[MUSIC PLAYING] So I'd be in the library looking for clues, looking for symbols, getting to a desk, scratching, things down. When I found my way to the community shirt, sort of climbed the church. I took my clothes off. And all I wanted to do was calm my brain.
And then the next thing I knew, I was strapped down in a gurney in an ambulance. So my mind is flying. Bipolar I disorder-- mania is hard times.
After the mania comes a depression. I don't think you can explain it to someone who doesn't have a mental illness or who hasn't experienced it. You're as low as you can go. It's a very dark place.
It's suffocating, because there's no break from it-- not even for like 5 minutes. I think the deeper you fall into the depression, the more hopeless you get. So it's a dangerous thing, because suicide enters your mind.
I had my first manic episode I was 16. I had a second in 2001. I had a third in 2003, a fourth in 2004. It culminated in going to a rehab facility. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I made a vow to take my meds which I never broke.
I got my life back together. I met a girl, got married, had a kid, and it was great. It was nine years of peace. When I'm healthy-- meaning not in a mania or a depression-- I'm completely functional. You sort of put your bipolar coat into the closet. It's not affecting you in any way. That's why it was so surprising that something happened after that.
I don't think you ever start to feel the mania come on. It just sort of starts. You trick your mind into thinking you're OK. What's happening feels right. You're doing creative things. You don't want that to end. It kept climbing. You reach a point of psychosis. You've totally lost grip with reality, and it's scary.
Interesting thing about this last manic episode was that I had stayed on my medication. So I didn't think in my head that if I took my medication, it could ever happen again. What I learned was that I'm not in control of it. I have to surrender that it might happen again.
So how I channel this creative energy that bipolar provides-- I channel it into my writing. I have probably 50 notebooks. Some are from when I was manic, and I'm just scribbling things down-- arrows and symbols and whatnot. Others are more concise, when I'm stable and I'm planning out the books.
I've written two books, and I'm working on the third one now. And the main character has bipolar. My books are fuller. They're richer. There's more to them because of experiences I've had in the past.
I feel like I can help people struggling with that right now. Just make a vow that you will never commit suicide, because if you don't, I can promise you you'll rise up again. If I could go back in time and not have bipolar disorder, I wouldn't take it. And it's worth all those downs and all those ups to be able to help someone else get through it.