I chose to share my story through this blog series for many reasons. Since 2017, nearly every person that’s come into my life on a meaningful level knows about my experiences with mental illness. Whether it’s a new coworker, someone I met on a dating app, a stranger I vibed with while waiting to see an artist at Lollapalooza, I’ve developed a total sense of comfortability being open about my mental health.
I’ve gotten so good at telling the “elevator pitch” version of my story — if someone gives me the time, I know I can leave an impact on them in a matter of minutes. I think it’s a reflection of my need to feel as though my authentic self is being seen and heard. If someone can handle my somewhat turbulent tale, I want to invite that person into my life. Because like it or not, being bipolar is a part of my authentic self that I love.
So why shouldn’t I just be open and honest about my mental health? If the misunderstandings, stigmatization, and self-loathing that follows mental illness and those who are impacted continue, we as a population will be failing so many adults, adolescents, and children. People will continue to suffer in silence while being inhibited from understanding their symptoms or worse – ostracized for a path they did not choose.
These blogs speak only to my experiences with being bipolar. There’s a large group of people out there who are not yet comfortable or don’t have the luxury of telling the people around them — friends, family, partners, or coworkers — what they deal with mentally. And that’s okay. I want to do anything and everything I can do to make someone else who struggles feel seen, heard, legitimized, and better, even if for a moment.
I have come a long way since 2017. With the help of medication, my large support system, and learning how to manage my brain when it begins to act against me, I’m able to write this today in the happiest, healthiest state of mind I’ve had in years.
Between then and now, I have lived through brief — yet substantial — bouts of depression and some less intense mania. But I’m still here to tell my story.
Throughout this time, I’ve learned that staying healthy isn’t just about doing things, such as taking my meds and minding my sleep patterns, to avoid a major mental health crisis. It’s also about doing the maintenance and work to keep myself okay. Running has become my favorite way of easing my hyperactive brain and getting those ever-present bursts of energy out. Music, being another form of oxygen for me, has also been a constant form of support to my mind I rely on daily. These things and being an advocate for mental health awareness have become my biggest sources of joy and excitement
So, while I am so beyond proud to tell anyone that I’m Patrick, a person living with Bipolar Disorder I, I am more than my symptoms and diagnosis.
I am more than what happened in the spring of 2017. I am more than the sad, harsh realities of a depressive episode that have temporarily derailed life. I am more than a person who journeys through this world experiencing the challenges of mental illness.
I’m still Patrick. I’m the energetic, caring, music-loving man who’ll talk your ear off and listen to you with compassion and love.
I think I’ve been put on this planet to speak my truth and help anyone I can that shares similar struggles. So, while I’m here, I’m going to do just that with a smile on my face and love in my heart.
Thanks for listening. Now go tell someone they are loved and they are enough.