Manager, Protiviti Consulting
Living with bipolar 2 disorder, PTSD, and depression

Depression first struck John as a child in sixth grade, the result of multiple traumatic events. Feelings of despair and self-harm dominated his adolescent years. In college, despite being a nationally ranked collegiate athlete, his struggle continued and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Today, he is a successful professional who pays it forward by channeling positive energy into raising awareness about mental health.

John’s Story

What was your most difficult time?

Between sixth grade and my junior year of high school. During my sophomore year, I was removed from school for five months for hospitalization and treatment in an intensive outpatient therapy program. Those months were very difficult. I had to learn to accept my illness and open up about my feelings and fears so that I could gain the knowledge and skills I needed to grow into the person I am today. It wasn’t easy to deal with an illness during a time when I should have just been learning about the basics of life and having fun.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

First and foremost was the support of my family, who was always there to do battle and get me the right help – even though there were many times they could have given up. Therapy and medication were also essential, especially at a young age. I rely on the knowledge and life lessons I’ve learned over the years to help me, both personally and professionally. Finally, I found lacrosse, which turned out to be a savior in my life. I believe, even if you have a good amount of coping skills, you should try to have one that really sets your mind free. For me that was lacrosse – and I used it as my escape all the way through college. Today, exercise and writing are my escapes.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I manage my illness one day at a time. I try to be aware of current situations or those that are coming so I can plan how to handle them. I take my medication and I try to be aware if my moods are getting worse and a medication adjustment might be needed. My overall management is making sure my lifestyle is where I like it and my coping skills are available when needed. I also connect with others, through organizations like The Stability Network and NAMI. It is a huge weight off my shoulder to have friends I can talk to who also know what it feels like. And it gives me a way to put energy into my passion to raise awareness, reduce stigma and help others.

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

Give it time. During an episode, it may feel like a lonely world with no escape that will never end. Know there is a bright light at the end of the road. You can beat this!