out what to say to them, and could just focus on recovery.

However, I realise that some people would rather not have others involved – and, if that is the case, it’s something that should be respected.

Being Kind

Finally, when it comes to being mentally unwell, kindness makes a huge difference. Just saying a simple ‘hello’ and introducing yourself can make a scary situation feel a lot less terrifying.

Even if you’re unable to spend much time with a patient, being kind in the time that you do have can make the world of difference.

Note: I’ve set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad mentioning it in the first place). But, a huge thank you to everyone who’s bought me one so far – and here’s the link for anyone interested:


Getting Sectioned

Now, when it comes to being sectioned, from my experience, a lot of different emotions come into play – but, before talking more about them, I figured it was important to explain what the term actually means… 

So, what does it mean?

I’ll be the first to admit that, before it happened to me, I had very limited knowledge about what getting sectioned meant.

But, basically, it means keeping a person in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 whether they agree to it or not. There are different types of section, which vary in length, and have different ‘rules’.  For instance, a section 5(4), which is used by nurses in an emergency situation to detain a voluntary patient, lasts up to 6 hours. Meanwhile, a section 3, which is used to treat a mental illness, initially lasts up to 6 months – but can be renewed indefinitely if necessary. 

To be lawfully sectioned in a non-emergency situation, a person must be assessed by a team of at least three professionals: two doctors – with one usually being a psychiatrist – and an Approved Mental Health Professional. Meanwhile, in an emergency situation, things are different; for instance, if you are in a public place, appear to have a mental disorder, and need immediate help, the police have the power to detain you under a section 136. This usually lasts until a person can be properly assessed by mental health professionals, who decide whether to discharge them, or admit them to hospital. 

My most recent admission started as a section 136. After speaking to professionals, I was moved to a section 2 (which is used to assess a person – and lasts up to 28 days). Then, when that came to an end, I was placed under a section 3, which ended when I was officially discharged from the hospital.

So, how does it feel to be sectioned?


When I was put on a section 136, I’ll be honest, I felt completely baffled.

From my perspective, the day had started out rather excitingly. I’d planned to get a train to Blackpool to swim in the sea, ride rollercoasters, and try out my new flying ‘ability’ (I truly believed I could fly). I’d shared my journey on Twitter, determined to spread joy to anyone who saw the photo or video I posted. 

But, it hadn’t quite gone to plan. My wife (Vicky) had met me at the station, and persuaded me to come home so we could have a ‘day of fun’ together – then, the next day, we could get a dog sitter, and both go to Blackpool. I’d agreed, excited to spend some time together. 

However, not long after, there was a knock at the door from a policeman. He’d had tip offs from across the country from people who were concerned about my wellbeing. Whilst I sang Vengabus at the top of my lungs, he tried to get through to a local mental health team. When he eventually spoke to them, I was taken to a nearby psych hospital for an assessment (I was oblivious to this fact, and thought we were going on a boat ride together). 

After speaking to two kind ladies, the policeman (who, by this point, I’d renamed PC Venga) had come in the room, read out the time, and told me I was on a section 136. 

I couldn’t quite believe it. I felt the best I’d felt in years – I was excited, elated and ready to take on the world. Instead, I found myself in a hospital waiting room, unable to leave however much I wanted to.


Even though I now know that everyone was acting in my best interests, at the time, I couldn’t help but feel betrayed. I thought I was going for a lovely day out with my wife, dog, and the police officer. He was very friendly, and told us all about his tattoos, his innermost thoughts on the Vengaboys and, when we were in his car, he went through what all the different buttons meant. 

So, when he put me on a section, I felt truly and utterly betrayed. I thought he was on my side – I truly believed we were all going on a fun adventure together so, hearing him read me my rights under the act, I couldn’t help but feel a little hurt by his actions.

Saying that, when we went back to his car so he could drive us to a different part of the hospital, he put on a Vengaboys classic, which definitely softened the blow. 


It didn’t take long for these feelings of betrayal to turn into annoyance.

By the time I was placed on a section 2, I was well and truly fed up. I’d spent my assessment trying to convince the professionals that there had been some big misunderstanding, and that I should be discharged at once. However, it quickly became clear that no-one believed me.

By this point, my parents had made the four hour journey from Norwich to Leeds. My mum and Vicky sat with me in the room I’d been placed in, and I rambled to them about what was happening, hoping they’d be able to argue my case. But, instead, they seemed to agree with everything the professionals were saying. It felt like those closest to me had turned against me, and I couldn’t help but feel irritated. 


Despite being surrounded by people who were very much on my side, at the time, I felt like I was truly on my own. In my head, there was nothing wrong with my mental health, and it felt like everyone was working against me. The two people I’m closest to – my wife and mum – both agreed a section was for the best, which felt like a massive blow. If they were on the ‘side’ of the professionals, then what hope did I have with anyone carrying out assessments?

You’re able to appeal Section 2 at any point in the first 14 days you’re under it. However, when I suggested it, they quickly shot the idea down. I felt like I had no one – everyone was working against me. 

