“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I spent my 23rd birthday in a psychiatric hospital. Family and friends reassured me during visiting hours, but I was still terrified by my diagnosis bipolar disorder—an incurable condition that felt like a death sentence.

Looking back, the symptoms were clear. Leading up to my college graduation, I embarked on a mental roller coaster. Debilitating depression flipped to supernatural elation and back. I had lost my mind.

Doctors advised I forgo my pending consulting offer. Stress, travel, and long hours could trigger another episode. Medication may not work. After months of medical leave, I was stuck. I nearly abandoned my career aspirations and my desire to live an independent, adventure-filled life.

I listened to my loved ones who believed in me—the real me—and encouraged me to take a chance. I moved cross-country to start my job. I struggled, but I survived. And eventually, I started to believe in myself.

Life will throw me all sorts of challenges. But I will not be paralyzed by fear, because I will lean on those I trust for support. In return, I commit myself to show others that mental illness is not a death sentence, but rather a surmountable obstacle on life’s roller coaster.

— Joe Coleman