Hillside Dept of Public Works Employee; Creative Director, Instinctive Bird
Living with bipolar disorder and addiction

A drug-induced manic episode sent Jason on the road to recovery. But it took seven long years for him to accept that his illness didn’t define him. A loving wife, medication, therapy and 12-step programs helped him find stability. Today he is the happily married father of two beautiful children, owns a home, has a steady job in municipal government and is a passionate advocate for those suffering from mental health and addiction.

Jason’s Story

When were you first aware of your condition?

I was first diagnosed in 1995. I had been taking drugs in a nightclub for three consecutive weekends when I was induced into a manic episode.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

Meeting my wife in 2002. That was such a pivotal moment in my life. She was the first person outside of my family and friends who accepted me for me, not an illness. Acceptance has been the biggest key to my success. I accept my life for what it is.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I see a psychiatrist every three months. I take my medications as prescribed and see a psychologist as needed. If I ever feel like I need to see any of my doctors sooner, I make an appointment and go. I make sure to get enough sleep every night. Being rested enables me to live a productive life.

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

If you think you are having symptoms, get help! Go to a psychiatrist and a psychologist and be honest. Explain what has been going on and be proactive in following their treatment plan. You may see your condition as a weakness – but a weakness can be transformed into an incredible gift. I’ve found that it can turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

How has stigma affected your life and career? How do you cope with it?

It kept me in fear of being myself. I was always afraid of what people would think of me. I cope by educating people about mental health and being a strong advocate to eliminate stigma so others don’t have to be afraid.

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

Nothing. I would be afraid that if I altered the past, it would change my present. I am very happy with the way my life turned out.