Hi my name is Derek. I am a 28 year old male living in Canada. I was diagnosed three years ago. In 2003, I was hospitalized for 17 days at the local hospital. I had a major manic episode and was out of control.

I have a   twin brother Mark who told me he was worried about how I was acting. My brother is one of the quietest people I know. I knew when he told me that I   needed help. I initially did not want to take the medication the hospital staff wanted me to take. My mother convinced me that it was the right thing to do.

Thanks to the meds I have been doing better ever since. I have full time employment at the local walmart. I am currently taking lithium and olanzapine. The lithium helps stabilize my moods while the olanzapine helps me to sleep at night. I have a psychiatrist   that I see once per month. He is convinced the olanzapine has helped me out quite a bit. I am very thankful to have his help. When I see him we talk about my goals, how life is going, what I am doing for fun, bloodwork and   prescriptions. He gave me a sheet on how to improve my communication skills. One of the tips he told me on how to move up the ladder at work is to try to look at the perspective of another person, look at life from inside their shoes and try to get along with others. I have a couple friends with mental illness. All are kind compassionate and caring people.

There is stereotype that people with mental illness lack compassion. I disagree. I have seen a nutritionist who has helped me to clean up my diet. I have lost 15 pounds and would like to lose 15 more. My nutritionist gave me some good advice. Think of a word that you can use that will help you focus on a daily basis.   Whenever you get into a stressful situation think of that word in your mind. It is a good habit that works. My word for September was confidence.  October's word is kindness. Kindness to me means treating people how you would expect to be treated, or treating people better than they expect or deserve.

I am working out at the local YMCA 5 times per week to stabilize my mood and lose weight I have gained from taking lithium. I do interval training on the treadmill 3x per week. I enjoy getting a good sweat. I feel great when I am done.  I have started meditating a couple times per week to calm my mind.

The managers at my Wal Mart have been great. Last year they allowed me to take an extra week off for stress. We lowered my Zyprexa too much and my symptoms started to return. I went back on my regular dose and was fine in a couple of days. My manager has allowed me to work Saturdays and take Monday off to be able to be a classroom volunteer at a local school.

I also coach jr football at a local high school right after work. I am planning on going back to teachers college next year. A couple years ago when I was inexperienced with Bipolar Disorder, I didn't know what direction to turn and was very confused.  My doctor told me he is convinced I have BP and I am on meds for life. I trust him and I take his advice very seriously. 

I believe living with bipolar disorder is a lifelong educational process that takes time, patience and understanding. Never ever give up, take your meds and surround yourself with good people. Find something you enjoy doing and live with a passion for life.  Remember. Life is good. Bipolar Disorder makes it more interesting.


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