Rewarding work helps beat bipolar

IN 2003 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this led to agoraphobia to the point where I wouldn’t go past my back gate on my own.

mandy charlton

IN 2003 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this led to agoraphobia to the point where I wouldn’t go past my back gate on my own. I ended up on disability living allowance and at one point it was so bad that my husband had to give up work to become my carer.

In 2006 with the right medication and a year of therapy I decided that I wanted to get back into work, but knew it had to be on my own terms and it had to be flexible for the children. I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t a right off and make hubby and the kids proud of me.

I’m a really creative person and loved photography. I couldn’t think of a career that would make me happier and so with help and support I started up in business and have never looked back.

Originally I worked in banking and I hated it, now that I’ve actually discovered how massively creative I am I understand why.

Both me and my hubby decided we wanted to work for ourselves so we could always attend school events and be there for our children as much as possible. Between us we co-ordinate our diaries so that if I’m working he’s in charge of childcare and vice-versa.

My kids come first and my clients realise that. They’re a real credit and don’t mind having to come along to meetings.

It’s a rule that I have to catch up on my daily work, but then we always make time to do fun activities. I never wanted to have a business that would mean the kids having to sit around watching TV because I was too busy.

Being bipolar is for life but working on my own terms means that I’ve now enjoyed four years of being completely well. Yes. there are up and down days, but I can co-ordinate my diary if I am having a bad day.

Plus, photographing children and people in love is such a joyful thing I rarely feel down.

As for agoraphobia, it’s a distant memory and I remind myself how much I appreciate the freedom that I’ve given myself.

Lots of people who have mental health challenges think that they’ll never get back into work, but its just not true. If you do something you truly love on your own terms and be completely positive 24/7 I believe you can achieve anything.

Juggling work and being a brilliant parent is a massive challenge, but I’ve learned that as long as business is good and the kids are happy then no-one is going to complain.

I get to see my children every day and in holidays we have a really relaxed pace of living because we never really have schedules to meet. I think it makes for happy parents and happy kids!

I think it’s important for anyone starting their own business not to take on too much work and always remember why you started the business – to spend more time with your family.

In terms of ambitions for the future, I’m hoping that the children’s photography keeps growing because it’s the most fulfilling thing I do.

My hubby and I renewed our wedding vows in April for our 10th anniversary, he’s my best friend and we’re soulmates.

In the future we have plans to start other projects together and maybe some family type ones where the kids are involved, we hope to give them a knowledge of business as they grow up.


David Whetstone
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Graeme Whitfield
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