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Thomas F

It has been 6 years since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I have never truly come out publicly like this because I have been afraid of what people might think and am still pretty scared about what people might think of me when they read this. I wanted to finally do so to raise money for a great cause and to try to create awareness for people struggling with mental illness and attempt to end the stigma behind the illness once and for all.

I was diagnosed with bipolar in August 2008. A long depression that summer was soon followed by hypomania which lead to full blown mania when I enrolled at The University of Alabama. I had hallucinations, delusions, was sleeping very little, and to be completely frank, lost touch with reality. No one knew what was going on. People kept asking me if I had taken any drugs. My mom and I eventually drove back to Atlanta, and, after a scary day or two at home, I was admitted to Emory Hospital. Of course, I didn’t want to take the medicine, but eventually I conceded and took it.

Coming off a manic high right into a depression is not a pleasant experience. I was at Emory for a week and a half and then my family told me I was going to Skyland Trail instead of going back to college. That news stung pretty hard; I was going to miss my first semester of my freshman year of college. Instead of Alabama football and pretty sorority girls, I was going to be in rehab.

As hard as it was going to Skyland Trail, I can honestly say that it saved my life. Eventually, through therapy and hard work, I regained my confidence and started to live a “normal life” again. I enrolled at a smaller school in Alabama and did well there. It was tough for me to find a job after college, but since then things could not have gone better for me professionally. I was promoted the fastest that anyone ever has at my last company, and I am the first American salesperson for the European company I work for now.

I am grateful to my parents who followed the good advice of Emory Hospital when they suggested that I be sent to Skyland Trail. Although I can never be “cured” of my illness, the skills and knowledge I learned there have helped me out tremendously. Please join my family and me in celebrating my long road to recovery in which Skyland Trail played a big part.