I would describe my life as…


I was born this way.   I also knew I was different from a very early age. It was like I had many faces and each face had a different mood, and I never knew which mood would suddenly  appear.   I have Cyclothymic Bipolar Disorder which means I don’t have a low mood period or a high manic period rather a constant fluctuation of moods with rapid cycling.

I have had one serious episode of suicidal thoughts in my life, it happened when I was sixteen and living in foster home.

Before I was 13 years old I started getting into trouble, hanging with a bad crowd. I was still having mania racing thoughts every day and was always hypersensitive. My mind was so full of ideas and emotions that I couldn’t deal with them and I acted out by running away, stealing, fighting, taking drugs, drinking. My dad eventually placed me in foster care when i was 13 hoping a family with a mom would settle me down…it didn’t.

Stigma-Free Zones

I thought it was me that was behaving badly…It wasn’t till I was in my thirties that I was actually diagnosed…what a difference that made…finally some closure.  Turns out I also have ADHD, Social Anxiety Disorder and Personality Disorder. I’m surprised that I’m still alive and married to a wonderful woman.

I’d like to summarize my life to share more about the in-depth part of me. My mother died when i was 9. I have 6 sisters and 2 brothers. My older brother Dave has schizophrenia and bipolar living on the streets. I found him about 10 years ago while searching with my wife. He refused to acknowledge me as his brother and asked me to never come see him again. I miss him. My brother John was a heroin addict in his teens but found religion and is living his life  devoted to Christ. I guess that is the better route to go, God before drugs. I’m happy he is happy.

After mom died…

…our childhood home burned to the ground.

…my sisters all turned out OK.

…my sisters held dad close, me & my brothers never were let in.

…the boys were the ones affected.

My foster parents beat me for acting out and punished me by withholding food. I think that’s why today I have an eating disorder; I can binge eat even when I’m full I fear i won’t get more. I’m working with my psychiatrist on this issue along with others. I had an affair not because I wanted to but because of impulsive nature while off my medication.

On the bright side I have a wonderful supporting wife who has stood by me through everything, a family that supports me and grandchildren whom I adore.

I became a nurse…

…to help others understand what they were going through

…to help others realize that they are not alone

… as therapy for myself.

I loved being a nurse but my illness didn’t allow me to work for long. So, after 13 years of nursing i was forced to retire and go on benefits at 50 years old.

I have made some lifelong friends, something i never would have been able to do in my younger days, because in those days I burned bridges.

I take medication every day.  While on meds, I sometimes felt like I could save the world, which I can’t, so I would stop taking them. But nothing good came of that.  I have been seeing a psychiatrist once a month for the last 7 years and it helps.

Today I am somewhat stable although I still cycle and always will, but now I know the reasons why. It is hard knowing I will never work again because of my mental state.

There is so much more about me I’d love to share and so much more I have to offer. I’m looking forward to hearing back from you.

Thank you for listening to some of my story.

Author, Steve von Kanel


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