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    Our forum members are people, maybe like yourself, who experience mental health difficulties or who have had them at some point in their life.

Hello from a new girl



Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
I have had a nosey about and it is great to read all the different problems and solutions, especially interested in the ones about debt and bi polar and insomnia.

I have always been called eccentric and one of my bosses said "you will never be one of the grown ups" and I took it as a compliment but there's a fine line and you know when you are not right in the head (excuse the medical term) so avoided it knowingly for a long time. Had diagnoses of Bipolar 2 from the psych about 3 months ago and have kinda sat on it ...made some massive life changing decisions..pretty much taken most of the stress out of my life (husband and I now separated, working hardly at all, living in beautiful place and making my world kinder on myself generally...doing stuff for me...cooking, playing board games with my children, walking..easy things I had forgotten about)..this has all helped enormously in that I now spend a lot less time in bed wishing the world away. It hasn't gone completely but have made my environment the best it is likely to be and I feel the happiest in a long time.

However..insomnia has been a massive problem as long as I can remember. I have tired various sleeping tabs over the years and its not fun being hooked so recently (for about 6 months) have been taking phenergan tabs but in the last month I am waking at 4am and taking another one or thats it..am up for the day...and not nice without sleep. I wonder if anyone had taken these over a period of years..is it likely I am to need more and more in order for them to work? Also different doctors have said different things regarding the effect these particular tabs have on the liver and this seems unclear? They work better than any others for me and do not leave me
feeling hung over as others have so am keen to stay with them.

This is probably the most long winded introduction in the history of mh forums! Sorry! One last thing...my psychiatrist says there are no books on Bipolar 2 and recomended Of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfern Jamison but she has BP1 and I have already read this some time ago...surely this cant be right? What about the Steven Fry Programme..does anyone have it on vhs/dvd as watched it at the time and could identify big time but I didn't have a diagnoses then and may see it from a different angle now..kind of..yes thats you..rather than...don't be so rediculous...everybody stays up all night obsessing on computers and swinging from the chandeliers in a dalmation costume (ok..maybe I am eggageratng a bit!)

Many thanks, Ella


Well-known member
Founding Member
Feb 14, 2008
Birmingham UK
Hi and :welcome: ellamental (great nick :)).

I'm afraid I can't help much with your specific questions as I don't know about the sleeping pills and I'm not bi-polar - but I'm sure there will be people along soon who can help :) - there's a very wide range of experience and insight here.

And I'm not at all sure that you win the longest intro prize - but honestly I am not going to go and check :D.

It is very good to hear that you have made life changes which have helped you.



Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
Hi Ella,

I am new too, just joined yesterday and can identify with a lot of what you are saying.

I recently moved away from my boyfriend (although we are still together) and set up home on my own. I have made a little nest out of my new flat and as you have said, do everything I can to nurture myself into a better state, long walks, no TV, no booze, my favourite radio shows etc.

Above all though it was my sleep which needed to change. I started seeing a really good doctor for CBT in January and before then did not realise that my sleep habits were unusual, I had basically not really slept since I was 16 (10 years ago) but just assumed everyone else had the problems I did with sleep. Eventually I had such a poor relationship with sleep that I was fearful of going to bed or even entering the bedroom and would have a panic attack if my boyfriend went to sleep before I did ( the result of which was him not sleeping either...poor thing!).

Forgive me if I am teaching you to suck eggs and you have already tried all this but my Doctor taught me to re-train myself when it came to bedtime. basically I had too:

Not eat or drink caffiene 2 hours before bed (I cut out caffiene entirely in the end)
Not do anything stimulating at least 1-2 hrs before bed (TV, Video Games, Read novels, work etc)
Lower the lights 1-2 hrs before bed
Not do anything in the bedroom other than sleep and sex - not even reading in bed and esp not watch tv
relax before bed, eg gentle stretching/yoga, hot bath etc
Hide the clock so I couldn't see the time once in the bedroom so I couldn't clock watch
if I wasn't asleep within a reasonable amount of time to get up and do something unstimulating (e.g. empty dishwasher, read light magazine article)
Not nap in the day or stay in bed after my designated waking time

I know these are really simple things to say and you may have already tried them but perhaps you might find this useful

I found it incredibly difficult at first as I had bulilt up such a fear of bed but after 6 months of working on this I now fall asleep within a few minutes and stay asleep all night, I even look forward to going to bed.

I feel very different after being tired for 10 years and am now more equipped to deal with my problems.

Sorry if I am just going over old ground for you but this really helped me.



Well-known member
Dec 10, 2007
Hi ellamental,

I agree with Nick that it's great to hear about the life changes you've made - well done :clap:! j_lol has given some great advice re. sleep. There are also various sleep/relaxation CDs available which can be very helpful. Some of them are of the self-hypnosis variety, whereas others consist simply of nature sounds or soothing music designed to send you into the land of nod :sleepy2:. There are also various sound machines available (with nature sounds and/or white noise) which can work wonders. It might be an idea to give these things a shot :).



Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
D Day, eccentricity and being tired

Hi there
this is fantastic! Thank you for all that. Thank you 'connect' for
relaxation cds suggestion...I did try them a few years ago and they
helped a little but then tried the dieting one by Paul Mcenna(!?) and
lost no weight at all but it did (sometimes) send me to sleep! 'nickh'
thank you for your welcome..no no really...you should go and check! I
am amazed at the experience and support offerd here and have been
reading all kinds and listening to guardian podcasts etc..just
wonderful to know that there is so much and I can't quite beleive how
long I have been in absolute denial for. It is a bit sad that now I am
feeling stronger I am here and when I really needed this I could not
even talk to my closest friends. The book my psych suggested recently,
I had already read in 2001 ... really I knew from being a teenager I
was a little more than being eccentric and d day (diagnoses) has
strangely turned out to be the best and worst day in my life. The
changes needed to be made as theres only so long you can live in that
sort of misery and perhaps I had to get to the lowest point until it
spurred me into action.

Hi j_lol and a huge THANK YOU (and welcome to you too)
for all that...some sucking eggs but not all of it and even though some
of what you have said I have done...like you...no booze (puts me in a
bad place generally or makes the not so good into a bad place
accellerated) nice walks and music....isn't it wonderful making a home
a lovely stress free environment for yourself? Sounds very hard though
going through all that not wanting to enter the room stuff. I am so
pleased you are now sleeping after all those years of being tired! I
slept on the sofa for many years but now do go to bed, do the hot bath
thing. A lot of it for me is about feeling secure and loved and I do at
the moment. I realised that my sleeping problems started as a child
waiting for my violent, alcoholic father to come home... my sis and I
would take it in turns to sit on the top of the stairs and wait for him
..an hour each and wake the other when he did come home..so those
routines you make for your children were never in place.

It is so right what you say about dealing with your mental health
issues far better when you have had a good nights sleep...everything
seems brighter and easier to cope with. I did keep a sleep diary for a
while, have you tried this? It did help. I was an obsessive reader all
my life but for the last year or so I have not been able to read. I am
piling up the books in readiness for a better head space which seems to
be happening slowly. You mentioned no stimulus (apart from the best
sort of course!) in the bedroom and isn't it funny how I know this and
yet gradually it creeps back in and I find my laptop on the bed late at
night...maybe I do need to go back to basics, the diary and work it all
out again). I do think though that all this helps and does give more
sleep but without medication regardless of how relaxed and quiet it
is...my mind is often racing during the night..my body often exhausted
but my brain raring to go and I wonder if this is a typical bipolar
trait? Like you (although it does sound different) have driven previous
partner mad but by talking all night! Present partner still at
forgiving stage and do not live with him so don't bother him too often.
Another thing you mentioned that could be adding to it is that I have
recently put a clock on the wall and I do look at it at 4 am every
morning and then take another tablet! I will ditch the clock today!

Just going back to the diagnoses day...I guess it takes a while to get
your head round ...we have such misconceptions about mental health
problems...a friends said but you cant have that becasue you are
intelligent...another talks a about a dodgy fringe...(I do not have a
dodgy fringe by the way and have no intentions of getting one) but this
has helped me a lot...its from one of you guys but I can't remember who
(sorry) ..

"I don't know anyone who has had a diagnosis of a major mental health
problem and been able to accept it immediately. I spent the first 10
years looking for something else for it to be. It was only when my
current consultant took me on and has spent a lot of time and effort
with me that I've accepted it. He taught me that the diagnosis is
almost like the day you begin to grieve for yourself, that you've lost
the person you were and the person you thought you were going to be and
you have to let all that go and almost start again. Once I'd got to
that part then I could accept the situation for what it was and begin
to move on."

I went to a party yesterday and one of the girls... I have known for a
long time but never really had time for becasue she is tricky and I was
busying away being a career woman...said, Ellas changed, she was always
so uptight and competative and now she is relaxed and lovely. I was
never UPTIGHT! I was tired...and maybe a bit uptight.

Thank you so much, great to have met you (kind of)
PS Excuse spellings...can't find the spellcheck?


Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
Hi Ella,

Glad some of what I said was useful. Never thought of the sleep diary thing but will give it a go. Getting rid of the clock was definately one of the best things I did cos I was constantly looking at it when I couldn't sleep to see how long I had been awake for and thinking what a wreck I was going to be the next day at work and how I wouldn't be able to cope if I didnt get to sleep right away.

So much of what you say I can identify with. The exhausted body but racing brain is so familiar to me, 'Helicopter Head' is what I have affectionately named it cos its like helicopter blades going round and round endlessly and without tiring. My brain can be like a dog with a bone and its at night that it is at it's worst. My Doctor has been teaching me mindfulness which is a bit like meditation. Concentrating on immediate sensations to take over the un-productive thoughts, like the weight of your body on the matress, the sound of your breathing and the touch of the duvet on your skin. Sounds a bit new agey but really works.

Also like you I used to be an avid reader, devouring book after book but in the last couple of years have not been able to pick up a book or even follow the plot of a film because my brain is engaged elsewhere, helicoptering away.

