Founder, Stay Awesome
Living with addiction and bipolar 2 disorder

Although Bill Bernat experienced nearly constant depression and anxiety from a young age, now he manages his mental health conditions with mindfulness practices and finds support from connecting with others like him. The more people Bill meets, the more paths to wellness and recovery he sees. He says, “I forget why we’re supposed to be embarrassed about having mental health conditions in the first place. When observed absent the judgment of other humans, mental health conditions are neither good nor bad.”

Bill’s Story

Briefly, how has your condition impacted your life?

My condition impacted my life by creating nearly constant depression and anxiety starting from a young age and causing self-destructive behavior. Eventually, I lost everything and had to rebuild my life. It was at that point that I began to examine how to live better with my condition.

What does success/living well look like for you?

The most significant factor in living better was finding and connecting with people who were like me, which initially happened in treatment. Then later I started finding them all over the place.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I manage my condition with a mindfulness practice and a social/support network.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition? If so, what?

I understand more about how I and other people think and function because I’ve had to observe and learn–it’s a survival skill.

How has your condition impacted your work and your career?

My condition has prevented me from succeeding in some ways and allowed me to succeed in others.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

The more people I meet, the more ways I find people live well with mental health conditions, so know that if you keep looking, you will find a path to living better. Most importantly, just know you’re not at all alone or a freak. You belong.

What motivated you to join The Stability Network? What do you hope to get from it?

My main motivation for joining TSN was to connect with other people living with mental health conditions.

Are there resources (books, videos, websites) that helped and/or inspired you that you would recommend to others?

I find the most help in Eastern-oriented mindfulness teachings, such as Eckhart Tolle videos and books, and ancient Buddhist texts such as the Dhammapada. Full disclosure, most people I know don’t really take to these, so find what works for you.