I’ve always been somewhat flamboyant and as a small child I would choose outlandish outfits. When I was a toddler my favourite look was a croupier’s visor, a tutu, a bright yellow t-shirt and a pair of red wellies. My parents allowed me the freedom to dress myself and I went to a school with no uniform so I took advantage of the opportunity to express myself through my style. I never lost the love to dress up, but when I hit puberty I felt like I was too much; a bit too loud, too energetic and too big. There was a constant battle between my true-self and the girl I thought I was supposed to be. The eating disorder that first cropped up in my teens was triggered by feeling that I was fundamentally not right and that I needed to change to be acceptable. I feel sad when I think back to that worried girl, trying to starve herself into conformity.
Fast forward 20 odd years and I have more perspective on my past behaviour. The insight that came with my bipolar diagnosis has helped me understand the origins of my eating disorder and why my moods would dramatically fluctuate. Having an undiagnosed mental illness made me feel like an outsider because my mindset seemed so different from everyone else’s and I had no idea why. I’ve learnt how to manage my bipolar and adapt my self-care routine if I feel myself becoming manic or depressed. Sometimes I drive myself a little nuts, trying to differentiate between what thoughts, feelings and behaviours are symptomatic of my bipolar and what is just me being me. It’s difficult to know where I begin and bipolar ends.
It’s now six years since my diagnosis and I no longer expect to fit in. Although I understand my condition and I can connect the dots between my behaviour and my illness, I still feel a strong sense of otherness. However, trying to conform to a standardised norm is pointless and no good for my mental health. This includes my propensity to be rather flamboyant; I am essentially still that toddler in a tutu, rocking a visor and wellies and giving no shits. I now use my style to celebrate who I am, and that includes my bipolar.
This skirt is from Teatum Jones SS20 collection and it has pretty much everything that delights my inner two year old, this outfit is basically a grown up version of my look, circa ’85. Wearing it fills me with a delight that I can’t quite explain. I suppose it’s because I’m externally expressing my inner-self, which is always uniquely satisfying. My boots are from Zara, my earrings are by We Dream in Colour and my blouse is from Dante 6.