Story topics: bipolar, depression, honest, self

I just now watched "People Say I'm Crazy"--seriously just ten minutes ago.  Wow.

So many people dramatize the facts of schizophrenia and end up delivering a very skewed view of it to the public.  It just ends up furthering people's unfounded fear of mental illness and people afflicted with it. 

I personally have struggled throughout my life with depression and bipolar disorder, from the time that I was 11 and diagnosed.  It took until I was 24 years old to find the right mix of medications that stabilized me and had acceptable side effects in order for me to move on with my life, get married, have children, and actually enjoy the process of being alive each day. 

It was so refreshing to see someone be honest with themselves and the camera, do things that are by nature so difficult to do in front of the camera, and let us in on their lives.  This really is reality television and I don’t think I’ve ever seen QUALITY like this on the airwaves.

Beyond all of my praise for the film, I want to thank John, personally, for allowing us a look inside his life.  He emotes so well on film that it was evident how hard some of the process was for him, and I felt conflicted right along with him, even though I was enjoying the film.  I hope that all of the praise he has gotten from the results of it – and the knowledge that he’s giving every viewer an amazing gift - has been repayment for his struggle.

- a mom
Story topics: bipolar, homeless, psychosis, relief, schizoaffective, substance abuse

Hi. I was diagnosed for years as bipolar. I have never been able to hold down a job because I think people are persecuting me and I think I have no option but to quit my job. On the job I would start crying, or yelling at the customers and the noises and lights bothered me, I thought the customers were shooting arrows at me with their looks and words.

I  got into recovery for my substance abuse and tried to go without my medication for about 10 years and my symptoms got worse and that was when I was correctly diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. I was hospitalized when i tried to go to college and thought everyone was dressing up like it was the 70's just for me and I started freaking out. They tried to put me on Abilify and after a month, I quit my meds and threw all my belongings in the garbage and moved to another state.

I ended up homeless and living in a shelter, trying to work and when my friend died, I thought his druggy friends were all out to get me and I became extremely paranoid. The homeless shelter sent me to a pyschiatrist for an evaluation and she said I was psychotic. I told her I was not taking their meds and left. I held about 10 different jobs in a year and became increasingly sick.

I went back to the psychiatrist and told them I could talk to the tv through my computer and the tv was talking directly to me. I thought I was jesus christ and I also thought that the clerks at the supermarket were writing down everything I purchased. I was exausted trying to maintain my sanity. The psychiatrist started me on Zyprexa and Lexapro. I immediately found relief from my psychosis.

SSI rescued me from homelessness and I now live in my own apartment. I had to change my meds from Zyprexa because I gained about 50 pounds and my cholesterol was 399 so I now take Abilify and Lamotrigine.  I don't have many friends and I spend a lot of time on the computer playing World of Warcraft of Diablo II Mods.

- Grateful to be on my Meds and off the Street
Story topics: bipolar, depression, forgiveness, God, suicidal ideation

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Revelation 9:6  'In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.'

My demon of Major Depression has tortured me over the years since my mother's death on January 1, 2002.  I constantly sought death but death would not take me.  My demon was feed by self hate; the resentment I had for life.  For many years I regretted being born.  I was angry with God for taking away the ones I loved.  Life was all about me.  My needs for love and acceptance from others, but I had no love for me.

You may say I picked a strange verse for this topic.  I do not believe that this scripture has come to pass yet.  Death took a holiday in my life because it was not my time to die.  I believe even if I had put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger, I would still be here because my purpose for life has not yet been met.

I believe that we all are immortal until our purpose in life has been fulfilled.  We will not die until the time appointed by our father in heaven.  So if you like I have not died despite of the effort of trying maybe God is not done with you yet.

I had this demon putting thoughts in my head.  Saying, "You are better off dead.  Go ahead and kill yourself.  No one will miss you."  I could since his presence all around me.  I would see him in my picture staring from my eyes laughing at me; the same was true from my mirror.  His was staring from my eyes laughing at me.  Some would say I was psychotic, but I am convinced that I was being oppressed by a demon; maybe Satan himself.  The demon wanted me dead, but God would not let him kill me.

I had a death wish every since 1996 when I first tried to take my life.  I did not like me.  I had unrealistic goals for my life and if I did not meet these goals I judged myself as a complete failure in life and that the only alternative for me was death.  I had to be perfect to satisfy a perfect God.  Failure was not an option.  I felt that God was waiting for me to make a mistake so that he could punish me.  I had no clue what the grace of God was about.  I thought the only way to please God was to try to live a sinless life.  All I did was set me up for failure and I tried to kill myself because of it.  I had no clue that Christ lived the perfect life so I did not have to.  I felt destined to die by my own hand.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result each time.  Over a decade I made the same mistakes over and over again expecting a different result.  I was miserable and I constantly wished for death.  Suicidal Ideation was a daily thing for me.  Nothing brought me any lasting joy or relief from my life.  Don't get me wrong, there were moments of happiness in my life, but it did not last long.  I looked for happiness in women, people and things but it was all vanity and nothing lasted.  I had suicide attempt after attempt and hospitalization after hospitalization, medication after medication, ECT and more ECT, but nothing worked.