I should’ve realised that they would never do anything to hurt me but, at the time, I just couldn’t see it. 

Looking back… 

A few months on, and I’m feel nothing but grateful for my time in hospital. There’s a very real possibility that, had I not been sectioned, I would have unintentionally ended my life. However, instead, I’m now well enough to be back at home with my wife, able to properly enjoy life again.

Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad mentioning it in the first place). But, here’s the link for anyone interested:


How it feels to be Manic

Back in November, I went through the biggest – and toughest – manic episode I’ve ever been through. I ended up in hospital, being sectioned for several weeks.

Since then, I’ve gone through a (much smaller) episode but, thanks to my loved ones and mental health services, I was able to stay at home – a fact I’m incredibly grateful for.

Whilst everyone’s experience is different, here’s how I felt during these times…


What’s been the most exciting day of your life? Your wedding? The birth of your child? Perhaps a time you went on holiday, or got a new pet.

Well, times that by a thousand, and you’re getting close to how I feel when I’m going through a manic episode. Everything about the world feels more exciting – colours seem brighter, sounds are crisper, and life feels infinitely more joyous. 

It feels like there’s constant fireworks going through my mind and things that previously seemed mundane suddenly feel positively exhilarating. Doing a load of washing? Exciting. Taking the dog out? Thrilling. Cleaning the bathroom? Super fun. 


With this excitement comes the desire to go on adventures – to travel to distant lands by train or plane, and go exploring. 

Trouble is, I become reckless and, with these trips, come big risks – for instance, I’ve planned to swim in the sea in the middle of Winter, and have had the desire to jump from cliffs to test out my ‘flying’ ability. As a result, people try to stop me.

Whilst, looking back, I can see that people are acting in my best interests, at the time, it doesn’t seem like it. It feels like they’re trying to ruin my fun – to stop my excitement, and bring me down. I get annoyed, thinking those I’m closest to are working against me, and it sucks.


When going through my most recent episode, it felt like I was living a different reality to everyone else. Whilst they thought my plans were a bad idea, I believed the opposite. 

I was hearing voices that weren’t there, and I found it hard to not give in to that what they were saying. 

Luckily, I’m very close to Vicky (my wife) and my mum, and they both kept reminding me that I could trust them. Vicky reiterated the fact that she’d never let me down before – that, through everything, she’d always been on my side – so why would that change now?

The more that time went on, the louder the voices got, and the more confused I became. It was hard knowing what my best course of action was – should I listen to my head, or trust my loved ones? As the increased dose of my medication kicked in, I began to come back to the same reality as everyone else, and my confusion lessened significantly. 


When many people think of a manic episode, they imagine someone who’s full of energy, talking louder and quicker than everyone else in the room and, for me, that was largely the case. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sit still.

I spent a lot of my time trying to go to the gym (which didn’t go well, as I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing, so came close to falling off the treadmill). My mum and I went for multiple walks each day and, when I tried to rest, my legs constantly shook, my body trying its hardest to get rid of the excess energy I had.

Even though my mind was energetic and raring to go, my body started to ache. My muscles became sore, which was largely due to my lack of sleep – they weren’t being given the chance to recover so, as the days went on, my muscles became increasingly achy, but I simply couldn’t stop moving around.


One of the things I found hardest about being in hospital was how lonely I felt. Because I couldn’t sit still, I was unable to join in the same activities as everyone else. Whilst they would go into the crafts room, and do word searches or paint pictures, I had to constantly be on the go. 

On the rare occasion I went to the arts room, I’d grab a sharpie and draw temporary tattoos on my arm (which usually involved a Venga bus and lyrics from the band’s biggest hits). At one point, I borrowed a pair of scissors that were on the main table, and gave myself a haircut, which was a disaster. I couldn’t cut straight, and my hair ended up being several different lengths (which, luckily, have now grown out). 

When I went to the daily meeting (which was used to discuss things we were grateful for, and ways we could improve the ward) I stood in the corner, struggling to engage, and dancing by myself. I couldn’t keep up with what others were saying. When meal times came around, I couldn’t sit still to eat, so I’d just go to the toaster, grab a few pieces of bread, and continue the party in my room. 

Luckily, as I began to get better, I started being able to join in with activities more. Staff put on a dance and karaoke session, which I enjoyed thoroughly. I also went to the on-site gym and, on the final day before I started my home leave, I was finally able to sit at the crafts table, completing a word search alongside my fellow patients, which felt like a huge achievement. 

In conclusion…

Being manic is bloody hard. 

It isn’t just about being full of energy, or feeling excited about everything. It’s tough and, the emotions that come with it, are hard to navigate.

Thankfully, I’m in a better place now, and am incredibly grateful for all the love and support I’ve received. I’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who understand and accept the emotions I’ve felt – a fact I’ll always be grateful for.

Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad posting it in the first place). But, a huge thank you to everyone who’s bought me one so far – and here’s the link for anyone interested: http://ko-fi.com/charliersmith1

How Depression Affects Me

Now, when it comes to depression, there’s no ‘one size fits all’. Everyone’s experience is different, but I wanted to share some of the ways in which it affects me.

