LAKE Macquarie musician Kenny Jewell self-medicated on a potentially lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder six years ago.
He is now on a mission to raise awareness of the disease, after he was left undiagnosed for most of his adult life.
Jewell will paddle 200 kilometres around Lake Macquarie over five days and raise money for beyondblue, the national initiative on depression.
Has been training five times a week for the past four months for the Paddle 360 challenge.
This is a far cry from his previous lifestyle, where he used copious amounts of illegal drugs to medicate himself.
Jewells is a member of the band Nat Col and the Kings and has also played in The Screaming Jets as well as Dave Gleeson & the Stilsons.
Jewell said cocaine, amphetamines and alcohol "gave clarity" to the state of his raging thoughts.
"It seemed OK at the time because of what I did [for a living]," he said.
"There needs to be more research into how we diagnose bipolar and how we treat it."
He said the medications took a big toll on his body, causing weight gain and hair loss.
"I can either be fat and unhappy, or skinny and mental," Jewell said.
But, one of his biggest hurdles was learning that bipolar disorder was hereditary.
"There was a huge possibly that I could pass this on to my girls - that scared the hell out of me," he said.
■ Go to paddle360.org for more information or give a donation.