My Story: Joy Hibbins

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

A friend of mine first suggested that I may have bipolar. I had been suicidally depressed, but within days I was totally on a high, euphoric. "It's like a miracle," he said, because he was so pleased that I was no longer suicidal and was, indeed, the exact opposite. Then, the next day, he said "Do you think that you have bipolar?" That led to doctors monitoring me, and a psychiatrist's diagnosis, all within a few months. Friends can be very important in noticing poles of behavior. If he hadn't noticed it, I wouldn't have. The highs just felt good to me.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I continue to run the charity Suicide Crisis, which runs a Suicide Crisis Centre and a Trauma Centre. I set up the charity in 2012, after my own suicidal crisis. On reflection, the bipolar highs may have helped me to create the charity, because I am really productive, have huge amounts of energy and can work very long hours with little sleep – perfect for the work that I do. The main change is that I now monitor my mood on a daily basis and try to be aware of when I am starting to go high or low.

I had been suicidally depressed, but within days I was totally on a high, euphoric.

I had been suicidally depressed, but within days I was totally on a high, euphoric.

Who has been there for you? How?

My friend, Tim, who I have known since university. And my Facebook friends, who are very supportive, including Viv, who I've known since the age of 19.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

Setting up the first Suicide Crisis Centre in England, which provides face-to-face ongoing support to people who are at risk of suicide. We started offering services in 2013.

What's your advice to someone else living with Bipolar?

Learn about self-management of symptoms, and monitor your moods, particularly when newly diagnosed.

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