Every year on March 30, the day of Vincent Van Gogh’s birthday, we celebrate World Bipolar Day; a day to bring the world population information about bipolar disorders that will educate and improve sensitivity towards the illness. World Bipolar Day (WBD) is an initiative of International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD), and International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD). This year’s theme is #MoreThanADiagnosis.
2016 marks the third World Bipolar Day. You can read my past blog posts here: 2014 (my story) and 2015 (how to get through the first steps after diagnosis). I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in October of 2008, and I’ve been a volunteer with IBPF for a year and a half. I am the social media manager of IBPF’s Instagram account.
On WBD, people from all over the world share their stories, along with images of themselves holding a sign stating they are something other than their diagnosis. Some hold signs saying they love someone with bipolar or support those living with the disorder. You’ll be able to find all the photos (that were submitted) on IBPF’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, including mine!
My boyfriend Tim and I holding our signs for WBD
Since this year’s theme is #MoreThanADiagnosis, I thought I’d share how I’m just that: more than a diagnosis.
Here are some ways I don’t let my diagnosis define me:
- I work. Granted, I don’t work full-time. I actually applied for disability last month, BUT I can do freelance/consultant-type work.
- I have a steady, romantic relationship. In the past, bipolar would invade my relationships. But now that I’m stronger, I don’t let it. My boyfriend (pictured above) and I are very open and honest about our feelings, and we have great communication. Those things are ESSENTIAL for a good relationship. But trust me, it doesn’t come easy. We work at it every single day.
- I graduated college. While we need and crave schedule and routine, it’s also hard for some people with bipolar. I can handle a scheduled life, but not a routine one. I get bored, and then I cycle. Despite missing one too many classes (and barely passing one semester), I graduated cum laude with a BA in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.
- I’ve found stability (time and time again). Stability doesn’t usually last forever, and I still cycle weekly, with the seasons, etc. However, the episodes aren’t as severe, and I guess that, to me, is stability. I’m able to function in daily life, which wasn’t always the case.
- I’m a good friend. Okay, I’ll admit, I’m probably not the best friend ever. I tend to cancel plans, be late, forget to ask how they’re doing… but I’m a great listener. I give advice when asked. I like to try new things. I’m totally down for just hanging out and talking.
- I volunteer. In my experience (and according to studies), I’ve found that volunteering helps improve my mental health. I shift my focus from myself to others, which helps me put things in perspective. It also helps me to get out of my head, which tends to be an issue. I volunteer for International Bipolar Foundation (since September 2014), and like I said before, I manage their Instagram account (@intlbipolar). It is so rewarding reading everyone’s comments and photos and things IBPF is tagged in. Helping people is one of the best ways to help myself.
This World Bipolar Day, I invite you to share your story and how you’re #MoreThanADiagnosis. Together, we can educate everyone on bipolar disorder and help end stigma once and for all.
You can find tons of shareable resources here!
to health & happiness,