We sincerely thank all of those who shared, you are truly courageous.
"Dr. Prasad is the best psychiatrist I've had and I move around a lot so I've been to quite a few. He's very personable and makes sure I'm satisfied with the medicine and dosage and ALWAYS listens to my concerns about my medications unlike other doctors I've been to who didn't seem to care. "
"Before I moved to Austin I saw Dr. Prasad a few times. It was hands down the best psychiatrist experience I've ever had. Simple, comfortable and informative. I recommend him to all of my friends in Chicago."
"The staff is friendly and helpful, and Dr. Prasad is the best psychiatrist I've ever gone to. He's been a lifesaver for me and I highly recommend him to anyone who is in need of honest and genuine care."
"Great experience with this clinic. Very professional and easy to work with. I had a great initial consultation and really enjoyed my follow up visits. I got true help. Hard to find around the city. Looking forward to continue with Clarity Clinic."
June 7th, 2016
"This picture was taken last October. It's one of the only photos I have of myself from when I was in a very bad place in my life. Though I look happy on the surface, I was in a deep depression. I think it's important to tell my story so I will do so occasionally via pictures, words, and excerpts from books I find have helped me. If I inspire just one person to seek help for their mental health rather then turn towards darkness and suicide like I almost did, then that is a victory in my book. I've found it hard to describe what this time in my life felt like. How I was feeling in this picture. The best description comes from a book called Shades of Blue in which Amy Ferris writes,
"I was miserable and unhappy and felt all alone in the world. I felt like nobody knew what it was like, this damp darkness. Everything was pitch black. There was no color anywhere. It was dark and lonely, and the best way I can describe how I felt at that time in my life was like being in the middle of a forest, and it's eerily dark, and you don't know which way to turn so you take baby steps. Teeny ones because you don't know where you are, and you can't see anything, and you don't know how to find your way out, and you reach for something to touch, but it's not there. You fall down and you don't know how to get up, so you start by getting up on your knees, and then slowly, very slowly, you straighten up...and you start to walk through the darkness, and you're not sure you're gonna make it out, but you silently hope and wish and pray that you do. And you know that saying, there's a light at the end of the tunnel? Well, the truth is, there is no tunnel. No tunnel in the pitch blackness. Forget about finding the light at the end...you can't even find the tunnel."
After miraculously finding the tunnel and the light, I came out of my depression and into a place of indescribable happiness. Happy to be alive, happy to have my family, happy to have my friends, happy to be on this earth living and literally enjoying every second of every day. What I didn't know was that my heightened state of euphoria was me becoming more and more manic. I was so happy but also making terrible life decisions that my mind told me were perfectly fine. With some sanity I had left, I forced myself to check into the hospital. Like I've said before, being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was a relief. I could finally pinpoint what was happening to me and why I was swinging from sadness and happiness at varying levels throughout my life, the most recent being the most extreme and dangerous. As I sit in a small coffee shop in Chicago waiting for my appointment with my therapist, I think about what normal is for me now. It's hard to define who I'm supposed to be. I feel somewhat lost because I have not felt like myself this last year at all. Am I back to myself? Am I back to normal, whatever that means to me? I'm not sure but I think I'm getting there. I don't think I've ever been much of a normal person, but where I'm at feels good and no longer dangerous to me. I have been my own worst enemy this last year. I'm happy to say that it finally seems like I'm becoming my own best friend. Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way."
"An endless amount of energy surging through my veins making me more productive than I’d ever been in my life while sleeping only 3 or 4 hours a night. An astounding ability to focus that energy on one task for unfathomably long stretches of time. A feeling of supreme confidence born out of the illusion that I was phenomenal at whatever I did put my energy into. Complete loss of ability to determine behavior as inappropriate, offensive, or potentially damaging to myself and others. Utter disregard for repercussions or consequences for any words or actions. A precipitous fall down a financial rabbit hole resulting in massive credit card debt. An obsession with being a musician and an uncontrollable need to share and validate my “talents” with anyone and everyone thinking that my destiny was to become a rock star. Severing personal and professional relationships as though I were cutting thread that was unraveling from an old shirt. Filling the void of those lost connections at strip clubs and associating with crowds of people who only accepted my company to mooch off the hundreds of dollars a night I would spend on bottle service at clubs. Refusing to accept rhyme or reason from anyone. I was right and everyone else was wrong. I did what made me feel good. Period
I was manic.
I guess I’ve always been Bipolar…but the symptoms didn’t start destroying my life until 6.5 years ago at the age of 29 when I was prescribed Adderall. That was when I lost control of my life to Bipolar Disorder. That was when long periods of Mania and Depression took the reins. I’m going to write about my experiences with Mania and how I’ve tried to reconcile the damage it caused. I do this in an effort to educate those who don’t know the full scope of Bipolar and to help others who suffer from this disease to understand that it doesn’t have to define you, but it will always be a part of who you are.
