There are many hidden disabilities; Bi Polar Affective Disorder is one of them. It can severely affect a person’s mood by causing extreme mood swings and is very disabling at times.
I was diagnosed with it in 2007. After a few months off ill I returned to my job as a Horticultural Practitioner at Winterbourne. It was very hard for me to adjust at the time and it took a lot of getting used to. Five years down the line, things have greatly improved. Although it is still there I know how to deal with it now.
Angela Breen, the Employee Disability & Additional Needs Advisor, is always on hand to support me; as are my managers. They have worked alongside Angela and me to apply reasonable adjustments to my work pattern and methods. They also understand me when I am feeling unwell. This has helped greatly. It also means that if someone else was in a similar situation they would know how to help them.
To other people the person with it may look fine but can feel totally different inside. It’s invisible and can’t be seen like a broken arm can and there is still some stigma attached to it. However, sometimes their behaviour is erratic and it can be difficult for the people around them.
It’s important to maintain as much of a positive outlook as possible, stay healthy and try and keep things balanced. Although it can be disabling when I’m unwell, I do also find it enabling. I’m thankful that I can function and lead as full a life as I possibly can; and being able to work in such a lovely place as Winterbourne makes all the difference.
Judith Fildes, Horticultural Practitioner, Winterbourne