From Ransom, who wrote to the Foundation and volunteered to share his story:
My name is Ransom and i am 23 years old. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder about 3 years ago shortly after my brother died in a motorcycle accident. This event completely tore my life apart, but my problems started long before that. At age 12 i began experimenting with drugs and alcohol to cope with the divorce of my parents and the lack of my father being around. I learned at a young age it was easier to just pick up a bottle or a pipe to make any emotional pain go away. My mom recognized in my early teens that i had problems and scheduled many appointments with psychiatrists. They were all quick to prescribe anti depressants and send me on my way. I had problems in school with attention so i was prescribed medication for ADD as well. I was always lead to believe there were just medications to fix anything. It was all a bit of a joke to me. I was always getting into fights and honestly i was angry and difficult to deal with most of the time. I would be fine one minute then some small comment or event would just set me off. I wanted everything my way. Nothing was good enough for me. When i was a junior in high school my father passed away. I hadn’t seen him in several years but it still hurt. My father was diagnosed with bipolar when he was older and was bulimic but refused to get treatment. He chose alcohol to make himself feel better and according to the coroner he died from liver failure. I knew none of this until after his death. I moved on with my life struggling but i graduated from high school and started college. I was still drinking quite heavily at this time but my older brother John began to heavily influence my life and i began to slow down and see the changes i needed to make for the good.
Like me my brother had problems at a young age but somehow he dramatically changed his life and was sober and very happy with life now. I became very close to him and he slowly molded me and taught me many things. He was my father figure and i wanted to be him. I was 19 by now and he was 22. Then things took a turn for the worst. My brother had been out riding motorcycle with a good friend of mine late one night and they had crashed. My brother did not survive. Losing my brother broke my heart. I felt cheated in life and nothing had ever hurt me like that did. I quit going to school and I began drinking extremely heavy after that. I used drugs, money and anything else i could find to numb the pain as well. I got to a point were i was in bed for days not caring if i lived or died and not having the energy to kill myself, i was so burned out. My mother realized i was in a life or death situation, having dealt with my father she knew what would happen if nothing was done. Luckily she was friends with someone who got me an appointment with a good psychiatrist. I thought here we go again, but this time it was different. This doctor was a specialist in the bipolar field and after two appointment’s diagnosed me with bipolar. We began trying out medications for the illness and found that a mood stabilizer was what i needed. Since i have been on the medication life has been easier but not everyday is a picnic. Even medicated my moods are not stable at times. I am often negative and hard to deal with. I probably don’t always try to understand things instead i just make them what i want in my head. One of the hardest things about being bipolar is being in a relationship. I have been in many relationships in the last few years. All undoubtedly ending because of my unstable moods at times and lack of being understanding at times. The women i have been with that i felt like i could tell about my illness either never gave me a chance because of it or left me cause they couldn’t deal with me because of it. I have made many mistakes in the past but the relationship I’m in now makes me want to be a better person. I love this woman very much and want to spend my life with her. She is more understanding than i could ever dream someone could be and i know she loves me. That is a good feeling. I have hurt many people in the past and in the process hurt myself but I am making an effort to change that and make my life better now. I have many dreams i wish to accomplish in spite of having this illness hold me down at times.
I look forward to the day that my child is born and marrying my girlfriend. That to me is success in life and makes me smile. I am current working on a book about my life and living with bipolar disorder from my perspective. Before i was diagnosed with bipolar disorder i had no idea what it was. What i want people to know whether you have been diagnosed or somehow know someone who has been is that it is a disease. Its something you cannot control at times but with help people with bipolar can lead perfectly normal lives. Everything in the mind of someone bipolar can be extremely sensitive. It takes patients to deal with it at times but give it a chance. Living life on that happy middle part can be a struggle some days and it cannot be achieved alone. It takes medication for most and it definitely takes support from the people around you that love you. I have learned to vent my feelings through writing, art, and music. I thank god for making me this way and i wouldn’t change me. I see things differently and I’ve learned to use this to my advantage. I am trying my hardest to get the most out of life and be happy. I have found that every negative thing that happens can have positive effect on you if you choose to see it that way. This is a short story of what i have been through and what i deal with everyday. I hope that if someone reads this they have learned something about what its like being bipolar or maybe makes it easier to understand why people are the way they are sometimes. Just keep your mind and heart open and look for the positive in things. I thank you for your time in reading this.