The most difficult aspect of mania for me was not while it was happening. Not at all, for when I was manic I felt like everything was finely in tune and I was on top of the world. The hardest part for me, and it’s still very hard, was when the manic episodes ended and I was able to process all of the things I’d said and done. I experienced extreme mania every year from May – August, 2010 – 2012 and during that time I lost 3 jobs, my identity, countless personal and professional relationships, the independence of living on my own, financial security, and the ability to see the difference between right and wrong. There are certain things that still prompt a flashback to particularly embarrassing behavior that can make me shut down and isolate myself from the world in shame. Certain songs that I listened to repeatedly, seeing status updates from former coworkers on LinkedIn and from people who once considered me to be a good friend on Facebook. Even playing guitar and singing can be difficult for me at times.
Playing guitar and singing are things that I love to do. I’ve always been a singer and I started learning how to play the guitar towards the end of my time in college. I never actually invested the time necessary to become good at guitar - 95% of my playing happened late night after the bars closed so I could impress and bed girls. I cannot apologize enough to all the people who lived with, above, below and next to me for all those years. But when I started taking Adderall and it kicked my mania in, I was suddenly 100% focused on being a musician. I brought my guitar with me everywhere – friends’ houses, weekend trips, vacations and I always had a harmonica in my pocket. I posted videos of myself on social media and tagged as many people as I could in them. All so that I could be told that I had finally become “good” at music. And I still wasn’t all that good even though I would wake up at 5 am and play for hours before work. Even though I spent 8 hours a day on weekends playing guitar and singing. Even though I would call in sick to work just so I could practice.
I truly believed that by spending money on instruments and equipment that I would become a better musician by association. As though by some strange musical osmosis I would absorb the ability to play these instruments. I soon had an electric and acoustic guitar, an amplifier, a microphone, a keyboard, countless harmonicas and other various percussion instruments. I was convinced that my calling was to be a famous musician and would get enraged if anyone tried to convince me otherwise.
Throughout all of this, my temper was always cooking at a simmer just below the boiling point. It didn’t matter if it was my boss, my mom, or a lifelong friend – if someone said something to me that I perceived as a criticism of any kind or a slight against me I flew off the handle. Between my temper and my obsession with music it wasn’t long before people simply kept their distance from me. I didn’t care because they were just getting in the way of what I wanted to do. Instead of cultivating meaningful relationships I was surrounded by people who only accepted me because I was spending money I didn’t have. I frequented some of Chicago’s most expensive clubs with a promoter and his lackeys dropping up to $1000 in a night on bottle service. I regularly went to a strip club by myself. All to fill the void of human interaction that my destructive behavior created. I’m not proud of any of this, and it’s quite difficult for me to put into words.
I was once considered a “rising star” (other people’s words, not mine) in my profession. I had ascended the ranks, being promoted several times in a short span. I was respected in the industry of search engine marketing, trusted by the agency I worked for on the biggest accounts and to work with the most demanding clients. I managed teams of people who looked up to me as a mentor and who learned how to be professionals from me. And I threw it all away because I thought I had been wronged by my boss embarking on smear campaign due to a personal vendetta the didn’t even exist. For four months I did nothing at work but openly and loudly tell everyone how he had screwed me over. I sabotaged my relationship with the man who had put me in the position I was in and left that company for a miserable work from home job that I was laid off from 6 months later. That was just the beginning – my career was downhill from there culminating in a 10 month stretch of unemployment.
Seldom a day goes by in my present life where I don’t feel regret for what I’ve done. I am fully educated on all aspects of Bipolar Disorder now and am properly medicated. I see a therapist regularly and participate in group therapy. I am employable and productive in my job. People enjoy having me in their lives. I am armed to the teeth with the knowledge and support to live a fulfilling life as a man with Bipolar Disorder, but it’s still hard as hell to forgive myself.
How do I do it? First and foremost, with the undying support and love from my friends and family who stood by me during the insanity of mania. Without that I’d have never climbed out of the pit I dug for myself. Secondly I’ve developed an effective coping mechanism - when I get a flashback to a particularly bad memory I will tell myself repeatedly, “that was not Ryan, that was the disease, that was not Ryan, that was the disease.” Finally, I’ve realized that each and every time I am able to spend time with people who did bear witness to my mania it is an opportunity to make new memories for me and them. The more memories I am able to put between 2010-2012 and today, the more I am able to forgive myself. Because the truth is that the people who do care about me are happy to have me back in their lives despite the past. While I have difficultly letting go of manic Ryan, the people who care make it easier by embracing and forgiving stable Ryan.
If they can forgive me, then I can too and forgiving myself is the best coping mechanism of all."