Feelings of Hopelessness

When I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, it can be hard to find hope. It feels a bit like I’m going through a dark tunnel with no idea how (and when) I’ll see the light again. The longer it goes on for, the tougher it feels. 

In the past, this feeling of hopelessness has led to me becoming suicidal. This time, however, I know I can get through it – I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. Saying that, it still feels bloody hard.

Difficulty Socialising

I’m generally a very sociable person. I love nothing more than spending time with my wife, friends and family. I usually play football several times a week and, whilst I enjoy the exercise, I also love the social side that comes with it. I have some great friends from work, as well as others I went to university with. 

However, when things are tough, socialising becomes considerably more difficult. Whilst I still try to make the effort to hang with friends, I often spend the next day or two feeling incredibly drained. Half the problem is I try to appear ‘normal’ when I see them and, whilst the smiles and laughter offers a good distraction, it can also be truly exhausting.

Lack of concentration

When my mood is down, my ability to concentrate goes out the window. Tasks I would usually complete in a matter of minutes can end up taking hours.

I know things are getting bad when I struggle to read. It’s usually one of my favourite hobbies, so when I find myself unable to get through a book, chances are, my mood is going down. 

My mental health means I’m not working at the moment but, in the past, when I have tried to do my job during bad spells, I’ve found myself doing particularly long days as I try to catch up on all the tasks I need to do.  

Poor hygiene

When things are bad, finding the motivation to shower feels a little like climbing Everest. When I’m well, it’s something I do most days – meanwhile, this week, I’ve had a grand total of two (which genuinely feels like a massive achievement). Sometimes, I can go over a week without having one.

I also struggle with ‘basic’ tasks like cleaning my teeth and brushing my hair, and have to literally force myself to do them.

Low Self Esteem

Being honest, I don’t have the highest self esteem even when things are going well. But, it gets particularly bad when depression rears its ugly head. 

I start to doubt myself, and become incredibly critical of everything I do. I over-analyse every social interaction I partake in, and often see myself as a waste of space. It’s a vicious cycle: being low means I feel bad about myself – but, feeling bad about myself adds to my decline in mood. 

So, what helps?

For starters, I know it’s not for everyone, but I find medication makes a big difference. Even though my mood is quite low at the moment, it’s nowhere near as bad as it has been when I’ve not been on the right medication. 

Secondly, trying to stay sociable, and stick to some sort of routine, massively helps. I’m making sure to stay physically active, trying to play sport, swim or go to the gym most days. Additionally, I’m spending a lot of time outside, going for long walks with the dog. Being surrounded by nature makes even the toughest days feel a little better.

I’m also focussing on being open with those around me. In the past, I’ve kept how I’m feeling to myself, and it’s escalated pretty badly. But, this time, I’m being as honest as I can with others, regularly opening up to my wife and mum, which definitely helps.

Finally, I’m also trying my hardest to be kind to myself. If, for whatever reason, I end up spending the day at home on the sofa, or in bed, I’m trying not to dwell on it, and just focus on moving forward. I keep reminding myself to take one day at a time and, eventually, I know things will get easier again. 


Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad posting it in the first place). But, a huge thank you to everyone who’s bought me one so far – and here’s the link for anyone interested: http://ko-fi.com/charliersmith1

Three acts of Kindness from the Ward

When I think back to my time on the psych ward, there are not many things I can remember. But, from the limited memories I do have (combined with the accounts of other people) I wanted to share some of the acts of kindness I encountered.

Act 1: The Burger King Crown

The day before I got sectioned, my wife and I went to Burger King (I wanted to walk to Bradford and make TikToks about potatoes – she wanted me to stay at home, so going there was our idea of a happy compromise). Whilst there, I came across a piece of cardboard that became somewhat symbolic of my manic episode – a make-your-own crown. I’d picked one up whilst I waited for our food to cook, and had taken an instant liking to it.

For the next few weeks, it was practically glued to my head – I dubbed it my ‘party crown’ (I believed I was the host of a 24/7 party) and only took it off during the rare times I went to sleep (at which point, it’d be placed on the bed beside me, so I could quickly grab it the second I woke up). 

Trouble is, whoever invented it hadn’t intended for it to be worn for several weeks straight – and parts of it started to tear. As I was refusing to shower, it was also getting greasy and dirty and, fourteen days in, it got to a stage where it was practically unwearable.

That’s when one of the support workers came in to save the day. 

I’d not long left my room, when a member of staff came bounding up to me to inform me that their colleague had come in (on his day off!) with a delivery of several crowns. He’d gone out of his way to take a trip to a nearby Burger King and dropped them off.

It was at a time when I couldn’t understand much about what was happening – I was still convinced my hospital admission had been a giant mistake, and was getting increasingly frustrated about people trying to stop my ‘fun’. So, this act of kindness made a real difference. Putting on a fresh crown made a difficult time somewhat easier, and I’ll always be grateful for that fact.

