Close your eyes and imagine, if you can, these things:
A young boy who has a hard time connecting with his parents, brothers, sisters, other family members. A young boy who has a hard time making and keeping friends. A young boy who struggles in school, is bullied and feels isolated but isn't sure why he acts and does the things he does. Someone who had repeatedly called a “screw up” and treated as an outcast in his parents home. Someone who doesn't have a relationship with his immediate family today because he is judged by mistakes from the past- before he was diagnosed.
Imagine the boy as an adult, still struggling to find his bearings, jumping from job to job, relationship to relationship, not able to establish who he is or who he wants to be. Someone who suffers from depression and has considered suicide on more than one occasion. Someone who is lost- who feels there is no hope. A person suffering in silence with Bipolar Disorder.
Finally diagnosed in 2004, he has always been open about his Bipolar Disorder. While most people, including his parents and siblings, don't want to believe or understand the disease, it does not change the fact that he, and millions of other people, suffer from this every day of their life.
He does not consider the depression and manic episodes he suffers from, as weakness. He looks at his Bipolar Disorder like others look at diabetes, asthma, and other chronic diseases. it's always there, but manageable.
Stability and home life, the proper medications, and maintaining a long-term relationship with a therapist are keys of controlling bipolar. For his well-being he does not former maintain relationships with people who think he is only bipolar and nothing else.
While his Bipolar Disorder is severe, it is merely a small part of who he is. He is a husband and a father. He is so much more than what most people see. The signs were always there when he was younger and sometimes he feels resentment and anger towards those who didn't see or ignore his problem. He considers those years lost- a fog in time- time he will never get back.
Today, he is looking to the future and uses his past as a learning tool. He is currently a business owner, a published author, and a student at Southern Utah University.
My name is Paul and my bipolar is a small, but important, part of who I am. My understanding of it makes me who I am today but it does not define me.