Mum diagnosed with condition ‘she had since childhood’ at routine GP appointment

A mum-of-two who was diagnosed with bipolar after a scheduled visit to her GP “thought she was going crazy”.

Sarah O’Rourke, was sitting in her local health surgery when she told her doctor that she had to go home and unplug all the wires in her house, as she strongly believed someone was taking pictures of her.

Sarah revealed that in the months and weeks before her appointment she felt increasingly delusional.

She suffered from thoughts about becoming a victim of revenge porn as she suspected her house had been bugged with cameras.

Her thoughts spiralled so much it caused her to unplug and take apart every electrical device in her house as she was scared someone was going to upload an indecent video of her to Netflix.

Sarah has created a blog where she hopes to challenge people's perceptions of bipolar
Sarah has created a blog where she hopes to challenge people’s perceptions of bipolar

On another occasion, Sarah, from Wythenshawe phoned her dad and told him to go into her loft as she was convinced she could hear people talking.

She also phoned the police on several occasions as she thought she could hear people whispering at the side of her house.

“I knew they thought I was crazy,” she told Manchester Evening News.

Sarah was referred to a psychiatrist and social worker and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder three years ago.

Now aged 39, she has set up a blog named ‘Sarah O’Rourke Bipolar and Me,’ and hopes to challenge some of the stigma surrounding the condition.

“I always felt different but this became more apparent when I was around eight-years-old,” Sarah said.

“I found building relationships difficult because I could see and feel that people were different to me.

“But as I got a little older I excused this by acknowledging my parents had separated and this may have something to do with why I felt the way I did.

“I was overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness and thinking about it now it is really unfortunate to feel those things at that age and it upsets me that I felt that way.”

Sarah recalls her teenage years consisted of smoking and drinking and at the age of 16, claims she was sexually exploited.

She attended college and worked various jobs, eventually landing her dream job as a special needs teaching assistant.

But her manic episodes and depression continued to spiral out of control, meaning she had to leave her job to focus on her health.

“I had been doing things that in my normal mindset I wouldn’t do. I’d take big risks and date men that I knew I shouldn’t,” she said.

“One day I was really upset and the next day you couldn’t shut me up. I was all over the place.”

Following her bipolar diagnosis, Sarah was taken off antidepressants and prescribed anti psychotic medication for the first time.

“I suddenly could feel snippets of my old self coming back. I hadn’t felt like that since I was a teenager,” she said.

“The NHS were amazing, and credit to my GP for picking it up from that one appointment.

“Now I have ups and downs but they are not as bad as they were. When I talk about the depression I had before I was suicidal.

“I still can’t really plan anything because I don’t know how I am going to feel when I wake up.”

Sarah says her diagnosis has inspired her to channel all the negative things that happened to her and begin a new chapter.

“The blog is something I can do at my own pace but is informative and can help other people,” she said.

“The lack of understanding about bipolar even with my own friends and family has been terrible.

“Some people will say to me ‘oh everyone has mood swings’ but they are not like the ones you have when you have bipolar.

“Other people think I’m dangerous. All my friends have just gone off the radar. I think it is because they are scared.”

Sarah hopes to be able to use the blog to show people what it’s like to live with bi-polar day-to-day, and raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the condition.

“I do wish I had been diagnosed sooner. I went to see the GP purely by chance,” she said.

“If he hadn’t picked it up then I don’t know where I’d be.

“The medication has changed my life. I can’t imagine how many people are going through life without being diagnosed or getting proper treatment.

“I am putting my story out there to make people think about the way they are. It might even make some people seek help for their own behaviour.”

You can find out more about bipolar and the support available here.

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