Something I am Proud Of:
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 at age 19. Since then, I worked hard to educate myself on the illness and accept that it is not something to be ashamed of. I shared about my illness with friends and family knowing that I might need them to step in to help if a future episode were to happen. After the birth of my daughter, I had a manic episode requiring hospitalization. Thankfully, my support system was able to step in and advocate for me to receive the stabilizing care I needed when I was unable to do so myself. I know that my bipolar disorder is not something that I need to try and hide for fear of judgment. I am passionate about advocating for people with this illness, because I know that stigma related to mental illness keeps people from seeking lifesaving treatment. I am a licensed professional counselor and have worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I find that the depth of life experience I have due to my bipolar illness allows me to have a significant level of empathy and compassion with my clients. I don’t disclose my personal diagnosis with clients, but I do believe the therapeutic alliance in my sessions is enriched due to my experiences.
Advice for Newly Diagnosed:
Hearing the diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be a very jarring and scary experience for sure. I know it was for me. I wrestled with it for quite a while experiencing a wide range of emotions such as anger, fear, and confusion. After some time though I finally landed on a sort of acceptance. I want to let anyone know who might be wrestling with their diagnosis that it is possible to experience acceptance. There are so many methods for achieving stability such as medication management, lifestyle adjustments, self-awareness, and a support system. Having bipolar disorder is nothing to be ashamed of or that you need to hide. It is worth it to reach out for help from professionals, family and friends, and support groups. Bipolar is something that requires a team effort to have the best possible outcomes. I want to add that the more times you talk about your illness the easier it becomes. Each time you share how it has impacted your life, the stigma and shame around it dissolves a little bit more. So many amazingly talented, creative, and successful people live with bipolar disorder. This diagnosis does not mean that you can’t have a fulfilled and happy life!