I work for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) as an In Our Own Voice and Ending the Silence speaker. A few weeks ago I gave two presentations where I shared my story of living with bipolar disorder with two completely different audiences.
The first was inside a psychiatric ward which is a place I know too well. I always try to stress that getting treatment for mental illness is not a personal failing and is actually an important step towards a more stable life.
Then I had to immediately drive 80 minutes to a charter high school in front of 200 students. Thankfully, they were much more respectful and appreciative than the teens I spoke to a couple weeks prior!
Both groups gave great feedback that came straight from the heart which is something I’m still getting used to.
You see, until recently I never thought I’d have the courage to share my story. I was so ashamed of myself for many years. I knew I wanted to do this but bipolar has a weird way of convincing me otherwise.
But that’s changed now. I’m thankful for everyone who wouldn’t let me quit. It was hard work getting here but I am now doing what I love. What once terrified me actually makes happy — even while continuing to live with this horrible illness.
I gave eight presentations last month and have more lined up this month. As impressive as that may sound I wish I could do this every single day because it helps me cope It gives me something to work on getting better at. Ironically, it allows me to break free from the suffering inside, albeit momentarily.
Throughout my life I have doubted myself. I hated myself. But, I never gave up. I can’t believe it but I never gave up! I have found my calling and I’m never going back to feeling ashamed.
I’m excited. For where this path will take me next. For the new connections I’ll make. For the screw ups I’ll (hopefully) overcome. For the fleeting glimpses of clarity. For everything. For nothing. And everything.
*Opinions expressed in this story are solely my own and may not necessarily reflect those of NAMI. I’m only speaking for myself.
Rudy Caseres is a public speaker and writer sharing his story of living with bipolar disorder. He loves engaging with people far and wide, both online and off. You can follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/Rudy.Caseres and find the rest of his social media presence at RudyCaseres.com. Mr. Caseres was born in San Pedro, Los Angeles, CA and currently resides there today.