Suiting Up For War – One Man’s Account Of Living With Mental Illness

Every moment is a battle.

Seems like that phrase has been uttered a million times in movies and by people all over the World.

I went in search of people, anyone on the internet,  who have actually uttered these five words but then I realized, I had that person. The only person I needed for this piece.

Adam Anderson.

Adam smiling

Despite my trials and daily struggles with my illness and everything that entails, it is still possible to get up and get things done. It’s not life ending, it is life long though.

Life ending. That can be a powerful phrase depending on how you use it. I know, from speaking with Adam over the past year or so, how he uses it, and I have to say that my friend is more than optimistic about what he deals with. The battle, the war, his personal war he struggles through daily can not be anything but personal because as he explains, unless you’ve been there you can never fully understand.

You can never fully understand Bipolar disorder unless you’ve worn that armor so to speak. That particular armor.

I like to think of mental illness in Adam’s metaphor, of Bipolar disorder as being war, like armor he wears to battle. Every day.

I asked Adam to discuss with me exactly what his life is like. What his life was like growing up, when he was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. What it’s like being 20-years old and living day-to-day with the stigma let alone the mental illness. I asked him very personal questions and he answered them.

Why?

For the sake of having his voice heard.

So I ask you as the reader to keep an open mind and to listen to one of the real voices of mental illness.

“Tell me who you are. Tell me about you. I want you to sell yourself as the wonderful person you are. Just. Be. You.”

“I’m Adam Anderson. I’m 20 years old. I’m a son, a brother, a friend and a boyfriend. You can usually find me at the local swimming hole.”

“And I have Bipolar Disorder.”

“Growing up has been rough, particularly early on when I didn’t know what was going on or why I was acting a certain way. My family moved to a little town in the Pacific Northwest when I was about 8 and that move set in motion a chain of events that would lead to my eventual diagnosis.”

“I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder at 11.”

“Every moment is a battle, I call having Bipolar my personal war, cause unless you’ve been there you will never understand. Despite my trials and daily struggles with my illness and everything that entails, it is still possible to get up and get things done. It’s not life ending, it is life long though.”

“I’ve struggled with deep depression and suicidal impulses since I was young.”

“Honestly I don’t know why I’m still here.”

“What I do know is that while I still have life in me, I will do what I can to help those less fortunate than me. The thing you’ve gotta realize about depression is that it really is debilitating. There are times when I can’t get out of bed because my feet refuse to believe they won’t shatter upon impact with the ground.”

“Even still I must get up and face another day, because really the whole point is to keep fighting, to not give up, to not give in no matter what life decides makes a good projectile to lob your way. But hey, when life gives you lemons you either add vodka and chill or attach them to a cinder block and return at high velocity.”

“My parents and my girlfriend call me amazing, my friends call me a good man and my siblings call me strong and resilient. I just call it doing what needs to be done.”

So lets expound because I get the feeling when I read this that you are wanting to say more, but you’re holding back…and that’s OK.  

“Okay, well as to the suicidal thoughts, I just didn’t want to exist. I felt and admittedly still feel like the world is better off without me.”

“Yes, I did and still do have a plan.  I’d rather not describe it simply to avoid triggering anybody.”

What triggers the mania or depression/suicidal thoughts in you?

“It could be anything from missing meds too long to just a bad freaking day. It can be due to my self-confidence getting ripped down for the umpteenth time.”

“Thing is I never tell anybody. I’m strong enough to take the pain and hurt, and for most of my life I felt like there wasn’t anybody I could go too.”

“Before I was diagnosed I didn’t have a single clue as to what was going on. Later when I entered puberty the hypersexuality hit hard.”

“Mania is my favorite part of Bipolar, because I usually hover pretty near depression, so when I go manic it’s like coming outside in spring and feeling the warmth and smelling fresh-cut grass after spending all winter hibernating. It’s amazing and glorious and beautiful and I treasure every moment of it.”

“Large amounts of caffeine send me into mania, and I’ll admit I occasionally do it on purpose because it’s better than the depression/suicidal thoughts. It’s amazing and glorious and beautiful and I treasure every moment of it.”

“I love mania, but I hate the inevitable plummet back into depression, so while I can I savor my precious time in the sky.”

So what do you enjoy doing when you actually feel like getting out of bed?

“Umm is sex an acceptable answer?”  (Yes. Yes it is.) 

“Failing that, I like to go swimming and just cruise around with some people I trust.”

Right now, what is your biggest trigger for depression?

