For nearly as long as I can remember, I’ve had a feeling that somehow I was different than others; that I didn’t belong, and that something wasn’t quite right with me. I wasn’t sure why, it was just a gut feeling.
Maybe a lot of people feel this way while trying to “find themselves” and fit in with society or find their place in the world; but for me, it turned out to be something else.

My mood, outlook on life, energy levels, and even personality seemed to vary wildly.
This became more apparent as I grew up.

To summarize:

Sometimes I would have nearly endless energy, be outgoing, want to stay out all night, and be up for nearly anything. But I’d also become very irritable – aggressive at times, and rebel against everyone that didn’t see things my way.
My mind would be racing with ideas and things I wanted to do. I was creative. I believed I could do anything — to a dangerous level, where I’d do risky and even borderline illegal activities — and I’d get a rush out of it.

On the other hand, sometimes I was very quiet, sad and felt that I needed to isolate myself from my friends and family.
This sadness worsened over time, to the point where I learned that I was actually very depressed.
At times, this even forced me to stay in bed all day, for multiple days or even months. I would even make excuses or just flat out refuse to go to school or anywhere with my family because of how bad I felt.
I even wanted to die. And this feeling would turn into a period of time that changed my life.

I was flipping back and forth violently, fighting with my mind for some kind of stability. I hated myself, and I hated how life was treating me.
I didn’t quite understand what was going on with me, but I didn’t think it was something most people experienced because I hadn’t seen anyone else this way.
And I didn’t see any reason to live. I seemed to have tunnel vision that the only way out of feeling that way was to kill myself.
So at the age of 16, I had planned to end my life.

I started to make plans and taking steps to end my life.
For one, I canceled a web hosting service I had previously been using in attempt to run my own small business.
I made the “mistake” of leaving a message staying I wasn’t planning to live for much longer on their cancellation form.
But this “mistake” turned out to be a life saver.

I was out one evening and hanging out with my friends for one last time, because I was planning to hang myself in the garage that night.
But it turns out, that web hosting business called the police to report what I had said because they took it as a serious threat on my own life.
And when I got home, there was a police officer in the driveway talking to my mother. At the time, I had no idea why he was there, until he started questioning me.
To make a long story short, he ended up “arresting” me and I was eventually taken to a mental institute where I ended up forced to stay for a period of nearly a month.

And that’s where my life changed. After being monitored for so long at the mental hospital, I finally had an answer to why I was feeling the way I did. They diagnosed me as having Bipolar Disorder.
Since then, I’ve struggled a lot. I ended up dropping out of school, losing friends, relationships, losing jobs, and nearly everything else in my life was out of whack for years to come.

I’m 30 now and have seen several psychiatrists and therapists. I’ve also been on more medications than I can name offhand.
There are a whole lot of other symptoms I’ve experienced to this day such as delusions, paranoia and anxiety.
While I’m not including everything that’s happened in my life: I’ve had manic episodes where I’ve made over $30,000 USD in a month – only to waste it with my impulsiveness (another symptom), and I’ve had depressed episodes where I can’t work or do much of anything at all.
At times, I would stop treatment because I felt “normal” – only to go back to them months or a couple of years later when my symptoms returned.

Bipolar Disorder has not been easy to deal with at all. In fact, I wouldn’t wish it in my worst enemy.
Although my life is far from ideal, luckily I am receiving treatment that seems to be working decently for me now, and I’m looking forward to having a better future.

I’d also like to point out that just because someone has a mental illness, it doesn’t make them “crazy” or any less of a person than anyone else. The media (including movies) has given false impressions of what mental illness really is, and has only made the stigma against it worse.
It’s not our fault. We don’t choose to be this way. Having a mental illness is a daily struggle, and it’s only made harder by people who are misinformed or just lack the knowledge of what’s really going on.

brien_smallBrien was diagnosed at the early age of 16 with Bipolar Disorder. He has been sharing his experiences with mental illness as a form of self-therapy and with the hope to help others via his blog which was started in August of 2015. He also wants to fight the stigma against mental illness and feels that others with it should not be ashamed.

Brien can be found on his blog and Twitter

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