When I was 20-years old, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and began taking medication. I have always swayed towards the manic side of my disorder, which can be very interesting at times. Basically you get more excited than a kid on Christmas day about everything in life, which usually led to me spending too much money, taking random trips, or other reckless and harmful activities. Then when the mania dies down, the depression kicks in as you realize that you made such terrible decisions, and/or you are realizing you have randomly flown to Las Vegas last night! Yes, it has been an interesting ride full of highs and lows, but as long as I take my medication and go to therapy, I am usually able to find the middle.
I am now 40-years old, and my brain chemicals have changed a bit. My condition has morphed into depression and ADHD, or I should say my mania morphed into ADHD. This is another reason why it is so important to maintain regular visits with your doctors and stay on top of your mental health!
I became a Mental Health Ambassador for Mental Health Minnesota because I want to help advocate for change. Mental health awareness has grown rapidly in the past few years, but it is far from where the awareness needs to be. Too many people are still dying by their own hands; on average, there are 100+ suicides per day in the U.S. alone, and that breaks my heart. Also, it is scary because without proper treatment, medication + therapy, I could very easily be part of that statistic. To clarify, Mental Health is not just about suicide, it is about finding the proper treatment so you can live a life that isn’t painful. You can actually live a very full life through finding the proper treatment.
I used to be embarrassed to tell people I had a mental illness, you felt instantly judged as crazy and insane. However, I am very fortunate, and I have been greatly successful despite my mental illness, through very hard work and dedication. My wife, son (6), and daughter (2) remind me every day why I have to stay on top of my mental health.
My recipe to living a successful life with a mental illness; therapy, medication, exercise, God.
If you are struggling or feeling hopeless, you have to go see someone and find your road to a better life. It can look different for everyone. Don’t give up. Mental Health Minnesota is an amazing resource, you just need to take that next step. Trust me it can get better!