Act 2: The Coat

As well as wearing my crown, I was also glued to a dress, which I wore non-stop for numerous days. I’d dubbed it my ‘party outfit’ and refused to wash and take it off. Despite the fact it was November, and freezing outside, I wouldn’t wear anything warmer.

Then, one day, I went back to my room and a coat was there. 

I’d been pretty confused as it wasn’t one I’d recognised. I’d left my room to try and get to the bottom of its random appearance, when one of the other patients stopped me. 

“I saw you’re just wearing a dress, so thought this would keep you warm,” she’d said, a smile on her face. “I dropped it off in your room whilst you were out earlier.”

It wasn’t someone I’d spoken to much, which made the act even greater. She told me to keep it “as long as I wanted” and had fist bumped me, before we departed ways.

It made a big difference and, whilst it was still a good week or two before I stopped wearing dresses, it served as a reminder to put something warm on on top of the dress (probably saving me from numerous colds!)

Act 3: The Football

I’m massively into my football. I’ve had an ankle injury for a while but, before that, I was playing the game three or four times a week. I watch pretty much every game that’s televised, and even go as far as filling the official sticker books whenever a new tournament begins. 

But, when it came to the World Cup, I couldn’t concentrate enough to focus on a game – and it was stressing me out. Whilst the other patients gathered in the lounge whenever England played, I stayed in my room, dancing and listening to 90’s pop. Sometimes I had it on in the background but, even then, I missed pretty much every minute of the matches. 

Luckily, one of the other patients could see I was struggling and went out of her way to distract me with ‘hummus and Venga Boys parties’.

After she was discharged, she made an effort to come and see me when England’s next game was on. We went into the family room, and chatted non-stop until visiting time (and the match) ended.

I know how hard it can be to come back to hospital after being an inpatient, so the fact that she returned to the ward to help me meant the world. It meant that, instead of getting frustrated about my lack of concentration, I smiled, laughed and just generally had a good time.

In Summary…

These are only three of a huge number of acts I could mention when writing about my time on the ward. Whilst my memories are very hazy, these three have stayed with me. 

I think it’s easy to reflect on my admission, and just focus on the tough parts but, actually, there was a lot of goodness that took place and made a somewhat difficult time much brighter.

Safe to say, I’ll forever be grateful for the kindness shown by others. 


Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad posting it in the first place). But, a huge thank you to everyone who’s bought me one so far – and here’s the link for anyone interested: http://ko-fi.com/charliersmith1

Gallery of Happiness (Part 1)

On Christmas Day, hundreds of people joined in with #TalkWithCharlie – posting a photo that makes them happy. From pets to tins of spam, there was variety to say the least! I thought it’d be nice to put the photos together in a gallery – something to look at when times feel tough. So here’s the first part of the Gallery of Happiness…

Returning Home from the Psych Ward

After being stuck on a psych ward for over forty days, you’d think there would be nothing more appealing than coming back home.

However, whilst I’ve found the return to my wife and dog incredibly exciting, it’s also come with its fair share of challenges.

Before I go any further, I should mention that I haven’t been discharged from the hospital. I’m currently on six days’ worth of leave for Christmas, but here are some of the emotions I’ve experienced since my departure from the ward:

The Initial Excitement

When I first found out I was going on leave, I was ecstatic. I was practically pinging off the walls, desperate to get home as soon as possible.

I’m one of those very lucky people who lives in a house that they love, with a very supportive wife, and incredibly friendly (albeit slightly annoying) staffy called Colin. Therefore, initially, nothing felt sweeter than the prospect of being reunited with them both in my favourite place.

Plus, unlike the ward, being at home meant I’d have access to an actual duvet; instead of layering up thin sheets, I would have proper bedding – something I’d come to miss so much. I’d also be able to enjoy my most-cherished foods (hello crumpets), and catch up on my favourite TV shows (Eastenders, I’m looking at you)


But having so much freedom can feel a little overwhelming. When you’ve had most aspects of your life controlled by hospital staff for several weeks, having your independence back can feel a little bit much. When you become so used to the routine implemented by the hospital (for starters, meals and meds are distributed at the same time every day) it can be difficult to readjust. 

Furthermore, I made the mistake of visiting a local shopping centre yesterday morning and, although I arrived bright and early, the Christmas crowds had started to assemble. Being around so many people in a busy, intense environment was definitely a bit much. Saying that, I did manage to pick up some my favourite mince pies – so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.


Since being out, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be permanently happy and excited.

However, last night, I ended up crying to my wife. My thoughts were racing – and I simply couldn’t relax. After a chat, the first I did was apologise to her. I knew how excited she was to see me home, and I felt guilty for getting upset. Her response? ‘You have nothing to apologise for. The fact you’re being honest with me is the most important thing’. 

And she was right. There was a time in the past that I wouldn’t have opened up to her (or anyone) about my emotions – so,  instead of feeling guilt, I’m trying to be proud of myself for being open. Plus, bipolar or not, feeling excited 24/7 just isn’t realistic. 