These days I am trying to be very disciplined with myself to stick to my routine but I have had to make a lot of sacrifices and it certainly sounds like you have had to do the same. I have drifted apart from a lot of close friends because being only in my mid 20's they are all still going clubbing and drinking etc. For me thats not an option anymore because as you say, it puts me in a really bad place. It's hard for them to understand that I have changed not because there is anything wrong with thier lifestyle but because if I hadn't I would not have survived. I need to look after myself and live a quite, nurturing life.

Anyway, sorry for rambling on, I'm finding this whole forum really cathartic and am glad to have found some like-minded people.

Keep in touch and let me know how you get on with your sleeping patterns


Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
A beautiful Mind

Helicopter head is a very good name for it!! I sometimes write it all down in the middle of the night and have been compared to the film a beautiful mind!

Have you been diagnosed or is h head the official diagnoses at the moment?

I have found books on Amazon (obviously my psych hadn’t done is homework!) Bi Polar II so hoping will be able to read them! In case you are BP as well. they are
Why Am I Still Depressed? Recognizing and Managing the Ups and Downs of Bipolar II and Soft Bipolar Disorder (Paperback)
by Jim Phelps

The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know (Paperback)
by David J. Miklowitz

and this I can recommend
An Unquiet Mind (Paperback)
by Kay Redfield Jamison

You sound much older and incredibly sensible in your approach to understand where you are. I am sure if you explain that alcohol put you in a bad place they will understand and even if they do not you are absolutely doing the right thing for you and this is more important in the long run. I found it quite hard at first going to parties and would be sarcastic…oh..I will have another orange juice n passion fruit and really enjoy myself! I had convinced myself that I could only dance after a lot of alcohol and that it made me confident. I now still go to parties and just don’t drink. Sometimes I can have half a glass of wine (one and I am on the floor!) and that half glass has to be a very good red because I am fussy now but I now don’t need it and most people do not notice that I am not drinking. But you are right in that the attraction to go out and live the Vida loca has gone quite a bit and quieter times are better and more enjoyable.

I think it is normal when in depression not to be able to read but I am hoping this will change and I do dip in and out of books I have read and read a page or two but then that’s it. I miss it.

Great to talk with you and relate to what you said about worrying about getting up in the morning and fore me being horrible and panicking and getting cross because you cant get to sleep and then you definitely cant sleep because you are cross and not relaxed etc etc etc I don’t do that much these days..not working much and I am trying not too worry much generally. What I find is that I not only worry about my own stuff (and there’s been enough of that) I also worry about my friends problems and seem to feel things deeply..again..I need to find out what bit of it are me and what bits of it are common in bp sufferers. I have got some homework to do.

Your Doctor sounds pretty switched on. It would have been so easy for him to just throw sleeping tablets at you. I have heard of the Mindfulness and keep meaning to look at it for myself but haven’t yet..I suppose I didn’t think it would help with sleep but of course it would as it is largely about being calm isn’t it?

Thanks for that


Hi Ella and welcome.

J-lol mentions Mindfulness and says it's a bit like meditation and that's because it's a meditation technique! I've been doing it for a couple of years and was introduced to it by my consultant who also practises. You can find all you need to know (including how to get CDs, books etc.) at www.bangor.ac.uk/mindfulness. That's were my material came from.

Bipolar II is also called Hypomania so maybe you will find something if you search for that. It's Bipolar I without psychosis or any other the other extreme extremities. Nontheless it is still devastating. My godmother has it and she seems less treatable that I am and I have quite a severe case of Bipolar I.

Just read your last line. Mindfulness is about living in the moment, about not living in any other time but the present. Make plans but don't project outcomes, have memories but don't live in the past. It's amazing the knock on effect it has on your life. And it's not a relaxation technique though that can be a very pleasant side effect.


Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
You are right, I am damn lucky to have found the doctor I see, he has quite literally saved my life. I have never had a formal diagnosis as the NHS were not interested and my current doctor (who I see privately) does not see it as important as long as I am getting better. He did say that I fit the bill for Bipolar although my highs are not as extreme as for many bi-polar people.

Thanks for the book ideas, a good book my Doc gave me was 'the worry cure' by Robert. L. Leahy. Fab book and very helpful. Interesting what you say about worry, I too am guilty of worrying more about other peoples stuff and have been working on some behavioural experiments to fix this, early days on that but it's interesting stuff.

In terms of mindfulness, give it a go. The best thing to do is to practice it every day so as when you need it it just comes naturally. The way I started was to sit for 5 minutes every day in a comfortable place at home and do something like eat an apple or suck on a malteser, paying attention to every little thing about it such as the the smell, sound, texture etc. if your mind wanders notice what has distracted you and bring yourself back to the present. The most important thing I learned was to not judge myself for being distracted or for what distracted me. Then I started to work it into other things like doing the washing up, putting on make-up etc. It really calms down that helicopter!


Well-known member
Founding Member
May 31, 2008
Hi Ella,

How have you been sleeping these last few days?
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