A life of extremes

By Sarah RaparoliLex Kleren Switch to German for original article

Living with a bipolar disorder is a constant up and down, a life accompanied by high and low spirits. This is also the experience of Ute Steil. A woman who has learned to accept her medical condition and herself as she is.

Ute Steil was born in 1961 and, like many before and after her, has experienced a lot. In the case of the 60-year-old, however, there is an additional significant circumstance: Ute is bipolar. Her life is a constant back and forth and is characterised by extremes. "Already during my time at boarding school in the 70s, I noticed that I was really overwhelmed by my tiredness." Later, she changes jobs a few times until she is temporarily employed by a supermarket chain in Echternach – she had actually wanted to work at the Wasserbillig site. "I sold outdoors, both in summer and winter. That was a wonderful time." Talking about this stopover in her career, Ute's eyes begin to sparkle and for a brief moment you get the impression that she wants to go back to that place, to that period of her life. The long-awaited job near the German border has to be occupied at some point after all, and Ute changes branches. Her joy does not last long, however, "because in 1982 my brother died. That was really upsetting for me", Ute pauses for a moment, "that was intense".

The woman who loves to laugh

Slowly, the illness creeps into Ute's life, but she herself only becomes aware of it much later. The constant fatigue has visibly worsened and "everything I looked at was suddenly no longer clearly visible. As if it was moving. I also had problems with my sleep at that point." Eventually, she has to leave for the butcher's shop, which is located at the same site as the supermarket. Helping out for two months turns into ten years. During this time, Ute becomes very nervous: At 5 pm sharp, she panics. Why? "Because everything had to be tidied up and cleaned by 6.30 pm and I was responsible for that all by myself."

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