I’m 52 years old now and I first started to suspect that I may have had a depression or bipolar depression condition in my early twenties. Periodically I would exhibit some kind of odd behavior such as deliberately cutting my arm, smashing a glass picture frame with my fist, or other dangerous and scary actions. Fortunately I never directed this manic rage towards anyone else. It was easy to live in denial and avoid confronting my situation, and I did so for decades, all the while quitting jobs in anger, spending money I didn’t have, and occasionally losing friends. Being a creative person and having creative interests I was afraid that taking medication would dull my creativity. For years that was my position even though I could never complete creative projects. Finally in 2011 I had the worst depression episode I ever experienced. I was totally incapacitated and was very near suicide so I finally agreed to try medication. I gradually began to “feel like myself” and 3 months after starting on Lamictal I started to paint, but with a focus and energy I never had before. My work got better and better. I started showing paintings in galleries and selling work. For decades I thought medication would dull my creativity when in fact the exact opposite occurred. I finally accepted that my condition was something I couldn’t avoid and would have to deal with all my life. I still go through difficult phases, but for the most part my mood swings are minor and manageable. In addition to my fears of losing my creative edge I was also well aware of the social stigma of mental illness and was afraid of confiding in anyone about my condition. Now I’m starting to feel comfortable speaking out about it and hoping that sharing my experiences can in a small way help the movement to end the cultural ignorance and stigma about mental illness, and I find myself eager to try to help younger people who are going through what I did and feeling alone and hopeless.