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These days, just about every day in the calendar has a cause that is associated with that day. There are days for cancers; breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer. There are days for diabetes. The United Nations has a calendar for cause related days as well. It has World Autism Awareness Day and an International Day for Biological Diversity among hundreds of others. Well, mental health awareness is right up there with their own days. Every year World Bipolar Day is celebrated on March 30.
World Bipolar Day is the result of a collaboration following the brainchild of Dr. Pichet Udomratn, a member of the Asian Network of Bipolar Disorder (ANBD) who got together with the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) and the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) to bring his idea to life. This day is about raising awareness of the characteristics and challenges that people living with Bipolar Disorder experience. March 30 was picked because it was Vincent van Gogh’s birthday. It is thought posthumously that van Gogh may have lived with bipolar disorder.
For any of you who have tuned in to the Radio Show But I Feel Good …talking about pink elephants and black dogs will know that I think it’s time to move beyond awareness. These blog posts, my radio show , my soon to be published books: Disclosure and Black Dogs, Rollercoasters & Pink Elephants (follow this link to register), my presentations to corporate and community groups on the link between resilience and mind health matters are all about what’s next.
It’s time to move beyond awareness into greater understanding, deeper compassion and genuine acceptance for people living with, or caring for someone with, a mood disorder or other mental illness.
One big challenge for people living with bipolar disorder can be the often lengthy time between when a person first experiences symptoms and the time a diagnosis is made. The average is ten years. If you know anything about the effects of living with undiagnosed diabetes you’ll know that delays in diagnosis impact long-term quality of life. So too for people living with undiagnosed bipolar. Increased risk taking behaviour, often poor financial planning and decision making as well as the professionally recognised challenges and effects of self-medication can take their toll in the short and the long term. Figures out of the United Kingdom predict those living with bipolar disorder will have a shorter life expectancy by up to 25 years.
So if the occurrence of World Bipolar Day (or on any other day of the year) you are inspired to know more you can listen to podcasts of interviews and content on mind health matters here.
Because your Mind Health Matters…