Living with Bipolar Disorder and Personality Disorder
By David Erwin
My Struggle with Bipolar Disorder
Mario Pietrantoni began displaying symptoms of bipolar disorder when he was 14-years-old. He would go undiagnosed for another 13 years; years that were marked by broken relationships and lost jobs.
Almost 30 years have passed since Mario's diagnosis, and the daily routine of living with, and treating, his bipolar condition has taken its toll. Mario has already received a kidney transplant, and is currently suffering from dystonia, a painful neurological disorder that is characterized by involuntary muscle contractions and repetitive movements.
Life has been trying for Mario, who also spent much of his early life functionally illiterate. The school system passed him over, and it wasn’t until his adult life that he taught himself to read and write. Mario is used to overcoming challenges, he is strong, and in the video below he tells us about a medicine that gave him a new lease on life, how he became an entrepreneur, and why talking about mental illness is so important to him.
Heather Cunningham suffers from personality disorder, and, like Mario, went through years of medical evaluations before her diagnosis was settled upon. In fact, over the course of a five year period, Heather saw more than 40 doctors and was put on more than 10 medications.
Heather first fell ill while at university, where she was studying to become an opera singer. Since then, her life has been one filled with labels that accompany mental illness, and the stigma associated with them. Ever since she fell ill, Heather has been struggling to fit back into mainstream society. But she’s found that the evolving nature of her diagnoses, and people’s attitudes towards mental illness, has made fitting in difficult.
This is Heather’s story: how she’s come to terms with labeling, and her hopes that people will stop fearing mental illness, in order to see the person she really is.
Later this week, on Friday, as our Voices of Mental Illness web-exclusive video series continues, we'll focus on schizophrenia.