Scared of Relapse

The last time I was at home was when a police man arrived, stating that there were worries about my welfare. At that time, I was really very ill and ended up being sectioned later that day. 

Even though I’m in a much better place now, every time I look at the chair the police man sat on, I can’t help but be reminded of the day my freedom got taken away. 

It’s scary – because, in the back of my mind, there’s always that fear that I could get worse again. A large trigger for my recent episode was the excitement and change brought on by a holiday to Kos – and with Christmas Day just around the corner, I’m concerned that the joy associated with it could cause me to go backwards.

However, we’re trying to not make much of a fuss of it this year – we’re not doing presents ’til a later date, and we’ve decided to hold off on decorating the house. It’s hard, because I’m usually a massive fan of the holidays – but, knowing that we’ll have a second Christmas when I’m better gives me something to look forward to, whilst also (hopefully) helping to keep my mood as stable as possible.


Being out brings back some hazy memories of things I did when I was last at home. Even though I’m constantly reminded that I was ‘really ill’ and ‘I wasn’t being myself’ it still hits hard when I recall some of my actions, and I’ve spent a good chunk of time writing apologies to those affected. 

It feels hard to heal when there’s so much you’ve done that could have devastating consequences for your future – things like not turning up to work shifts, and spending money you don’t have.

Also, whilst I’m glad I’ve been open about my illness and hospital admission, I admit that I did feel some shame when I bumped into a neighbour yesterday who follows me on social media. She was delighted to see me out and about – but I still felt slightly embarrassed of some of the things I’d posted when I’d been at my worst.

However, I’m trying really hard to focus on the future. There’s no point dwelling on the past – as hard as it is, I’ve just got to keep moving forwards.

So what’s helped?

My wife has been brilliant – and completely understands there isn’t a quick fix to my recent episode. She’s always there to listen – and being able to vocalise all I’m feeling (without any judgement) definitely helps. She’s also on hand to make cups of tea, give me hugs, and helps me keep to a routine (for example, by reminding me about when to take my meds, and ensuring I’m in bed at a suitable time). I know how lucky I am to have her – and I know that it’ll get to a stage where things feel far easier but, right now, I’m just trying to be kind to myself. Recovery is bloody difficult – but I’m getting there.

Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad posting it in the first place). But, here’s the link for anyone interested:


Signs that Mania is Coming

It was just before seven on a Friday morning when I decided to put on my favourite trainers and leave the house to visit Blackpool.

There were only a couple of hours to go before I was due to start work. Trouble was, I had no intention of actually doing the shift. Instead, I had much more important things to do. 

At 07:06, I posted a photo online, wearing a combination of a party dress, a pyjama top and a Burger King crown, informing everyone where I was heading. 

Thirteen minutes later, I shared a follow up video, explaining my plans: a swim in the sea, followed by testing out my new ‘flying’ abilities. 

Not long after, the police were anonymously tipped off – and, thankfully, I didn’t make it any further than Leeds station. My wife met me there, and took me home, where a police man arrived and, long story cut short, I ended up being sectioned. I’m 41 days into my hospital stay, and it’s safe to say that I’ve come along leaps and bounds. Thanks to the wonders of modern medicine, my mood is much more stable.

The start of manic symptoms

Looking back, even though I’d had symptoms for almost a week before things got really bad, my admission still came as a shock to many (including myself!) I can now see some hints that a manic episode was on the horizon. But, because I’d been on holiday the previous week, it was easy to attribute these ‘signs’ to the excitement of our trip. Besides, it was depression that I was used to dealing with – I’d never been hospitalised because of mania before, and so I tried to push any ideas that something wasn’t quite right to the back of my mind.

However, upon reflection, here’s some of the signs that a manic episode was about to rear its ugly head….

Less sleep

When my mood goes up, the hours of sleep I get goes down. I’m usually an in-bed-by-ten kinda girl. I love an early start – and tend to get up at around six or seven each day. However, as my holiday came to a close, I found myself getting less and less sleep each night. I’m someone who always sleeps when travelling – yet, during the flight and long coach journey home, I was wide awake. 

When I did arrive home and eventually slept, it wasn’t for anywhere near my usual duration – instead of eight hours, I slept for around five. As the days went on, this number continued to drop and, by the time I was admitted, I was only on one or two hours a night. 

More energy 

You’d think that this lack of sleep would lead to exhaustion throughout the day. Surely a person can’t run on that little sleep AND be full of energy, right?


Despite my lack of slumber, I was absolutely full of beans. No one could keep me still no matter how hard they tried. At first, it manifested itself in extra gym sessions – before it hit a stage where I was on the go 24/7, believing I was the star of a huge party, where I simply couldn’t stop dancing.

Big ideas and lack of safety

Whilst the excessive exercise proved an issue on its own (largely due to an ankle injury I have that’s not fully healed) – the main concerns came when I started to spout out ‘big’ ideas. Firstly, there was the TikTok account I made in the early hours of the Wednesday morning. It was dedicated to potatoes, and I was convinced I’d gain millions of followers if I just kept it up. 

