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How I Publicly Burned Down My Life During My First Manic Episode

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Last fall, I went through one of the most challenging seasons of my life. My marriage was in peril, I left my job abruptly (subsequently losing my housing), experienced a major God/Messiah complex, booked one-way tickets to places I couldn’t afford to return from, and I racked up more than $20,000 of credit card debt. My car was almost repossessed.

I burned down a lot of relationships and all of this, all of this, happened publicly, online, on social media where I put it.

Some of the experiences were amazing, but that’s the trick of mania.

It calls you back. Sounds like a drug, huh?

Some things really hurt. I was told by several people that I was a terrible future father to have left my wife with a baby on the way. And, all the while, I was in denial that anything was wrong. What I didn’t realize was that I was experiencing my first ever manic episode. I was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder in January 2019. It’s something that’s hereditary and something I’ve had my life but never knew — like many others, it manifested in my 30s.

A lot of what I was doing — from reckless behavior to angry bouts with people I love — were symptoms of it. And while I own up to all I did and I am super apologetic for all whom I hurt, this illness is a real thing. But, because of mental health stigma, some people just won’t get that. There are some who watched from the sidelines, who will never see me as a whole person. They’ll continue to see me as a pariah, the angry crazy black man they think Kanye West is. In some places, I won’t be accepted, hired, booked.

But, I’m not living my life to be taken in by those who don’t want me. This dark night of the soul has shown me how much love and family and community and support I do have and have always had.

It’s shown me my illness and my gifts are sometimes one in the same. It’s shown me that so many people are out here struggling in the world and that homelessness is a varied and scary thing. I thank God that I didn’t find myself to the point of ending up in jail as many do when they experience mania.

I’m thankful for those who reached out to my wife, Tynesha, to support her, to ask about me, to scramble to find solutions. I’m thankful for those who were brave enough to reach out to me and just be with me as my life came crashing down.

January hit, the money was gone, and the depression started to set in something major. Our beautiful and healthy daughter, Isabella Grace, was born, and Tynesha and I recommitted to figuring us out.

Currently, I’m taking meds under the supervision of my psychiatrist, planning to attend a support group, eating healthier, seeing a new therapist and working on slowly establishing a healthy lifestyle with this thing I’ve always lived with but never knew: bipolar disorder.

It’s something a lot of people have but don’t know until trauma, stress or even taking antidepressants exposes — the Zoloft I was taking was apparently a catalyst for all this. I had a lot of shame when I came to terms with the bipolar diagnosis. I literally said: “I’ll never be seen as a coach, speaker, healthy and whole person again. No one is gonna take me seriously. My life is over.”

But through lots of love, redirection, counseling, daily affirmations and prayer, I’m on my way to getting back to my truth and personal power. I get to be a wounded healer and a soldier with battle scars.

I’m not the only person bouncing back from so much debt and pain and embarrassment. I’m driving for Uber and Lyft and spending time as a stay-at-home dad. I’m still navigating a lot of shame and guilt and embarrassment.

And, I’m taking the year to heal. I’m not cleared to work a 9-to-5 yet and that could take a long time. It’s gonna be a life long process and I’m glad I’m here to make one heck of a testimony.

Image via contributor

Originally published: May 14, 2019
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