Medication and self-care are both important parts of managing bipolar––but so is finding an inspiring bipolar mentor.
Medication and working on yourself can go a long way to assist in managing bipolar disorder. But there is one other key that has been crucial to my recovery. That is having mentors to look towards who were further along in their recovery than me.
When first diagnosed in 1996 there was almost no one talking about mental illness, let alone bipolar disorder. I couldn’t find people that I could talk to who were managing the illness effectively. I relied on the one or two famous people that were willing to speak out to give me hope that recovery was possible.
The first person that I looked towards was Patty Duke. I remember watching her in “The Patty Duke Show” in the late 60’s. Her book, “A Brilliant Madness” gave me hope that it was possible to lead a healthy, productive life in spite of a diagnosis of bp. (What I didn’t know at the time was how much work I had ahead of me to get to that point.) Patty Duke was the only famous person being vocal about bipolar disorder in the 1990’s.
Then I discovered Kay Redfield Jamison. She was a Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and continued to work despite living with bipolar disorder. In her book “An Unquiet Mind” she reveals how mania and depression set in while she was pursuing her academic career.
Slowly, people were emerging publicly who struggled with bipolar disorder. Margot Kidder who played Superman’s girlfriend in the movies opened up about her highs and lows.
By the mid 2000’s it was become more common to have famous people admit they had this illness. Margaret Trudeau became a mentor for me as well. One of the quotes I like best from her is that “Bipolar disorder is an exaggeration of emotions.” I could really relate to those words. When manic I experienced euphoria, excitement, giddiness, a flight of ideas, ecstasy and feelings of pure joy. As depression set in it was as if I had no emotions at all. I did feel sadness, misery and despair but on many occasions, I was emotionally “flat.” I couldn’t be happy or sad; just plain depressed.
A quick search on the internet showed me that Wikipedia has a long list of famous people, past and present, who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, some of these people have taken their own lives when they couldn’t live with the demons any longer.
What this means is that I am in good company. Thank goodness society has reached the point in which any kind of mental illness can be talked about openly.
I am grateful every day that these role models spoke up and gave me hope that recovery was indeed possible. In my own small way, I am now able to give others hope. If I see someone struggling, I am not afraid to speak up and tell them about my experiences with bp and my journey of recovery.
When Lynn Rae was 39 years old two psychiatrists told her that she would NEVER work full time again. She had accepted the diagnosis of bipolar disorder but would never accept the prognosis. After working part time at several different jobs between episodes of depression & mania Lynn was finally able to work full time and has been since 2009. She has now enjoyed over 10 years of good health. Lynn Rae can guide you in making those important decisions in your life surrounding Family, Friends, Fun, Fitness, Fulfillment, Finances & Faith through her Keynote “The Seven F’s to Your Fantastic Future.” She has written 3 books and self-published one of them which are available for sale on Amazon. Lynn received the Marilyn Nearing Award from York Support Services Network for the contribution she was making as a volunteer in the mental health field. Lynn Rae has her own business, GTA Office Services , in which administrative tasks are done virtually for her various clients. She makes her own home in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada.
July 4, 2019 • Volume 12, Issue 27Subscribe to Hope & Harmony Headlines Silencing The Self-Defeating Inner Critic You can do nine things right and one thing wrong, and what you’re left with at the end of the day is a bunch of negative self-talk about that one wrong thing. All the right...
Finding hope isn’t about medications or what doctors say. It’s about getting to know yourself and realizing that you can be yourself, just with bipolar. When I was first struggling with bipolar mood swings, as a child, it felt like most people were constantly losing faith in me. With much difficulty, I seemed to bounce...
We all need a reason to get up every day–whether it be a pet, family, or work. But what do you do when you don’t have any of those things? The answer: find your purpose in helping others. We all need a reason to get up every day. For some people they may have a...
Leading expert on mood disorders Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is a best-selling author and lectures widely on the topic of bipolar disorder. Here are her top six strategies as told to bp Magazine: #1 Stay on your medication. Jamison says medication regimen is one...