I work in radio, and was due to start a shift later that day, producing a regional show. However, I had it in my head that, instead of our usual content, we should instead go around Leeds, making TikToks for my new channel. I sent the show’s presenter a lengthy message, explaining my ideas. My wife (who, by this point, was very concerned) got in touch with my boss and, needless to say, I didn’t end up doing the shift. 

The ‘biggest’ – and most worrying – ideas made an appearance on the Thursday – the day before I got sectioned. I started the day by trying to book a flight – I didn’t mind where, I just wanted to go abroad. However, looking for my debit card woke my wife up, and she quickly put an end to it.

By this stage, she was getting increasingly worried and took the day off work to ‘keep an eye on’ me. At one point, we took the dog out for a walk. We went our usual route, meaning we passed a train station. As we reached it, I decided to try and jump on the tracks, convinced I could outrun any train that came nearby. I saw it as a fun activity – not something that could potentially kill me. At several points, she had to physically pull me back. 

Once home, I started talking about my newfound ability to fly – and kept trying to leave the house to go partying and make content about potatoes for my new social media account. 

Getting irritated when ideas are dashed 

Trouble was, every time I came up with a new ‘brilliant’ idea, Vicky was quick to dash it – and I started to feel irritated. It felt like she was trying to ruin my fun. Looking back, it’s clear she was just looking out for me, and trying to keep me safe. 

It got to a stage where she got really upset – something I’ll always feel guilty about. She was doing her best to care for me, but I just wouldn’t back down. I was convinced she was working against me – and wasn’t even trying to understand my view point. 

I also got annoyed when friends tried to intervene – it felt like I had no one on my ‘side’ and, the more time passed, the more frustrated I felt. 

Racing thoughts

On the Friday, whilst I was being assessed for sectioning, I was asked about how ‘busy’ my mind felt. The analogy that I used was that it was like my brain was made up of hundreds of roads running parallel to one another. Instead of cars, it was ideas that flew by – but they went so fast, it was impossible to keep up with them.

Because my mind was going so quickly, my talking became faster too. I’d describe myself as a bit of a chatterbox – but I took it to a whole new level. Every conversation I had became one-sided. Whenever anyone else spoke, it went completely over my head – and I’d continue to ramble on as though they’d never spoken. 

So, what’s helped?

I’ll be honest – the main thing that’s helped has been finding the right combination of medication. I’ll write a post about meds at a separate point – but we’ve finally found a combo that’s slowed my brain down, and allowed me to think a bit more logically. I can now have two-way conversations, and I no longer believe I can fly or run across train tracks unharmed.

It’s been a difficult journey – and it’s still one that I’m very much on – but, finger’s crossed, it keeps going in the right direction, and that the number of roads continue to dwindle down til there’s just a dual carriageway left. A motorway at most.

Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad mentioning it in the first place). But, here’s the link for anyone interested:


Coming Out of a Manic Episode

November the 11th. 

It’s a date we have etched into our brains from the moment we’re born – in the build up to it, we buy badges and wrist bands, and use pins to attach poppies to coats. On the day itself, we wait until the hour strikes eleven, and we sit in silence, reflecting and remembering, thinking of those who died so that we could live.

This year, though, the date became even more significant to me – as it was the day that I got sectioned. 

I have bipolar and, as well as having periods of depression, I experience mania. During these times, the world feels a much brighter place. I’m spontaneous, erratic and put myself in dangerous situations. The day I got admitted, I’d woken up with big plans: I was going to go to Blackpool to swim in the sea, and fly off a cliff (yes, I truly believed I had the ability to fly).

However, an anonymous tip off to the police stopped me in my tracks and I ended up being detained by them, and taken to hospital. A few hours later, I was put on a Section 2 (which is largely used for assessment and lasts up to 28 days) and taken to a psych ward.

As I write this now, on Day 37, I’ve been moved onto a Section 3 (which is used for treatment and initially lasts up to 6 months – but can be renewed) and, although I’m still not 100%, I truly believe (and desperately hope) I’m through the worst of it. 

Recovering from a manic episode is challenging to say the least, and comes with a range of different difficulties. Here are some of the things I’m currently struggling with:


Can you remember being a kid and being determined to pull your first all-nighter at a sleepover? You’d down cans of pop, and fill your belly with sugary treats in an attempt to stop yourself from nodding off. Sometimes it’d work – other times, not so much. But, when you did manage it, it’d feel like a huge achievement – until your parents came to pick you up the following day, explaining how you were off to spend the day with relatives – and ‘no, there wouldn’t be time for a nap’ 

Well, imagine having three weeks of nights like this… Staying awake all night – or only having one or two hours’ kip – and then not having the time or ability to catch up on sleep no matter how much you needed it. 

