Think of bipolar disorder as this thing on our beautiful Earth called gravity. What goes up must come down! Same principle applies.

The high or manic episodes are euphoric and creative. I call them Superman Syndrome and, yes, they feel great.

But you have no sense of responsibility or fear of consequences after your episode is over. If you have any money, be assured it will be gone by time you come down. (There’s that gravity.)

I would put myself in the most dangerous situations thinking: This will be fun. I won’t get in trouble or hurt.

WRONG! My mind races out of control. What can I do next? What can I get into to heighten my high more? Drugs and driving erratically led to accidents. Spent time in jail. No need to sleep for up to four days. TALK, TALK, TALK, TALK ... about anything and everything. Totally out of control. Thoughts racing in your head like a race track over and over and over. I would scream out, “Oh, God, someone please make it stop!”

But it doesn’t stop.

Maybe when I start falling and hit the atmosphere comes some sort of normalcy. But don’t settle in too much ’cause BAM! You hit the ground.

Depression for me is feeling impending doom. Nothing matters. You can barely do anything, and you don’t want to. The pain inside is so bad that you want to cut or hit yourself so that for at least a couple minutes the physical pain overrides the mental pain.

I couldn’t just “snap out of it.”

This disease is EXHAUSTING! I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

So I take my meds, volunteer, stay close to my family, attend support groups and stay positive. I’m happy to say that I have bipolar disorder, but it doesn’t have me.

— Maria Teri Hazel, Goose Creek resident, graduate of Charleston County Mental Health Court and president of its alumni association. She also is a facilitator for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.