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Living with bipolar disorder

Hospitalized for psychosis at the age of 15, Eduardo was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder and began a 20-year journey of transformation to successfully managing his condition and achieving stability in his life. He shares that his condition has been a challenge but has also given him strength and wisdom, and encourages others to “work hard, and be kind to yourself and other people.”

Eduardo’s Story

How has your condition impacted your life?

It has made my life challenging, stressful, and uncertain. It’s also made me extremely resilient, hopeful, and compassionate. In my career, I have to be very deliberate on the amount of work I take on and the scale of my ambitions, because if I get too stressed or overworked, I can aggravate my condition. The most difficult time for me will always and forever be when I’m at the extreme ends of the disorder, which is severe depression or severe mania. It has happened to me numerous times, and I’ve been hospitalized numerous times because of it. Yet, with each incident there is growth, and I’m blessed to have survived so many episodes.

What does success look like for you?

For me, success is leading a fulfilling and values-driven life. And bipolar I disorder is no longer a feature of my life; it’s a backdrop. A successful life is a life that you direct and find meaningful. My condition no longer directs me – it doesn’t have a large influence on my behavior, decisions, and actions anymore. My life now is a lot less chaotic and much more stable. I see my therapist once a week. I see my psychiatrist once a month. I exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. I constantly gauge my mood with a mood tracker. I practice CBT, DBT, ACT, and positive psychology daily and hourly.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition?

I learned how to be resilient, and I learned how to be self-aware and patient. Surviving and managing bipolar I disorder takes an amazing amount of strength, emotional intelligence, and wisdom. I developed an enormous amount of character because of my mental health condition.

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

Be patient and remember this is temporary – this too shall pass. Seek help from professionals. Start a treatment plan now. Find a psychiatrist that takes a holistic approach and thinks and prescribes outside the box; you’re not just your brain chemistry. Find a therapist that complements your personality and challenges you to be better and live better. Read. Read a lot. Read books that inspire you. Read books that make you think. Read books that let you escape. Read about mental health, psychology, biochemistry, psychotherapy and pharmacology. Try everything and give everything a chance. Be courageous and practice resilience. You will be okay, and you will figure this out.

What resources helped and inspired you that you would recommend to others?

Young Men and Fire: Twenty-fifth Anniversary Edition by Norman Maclean

From Values to Action: The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership 
by Harry M. Kraemer

How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen

Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose – the Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership by John Whitmore