Living this way is as tough physically as it is mentally and, as this particular episode comes to an end, it’s taking a long time to catch up on sleep. Despite snoozing eight hours last night, I’ve already had two ‘accidental’ naps today. I can’t seem to watch anything on the telly without nodding off, and I have no idea how I’m ever going to return to my job when I seem to be sleeping more frequently than a toddler. But, I’m trying my best to not think about things like work – but instead prioritise looking after my body. 

Forgetfulness and Embarrassment

Ever woken up from a night out with absolutely no memories from the night before? Perhaps you first remember arriving at pre-drinks, or getting a taxi to a bar – but that’s it…

Well, that’s just a small glimpse of how it feels to come out of a manic episode. 

Instead of losing memories from a couple of hours at a party, I’ve lost practically every single moment from the last five weeks. The doctor on the ward says it’s perfectly normal – but it doesn’t make it any less scary. 

Linked to the lack of memories is embarrassment. I currently couldn’t tell you much about any of the conversations I’ve had with anyone – I can’t remember what I’ve done, or said to people.

I know for certain that at some point, early on in the journey, I made a TikTok account dedicated to my love for potatoes. There’s some pretty bad videos on it – and it’s something I’ll definitely be deleting. But, with that in mind, I hate to think of some of the other embarrassing things I may’ve done. I have no idea if I’ve upset anyone, or made them angry. It feels like I’ve had no control over my actions for several weeks now, and it’s scary.

Lack of personal hygiene

When your brain is going a million miles an hour, and you have tonnes of projects you need to complete, personal hygiene tends to go out of the window. For ten days, I wore the exact same outfit (a blue ‘party’ dress that I refused to take off, even when I slept) and wouldn’t have any form of a wash. I also stopped cleaning my teeth and wearing deodorant.

Eventually, a nurse appeared in my room, telling me I had to shower – no ifs, or buts. It’d been too long – and I needed to look after myself better. I’d reluctantly agreed, on the condition I could then change into another dress. 

I also wore a Burger King crown on my head that I refused to take off. I’d seen it the day before I’d ended up in hospital, and had taken an instant liking to it. I became obsessed with wearing it at all times; it became smelly, greasy and started to fall apart. Luckily, a kind member of staff went out of his way to fetch a selection of new ones, bringing them onto the ward (even though it was his day off!)

Although my brain’s now slowed down, and I no longer wear a crown, I’m still finding it pretty difficult to remember to shower and clean my teeth. I haven’t brushed my hair in several days. But, I’m slowly getting better and I’m sure that soon enough, my showers will become much more regular. 

Plus, this morning, I remembered to clean my teeth – so that’s something!

Feeling Flat and Low

‘Life is a rollercoaster’

No truer words have been sung than that by Ronan Keating. Life is indeed a rollercoaster – especially when it comes to bipolar. The highs are so big you feel like you’re reaching the top of the world’s tallest ride (note: it’s called Kingda Ka and has a 525-foot drop). 

But, what goes up must come down again – and, no matter how much you want to avoid it, the highs can’t last forever. Eventually you’ll come crashing back down to earth – and it truly sucks.

I know that I’m coming out of an episode when I sleep more than two hours at a time, and my head feels quieter. 

The world, which was once sparkly, now seems dull and flat. Instead of partying, I’m spending my time sleeping and trying to piece together what’s happened over the past month or so. I keep finding myself in tears, unhappy with this new world I’ve entered. 

Thing is, it’s not even like I’m now in a depressive episode. But, because things were so high, moving to a more stable level feels like a massive tumble down and, whilst I know I’ll get used to it eventually, I’m currently at a stage where it feels very challenging. 

Financial Implications

It can be hard to talk about money – but reckless spending can be a big part of mania. In my case, when I was at my worst, it felt a bit like I was playing a game of Monopoly – spending cash left, right and centre with no real regard for what I was doing. However, instead of buying fancy properties with fake bank notes, the money I spent was very real. 

I don’t remember placing orders, but from looking at emails, I can see that I’ve spent hundreds of pounds on a whole array of items I don’t need – things like Venga Boys merch, disco lights, hundreds of glow sticks, and an inflatable dinosaur costume. I’ve placed lots of orders I’ve forgotten about, and my wife has been confused when she has yet again received another parcel containing something weird and wonderful.  

I’m in a very fortunate position that my wife and I have some savings, so my actions haven’t caused us too much harm. However, I’m freelance, so I get absolutely zero sick pay – meaning it’s more important than ever that I’m careful with money – especially with the ever increasing cost of living.

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with finances when manic – it only takes a quick Google search to see some of the ways it’s affected people – causing them to get into mountains of debt, losing their houses, and having their possessions taken away. It’s bad enough coming out of an episode feeling ashamed because of your actions – but adding on the loss of finances can be truly devastating. 

So, what next? 

My main focus right now is on recovery – whatever that might involve. I’m taking it slow – focussing on one day at a time. My mind and body have been through a lot, and I’m trying to be as gentle as I can be on them. I’m still in hospital at the moment, but hoping not to be for too much longer. But, whilst I am here, I’m doing everything I can to look after myself. 

I know that, no matter what, I have it in me to get through it. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and we’ll get there. 

