Jeremy Egan blames mood disorders for landing him in and out of jail most of his adult life.

Growing up Egan spent a lot of time in the boxing ring — a passion he now shares with his 10-year-old son.

Things changed in his teens when, at age 17, he was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

Mood disorder prison

Egan said anxiety and depression drove him toward a life of crime as an enforcer for drug dealers. (CBC)

“I remember trying to go to work every morning and, you know, it was a struggle.”

Egan took medication and began to feel better. He eventually stopped taking his medication, however, due to some of the side effects.

Shortly thereafter he lost control and started down a path that would land him behind bars.

'Was the muscle' for drug dealers

Egan began working as an enforcer for drug dealers.

"I looked for other means to survive so I got involved in muscling people," he said. "I was the muscle."

His employers wanted Egan to use his strength and power to intimidate people.

He did just that, and it didn't end well.

In 2008, Egan and two accomplices tried to abduct a man they believed had money and drugs. They followed him to work and jumped him in a parking lot, but his coworkers came out and helped him.

It was a botched kidnapping that landed Egan in jail for five and a half years.

Mental illness huge factor in prison

The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba (MDAM) said one in five people suffer from mental illness, but only five per cent of health care dollars go to care for them.

“What you get is … behaviours that go unchecked,” said Tara Brousseau-Snider, executive director for MDAM.

Brousseau-Snider said as many as 75 per cent of inmates suffer from some form of mental illness.  

Although he still struggles with mood disorders, Egan now has job in construction, takes his meds and has stayed out of trouble with the law in the two years since his release.

“I got a 10-year-old boy. That made me change … and it keeps me going to work every day and it keeps me on top of my mood disorders.”