Actress amazed by response to BBC talk on mental illness
Bermudian actress Liana Hall reported an “amazing” outpouring of support after her return to BBC TV to speak on the topic of mental illness.
Ms Hall, daughter of the late Bermudian lawyer and politician Julian Hall, described her experience of bipolar disorder for a segment of the national morning news programme BBC Breakfast.
“It was very popular — the responses were overwhelmingly positive,” said Ms Hall, adding that she seeks merely to spread awareness of the debilitating mental illness.
“I don’t claim to have any qualification when it comes to mental health.
“I come from the basis of having firsthand experience of it over the course of 16 years.”
Both her appearances on the BBC have been prompted by the release of studies on bipolar disorder: in January, Ms Hall spoke on both BBC Breakfast and BBC News 24 on the need for more medical resources to enable the diagnosis of the illness in young people.
The most recent investigation suggests that diagnosing a bipolar sufferer “takes 13 years from the first moment they experience it”, she said.
“I took 12 years, so I was actually below average,” added Ms Hall, whose bipolar II disorder is currently in remission.
Ms Hall appeared on last Wednesday’s broadcast alongside a representative from the mental health charity MIND.
“It was very educational for me — I had no idea it takes that long. Bipolar disorder if a person hasn’t been diagnosed properly — who knows the amount of people who have turned to suicide or harmed others because they haven’t been diagnosed in time?”
Her candid discussion of her experiences, including near-suicidal episodes, stressed the importance of presenting doctors with the full range of symptoms, in order to prevent mistaken diagnosis.
“I remember I’d go to the doctor in the midst of a very bad depressive episode — when I was feeling great, I thought life was wonderful.”
Along with extreme lows, bipolar disorder is characterised by intense bursts of elation. An uninformed doctor can mistakenly prescribe “a completely different treatment”, she explained.
Ms Hall, who told The Royal Gazette of her stage fright during her first appearance on BBC TV, said her latest experience had been “much more relaxed”.
“I had such great feedback — I know it helped people. Twitter was a big place for people to react with it, and the BBC were really happy with the response.
“That was great to know and hear — that I hopefully made an impact on someone who didn’t realise they were suffering from bipolar disorder.”
Ms Hall, who caught public attention through her blogging on her experiences, said she’d discovered solace in writing and hoped in time to take on a greater role in educating the public on the illness.
“I do want to serve and be of use,” she said. “It’s not self-congratulation or being a martyr. This helps me, and it’s also about our own survival.”
To view Ms Hall’s appearance on BBC TV, go to: http://alturl.com/wt7rk
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