Paul's Story

I grew up in a house where my father had bipolar depression. It never crossed my mind that I could have something like that.

There were times when my mood was so low that I would have to just escape, and when you're in that dark place, you kind of don't feel much of anything, you just want to remove yourself as much as you can.

I wondered why I was here. I wondered if my life had any meaning or purpose. I wondered if those around me would be better off without me in it.

I knew something was wrong, I didn't know what was wrong, I didn't know why I felt the way that I felt, I just felt terrible inside. It's a terrible feeling to live with. I wouldn't wish it on anybody, to be honest.

And one thing about bipolar depression, the depression side of things is that I wear it on my sleeve, so when it's really bad, people know it's bad. People that are close to me know and they'll ask, even my boss at work will come up to me and say, "Is everything okay, and what's going on?" They want to know. My wife knows, my wife would tell me that my emotions are so big they fill the room. And so, it impacts other people around you.

I had an episode before I was diagnosed that was so severe, I couldn't go back to my job. I remember being curled up on the back lawn rocking back and forth.

Nobody knew what it was. They assumed I was having a mental breakdown.

I would say one of my rock-bottom moments was the day that my former wife told me that she wanted a separation, and I remember literally falling to my knees, because my whole world felt like it was just being ripped apart. And I can look back on it now and realize that bipolar disorder was a big part of why that happened, why that relationship didn't last. I couldn't manage my own life. I couldn't be responsible for others, I couldn't be the father, I couldn't be the husband that I needed to be.

It wasn't until my current wife recommended that I get checked out.

So, I was sitting in the psychiatrist's office, and that's when they told me that I had bipolar depression type II.

I was a little surprised, but at the same time I think I was also a little relieved, because I knew that okay, there's something wrong, that means that someone's going to help me, right? Someone's finally going to help me, you know, with all this.