My name is Chad Brooks. On the outside I’m your average 28 year old guy. I love sports and enjoy spending time with friends and family. I’ve been struggling with mental illness for the past 12 years of my life.
One day during my sophomore year of high school I woke up with a crippling fear. I had missed a few days of school with the flu. I had recovered from the flu, but little did I know my struggles with another illness were just beginning. I was terrified of going back to face my teachers and peers. I didn’t want to have to explain to them why I was gone. I didn’t want the attention. I wouldn’t return to school that year. Eventually, I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder and began medication and therapy. I was able to return to school my junior year and get fully caught up. Unfortunately, due to a recurrence of my illness, I was forced to drop out of school during my senior year. I immediately completed but GED, but fell into a deep depression. Living in my parent’s half-finished, dark, and damp basement, I was going months without showering and years without brushing my teeth. I didn’t care about myself. I couldn’t go to school and I couldn’t work. No one was going to see me, and no one cared – or so I thought.
After 7 years of struggling, I woke up one day and felt okay. Not great, but okay. Okay was an enormous improvement from what I had been feeling. I got up, took a shower, and went for a walk. Soon I realized I had recently started a new medication and realized my recovery had begun. I have been lucky enough to have an incredible support system, including my parents who have now dedicated their lives to helping others struggling with similar mental health and substance abuse issues.
I’ve always been good about keeping appointments and taking my medications, but in the years since my recovery I’ve realized some other important factors. I have to keep myself to a schedule. I have to make sure to balance my social life and personal time, and I have to keep myself physically healthy. After getting my first job doing manual labor at age 23, I’m now in my 3rd year as a premedical student with a 4.0 GPA. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.