Gracie knew she was bi-polar when she was 11. That was when she discovered her father had the illness and she recognized herself in his behavior. But it wasn’t until three years later that she was officially diagnosed.

“I’ve definitely felt different pretty much my whole life. I’ve had a lot of problems throughout my life,” she said in the matter-of-fact manner of a young woman who has battled her own demons.

She tells people she’s bi-polar as soon as she meets them, concerned that if she keeps it a secret, it will seem like a much bigger deal when they ultimately find out.

“And I’m not ashamed of it so I just let them know.”

Diagnosed with depression and ADHD in addition to bi-polar anxiety, finding the right combination of drugs has been particularly challenging. Amphetamines, mood stabilizers and atypical anti-psychotic drugs make up a cocktail of mind altering, mood-enhancing substances that keep her walking a tightrope of normalcy.

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