I was born in 1969, the flower power days.
School for me was difficult because I had dyslexia, and back then the word “dyslexia” wasn’t in the dictionary. Instead they said I was lazy and not working hard enough.
After school, I started a jewelry apprenticeship — you don’t need to read much when you are a jeweler, you see. I decided to work as a contractor. I realized it’s easy for your boss to kick you in the bum, but it’s hard to do it yourself.
I knew I needed a change, so I went to work at a lighting company where I met Roseanne. I had a seven-year relationship with Roseanne, but when we broke up the depression set in.
At the time, my daughter Ruby was on the way and the picket fence dream of having a relationship, a daughter, and a roof over our heads had gone out of the window. I had hit rock bottom. I was suicidal. I had major depression. People were spinning out. I’ve never been a fighter, I’ve never hit another human being, but now when I got upset and frustrated, I hit walls. And that was when I was diagnosed with bipolar.
I had been going through life basically unaware that I had bipolar. I was having mood swings all the time but not realizing why. It hadn’t clicked to me, or really to anyone.
When I was first diagnosed, it still wasn’t obvious to me that I was any different to anyone else. My attitude was very much, ‘I don’t need medication.’
But I agreed to treatment and took the medication, more out of curiosity than anything else. Since then, I’m a better person. The impulses I was having when I was frustrated were controlled, and my moods were stable.
The weight gain which came due to the meds I was on at the time, however, was bit of a shock to the system. “You’re going to gain a bit of weight,” the doctor said. I gained 88 pounds in six months! As you can imagine this was a bit of a downer, especially when I was in a depressive period. I’ve since swapped the meds, and I’m starting to see the weight drop off.
There are still moments in my life where bipolar sets in. Events can trigger it, major letdowns, or major excitements. If I have a blow, it can trigger depression, and if something cool is happening or if life’s really a breeze, I can be manic.
I now look at bipolar like the earth. I have my North Pole and South Pole. One is completely opposite to the other. I have my depressive side, and my manic wild times. In my depressive South Pole periods, I can be in bed for one, two or even three days at a time. And when I’m in a manic North Pole period, I’m shouting out to the world and going for days without sleep. But the treatment keeps me on the equator. I might go to the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn maybe, but I won’t be going to each pole.
Keeping busy and active really is the thing to help keep the bipolar under control. I never find myself with nothing to do, really I don’t. I live life to the full.
Since being diagnosed, I got my Certificate III in Horticulture and Landscape Gardening, and now work at House with No Steps doing garden and property maintenance.
I’m also in a band called ‘Electric Grapefruit,’ formerly ‘Men with facial hair.’ I also love fishing with a sandwich, a can of drink, and some friends.
I am still having treatment, and have found a fantastic doctor who understands me and will call me out when needed.
My disabilities are hidden, both dyslexia and bipolar. It’s not something that’s often seen and is something I can often cover quite quickly and easily. Even so, I have had it rough in my life. Through my life I’ve gone through ups and downs and had different challenges, but I wouldn’t change who I am for anyone.
To my Mum: Mum, you’ve been there the whole time, through helping me learn at school, teaching me to read and do my homework, working out my dyslexia, seeing specialists, and throughout my bipolar journey. Mum, you’re the reason why I’m here.