“RollerMania”: it sounds like the name for a tacky rollerskating venue, but this is actually what I call the period just before I went into hospital.
When I was studying about bipolar in medical school, the idea of being manic seemed pretty attractive- being hyper-aroused, grandiose and full of productivity.., who wouldn’t want that? And it is sometimes true! When I am hypomanic and at a 6 or 7 on the Bipolar UK mood scale, my productivity is off the chart!
People with bipolar tend to have striving personalities and I definitely fit into that category. I have always been a high-achiever and I always need to be progressing in life. This is no bad thing- its got me through medical school, with a whole host of extracurricular activities and it even got me starring in a reality TV show as an expedition doctor!
But one day I wanted a career change- not the usual kind that medics go through when they hate their job. No, I was going to be the world’s BEST entrepreneur. And how would I make all my money…?
…By renting out rollerskates.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the legendary video of slo-mo, the neurosurgeon-turned-rollerblading guru, it was something along these lines. I would be a doctor-cum-rollerskate-enthusiast. The plan: collect a load of skates, set up a stall and charge people to use them along the seafronts of the UK.
My mental equilibrium is far from perfect, as you might have guessed from my diagnosis, but I should tell you, my physical balance is even worse! So far from being an expert role model in rollerskating, I would not have made a good mentor for my clientele. My skating abilities are demonstrated here:
Despite this lack of skill, my grandiose ideas got the better of me and I started searching Gumtree for pairs of second hand skates.
I found one pair from a girl in Chichester- black, converse style relics of earlier skating endeavours that she had outgrown.
I sourced another pair on ebay- retro red with blue laces- that I believed were the height of cool.
And another pair- luminescent green and neon pink-I discovered in Brighton and dragged a friend to come and collect with me in a housing estate.
I also purchased a longboard with a green dinosaur design that I believed people would desperately part with their cash to borrow.
These wheely devices were not enough however. Safety whilst skating was of utmost importance and so I also started fashioning makeshift kneepads out of… no, you won’t guess… In my resourceful state I found myself cutting the padding out of old bras, strapping them to my kneecaps and thinking this would save people from a shattered patella.
For some people who know me, this behaviour isn’t bizarre at all, it is just part of my personality. A delusion is a “mistaken belief that is held with strong conviction even when presented with superior evidence to the contrary.” This scenario doesn’t necessarily count as me being deluded. I maybe made some unwise decisions, but this is an example of hypomanic symptoms instead of full blown mania. Spending more money than usual on random objects, making big decisions like a career change and starting out new wild projects.
Luckily I have plenty of insight into my condition and I know when my spending and projects are getting out of hand. I decided to stop buying rollerskates and focus on the real issue here: where I was going to go after quitting clinical medicine. You can read about my journey after giving up the hospital job on my career page. Alas, my rollerskating business dream did not come true.
You’ll still find me slo-mo style skating along the seafront in Brighton though, and serendipitously because I have the other skates I can always take 2 friends to hold onto so I don’t fall flat on my face!
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week 2018. I will be posting daily blogs and videos. Please “like” and “follow” my blog and subscribe to my YouTube channel for vlogs. Help end the stigma by wearing a green ribbon and start up the conversation around stress and mental illness. Happy MHAW2018! @ali_blatcher