Talking with Beata from 'Tickle My Mind'
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My name is Beata English and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. I created Tickle My Mind which is a place for me to write about my journey with mental illness and a place to empower as many people who have been touched by mental illness to live a healthy, happy, rewarding and balanced life. I am currently writing my first book, part memoir, part mental wellness guide and I'm studying a Diploma of Positive Psychology. I am also a Community Ambassador for RUOK? Day.
What has your experience with Mental Health been like?
I am very open about my journey with mental illness and the reason I tell people is because I am not ashamed of it. I'm a very honest person and I wear my heart on my sleeve. Why would I ever hide a very important part of me? I wasn’t always so forthright with my diagnosis. My first symptoms reared up in my teens. I spent a lot of time in my teens and early 20’s living the party life and living life on an emotional roller coaster. In 2008 I heard the word “bipolar” for the very first time. Honestly, I did not know what it meant, but I learned pretty quickly. It meant I was very sick and that I was self-medicating an illness I had no idea I had and that unless I sought and accepted treatment my life would not be as happy and productive as I had planned or dreamed it would be. The first thing that I had to do was to admit to myself that I was sick. It was the biggest positive step I have ever taken in my life. You can tell someone that they need help, but until they tell themselves that they need help, they will not get better. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness with no cure, which means that episodes can occur throughout your life – but with a solid mental wellness plan in place you can minimise these episodes from occurring.
I now find happiness in writing, a pastime I never thought I would be doing. I love spending time writing and promoting mental health awareness. People with a mental illness are just like everyone else. We are wives, husbands, mothers, fathers, friends and family. Tickle My Mind is a place I share stories, lessons and tools that helped me to succeed and become well and to continue to stay well. Now I advocate mental health wellness and I hope the things that I have to share, will help someone else, somewhere along their journey. One thing I know for sure – it truly is possible to live a happy meaningful productive life despite what life throws in our path.
What are the strategies that you have found most effective to help manage your symptoms?
Yoga. Moving my body daily and making time to exercise is so beneficial to my health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that yoga improves your energy and overall sense of happiness and joy. It improves my mood and my sleep, which we all know is so important to you thriving every day. My yoga practice helps me to achieve mental and physical wellbeing.
Meditation. I meditate 20 minutes every morning when I wake up and another 20 minutes before bed. Mediation helps me focus, live in the moment and feel greater joy, happiness and calm in all areas of my life.
Why do you think that conversations around mental health are important?
It’s rare to find someone who has a mental illness that hasn’t come up against mental illness stigma. It may come from ignorance, or it may come from believing the myths surrounding the illness. Before I started Tickle My Mind I could count on my one hand the number of people who knew about my bipolar diagnosis. The stigma that surrounded me was suffocating. If you have a mental illness one thing you learn is how to deal with the people who don’t understand the condition you have been diagnosed with. From strangers, friends, television shows and media to co-workers, it is hard to avoid those who make hurtful remarks. There are many misconceptions surrounding mental illness and until they are stopped and understood, stigma will continue to cause people to suffer.I have an illness, but it does not define me. One of the biggest concerns surrounding the fear of stigma is that it stops some people seeking help. The extent to which a person encounters stigma in their lives can directly affect a person’s quality of life and recovery. Many people don’t seek help because they are worried that they will be labelled as crazy, dangerous and unreliable. Stigma in unacceptable in any form. Some people would prefer to suffer in silence than get the help that they need. I am determined to help break down the negative perceptions held by people towards mental illness. I want people who are suffering in silence to know they are not alone. The stigma surrounding mental illness continues to decrease as understanding increases and people feel comfortable talking about their condition. We need to break through the silence.
What do you do to help yourself when things are getting a bit tough.
Looking after yourself, or self-care, is important in helping you stay at the top of your physical, emotional and mental well-being. When things are getting a bit tough in your life, it becomes so important to take good care of yourself. Whether it’s a stressful period at work or home, taking time to focus on self-care is essential to your well-being. Self-care helps me function at a higher level, and feeling good enables me to take on life’s challenges.
If someone else is in a position that you have been in, what do you think would be most helpful for them to know?
When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder I initially struggled to accept I had a mental illness and I struggled with the stigma associated with having Bipolar Disorder. When you’re first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it’s normal to be confused, scared and upset. You may be grieving and that is okay. The pain may feel unbearable, but it will eventually fade. Though you may feel alone right now, you are never alone. There are people ready, and willing to help you. The illness may not be curable, but it is manageable. Bipolar disorder is a physical illness that affects the brain. The exact cause is not known, but it is known that an imbalance in brain chemicals, plays a role. It’s not your fault and you should not be ashamed. Every battle with a mental illness is different. Whether it is you or a loved one dealing with depression, anxiety or any other mental illness, my message is, be patient. It will pass. There is help for you, always, so please don’t ever think you have to wait it out on your own. There will be setbacks, sometimes big ones, and possible relapses, but there will also be moments that take your breath away for all the right reasons. My message is to hold on. It took me a while to learn this and that’s okay. Everyone is on their own journey moving at their own pace. Everyone will have their own ways of coping and their own ways of dealing with their illness - But please don’t be afraid to seek help, or to talk about how you feel.
Thank you so much Beata for sharing this with us! Have a look at the website at ticklemymind.com and on instagram @ticklemymind.
Any information on this blog is not a substitute for professional advice. It is written from personal experience and research only. If you are in crisis, go to your nearest emergency room, call lifeline on 13 11 14 or dial 000. If you live outside Australia, link to worldwide crisis numbers can be found in the sidebar.