Director for Philanthropy, UW Medicine
Living with bipolar disorder

After three hospitalizations, David finally found the right medication and motivation to manage with his bipolar disorder. Today, he says his life is “amazing” – more than he could ever have imagined. He’s been married 19 years, enjoys a wonderful relationship with his daughter and has a job that allows him to influence and help others. He feels blessed to be able to be his “best self.”

David’s Story

What was your most difficult time?

When I was 23, having just come back from a 9-week basic training for the Army National Guard. I lost 60 pounds, was sleep-deprived, and went straight back into my job as a 4th-grade teacher. I was in bad shape and out of control.  I was hearing voices and couldn’t tell the difference between what was real and not real.  I told my wife what was happening and she got me to see a psychiatrist. After my third hospitalization, I was almost put on permanent disability.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

I finally found the right combination of medication and talk therapy that worked for me. I decided that I needed to take my mental health seriously.  So many things have contributed to my success: my family, my wife, my medication, my therapist, my age, my 5-year old, weightlifting, my lack of shame, and my ability to be open, free, and transparent.

​My illness still causes anxiety, agitation, and periods of unhappiness. I know now that nothing is permanent and that I will eventually feel better.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I talk about it. I take my meds. I sleep. I think about how I impact others. I lift weights. I cry. I tell people how I’m doing. I problem solve and brainstorm.

What advice would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

You’re not alone. It may not feel like it but how you’re feeling will pass. Be in the moment, tell yourself positive things, let go, be in community with others, talk to someone, try medication, become your best advocate.

If you could go back and do something over, what would it be?

I wish I hadn’t scared my wife so bad. She said the only times she could sleep or rest was when I was hospitalized. I wish our first years of marriage weren’t so hard. But I will never forget what she’s done for us.