I'm Ryan Christman. I'm a peer group facilitator at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. I teach expressive writing to disabled veterans like myself.
I have bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed in 2000 and it took until probably 2005 before they really found a stable medication regiment for me.
So during that time, I bounced around. I was hospitalized several times.
I had several different therapists. I lived in all several different states, different relationships, different jobs, just all over the place.
But the last few years, it has really turned around for me.
There are several little tricks they'll teach you in therapy to be able to assess where you're at and one of the things they taught me
was a scale from one to ten and five is a middle balanced mood.
So if I'm feeling depressed, I'm four or below. If I'm feeling high or manic, hypomanic, I am six and above.
I use the scale to communicate with other people who've not had the experience of mental illness exactly how I'm feeling.
And overtime, those numbers become very meaningful for me subjectively to be able to pinpoint exactly what I'm experiencing.
So now, I have this check system.
So, there are certain things that are things that I will think over and over again, paranoid thoughts or whatever kind of thought it is.
And as soon as my mind starts to go there, I'm able to pull it back. Kelly is everything to me. She's been I think a key in my recovery.
I met her in late 2006 and we've just had a wonderful relationship. We got married in November and that stability is so important to my recovery.
I can't even say how grateful I am to her for taking a chance on me and for getting to know me even when she knew right upfront that I had a
severe mental illness and that was something that she did not understand at first. For me, it's always a cost to process of trying to understand it
because I still don't feel that I completely understand it, but I talked through it with her.
And it's been very steady and at my side and it hasn't always been easy, but I think we're doing very well and I'm so lucky to have her with me.
Another thing I would credit with my recovery has been my expressive writing project and my goal with that is to share it with a lot of people
because I feel like I have an insight from going through that process that very few people have taken the time and reflection to come to it.
And I have a creative idea to use my musical -- knack I'll call it and some of my writing skills and some of my past web designs and other things that I've done.
And kind of blend those into a way of sharing my story.
That's the root of the song that I have had in my mind for awhile. The choruses, the choruses. The verses I made up so.
Sing the chorus a couple times and later we'll build it from the chorus then.
Okay. Singing is a pure release of emotion for me and whatever I'm experiencing inside just kind of spills out of me and that has been a very
therapeutic way for me to try to get in touch with whatever it is that is going on inside of me. So, it's been very helpful to me. œThe spirit that saturates the air.
Okay. That's good. I'm going to take you from the top now.
There are a lot of people out there that are still really hurting, that are going through the same experience. And I hope that as much as possible though my story,
I can help them achieve the same amount of recovery and peace that I have been able to find.