The year before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Francis Arevalo was an up-and-coming slam poet and hip-hop artist in Vancouver’s artistic community. He had won the 2014 Student Leadership Conference’s Faces of Today Award and was listed as one of “24 under 24” upcoming personalities in Vancouver 24 Hours. That was before his illness almost caused him to lose everything. At his low point, Francis lost touch with reality, destroyed friendships, and became mired in debt. In 2015, he was arrested, sent to psychiatric care and put on mood-stabilizing medication that led him to gain 80 pounds. Unable to remember much of his activities during his peak mania, he struggled to navigate the painful consequences of his illness. Overwhelmed, a year after leaving psychiatric care he attempted suicide. It was a wake-up call, and he committed himself to finding the help he needed to live a new life. He worked hard to find consistency with his medication, went back to work, began exercising and started making music again. In 2016 Francis released his first hip-hop album with his best friends and family, demonstrating that while recovery is not about returning to the life you lived before experiencing mental illness, it is possible to breathe new life into past dreams.
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