Do not get me wrong, I do think medication has its place but nothing was going to work for me until I got my life right with God, not until I started to value the life that he has given to me.

In December 2009, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Something had to give.  My life had to change.  I did not know what to do and I was desperate.  God helps the desperate.  When you reach the end of you, God begins.  I needed to change but I did not know what to do.  I said God he I am hospitalized again, what do you wants me to learn from this?  Please change my life for the good.

I got myself out of bed and I attended the groups at Peachford Hospital in Atlanta, GA.  We had a group on forgiveness.  It was at that moment I learned I had to accept God's mercy and forgiveness.  I had to learn to accept the life that God has giving to me.  I was very angry with myself and I had to forgive me for my failures.  I realized that God had accepted me as I was already and because of that I could accept myself.  I had decades of negative thinking to change.  I started to use in DBT what we call opposite action.  I replaced my negative thinking with positive affirmations.  It did not happen instantly, but my life change for the better.  It took months to start thinking positively about life.  Soon my suicidal ideation went away.  I found a good support program in Celebrate Recovery.  I have learned to enjoy my life.  I found happiness I did not know exist.  In one week I will pick up my chip for 9 months of recovery from depression.  I no longer hate me, this started because I learned to cut myself some slack.  It all started with forgiveness.  Forgiveness has truly set me free.

That is my depression and bipolar recovery story, you can take it of leave it.  If you suffer from chronic depression, perhaps you could use the forgiveness of Christ in you life.  I believe that happiness is a choice and to be happy you must have an attitude of gratitude and it starts with forgiveness.



by David Wayne McCannon

Copyright © 2010

- David McCannon
Story topics: bipolar, death, depression, father, genetics, manic depression, moods

I feel like I have been running all my life.  At full speed.  Running away from something I didn't even know existed.  My father ran from it. My mother ran from it. My brother has been caught, and my sister, well, I am not certain about my sister.

Where it began, I cannot say for sure. Based on what I know, it probably started at least a generation before my parents, but few people talked about those things back then. When they did speak, it was in hushed terms about someone so ill that only the treatment gained during incapacitation would bring them back to sanity. More typically, suffering individuals were said to be "moody" or were thought to lack a "coping" mechanism. In those days, admitting to a mental problem or worse could get you admitted to an institution, often against your will. People were said to be in a "fit" of depression, but fit they were not. 

What have I learned from my experiences?  You can't run from yourself ... from your demons. You cannot escape what is inside of you. I have firsthand knowledge of the persistence of wavering moods that frighten with experience and I know that denial, at any level, will be brief. 

Living a lifetime of flying just below the radar allowed me to experience a constant flow of clever ideas, inventions, and great inspirations that kept me moving at a speed not even I could keep up with. But the cleverness turned into confusion, the inventions into frustrations and the inspirations eventually into irritation. While not particularly faceless, my difficulty remained nameless for many years. It didn't deserve a name, not from me, at least not up until now.  But lack of knowledge does not nullify the force of genetics and it is apparent that some facet of our heredity exists in me.  

My parents relationship followed that of my grandparents. It was volatile and extreme. We were a family filled with dysfunction and at a young age the children were spent. By experience, parental violence and discord affects and destroys. Like poison to a flower, it is easier to wilt than to thrive. 

In childhood, there was an undercurrent of melancholy with intermittent happiness. The awfulness of manipulation and violence between my parents made me lonely and as I socially separated from others, I became more dependent on them.  As a teen, illicit drugs and my father's stash of Miltown's (downers) would bury the memories I struggled to forget.

As the years moved on, there was a marriage and children and a divorce. Sometime after the divorce, I began to morph.  Often euphoric, the highs were incredible and when I combined them with random sex and cocaine, it would take my breath away. Slowly... an ugliness, and then irritability.  The risky life, I am aching, the moment was over; nothing would satisfy the most dangerous girl on the block.

With a clear slate, I married again but struggled. The children grew. I buried my pain in work and community. Never getting over the emptiness in my heart - always wanting to alter those senses, never satisfying, my moods were getting more intense but he loved me just the same. 

It was in the year of my forty-eighth birth. My father had just died and on that day a part of me died too. I made all of the arrangements, I was empty; he was a king to me, and I was his baby girl. Although they both suffered from nervous breakdowns, father was the stable one. He hid his demons well and was successful in everything but his marriage. 