“I hate confrontation, and if I can avoid a fight I will. That being said, something that throws me into depression more often than not is fighting with my girl and my parents.”

“It’s all kinds of hell if those two fights are going on at the same time.”


Hell. One of the definitions of that word is: any place or state of torment or misery. 

There is no doubt in my mind that depression, mania, bipolar or even mental illness as a whole is hell for someone.

“It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.” ~Buddha

Up until now you’ve read over 1,000 words of type. For once these were not just my words. I asked a man to give me his description of daily life and while it was not an actor, a musician or a dedicated and renowned yogi or scientist…these are possibly the most important words you could read at this time.

May is mental health awareness month but for many of us, mental health awareness occurs 365 days a year, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

You, Adam, may never conquer yourself, you may fight a million battles yet the victory is still yours. Not only did you give yourself a voice but you gave so many others a voice.

For that I thank you.

Life is war. Mental illness is war. And what's the point of war? Survive. Survive at all costs, do whatever you must to live to see the dawn. And don't worry about what other people think or say. Are they living your life? No, they're not. In the end the only things you have to worry about is did you keep your honor, and your family's honor. Let everything else fall where it will.
Life is war. Mental illness is war. And what’s the point of war? Survive. Survive at all costs, do whatever you must to live to see the dawn. And don’t worry about what other people think or say. Are they living your life? No, they’re not. In the end the only things you have to worry about is did you keep your honor, and your family’s honor. Let everything else fall where it will.”

“You must burn. Burn higher. Burn for everything you have ever wanted. For everything you have ever lost, for every crack in your heart and every fraction of every irreplaceable moment. Burn high for love. For fear. For life. Burn as fast and as long as you can. You must burn, burn higher. Because nothing in this world will kill you faster than a dying fire.” ~Mia Hollow

14 thoughts on “Suiting Up For War – One Man’s Account Of Living With Mental Illness

  1. What an amazing story. Sorry it took me so long to get here…but I knew it was a good one and wanted to be sure to have some alone time so I could engorge. I’m glad I waited. Adam’s words are very powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. What an amazing story. Sorry it took me so long to get here…but I knew it was a good one and wanted to be sure to have some alone time so I could engorge. I’m glad I waited. Adam’s words are very powerful. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Adam is my brother. Trying to describe the strength and courage I see every day I him is like trying to describe the Sun to a blind man. Thank you. Thank you so very much for having the ability and courage to give voice to a man and a war that has so much to teach. Thank you for breaking the silence. And Adam, I love you. I admire and respect you. And I am so very proud of you for using your voice and standing to be counted. You rock, bro!

  4. Adam is my brother. Trying to describe the strength and courage I see every day I him is like trying to describe the Sun to a blind man. Thank you. Thank you so very much for having the ability and courage to give voice to a man and a war that has so much to teach. Thank you for breaking the silence. And Adam, I love you. I admire and respect you. And I am so very proud of you for using your voice and standing to be counted. You rock, bro!

  5. Thank you friend 🙂 I shared via screenshot your response to Adam…he can only hope that he touches one person’s life with his story. I have assured him that he will touch more than one. <3 Thank you for reading.

  6. Thank you friend 🙂 I shared via screenshot your response to Adam…he can only hope that he touches one person’s life with his story. I have assured him that he will touch more than one. <3 Thank you for reading.

  7. ABSOLUTELY beautiful and gut-wrenching all at the same time. Well done at capturing the heart and soul of whose story you are retelling.

    To Adam: Continue to fight the good fight and stay aware of the illnesses progression as you continue to grow and develop and change in life. It’s easy to let it get out of control and you have a lifetime ahead of you still, so, please, don’t think you need to carry your weight alone. Reach out. Make a support circle for yourself, because there will come a day that both your girl and your parents go off on you, you’ll already be having a bad day with other circumstances, and drank way too much caffeine earlier….. never say never. 😀

  8. ABSOLUTELY beautiful and gut-wrenching all at the same time. Well done at capturing the heart and soul of whose story you are retelling.

    To Adam: Continue to fight the good fight and stay aware of the illnesses progression as you continue to grow and develop and change in life. It’s easy to let it get out of control and you have a lifetime ahead of you still, so, please, don’t think you need to carry your weight alone. Reach out. Make a support circle for yourself, because there will come a day that both your girl and your parents go off on you, you’ll already be having a bad day with other circumstances, and drank way too much caffeine earlier….. never say never. 😀

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