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The SANE Blog

Arlene's story - World Bipolar Day 2024

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At just 44 years old Arlene suffered from a stroke. From that moment, everything changed … including a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  

"One of the misconceptions about stroke is that it only happens to old people. But actually, it happens to a lot of young people. I had a stroke at the age of just 44 years old, so I'd had my wedding 3 weeks beforehand. It was a dream, it was perfect. I wouldn't have changed the thing. My work was going well, I was lining myself up for a promotion. I was a speed demon on a mission, just boom, out of nowhere. I had a stroke. I obviously didn't see it coming.

Everything changed in that moment, the first signs of bipolar for me were I wasn't sleeping and I was waking up at about 3:00 in the morning. I had so much energy, I was doing hour-and-a-half workouts, cleaning the house, we were doing renovations. So, I'm buying all this stuff for the house online and just had this energy that was like off the charts. And then after that, at about 11:00, just completely come down from that feeling and crash.

Ended up in ER twice because I didn't trust what I was going to do. I was completely losing my mind. I had my appointment with my psychiatrist and she said, 'What you're describing is Mania.' And then what you're describing when you come down is the depression part of bipolar, um. And she said, 'So you've got bipolar.' Whilst it was surprising, I felt relieved. My whole life I've had like goals. I had corporate aspirations to grow up the corporate ladder. I was constantly setting bigger targets for myself outside of work as well, you know why. Maybe I could start working on a board, maybe I can do some volunteer work over here, just adding and adding to my to-do list. I've realized that living in the moment and being mindful is a good thing, and it's fine not to have big goals. You don't have to have a huge career."

To listen to Arlene's story, click the video below. 

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