I was born and raised in Johnson County and left for college in Chicago when I was 20. I have Bipolar II Disorder which means my manic times are not too extreme – even highly functional, but my depressed times are devastating. Maybe it was the mania, but I got a PhD in Electrical Engineering before my first major depressive episode. I worked for the government and didn’t want to lose my security clearance so I tried to hide my illness and paid cash for my therapy. I had to stop work and never did go back to engineering. Eventually I was able to work again and I did a 10 year stint as a middle school math teacher but that was ended by another major depressive episode. That was 7 years ago and I am on disability and have nearly given up any expectation of holding down a regular job.
My artwork fills the highs and lows and keeps me busy at whatever level I am presently functioning. I can go for months without doing anything, because I can’t motivate myself to move, but I might be planning new ideas in my head and that is a blessing during those incredibly low times. When I’m up and productive I can work ‘regular business hours’ and make many pieces. Those times don’t last long enough to get a real job but it’s great to be able to produce beautiful artwork and even create the ideas that I worked out when I was too depressed to move.