Your Very Own Bipolar Documentarian

October 16, 2018

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I have had bipolar symptoms for about ten years now. I went undiagnosed for about four years. Those were some of the most intense, psychotic years of my life.

When I was eighteen, my grandfather had a trust fund set up for me that paid for college. I went to my first year of film school in NYC and dropped out relocated to LA. I became so angry but also passionate about the idea of saying “F-U” to the film school and my grandfather and dropping out of school to make a skateboarding documentary.

A collage of a black-and-white boy projecting a rainbow.

“World in my eyes” by Rachel Derum

I needed to believe I was going to be something special and I was watching the movie Into the Wild nonstop, and just so infatuated by the idea of being away from everyone who knew me how I was. In my head I was a star, and it was only a matter of time until EVERYONE understood that. The film I made with that anger and passion is called We Are Skateboarders and is the second-highest feature-length skateboard documentary on YouTube with nearly half a million views.

I’m very proud of that documentary but unfortunately, when I look back, I still pretty much can only feel the loneliness that took over my life in LA, because of my symptoms and angry personality. I really only had three friends the entire time I lived there making that film (two years).

One of those friends was named Dayne, a retired professional skateboarder. He taught me everything I needed to know about the skateboard industry and was very compassionate to me. I think he could see my depression and mood swings, but for the most part he actually brought the best out in me. He shared just about everything there was to share with me, which made him feel like an older brother to me. I admired him and he respected my dedication in making my documentary. Who knows, maybe I reminded him a little of himself.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-three that I was finally hospitalized and medicated.

What I’ve learned finally as of three weeks ago is that once you are prescribed medications that work for you…TAKE THEM. Right now I am on Depakote and Abilify and my mood is pretty much stable and I feel wonderful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flirted with not taking my medication. For anyone out there struggling with the idea of going to the hospital or taking your meds…I want you to know…that it is OKAY.


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Drake Eisenstein
3 years ago

As someone who has recently accepted his bipolar diagnosis and the fact that he needs to be medicated for the time being, your post and documentary project really resonate with me. I have also “come out of the closet” in this regard so I fully appreciate the degree to which you are outspoken about your blame-free condition.

Anne Bachop
3 years ago

Kudos on your strength and courage to prevail and be yourself–your whole self, both independently and with assistance. xo Anne



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