Sam's Story
Sam tells his story chronologically, as it happened.  A typical, yet not so typical story about the discovery of Bipolar Disorder and dealing with it.  Bipolar World thanks you Sam for taking the time to share your story with us.  My email tells me that these personal stories mean a LOT to our readers....some for the first time realizing that they are not alone with this disorder.  Many readers will be able to relate to your words. 

Mother divorces father. I have probably bonded with my father and not my 
mother. I am just five. Mother gets custody and moves to another town in the 
same state.

All of my earliest recollections are of my father, I can never visualize my 
mother in any of my memories of this stage of my life. I can even remember 
her boyfriends. I was a very small boy with a speech impediment and reading 
difficulties that I struggled to overcome. My beginning school years were not 
easy but I did manage to have a few very good friends. 

My mother takes a new husband.

My new step father turns out to be a red headed, mean tempered Swede. His 
only redeeming factor, he does not drink. I remember very little of this 
time, although I can remember and visualize many visits to my real father. 

During one of my summer vacations I received a self-inflected, accidental, bb 
gun wound to my right eye. I was staying with my real father at the time. It 
was a very bad wound but they saved the eye. While I was recuperating with my 
mother, the family physician came to the house to check on me. I remember him 
telling my mother and step father that something was psychologically wrong 
with me and I should be checked. I was completely withdrawn and non 
emotional. There was family history of mental illness. Aunts from both sides 
of my family were institutionalized at that time. There was no follow up.

I was staying away from home nearly all the time. The only time I went there 
was when my step father was not at home. He disliked me and I had no use for 

I have a lot of friends, high school is a time of cars and girls. I love fast 
girls and fast cars, not necessarily in that order. In one year I receive 38 
moving violations while driving my car. I am in debt over $2000 at a part 
time job from auto parts, gas and oil. I am having an on again, off again 
steamy affair with my future wife (who was later diagnosed as bi-polar).
I am also seeing other women. My school grades are barely passable. At the 
same time I am forced to help my step father  build our new home, a situation 
that is intolerable for me and I am sure nearly as bad for him.
I begin to drink to make myself feel more comfortable in social situations.
I plead with my family to let me attend an art academy after graduation, but 
truthfully I had shown no effort toward that cause. My family decides against 
the expensive school, so I go to a community college to study 
pre-engineering. I hate it.

Becoming more and more entangled with first wife. I am in mania and don't 
know it. My grades are failing in school. Drivers license is suspended for 
speed exhibitions. My father passes away after a long hard illness. I 
maintain a very erratic job record. It is a time of rock and roll, sex and 

Married now, with my first son on the way by late 1962. Working for my father 
in law. We have a house, lots of money, we are very social and involved in 
our community. I try other jobs on and off but am always unsatisfied with 
them and return to work for my father in law. 
I still drink heavily before and during any social activity. 
A daughter and another son are born. We are big time in debt. I am involved 
in many extra marital affairs.
We host lots of house parties and water ski every weekend. I have boundless 
energy. Dancing at rock clubs is the scene. 

Wife and I move away from families that cannot understand our life styles. I 
am now working for a large retail company. Wife is addicted to prescription 
drugs. She has a doctor that will prescribe anything. I am drinking heavily. 
We are into the rock dance club scene at least 3 nights a week. "Hey Jude" is 
popular. We spend my fathers $15000 inheritance in 6 months. We fight 
constantly, sometimes the fights become very physical and dangerous. We split 
up and she moves back to her parents, I follow but we cannot reconcile. I am 

I am now into drugs heavily. I deal some to help financially. I am back 
working for my ex father in law. All of my old high school friends are 
heavily into drugs as well. I keep myself insulated from the world with sex 
and drugs.
I use many including marijuana, acid, mescaline, peyote, speed, seconal and 
of course alcohol.  I will do anything I can get my hands on. My ex-wife is 
in the same boat. I just barely function in society. My ex father in law 
fires me for dealing drugs while at work. Blues clubs are now my scene.

I pick up what little I have left and move away, to a new job in a close 
city. My total assets are an old Thunderbird, the clothes on my back and what 
I can carry in the trunk of the car. I still have plenty of money for drugs 
and alcohol though.
I meet my future wife shortly after moving. We live together for a while then 
get married.

Things have gotten better. My relationship with my new wife is good. She has 
2 children. She is from a dysfunctional background and is probably bi-polar 
as well. Like attracts like. I get kind of straightened out and we go after 
custody my children. My ex-wife is in such bad shape that we win. We now have 
5 children plus one of our own. 
But we can't compete with my ex father in laws money and the kids elect to 
return to their old home under his and an housekeepers supervision. My 
present wife gives up an ATD child for adoption. We are both now on the 
slippery slope of depression

My wife and myself are deeply depressed. We pack up and escape to another 
state. She is in terrible shape, but it is 5 months before I can go back to 
work. I am still drinking heavily, doping when I can. She works enough to put 
food on the table and pay the motel rent where we live. Out of dire necessity 
I am forced to go back to work.

