A happy ending

“A lot of things happened in those months,� he recalls. “I never slept. I’d go to Toronto for a week because I thought people were chasing me. I walked the streets and met homeless people. I was spending so much money, when I was done my high, my credit cards were maxed.

“I’d spend $18 on a Lone Star dinner and throw down a $100 tip. I was buying people things all the time, often strangers, so I’d avoid my family because they’d try to stop me. …

“My mind was open and clear and I felt great. I was doing inventions, joined two pyramid companies, started my own ministry to help others with their faith,� he says, laughing. “If you can imagine that. In April of that year, I hit my peak and thought I was the second coming of Jesus Christ.�

Within two months, however, his first real low hit and with it, suicidal thoughts. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder by his doctor was later confirmed by Ottawa Hospital Civic campus psychiatrist, Dr. Peter Boyles, who started him on lithium to treat the illness.

The day of the diagnosis, Nihmey says he returned to his parents’ house, “darted into the basement and stayed there for two months. It was immobilizing to see my friends moving on with life, getting married, buying houses, having kids.�

Yet even as the depression lifted with the support of his parents and his deep faith in God, Nihmey was overwhelmed by anxiety and obsessions, notably with hell and hitchhikers who he would constantly stop to pick up, regardless of how inconvenient it was to him.

Once, on driving home from Toronto, he became obsessed with helping two young women whose wiper blades had broken in a storm. After offering to help, then driving off, he became so convinced they’d be stranded, he got on and off the highway four times searching for them. In the end, the four-and-a-half-hour trip home took nine hours.

Between 2005 and 2009, he struggled with hypomania, an extremely active and volatile state of mind that would hit every few days. During those periods, he lived in fast-forward, speeding everywhere, talking constantly and quickly, being argumentative and rarely sleeping.

Over time, however, life and his mental state stabilized enough for him to write his latest book, which was published last February.

“It took me five years to write, which is a bit longer than normal, but I was doing it during a tough period.

“But I’ve never felt healthier than I do now. Health can happen, but it takes faith, hope, never giving up and perseverance, love and strong support, courage, discipline, responsibility and, of course, a lot of hard work,� he observes. “There’s only one other thing that will take you to the next level … and that’s you.