Brad Shreve has a history of having to adapt, make changes, strive for goals, and at times rebuilding his life.
Over half of his life was spent in the closet. He came out when he was thirty-five, he had a wife and a daughter. His adjustment from playing it straight to being openly gay was exciting but challenging.
He had to build a new life.
Later, after a twenty-year career in the hotel industry, he had achieved an executive level position when drugs and alcohol consumed his life and negatively impacted his job performance. When 9/11 happened there were empty hotel rooms across the world which made it convenient to include Brad on the list of layoffs. His substance abuse worsened, and he fell from a corporate executive to homeless in less than a year. He’s the man to go to if you want to know which bench on the Santa Monica Pier is best protected from wind, and which LA bus routes are the longest for getting a good sleep.
Once clean and sober, Brad was frustrated seeing the lives of his friends from the recovery house improve faster than his. Although people recover at different rates, he knew something was wrong, but it took years to understand.
He was forced to rebuild his life again.
His first job in sobriety was as a barista in a coffee shop, and he struggled his way up to managing the cafe. His superiors at work were equally pleased for running a good operation and concerned about his erratic behavior. Each day was a challenge keeping the face of someone who had things under control as he felt overwhelmed. One day, without notice, he stopped going to work. He spiraled downward once again, less capable of keeping his life together than when he was lost in his addictions. If not for his partner, who he met a year prior, he would have been homeless again.
His mental state led to agoraphobia, unable to leave his apartment. The depression made that ability even worse. Yet, his mind and energy were so out of control his ability to communicate was nearly lost. People talked too slowly for his rapid-fire thoughts to where he felt his brain would explode. After multiple attempts to get help from the overloaded Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, he was finally taken on as a client after checking into a hospital and refused to leave until he was assured he’d get regular outpatient help. It worked.
He considers the day he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as one of the best days of his life. For the first time his problem had a name and events in his past made sense. The process of finding the right meds which worked for him was painful and long. Once properly medicated and through therapy he was able to rebuild his life again.
Today, he still struggles with bipolar disorder, but he has the tools he’s learned and the wisdom to know the moments will pass. His motivation to keep going at the worst times led to his training to be a life coach and launch Queer We Are. Today, in addition to this podcast, Brad is a successful author. He lives with his husband in the California High Desert.