Something I am Proud of:
When I look back on all my achievements and accomplishments since my diagnosis at 17, what fills my heart with the most joy is being able to help others who are currently struggling with their mental health, by using the insight I gained from going through the darkest depths of depression and the highest of highs of mania. I recently organized the first face-to-face recruitment event since the pandemic in my city. With the help of my wonderful colleagues, I was able to arranged for 50 employers & support agencies to attend the event and promoted it on a local BBC Radio station. With over 1000 jobseekers booked to attend, it was a very successful event and many people were able to secure employment by attending. What filled me with the most pride from that event was being able to help a young lady, who appeared very anxious at first. I immediately greeted her and she told me she suffers from severe anxiety and various other mental health illnesses. It was her first time to come to such an event with so many people, and I accompanied her to visit various stands to get the support she needed to help her move closer to employment. I also found out she was interested in working with cars so I took her to speak to an automotive employer and advocated for her. At the end of her visit, she left feeling motivated and was so thankful for my help. She is now currently being supported by several organizations, who will help her overcome her barriers and find work in the industry she loves. I am looking forward to hearing some good news from her in the future!
Advice for Newly Diagnosed:
Educate yourself fully on how bipolar disorder affects you individually, as everyone experiences it differently. Research the illnesses; spend some time by yourself analyzing your own triggers, early warning signs, symptoms, & behaviors; and create a relapse prevention plan with the support of medical staff and people who know you best, as they may offer their own perspective that you might not be aware of. Take care of yourself, and try to be kind to yourself always. Remember that you are still you, even though having bipolar can make you question your own personality. For example if you are naturally bubbly and friendly, you might think is it mania? This happened to me, I have had bipolar disorder for over half my life now and it did make me question my identify. But my advice would be to never let bipolar define you, or stop you from doing what you want to do in life. Yes it can be limiting, it can stop you from doing things you want to do, but if you take the time to know your condition better, you will be able to recognize your early warning signs, ask for help, and prevent the symptoms from escalating into a full blown manic or depressive episode. Believe in yourself and make sure you have a strong support network around you. You can join bipolar support groups, so you don’t feel so alone and isolated. Remember you are not alone and if you are ever struggling, remember to reach out for help! You’ll be glad you did! 🙂