The pivotal point in my life was when my brother moved home to steal our mother's money. The stress and circumstance would be my "nail in the coffin."  I began to move from a type "a" personality to something more menacing.  Symptoms of agitation and irritation were a mainstay but paranoia and hallucinations, compulsions and obsessions, road rage, religiosity, hypergraphia, hypersexuality and more were intense; I was becoming confused, and struggling for a cover. Grocery shopping, the same three things every day. Suicidal ideation and tries quickly followed. In depression, the bowels of hell but in mania the glorious Universe where I spoke with God. Thinking it was death, please don't send me back. At the same time, I was writing constantly and as the prose began to flow, bleeding upon the paper; evidence, it was my life I began to expose.

Just in time, a masterful psychiatrist would guide and teach. Dedicated to my life, she gave it a name and a DSM number and with script in hand, I began to re-assemble my brokenness.  In nine years, I have ingested more pill combinations than acorns on my tree, patience. I have exposed my self to my psychiatrist in more ways that I thought possible, trust and I have come to terms with the changes and the challenges, faith.

There is no quick fix in Bipolar Disorder. Based on a trial and error methodology, this spectrum illness has variables unknown and that is why competent medical counsel is vital for wellness.  My psychiatrist is a masterful decoder of my mind's complexities. She insists I am her hero, but clearly she is mine. 

In adversity, my father would recite an old cliché, "there is light at the end of the tunnel" or "every cloud has a silver lining." but I like mine better, "Απο μικρό και απο κουζουλό μαθαίνεις την αλήθεια" a greek proverb which means "From a child and a crazy person you learn the truth."

Living ... is all about love.  It is the reason why I share my story; not only it is for the benefit of others, but for the forgiveness of myself ...

(this is an excerpt from my book  "Life is Like a Line: A Memoir of Moods, Medication, and Mania)



- Cynthia M. Sabotka, Author and Expert Patient
Story topics: acceptance, bipolar, life, treatment

I am soon to turn 29. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 17. After spending most of the last 12 years denying and desperately trying to hide my illness, I have decided to be open with those closest to me and seek helpful, effective treatment. It seems to me my biggest obstacle is getting those whom I love and love me to understand the significance of this illness and the intensity of my struggle. They all tend to think it's something that a magic pill can regulate and I can dictate with a bit of self control. I understand the need to want to put a band-aid over something and wait for it to go away or pretend it isn't there. I also understand that those who do not suffer from a mental illness have an extremely difficult time dealing with it. This is something I would like to see change, not only the stigma of mental illness but the understanding of it. Having our loved ones understand the way our brains work, and work against us. I am looking forward to seeing your film and watching it with my partner. I will definitely be back afterwards to let you know our reactions. I can't imagine that we will be anything but amazed and have much appreciation for what you have done. I already appreciate what you are doing. It's people like you who make it easier for the rest of us. Thank you.

- Just Me
Story topics: bipolar, self

I was originally diagnosed schizophrenic in 1993.  The label has changed to bipolar.  I have felt all the same things that John has felt to some degree.  The film brought tears to my eyes. 

Never have I met anyone who shares similar experiences as I have.  I get paranoid, sometimes psychotic.  I deal with a lot of anxiety.  I get depressed.  In the beginning I went into a catatonic and panic state.  I've been to hospitals and half way houses.  All of them were very different. 

I am grateful to John for sharing with us his traumatic life experience.  It helped me a lot and I hope more people get to see it.  Thank you for this insight. 

- a woman in recovery
Story topics: bipolar, ocd, schizophrenia, son, understand

I just watched People Say I'm Crazy tonight on TV.  Please pass on to John how much I appreciate him opening his mind and soul to the camera.  I have two sons aged 21 and 29.  The older one has bipolar affective disorder and the younger one has schizophrenia coupled with OCD and a touch of Tourettes. 

The older son has it much easier - he is a normal regular likable guy most of the time but has to get through some very dramatic highs and lows on a regular basis.  The younger son has many more problems.  He is not able to communicate how he feels or what is happening to him, and John's film really helped me to understand what is going on inside his head.

- a mom from Ontario, Canada
Story topics: bipolar, college, self

Your movie really had a profound effect on me.  it was the most real film about mental illness i have ever seen.  i'm bipolar but with a lot of psychosis, and i just recently graduated from university as a film major.  my first psychotic break was at 19, after my freshman year.  i was lucky though, after one year, i was able to go back to school, and i'm 23 now.

you have inspired me to try writing a screenplay about my own experience.   all the films i had seen until yours have been so untrue to what it is really like to have mental illness. your movie was really special.

- a writer in Connecticut
Story topics: bipolar, self

You’ve touched my life. Dealing with bipolar in my own life, and in the lives of my clients, I have experienced many similar, if not verbatim, things that John has gone through.  The whole world needs to see this film.

- an employment counselor