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Opinion: We chat, we laugh, and sometimes I cry. Talking is good.

I have bipolar disorder and have been assigned a nurse to talk with. I have kept one promise from the first day I went to visit her: no lies, none.

Ciaran Behan

“I AM SORRY to say, you have an over-active thyroid.”

At 31, for most people that would not be a problem. It’s a simple thing, it is just your thyroid. I’d nearly agree but for me this news is not a simple thing. Since June 2011, I have been told I have bipolar disorder and then, in 2012, that I have type 2 diabetes from medication to help the bipolar. In 2013, I was told I have fertility issues. Now, in 2014, I am faced with a thyroid problem. My life seems a constant pop-a-pill to get better.

This is no good and does me no favours. I guess you are thinking to yourself ‘how would one cope? I shall try my best to show you how I cope. I have two words for you, my partner and my nurse. If you read my blog, I have explained about my partner. Over the course of this story I am going to try and tell you about my nurse. She does not know I am writing about her, so we shall call her “D”.

When I got discharged from hospital in the summer of 2011 and, as I have already told you, part of my care package was my nurse. We have built up a very good relationship together and I feel she understands me more than my psychiatrist, my GP, or anyone else in the medical field.

We would laugh and sometimes I would cry

It is great for me to go to see D and have our chat. Takes about an hour, sometimes longer, but it never feels too long. When I first came out of hospital, we met once a week. I would go in and talk about my week she would sit and listen and then I would be done. Months passed and we would laugh and sometimes I would cry. It was a very special time, nearly the same feeling as making a new friend in school. I guess I always had to keep in the back of my head that it was never friendship, just work. Sometimes that may have been hard to put out of my head but I always remembered it was about getting better.

Any time I go to visit D it comes of a great relief that we are going to have a chat. I don’t think that she ever judges me. If anything, the laughs we have cheer-me-up anyway. I kept one promise from the first day I went to visit her: no lies, none. It was a clean slate from the start. I can tell her anything which maybe one of the reasons the process was so good to me.

Some of you may read this and say “oh well I can tell anything to my husband/wife/friend!” I am sure it is very rare that we have those types of relationships. If you do have one of them hold on to it. Fold it up, keep it safe and put that in your pocket. They are the best types of ones to have. It was very liberating at the start of an encounter with a person for me to hold this truth policy. I am not a compulsive liar but have never been so open.

Talking is good

In turn, this work I did with my nurse had a major impact on my relationship with my partner. Communication is good and our bond is stronger. I am now at a place where I can tell her anything. She is now my nurse, my best friend, my lover and the person who I admire most in my life. If I could give out a Nobel Peace Prize she would get it in the morning.

I am trying to show you, not tell you, that talking is good. It can be the Samaritans, online to a stranger, to a family member, to a friend. If you feel like you need to, please speak to someone. Drop me a message here and you can speak to me.

The month of May is all about the Green Ribbon Campaign, run by See Change in Ireland. I have been lucky enough, as I told you last month, to be made an ambassador. More than 300,000 green ribbons will be distributed nationwide free of charge to spark a national conversation about mental health. Just like the pink ribbon has become a powerful symbol for breast cancer awareness, this lime green ribbon has been established in the US and beyond as the international symbol for challenging the stigma of mental health problems.

If you get a chance please tune into the Twitter account @greenribbonIRL for the month of May. I wish you well and as always I thank you for reading my words. I hope it makes a difference.

Ciaran Behan writes a blog, The Inside Out Man, where this post originally appeared.

Helplines:

  • Samaritans 116123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634
  • Console 1800 201 890
  • Aware 1890 303 302
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66

Read:  Want to end mental health stigma? Get talking

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Ciaran Behan

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