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Posted on Jun 28 2022 by Gabrielle Willis

A former primary school teacher who has been treated in a secure psychiatric hospital for nearly three years has shared her story in an episode of the On the Ward podcast.

Julie, a patient at St Andrew’s Healthcare in Essex, has bravely discussed her mental health recovery journey following her diagnosis with rapid cycling bipolar.

Bipolar disorder with rapid cycling is diagnosed when a person experiences four or more episodes of mania, hypomania, or depressive episodes in any 12-month period.

Julie said: “I have triggers that make me go up and down. When you’re depressed it’s just horrible, even having a bath and washing my hair is like a mountain to climb. But then, when I go up, I can be a bit manic because I’ve got so much to do.”

She describes her moods as sometimes being like a “bouncing ball”, but she has come a long way in managing her condition.

Julie said: “Everyone has small waves of emotion though. But I’m learning to listen, to pause for breath and to go slower.”

The On the Ward episode follows Julie on the grounds where she has taken much solace from the garden. Patients are encouraged to participate in maintaining the green space and growing vegetables which many have found has aided their recovery.

Listeners will also hear how Julie is preparing to leave St Andrew’s Healthcare to go and live in community accommodation, which is commonly the next stage for anyone who has been in secure care for a while.

Julie tells presenter John-Barry Waldron that she will miss the outdoor space the most, as she has dedicated so much time and energy into its maintenance.

John said: “I worked particularly closely with Julie as she was on my ward and I’ve seen her at her lowest ebb. But it’s so rewarding to see how the patients start to improve and eventually leave and move onto the next step of their lives.

“Julie’s story is a prime example of how you should never give up. You can hear how excited she is to be moving into her new accommodation and shares her plans with us. She is a very special lady and I am very honoured that I got to play a part in her recovery.”