Walk the journey in Bipolar Shoes

Dave O’Riordan, 47, was a resident of Ponoka nearly 15 years ago — but not for reasons many would expect.

By Jasmine Franklin

An illness that overtook one man’s ability to lead a balanced life landed him in a mental hospital 15 years ago has since led him to publish a book to help others.

Dave O’Riordan, 47, was a resident of Ponoka nearly 15 years ago — but not for reasons many would expect. O’Riordan was a patient at Alberta Hospital Ponoka, now known as the The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury, for a breakdown he now recognizes as a bipolar episode.

“At this time I knew nothing about mental illness,” he said. “It just got to a breaking point where I went way over the edge.”

On Jan. 7, 1994, a 33-year-old O’Riordan decided to take a cab from Calgary to Edmonton after a series of events triggered the illness within him. He ran a small business in Calgary where money became an issue; in addition to this stress, his only escape — NHL hockey — was on strike.

“I don’t know why I took the cab,” he said. “But once the cab hit Ponoka I lost it, I had a breakdown.”

He believed he was both God and the devil.

“If it wasn’t for that cab driver I would be dead.”

O’Riordan doesn’t remember being brought into the police station. All he remembers is when he came to a state of awareness he was in handcuffs. After that, he was told he fell off a chair in the police station and when an officer went to assist him, O’Riordan turned to violence and assaulted the officer.

It was then he was admitted to the mental hospital.

“I was there for about one month after it was found I had bipolar disorder,” he said. “But I was relieved to know. It really explained a lot of reasons as to why I was who I was.”

His book, Biploar Shoes, is a personal journey about the struggles with bipolar disorder due to his lack of knowledge on mental illness throughout his life.

“I always knew something was wrong,” O’Riordan said. “I just never knew what it was.”

He dedicated three years to writing his book with the hopes the average person would be able to understand the disorder in layman’s terms. When he was diagnosed, all that was available on bipolar disorder were doctor’s journals and books he couldn’t understand.

“I really wrote this book to help people.”

Since his breakdown, O’Riordan has visited the hospital numerous times to meet the nurses and staff who gave him immense support and help. His daughter and her family moved to Ponoka last year.

“Ponoka will always have a soft spot in my heart,” he said. “Mental illness is very personal — everyone has a different experience. It doesn’t matter how good you are, at any time it can hit you in the face like a shovel.”

Today, his illness is manageable but not cured. He takes medication to control mood fluctuation but can still have episodes when stressful situations arise.

Bipolar Shoes is available online at www.biplorshoes.com, and should be on shelves within the next three to four months. Fifty per cent of proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Just Posted

Young Jersey cow takes Saturday night walk through Ponoka

Ponoka residents help police locate runaway bovine, which was safely collected.

PHOTOS: Team Tanner takes in northern lights in Yellowknife

The aurora borealis and storm hunters photograph Yellowknife’s picturesque night skies

Cilantro and Chive wins big at 2018 Alberta Beer Awards

Lacombe business takes home top honours for Pub/Restaurant of the Year

The Whos down in Ponoka helped raise $21,000

Ponoka’s Big Brothers Big Sisters bowling fundraiser was a fun night

Suspects from Ermineskin, Rimbey arrested after chase across entire region

Camrose RCMP make arrests after a thwarted break and enter attempt

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

New Liberal bill would tighten controls on sale, licensing of firearms in Canada

Measures are intended to assist police in investigating gun trafficking and other crimes

Wetaskiwin-area burglars gain entry through patio doors, steal large clock

Wetaskiwin RCMP respond to break/enter and theft in County of Wetaskiwin

Ex-French president Sarkozy in custody on Gadhafi claims

Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal financing

How Facebook likes could profile voters for manipulation

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica, a data-analysis firm worked for Trump’s 2016 campaign

Uber suspends self-driving car tests after fatality

A woman walking outside a crosswalk in Phoenix was killed when she was hit by a self-driving car

Police divers to resume river search for missing Montreal boy

Police divers and a helicopter search the shores of the Riviere des Prairies for missing 10-year old boy Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

World’s last male northern white rhino dies

The world’s last male northern white rhino, Sudan, has died after “age-related complications”.

Pro-Trump protest sign with F-word is OK, court rules

Judges say Ontario man can protest publicly, even using vulgar language

Most Read