When I was growing up, I always felt awkward about how I should act around family, friends, and strangers. I knew I had a problem but didn't know what it was or how to deal with it. As a result, I self-medicated with drugs and alcohol. It was not until I was in my 30s that I was given a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder. During all those years of confusion, self-hate, and emotional turmoil, I desperately wanted to someday be "normal." For me, being normal meant raising and caring for children; I wanted to tend to their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.