Bipolar sufferer who was paralysed after jumping 50ft from fourth floor balcony thinking she could fly becomes online and TV star

A bipolar sufferer who was paralysed after jumping 50ft from a balcony thinking she could fly has become an inspirational figure for a new TV documentary.

Rachel Edwards, from Stradbroke in Suffolk, was told by doctors that she would never walk again after taking the plunge from the fourth floor in November 2009.

Miss Edwards (left) crushed one of her vertebrae and medics had to rebuild her spine using metal rods and part of her hip

She was so ill at the time that she thought she was able to fly.

Unknown to Miss Edwards she was suffering from bipolar disorder – a mental condition which causes a person to experience episodes of extreme elation and depression.

When she jumped she was deep in the hands of an episode which had made her think she could fly.

But instead she crushed one of her vertebrae and medics had to rebuild her spine using metal rods and part of her hip.

Six years on, she is helping others by raising awareness of the condition in a new BBC documentary The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: 10 Years On, which will be broadcast tomorrow.

She said: ‘My accident is not what a lot of people assume. I have heard it all.

‘High on drugs, drunk, a skiing accident. I got pushed off a balcony, a car accident, fell down stairs at train station and beaten up by my boyfriend.

‘I didn’t intend to hurt myself at all.

‘I was not with it at the time at all. I was very unwell and none of it was my fault.

Rachel Edwards being filmed for the BBC One documentary The Not So Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive: 10 Years On

‘I was unlucky to get ill and have this accident but on the other hand I am very lucky to have survived.

‘So many people with bipolar have had similar feelings of being invincible and have had awful accidents and have not survived, so I do know how lucky I am and how much worse off I could of been.’

She said: ‘I am able to use my own experience of having depression to help others who experience low mood, stress, anxiety and depression..

‘By using the story of my accident and depression where appropriate I get to show people that you can recover.

‘I also encourage them to take control of their recovery, which is different for each individual. I use how I have battled back from a difficult situation as my example.’

Her blog quickly garnered thousands of hits and attracted the attention of a BBC film crew making a documentary about bipolar.

Miss Edwards still experiences pain and receives care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).

She said: ‘The crew wanted to focus on recovery, and filmed me at the gym and pool, out with my friends and while I was on a training course.

‘They also interviewed my mum, who along with my dad played such a big part in my recovery.

‘It was quite strange being filmed, but I soon forgot the camera was there. I’m looking forward to watching it.’

The programme is the follow-up to the award-winning Secret Life of a Manic Depressive’, which told the story of Stephen Fry.

Tomorrow’s broadcast highlights the way attitudes and treatment for bipolar disorder have changed since the actor and writer was diagnosed with the illness in 2006.

As well as filming Miss Edwards, her friends and family, the crew also shadowed her in her job and followed NSFT mental health practitioner Peter Henson.

Miss Edwards with some of her friends as she lays down in her pyjamas in a hospital bed

He works closely with her, as he carried out a care plan review, which records and individual’s mental, spiritual and physical needs.

Mr Henson said: ‘Bipolar can be very serious and our role is to help make sure people stay on the middle path.

‘We look for any signs of mania or triggers so that we can protect the individual from that elevated mood, as well as observing for low mood or suicidal thoughts.

‘Our job is damage limitation.. We try and prevent their problems from getting that severe while making sure they are on the best medication to help their individual circumstances.’