Living with bipolar disorder

Bipolar mood disorder is often misunderstood. Fashion designer and blogger Brett Foxcroft shares his personal experience.

03 February 2015
by Jennifer Campbell

“Living with bipolar means living in a constant state of being unable to control your mind,” says Brett Foxcroft, who has suffered with mental illness most of his life. “As hard as it is to accept the illness yourself, it is just as hard to live with the social stigma surrounding bipolar and mental illness. It isn’t just a case of having a bad day once in a while,” he says.

Foxcroft says that he has always been antisocial and battled to build proper relationships, as he suffered with depression throughout his school years. He was medicated from a young age, which he says barely helped.

Foxcroft’s feelings of isolation continued well into his teenage years, when he turned to partying and eating too little as coping mechanisms. He describes feeling “a constant dread, that could only be silenced when my mind was scrambled in moments of alcohol-induced happiness.”

When he was 18, Foxcroft was accepted to a prestigious fashion school in Paris. He reflects on this time in his life: “As much as the good times were good, the bad times were horrifying. My selfishness in refusing to get help isolated me from everyone. No one wants to hang out with such an erratic, negative person. I lived in constant fear of my own mind, often paralysed by it and just not knowing when it would stop.”

In 2013, after two trips to rehab and numerous doses of medications prescribed every few weeks, Foxcroft realised he would have to accept the fact that he would be on medication for the rest of his life. “It is better to accept it. In doing so, I am able to be in control of it,” he says. “Dealing with the disease and medications in the first few months is extremely difficult, but you shouldn’t let other people’s lack of education about this disorder influence how you see yourself and how you deal with bipolar.”

His advice to those who are suffering? “You have to be honest with yourself. Take the time to educate yourself, and teach yourself in your own way how to deal with everyday life.”