Gabriel’s Journey


1. What condition/dilemma do you/your child have?

– Bipolar affective disorder type II
– Substance abuse disorder
– Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
– Misophonia

2. How has it affected your life?

In short, I have to treat myself with kid-gloves. Pushing myself too hard doesn’t simply lead to discomfort or burnout (not to diminish the severity of burnout), it can actually lead to potentially fatal relapses.

3. Are people tolerant/ accepting/ accommodating of this?

Yes and no. People are incredibly weary of drug addicts, but when you say you’ve been 7 years clean, they tend to have a level of respect for you. I am, of course, one relapse away from losing that respect entirely. As for bipolar it’s so poorly understood by the general public that you’re likely to encounter intolerance because of it. In a way I understand this, because untreated bipolar can be a nightmare for the sufferer and those around them, but on the other hand, responsible bipolar sufferers are more likely to be well-regulated people, with healthy habits and increased self-awareness and empathy.

4. What would you like society to know?

Understand that it’s not the sufferer’s fault. Take a moment and ask yourself, would you do this to yourself, given the choice? Of course not, we all want to lead healthy, productive lives, If someone is seeking treatment for their disorder, the chances are they will be just as productive and valuable to society as anyone else. If they’re not, then they clearly need our help and understanding.

5. What can society do to make it easier for you?

Believe me when I say I am suffering. If I can’t push myself as hard as everyone else, trust me that I will make it up in some other way. Sufferers of these disorders tend, on the whole, to be highly creative people, whose contributions can be incredibly valuable to everyone. Believe me when I state my limits They are not arbitrary, and adherence to them can often be life-saving.

6. Has it inhibited you from joining any engagements?

For years, after the discovery I had a substance problem. I was unable to attend social events which included alcohol. I’ve slowly reintegrated into attending all social events. I can’t work excessively long hours, as my sleep patterns and energy levels must be carefully monitored for the sake of the bipolar disorder.

7. Why?

There’s a saying in the substance abuse recovery community: if you go to the barber shop every day, eventually you’re going to get a haircut. That is to say, repeated risky behavior will eventually lead to relapse. Regarding the bipolar, remaining stable has a lot to do with circadian rhythms (sleep and wake cycles), and maintaining predictable chemical release patterns in the brain. I also have to take various medications, which have a range of potentially dangerous side-effects.