I was first “diagnosed” with depression when I was 14 years old. I had been my father’s carer for 4 years then. My mother had to work part-time as a ‘Dinner Lady’ as the Benefits System was even worse than it is now.

In those days (mid 1970’s), little was done to treat depression in children – not much has improved since! It was dismissed as “part of growing up”. The fact that I had to help my mother care for my father was ignored as was it’s impact on my life.

I suffered bouts of depression on a regular basis from then on – without any treatment. It wasn’t until around 2001 that I revealed to my GP my troubles and my self-harm/suicidal thoughts and acts. She sent me to the Crisis Team who put me on medication. I wasn’t a very compliant taker of the medication which obviously didn’t help my recovery! Compliance with Drug Regimes continues to be an issue with me I’m sorry to say.

Things continued along their merry way until 2008. In 2008 I lost both my parents. My mother in the February and my father in the July. Things went downhill rapidly from then.

I spent Christmas and New Year in Ireland. When I came home to Newcastle in early January 2009 I was in a pretty bad state both mentally and physically. This developed into what I now know was an episode of Mania. I did lots of crazy things – got into problematical relationships, spent (ie wasted) all the money my parents had left me on gambling, drink, and yes I’m sorry to say drugs. I was in a mess.