Redefining Bipolar started as a philosophy.
My name is Natasha. I’d like to say it was a dark and stormy night, but it was actually a pleasant and sunny morning when I found out I had bipolar disorder. I was halfway through my undergraduate degree and in the midst of planning a semester abroad. I could also say that was bad timing, but seldom is receiving the label of a severe mental illness good timing. What came before that point were many, many years of mental health issues that could no longer be ignored. What came after that point is how Redefining Bipolar got its name.
Redefining Bipolar is an evidence-based, personally meaningful discussion about bipolar disorder.
My first psychiatrist didn’t explain much to me about what bipolar is, so that left me to do some digging. Seeing as I was pursuing a degree in psychology, I was able to navigate my way around research to some extent. No one educated me about any aspect of my treatment, unless you count the thirty seconds at the pharmacy counter where the pharmacist tells you about the new med. Initially, I found this depressing; however, I quickly became frustrated with the brick wall between me and the (at first) terrifying world of psychiatry. So I did something about it, and that something was spending the next year designing a seminar about mood disorders.
In the last year of my undergrad, I ran a course with my peers to answer questions about mood disorders that not even a psychology prof in a “behaviour disorders” class was answering (in fact, the things in that class were rather stigmatizing in retrospect). The course was called “Redefining Mood Disorders” (which you can read about here) and it helped me in one specific way:
I rarely saw myself — my story — in the research I read about bipolar disorder. I wanted that evidence that supported my recovery, but I wanted it to reflect my humanity too. Thus, Redefining Bipolar was born.
I want, and still want, to redefine what it means to have bipolar. I began giving talks and speaking out about my mental health struggles in hopes that future generations can have it better. This journey has just begun for me. I never thought I would end up being part of the mental health awareness movement — I didn’t even know what mental health was until I had a mental illness. Now I work with many different organizations in my community and farther to help bring wellness into the hearts and minds of those who need it — and empower them to do the same.
Where is Redefining Bipolar now? I’m chugging along well, despite sometimes infrequently keeping up with my blog. I now have a Master of Education degree in Human Development, Learning, and Culture (aka educational psychology). I now work at a local non-profit mental health organization. I also can be found, from time to time, with CREST.BD as a peer researcher and I am the former manager of their Bipolar Blog (but still referred to as the Blog Queen). I can also be seen with SHARE and The Kaleidoscope. I frequently give talks about my experience with bipolar, as well as with general mental health stuff as well.
Other than that, I’m an avid goer of yoga, a makeup/practical effects junkie, and deeply passionate about dark chocolate. Sometimes you can find me at a local metal show or spinning fire by a lake. Usually you can find me answering emails on transit as I have existential thoughts about what it means to be a person.