I just wanted to send the message of hope. I have Bipolar I, and PTSD. I was diagnosed about 7-8 years ago during my first manic episode. My entire life fell apart when I became sick for the first time...lost my job, left school, was self-medicating with drugs, almost ruined my closest friendships, and started fighting with my family who were torn apart by what was happening to me. I went from being a vibrant hard working, fun loving college student in the prime of her 20's to a lost soul who felt like her life was over. I spent a couple of weeks in the hospital, and went home to fester in my own thoughts. I spent the next year and a half trying to regain normalcy in my life. I finally started doing better, and began going back to school to finish my degree part time. Soon after that I started working again. My relationships were improving. In 2010, I was out of work again, wondering when my life would get on track and stay that way. My therapist asked me what it is that I would like to do for work, and I said I would like to help those who have been through similar things to what I have been through. I started looking online at mental health agencies for jobs, and came across an ad for a "Peer Specialist" which is someone who provides support to individuals with mental illness based on their lived experience. My life has never been the same since. I got the job, and I love it. I had NO idea that anything like this existed. I am now a department head in a psychiatric hospital, and I oversee the peer services department. I am very happily married to an amazing guy. I finished school. I have amazing relationships with family, and friends. We are looking forward to trying to have a baby, and buying a home in the next few years. I look at my illness as an asset now. My job depends on it! I have quit smoking, and have started to lose weight. Do not EVER give up hope. I really thought my life was over, and had I ended it, I would have never known the happiness I now have in my life. I have days where I'm not feeling so good, but that is to be expected when you have a mental illness, but the good far outweighs the bad. Good luck to you all!