Being part of The Not-So-Secret Life of the Manic Depressive
Bipolar Disorder - Your stories
Our supporter Alika is one of the stars of Stephen Fry's documentary, 'The Not-So-Secret Life of the Manic Depressive', which forms part of the BBC's #InTheMind season. The programme investigates the realities of life with bipolar disorder, and Alika shares his experience of being part of such a high profile project...
Hello-Hey-Hi-how you doing world? I’m Alika, a 24 years young black male living in London after growing up in Lagos for 10 years. I’m a Multi-Disciplinary Artist, Designer and Writer. I’ve trained as a level 3 Electrical Engineer, I'm also a youth worker, and currently work as a support worker within St Christopher’s. In June 2013 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after experiencing multiple symptoms of mental illness, including; psychosis, mania, depression, self-harm, hearing voices, and suicidal thoughts.
I got involved with Rethink Mental Illness as a media volunteer after Gary Trowsdale (of Spirit of London Awards) urged me to tell my story to raise awareness, gain closure and inspire other people. That's how the opportunity to take part in the documentary with Stephen Fry came up. I hold a lot of respect for him naturally, so I said yes. Plus my sister and mother admire him so it made sense.
I believe in the ethos of 'earning, learning & returning'
Taking part in the documentary was exciting at times and stressful at other times. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. I believe in the ethos of 'earning, learning & returning' or 'crisis, catharsis and renewal', so that was the force that pushed me to thrive through. The BBC were keen on interviewing my mother, and this was the part I was most worried about because I didn’t want her dragged into anything involuntarily. Fortunately after a meeting with the production team my Mum wanted to take part and so I was happy about how it all worked out.
My main worry was my mum, because I just wanted her to be fine with it. I was also worried about my sanity, plus public perception afterwards… but mostly Mom and she was fine so it was all right.
I haven’t watched the documentary yet. I haven’t even seen the adverts most of my friends keep telling me about. Recently over the weekend I have seen two clips from the documentary though and all I can say is “Wow!”. The guys did a great job with the footage; it’s amazing.
My personal message to young people affected by mental illness is:
1. It can happen to anyone.
2. You are not your diagnosis. (You are you.)
3. A good friend once told me “Angels with broken wings can fly again”.
4. Talking helps (especially with the professionals), reading helps (a motivational book), family helps and prayer can be powerful - it’s what worked for me.
What’s next for me? Well I’m currently working on a powerful project which I feel is my calling. Please keep your eyes and ears close to www.infecta.net / @Infecta, watch this space and enjoy my music whilst you can because when this project arrives... a change is coming.
In the meantime, tune into BBC One or check out iPlayer to see me and Stephen Fry in The Not-So-Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.
'The Not-So-Secret Life of the Manic Depressive' airs on BBC One at 9pm on Monday 15 February. You can watch it on iPlayer here. Please take care when watching.