What if freedom awaits you but you don’t resonate with that word? Since 2011 and my diagnosis of bipolar, I’ve been on a bit of a quest. This quest has possibly been more interesting than I realise. Viewed through the lens of The European Foundation of Quality Management and their RADAR framework (Results, Approach, Deployment, Assessment, Review) I now realise that my diagnosis was a wake-up call. Now some may refer to what happens when people experience mental illnesses such as bipolar and psychosis as a spiritual experience. I’m still exploring that aspect of my life. However, in some ways, the more I explore the science underpinning mental illness and bipolar specifically, the more I see that the imbalances of bipolar are our inner engineering seeking to be rebalanced. The deeper I go into my whole life experience, the more I sense that my whole life has been energised by the seeking out of truth. I only now realise that the truth I was seeking out was my own truth rather than “the truth”. This is why I’m so passionate about mental health reform. My whole experience with the mental health services have added minimal insight. It has been and is only through my own tenacious resilience to seek out answers that I have sought those who’ve gone before me along the path of bipolar. Battered by the experience of being over-medicated by psychiatry and taking months to recover from that experience, I resolve that psychiatry was unethical and immoral and not to be trusted. I sought out peer support groups outside of the mental health services I was linked into. I found a meetup group. I met my tribe. I felt seen. I felt human. To listen to the experiences of others as they recalled their experiences of depression and psychosis made my own personal experiences seem somewhat inadequate and laughable – a perfect way to destigmatise such an intense human experience. There something about lived experience. We have a deeper dictionary. We have a deeper understanding and a deeper connection. If you haven’t been “there” it’s hard to explain. What I accept whilst at the same time frustrates me is that is took me a decade to get to the truth of what bipolar is – an imbalanced perception of a past memory or memories from childhood resulting in an imbalanced nervous system linked to maternal and paternal roles and responsibilities and realities. To realise I even had my values in the wrong order was the biggest wake-up call; especially at the age of 50+. Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff by Grant Soosalu and Marvin Oka has saved my life. To become initially an mBIT Coach and then an mBIT Master Coach has supported my healing and recovery journey. These trainings built on the previous trainings in NLP or neuro-linguistic programming – initially as Practitioner and then Master Practitioner; again the latter training finding patterns of behaviour I was not aware of until the training. The icing on the cake was to train as a Master Practitioner in NLP with the co-creator Richard Bandler – the most amazing training and educational experience in my life. To achieve a healthier and happier quality of life post-diagnosis than I enjoyed prior to my diagnosis in 2011 bemuses me. In 2016, I was staring homelessness in the face. In 2021, I am living in the country in a peaceful part of Western Victoria some 15 minutes from the sea. How is that even achievable? It’s because of NLP and mBIT that I believe I have one of the most intriguing toolkits through which to navigate my path forward. Without NLP and mBIT I doubt I would be alive. My priorities over the coming months include sharing my story, rewriting my memoir and progressing my content sharing via various channels including my blog and my social media platforms. Eventually at some point I hope a podcast will emerge along with some form of face-to-face experience to enlighten others about what mental illness is and isn’t and what bipolar is and isn’t – from a lived experience perspective. I completed a stand-up comedy course prior to moving to the country. This follows on from my attending an NLP conference in UK where I met a wonderful NLP guru called Sue Knight who introduced me to Provocative Coaching and Frank Farrelly who created this style of coaching. How does all this hang together? Before I became unwell in 2011 I was a very serious individual. My mother even used to comment that I took life too seriously. Now I’m calmer and happier. The seriousness has dissolved. My father’s influence has diminished. My need to approval has dissipated. My mother’s influence of acceptance prevails. I now have a more finely tuned balance of father (politician and changemaker, a character of humour, creativity and courage) and mother (homemaker and character of deep compassion and humility). To understand our own behaviours and what motivates us I believe is informed by the influences of our childhood. Sometimes it can take a while to understand those influences and the impact they have on our life journey, our values, our motivation, our life path, our life purpose. The past decade has at times been hard work, at times exhausting, at times heart-breaking. I’m not the first. And I won’t be the last. But I’d like to make it easier for the next person. And the person after that. And the person after that. That’s why I believe any mental health system will only be fit for purpose, ethical, moral and human rights informed if it is rich in lived experience. To go one step further, why aren’t we taught about physical and mental health at school?