Everything I touch turns to gold. I am back in retail, making stores that 
have never been profitable turn black. I can do no wrong. They slide me up 
through the employee ranks at unprecedented speed. I get on an airplane to LA 
for schooling from the company stoned on cocaine. Mania again, but I don't 
recognize it. I can't address the class of store managers at graduation out 
of social dysfunction . I am afraid to take a store. I can't develop any 
relationships with other store managers. I am treated well but just cannot 
handle the social aspects of the job.
Both my wife and I are partying heavily. Hotel lounges are the scene.

I am offered the opportunity to set up a department for a private store. I 
take it. I uproot my wife, son and wife's daughter's lives and move them 
again. The job lasts less than a year. I am fired for many reasons. I am in 
the middle of another affair, this one serious. Lots of drugs and alcohol. 
When it comes right down to it I decide that I really do love my wife and end 
the affair
I cut firewood for a living. Far removed for society I am comfortable. I 
clean up. I don't do drugs or alcohol for 6 or 8 months.
Winter set in and my wife goes back to work. I am unemployed and drinking 
again. I take a menial job and have a terrible time controlling myself around 
the other employees. I am very angry, I get fired just before Chirstmas 1980.
Honkytonks and biker bars are the scene

I go to a Christmas program, a singing Christmas Tree. I am half drunk. The 
music was inspiring and emotional. The following morning I wake up in 
euphoria. I have never felt like this in my life. All the drugs, no 
experience has even come close to rivaling the ecstasy. I immediately quit 
drinking and doping. I am exploring the bible, I am baptized. I drive my 
family nuts with the transformation. The ecstasy lasts about 6 weeks and was 
probably a form of mania but it is the single most remembered experience of 
my life.
I go into business with a church member.  The business lasts as long as the 
ecstasy, but now I have a new idea. I scramble to rent a building and start a 
new mechanics business which is my trade. I put it together and it is 
successful. I am not drinking or doping. We buy one house then another. I 
hire employees. My wife quits her job and comes into the business. She is on 
the city council, She is president of the chamber of commerce. I am involved 
with Rotary, the chamber of commerce and a  member of the volunteer fire 
department. Business is good. The kids are happy. 
We open a small hardware store, then start importing engines from Japan to 
I take on developing and implementing a very large community celebration 
which is immensely successful.

We are head over heels in debt. We have borrowed heavily and at not favorable 
interest rates. The economy is in a major slowdown. We desperately try to 
hang on but slowly the business is eaten away. We are back into the 
honkytonks again. As they turn off the street lights in the town because they 
can't afford to leave them on we leave.
We are forced into bankruptcy. 
I am completely out of control. I can't answer a phone. I am terrified of 
everything. I can't see anyone. I go through the bankruptcy hearing in a fog 
of marijuana. My wife is stronger and the only thing holding me together.
We are penniless with no place to go. My crazy aunt on my fathers side dies 
and leaves us a cabin in a mountain town. We go there to try and recover. 

I hid in the cabin, drinking and doping. The aunt had been reclusive and the 
cabin was in bad disrepair. I fool around fixing it. My wife forces me to go 
to county mental health for help. 
They treat me for depression with Xanax. It really does not have much affect. 
I start drawing and painting again, the first time since high school. I am 
still good, in fact I am very good. 
My wife goes to work, I go back to school at a local community college. I 
carry a 4.0. I love it

My art looks good. I am handling part time jobs and carrying a full load in 
school. I am not drinking or using drugs. 

I transfer to a University in the city that my wife and myself first met in. 
I had gone the complete circle. My wife and kids did not want to move again, 
but they did. We took over the management of a trailer park for a place to 
live and I went to school. My
paintings, though a little uninspired were good enough to be looked on very 
favorably. I was in full blown mania. I had a very fast motorcycle and rode 
it that way every where I went. My wife refused to ride with me. I found 
myself riding both beyond the motorcycle's  capabilities and beyond my own. I 
was not drinking or doping. I had plans for everything. I could not settle my 
art. I painted with every medium and on everything I could find. I painted 
most any topic. I graduated 1991 with a 3.49 and honors classes for the four 
years of college. 
I quickly found that I did not have the ability, drive or guts to market my 
work and quickly put the art on the shelf as it was too difficult for me to 
undergo the rejection that an artist has to go through.

My wife had started up a small business while I was in my last year of 
school. I jumped on the opportunity of not having to show my art. We borrowed 
(again) from everyone that we could think of. A few of the loans were from my 
wives family and large. We rented a building and spent years building the 
business only to have it end again the way the other did, bankrupt. We worked 
12 hours per day seven days per week but there was just no way that we could 
do it. We always just bought too much stuff. We lost everything again.

Again I was devastated. This time was the last. I was just too old to go on. 
We wound up on general assistance and the county made me go to mental health 
where I was diagnosed as bi-polar. On one hand I was so very mad at the waste 
of my life, on the other thankful for an excuse for my life. 
I feel much better now on my medications that I can ever remember. My wife 
and children are amazed. I am amazed, but I have much to regret and much to 


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