I was sick a lot as a child with asthma so I did not have the greatest childhood. Growing up, I did not feel like I fit in with other kids because I did not play sports and was not really accepted. I was unhealthy and in emotional pain most of the time. Later on I discovered alcohol, which at the time was like a medicine to me. Alcohol controlled my life from the time I was in my late teens until I quit at the age of 36 (2011). After quitting drinking I lost all of my friends, which is hard to go through.
I had been hospitalized for depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts a couple of times by this point in my life. My unwillingness to give up drinking in the past meant that I was holding back information from the doctors, preventing a proper diagnosis of my condition.
While working in British Columbia, I injured my back on the job (shortly after quitting drinking and smoking). I could no longer work and became severely depressed. I had a nervous breakdown and was devastated because I thought I was going to be an electrician for life. It was at that time that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Looking back over my life, the diagnosis made a lot of sense.
Having a disability and not a lot to do, I needed a purpose and something to fill my days. So I joined a rock and gem club (Maple Ridge, BC) and learned the art of stone carving. Carving gives me focus and something to do, and I am good at it.
Then I moved with my wife and daughter back to Ontario as I wanted to be able to access as many mental health resources as I could and be closer to family. I have been involved for three years now with CMHA through Chatham Kent and now CMHA HP.
Having a case manager has been helpful to me. It is nice to know I have someone who has my back and that I can rely on when I am struggling. My case manager is someone to talk to without feeling ashamed. They know about bipolar disorder, so I do not have to go over it and explain everything. My case manager helps me with my daily life issues, paperwork, and when I am in a difficult situation and I need help to sort it out.
Doctors continue to change my medication to find the best treatment for me. Right now it has helped for my mania but the depression and anxiety are still there. It is a daily struggle to get out of bed because of depression, so having my own little carving studio at my apartment gives me opportunity to stay away from my bed.