Note: I’ve decided to set up a Ko-fi account so, if for whatever reason, you fancy getting me a ‘coffee’, you can do so. I’ll always keep my blogs free – and there’s absolutely zero obligation to do so (in fact, I feel pretty bad mentioning it in the first place). But, here’s the link for anyone interested:


Being Admitted to the Psych Ward

(Trigger warning: suicide and sectioning)

“Charlie, I’m seriously worried about you.”

It was late afternoon on a Wednesday. I’d just finished work for the day, and was at my weekly therapy appointment, 10 months into my treatment for OCD.

Over the past couple of months, my mood had been deteriorating. I thought I’d been hiding it well, but my therapist had picked up signs that something wasn’t right. I wasn’t sleeping properly, I’d become increasingly tearful, and I was struggling to engage. I’d stopped making eye contact, and I couldn’t string a sentence together without getting distracted by intrusive thoughts.

“I need to ask, are you suicidal?”

I paused. I’d been making plans to end my life for weeks. I’d worked out every detail of how I’d do it, and what I’d need. I’d chosen a date: the following day. However, I didn’t want to tell anyone about it – I figured they’d ‘ruin’ my plans, so I remained silent.

My therapist continued to push the question and, eventually, I nodded.

Minutes later, her boss – a psychiatrist – entered the room, and they decided I needed urgent help. They put in an immediate referral to the local crisis team, and phoned my wife, explaining the situation, ensuring I could get home safely. Once there, the doors were locked and my keys were taken away.

The following days are a bit of a blur: a blur of revising suicide plans, whilst simultaneously trying to convince professionals there was nothing wrong with me. I lied that I’d been taking my medication properly (I hadn’t) and repeatedly told them I just needed a good night’s sleep. After that, I’d be fine.

Needless to say, that wasn’t the case.

It was a Sunday evening when I got admitted to the psych ward. I’d gone to my daily appointment with the crisis team. I thought attending it would be a good chance to show them I was co-operating, thinking they’d then discharge me, meaning I’d be free to carry out my plan.

However, my support worker quickly realised I wasn’t being truthful. No matter how many times I said I was fine, she refused to believe me. Instead, she decided to speak to my wife, who admitted she had serious concerns about my welfare – and no longer felt she could keep me safe at home.

That’s when they decided to assess me for sectioning. Being sectioned means being kept in hospital under the Mental Health Act – whether you agree to it or not. There are different sections, which have different rules and vary in length.

Whilst I’d been under various mental health teams over the years, I’d only had one prior experience of being sectioned. It had happened around 6 years before – and involved a section 136 – which is used by the police when they think you have a mental illness and need ‘care or control’. However, it only lasted for 24 hours, and then I was back home again. This time, though, things were different. I quickly realised that, if they decided I needed to be in hospital, I wouldn’t be discharged the following day – or even the following week – and I was terrified.

In order to be detained under the Mental Health Act, you need to be assessed by three professionals: an approved mental health practitioner, a section 12 approved doctor (often a psychiatrist) and an additional doctor. They ask you a series of questions, take copious amounts of notes – and then make a decision as to what happens next.

In all honesty, I remember very little about my assessment. My main memory is the temperature of the room, which was warm to the extent it almost felt suffocating. It was January, and freezing outside, so I couldn’t work out how the room could possibly be so hot. I also remember feeling frustrated – everyone was lovely, but I’d made plans to end my life, and I was devastated they were trying to stop me.

My next memory is sitting back in the waiting room, staring into space. They’d made a decision to detain me under section 2, which is used for assessment and treatment of a mental disorder, and lasts for up to 28 days. I was told they were sorting out a bed for me on one of the wards upstairs, and they’d come get me when it was time.

My wife was distraught, and couldn’t stop crying. She felt guilty – knowing it was for the best, but also feeling like she’d somehow let me down. I couldn’t cry. I was too shocked. I’d spent so long trying to convince them I was fine, that there was nothing wrong with me. I couldn’t work out how it had ended this way.

Several hours passed – time spent clock watching, drinking lukewarm water, and shaking uncontrollably – in disbelief at what was happening.

Then, at five past eight, my name was called by one of the ward’s nurses.

“It’s time to go now. Your wife can’t go beyond this point – so you need to say bye.”

We hugged, she cried, promising me it was for the best – and then, we parted ways.

Minutes later, I was on the ward, being directed to one of the bedrooms. I was given a small bag of essential items – a toothbrush, some wipes and soap – and had a commode brought in. I was told I needed to stay there until I had a negative Covid result. Then, I was left alone.

That’s when the enormity of what was happening hit me and, for the first time that day, the tears finally came.

After that point, I spent the majority of 11 weeks on the ward – and whilst I’ll share more about my experience at a later point, looking back, I can honestly say that being there was the best thing for me. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but it genuinely saved me. It kept me safe and gave me the chance to recover in a supportive environment.

I now realise that being sectioned that day meant I got another chance at life – and I’ll forever be grateful for that fact.