Mitchell, 33, Kentucky, US

12316558_510229542484907_225509146648727609_n“At first glance, I look like everyone else. However, I’m not. I’m part of the 2.6% of adults in America who are affected by bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness that affects one’s day to day tasks and quality of life.

I was first diagnosed with it at age 14. Along with bipolar, I have anxiety issues and PTSD. Living with these illnesses are truly an everyday battle. Those who know me, know how hard this daily battle can be.

Through the years that I’ve had it, I’ve had many dreams and things that have made me happy. However, though the longer I’ve had these illnesses many things in my life have severely lost the joy they once brought me, to truly allow me to escape from all the things in my head.

Earlier in life, it used to be playing music, I still play but it no longer allows me an escape from my battles. It was once an escape that used to make me feel such happiness. Which rather helps with a mental illness because unlike most believe the meds do not cure all. There’s only so much they can do.

While the things, one by one started losing their joy, my quality of life diminished I fell into a dark place. Granted I’ve suffered from severe bouts of depression for about nineteen years now, last year I reached the lowest I’ve ever felt and in November of 2014, I attempted to take my own life. It failed and I lived. To me, that proved it’s not my time at all and pushed me to see things differently. Having to see the faces of my loved ones, when I shared with them my attempt of suicide, to see the hurt, their feelings of helplessness made me realized something and vowed to myself then and there to never put them through that kind of pain and to fight this illness stronger than I ever had.
Now even though I have this lovely new outlook, and medicine doesn’t mean that darkness doesn’t still loom near. It’s still a battle. Especially with trying to rediscover the things in life that for a change make me feel genuine happiness. We all as humans have dreams we would love to do and not just do for financial gain. We search for these dreams to bring us happiness and improve ours overall quality of life.

So, after searching years again to find my dream because all the others I had in life were robbed by my illness. I finally have found the thing that has brought me this true happiness back, this fire in me I’ve not felt in years, I found a new dream.
I have never been artistically inclined, no matter how much I loved art I still couldn’t draw or paint. I’d heard people talk for the past year about spray paint art, so it sparked an immediate interest. I’d remembered as a child all my years of painting random things from walls to bicycles. How much fun I had. A friend of mines father and mother had been working with spray paint art and invited us out. I can not tell you folks the level of happiness and joy I felt painting, I did something I hadn’t done in a long time. I got to escape my head and create beautiful art, it brought me back true happiness. It felt so natural and flowing for me, I love every second of it. I’d never been able to paint before but with a spray can I could finally express myself how I’ve only dreamt I could. I found a hidden talent and love.

So, now you all know my new dream. I’d like to turn this art into something I can do not for the money but to show people who have a mental illness that you can create beautiful things while battling such dark things.

Things I would like people to know about these mental illnesses is as follows.
1- It’s not all just in my head.
2- “Bucking up” surely won’t cure these illnesses.
3- Just because I look ok, and can articulate words, does not mean I’m 100% ok.”

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