I was born to a lower middle class family in a rural area. It was really isolated, and we lived an okay life. That is, I think. To be honest I don’t recall much of my childhood. I remember being scared a lot, mostly of my father. He was an emotionally abusive alcoholic. I suppose I was relatively lucky in that it stayed primarily emotional, with lingering threats of physical harm, and I know people go through a lot worse. As I grew up, it became increasingly clear to me that this was what was happening. My mother was, in many respects, a single parent. She did her best by us, but she was suffering from a horrible depression for much of that time. My father would come home, drink in the garage until dinner (always something made to please him), eat, and then watch TV. I’m sure at some point he was more involved in our lives than that, I just can’t recall it. Eventually my mother started taking me along to therapy sessions, and, after a time, started to drive me to sessions of my own. My self-esteem was severely damaged, and I was depressed a lot, so they put me on anti depressants, which seemed to work fine, but never entirely solved it. They did their best to keep me together, and I did okay, all things considered. It wasn’t until college, after years of being ridiculed for things I couldn’t control, that I began to realise there was more wrong than just depression. It started with depersonalisation. I’d feel like I was walking a few steps behind my body the whole time, not in it. They changed my meds when I reported it, and things got better. I can’t remember how many times people tried to talk me off my meds during that time, either. During that time, luckily, I started going to an Adult Children of Alcoholics group, and I learned a lot about the things that happen in that setting Then, after college, I started hearing a voice. It would catch me unaware, usually in the bath, and urge me to go ahead and self-harm. I had studied psychology in college, and knew this was not normal. I would shut myself down emotionally, and move on, away from things I could use. I didn’t dare trust myself around them. But the voices didn’t stop there. I was living at home at the time, trying to find work and get out into the world, but not quite able to in our small town area. My father was always around, and, the voice insisted, going to kill me one day. I believed it. He was certainly always angry enough at me for it. I vaguely recall going for a walk behind the house one day, and being too scared to go home. Instead I walked down our road to a small shop a mile or so away and hid. The woman there was nice, and recognised the signs of mental illness, so she calmed me down, called one of my parents, and got me home. I believe it was my father, but by that time I was mostly rational, and I can’t be certain. I decided I had to seek help, because I was clearly one of a few things, I reasoned; either I had DID, which seemed unlikely, schizophrenia, or I was bipolar. At the time I didn’t fully understand any of them, but I learned pretty quickly. I saw a new therapist, and she agreed it was definitely bipolar. I spent a long time struggling, finding the right meds, going from doctor to doctor. My diagnosis was kicked around from time to time, bumped to schizoaffective, then back to Bipolar 2, rapid cycle. It sounds like a bad sequel title, doesn’t it? I eventually got on the right meds. It took years, and I’m honestly still not 100% at any time. I suffer an occasional mania, far more depression, and some reliable anxiety. Sometimes I think about dying, but I am relatively happy now, with a dog and a loving husband in my life. They say the hardest mental health period is young adulthood, late teens and early 20s. Between the body changes, upheaval in our lives, and mental health issues, it becomes a veritable danger zone. I believe that it’s the truth. I didn’t have a lot of people reaching out to help me, growing up. I didn’t have a role model to show me I could do it, that I could survive. I joined Discord in a rough patch, and then quickly realized, hey, I could be that person for others. So many young people, looking for help, they really need someone to talk to, so they know they aren’t alone, and that it’s possible to survive mental illness. So I decided to be that person and provide a place for others to meet and know they aren’t alone.