Posts Tagged DBSA

WBD Day: What you need to know about Bipolar Disorder

WBD Day: What you need to know about Bipolar Disorder

Every year on March 30, World Bipolar Day is celebrated across the glove to raise awareness about bipolar disorder and eliminate stigma. It is celebrated every year on the birthday of artist Vincent van Gogh, a famous Dutch painter diagnoses with bipolar disorder that died by suicide after struggling with psychosis. Bipolar disorder affects around 3.4 million children and adolescents.3.30 bipolar blog 5 Although mood swings are typical in adolescence, when these start to affect the individual’s life on a daily basis, this can be cause for concern. Famous recording artist Demi Lovato has also become a strong public advocate as well.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by period of mania (hyperactivity, impulsivity, reckless behavior, high energy, lack of sleep) and depression (little activity, anxiety, potentially suicidal thoughts/self-harm, low energy, and often increased sleep). Some forms of bipolar disorder also include psychotic episodes, when people can experience hallucinations, delusions, and odd thoughts/ideas. As you can imagine, this is a complex and difficult disorder for youth to experience, especially if they’re experiencing these symptoms for the first time on adolescence. (Click the roller coaster below!)

3.30 bipolar blog 2

There is a lot of stigma associated with bipolar disorder. How many times have you heard the word bipolar used as an adjective to describe someone that changes their mind often or when the 3.30 bipolar blog 1weather is unpredictable? Using these words can be offensive to individuals that are affected by BD (bipolar disorder). Although known for their rapid changes in mood, mania and depression typically change only several times a year or at most a month. These transitions can be exceptionally difficult and confusing.

The good news is-like most mental health disorders-bipolar disorder can be treated and recovery is possible. For most individuals, a combination of medication and therapy is the most effective. Medicines may include things like mood stabilizers to help even things out and anti-depressants to help with the lows that can be more difficult. The medication isn’t a ‘magic pill;’ the individual may still experience symptoms, but it helps them become more manageable. Therapy includes cognitive behavioral interventions that may help manage the individual’s thoughts, moods, and behaviors. These types of therapies help the individuals cope with the changes and intense feelings that they experience and help them to challenge their thoughts, which, in turn, impacts their moods and behaviors.

Coordinator, Danyelle

I myself have been diagnoses with bipolar disorder. As a teenager and young adult, I was afraid to seek help; I was scared that everyone was going to think I was ‘crazy‘ and getting help was a sign of weakness in3.30 bipolar blog 3 my family. A lot of that was from stigmaEven though I was clearly suffering, I was unable to get the help I needed until much later in life. Now, despite these challenges, I am a successful adult. I have a job I love, I’m getting married in December, and I frequently share my story to help decrease the stigma associated with this and other mental health conditions. Sometimes I still struggle, but I have a great support system, I can always reach out to my therapist and psychiatrist, and have the tools and coping skills I need to overcome the bumps that come along the way. There may be potholes, but I can dig myself out.

For more information, check out these websites:

Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)-particularly the Young Adult section

BP Hope Magazine-People Like Me: Four Personal Stories about Living with Bipolar (featuring coordinator, Danyelle!)

#worldbipolarday #bipolarstrong #strongerthanstigma #socializehope

Written by Danyelle, Project Coordinator

Posted in:

Leave a Comment (0) →

Trainer & Coordinator: Danyelle Hooks

Trainer & Coordinator: Danyelle Hooks

Many of you know Danyelle from last year, but if you haven’t met her yet, here’s what you need to know:
Roles: administrate website and social media, coordinate and facilitate school workshops, plan EOY event, conduct Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings, develop and revise materials
logoExperience: worked with children and adolescents in inpatient behavioral health, lead HS community leadership group, engaged urban students and promoted success, co-chair DBSA Young Adult Council
Professional interests: community mental health (especially faith-based programs and in schools), mental health awareness, holistic wellness, anti-stigma *educate>>stop stigma*


Important Stuff
Why I’m here: lived-experience with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder; promote recovery & resiliency, *inspire others* #unashamed

Fun StuffAYNIL graphic
Likes: walruses, popcorn, ice cream, running, camping/hiking, water sports, cats, people-watching, star-gazing, sleeping, surprises, FOOD, the Beatles *all you need is LOVE*, Hello Kitty, JESUS #unashamed, Team RWB
Dislikes: tomatoes, dolphins, the ocean, things in between my toes, conflict, loud noises, crowds, data/numbers, cars, (surprisingly) technology
Life plan: get married, have kids, go back to school, become a counselor! 🙂

Random Facts
-I LOVE polka music.
-I’m afraid of heights, but I like to challenge that.
-My hair used to be neon pink.
-I’m getting *married* next year! <3
Bucket list: hike the Grand Canyon, climb Mt. Ranier, run the Yellowstone & Glacier Park half-marathons, learn Slovak







My Story

Posted in:

Leave a Comment (0) →

World Bipolar Day

World Bipolar Day

What do you really need to know about bipolar disorder? World Bipolar Day is observed annually on March 30 and reminds us that stigma is a reality for people with bipolar disorder; it hinders their ability to achieve wellness. We want to bring the world population information about bipolar disorders that will educate and improve sensitivity toward the mental health condition.

French researchers in 2012 reported that fewer than 70% of the general population could name specific characteristics of bipolar disorder and most identified the media as their main source of information (which is probably not a good thing). There are a lot of misconceptions about what it means to have bipolar disorder. Even though symptoms c3-30-17 wbd blog 3an vary from person to person, there are certain characteristic behaviors and expressions that mark this condition.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by opposite states: mania and depression. Mania is a period of time when an individual experiences increased energy, motivation, and social activity; decreased attention span; indecisiveness; insomnia; and (sometimes) engagement in risky behavior. Depression, on the other hand, is a period of time when an individual experiences decreased energy and motivation; feelings of sadness, emptiness, and worthlessness; social isolation; significant weight loss/gain, and insomnia. Having this disorder can consist of experiencing one episode at a time or a mixed state of both. Some individuals affected by bipolar disorder may transition rapidly from one to the other and some have longer periods of time between episodes. For some, the states may be incredibly extreme, for others, generally mild. Bipolar disorder is a complicated condition!

3-30-17 wbd blog 5

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 27 millions people worldwide. Celebrities that have self-disclosed having this mental health condition include: Demi Lovato (singer), Russell Brand (comedian), Carrie Fisher (actress, Star Wars), Amy Winehouse (singer), Vincent Van Gogh (painter), and Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister). Personally, I am also affected by this disorder and share my recovery story during the Stand Together trainings.

3-30-17 wbd blog demi 3-30-17 wbd blog russell 3-30-17 wbd blog vincent

There are a few myths we want to point out, too:
Bipolar moods aren’t equally split.
-Treatments take time to work and usually include a combination of medication and therapy, not just one or the other.
Not everyone with bipolar disorder is the same.
-How individuals affected by bipolar disorder react and respond to situations varies greatly.

Bipolar disorder is not 3-30-17 wbd blog 4something to be taken lightly; it’s not something to joke about and minimize by using it inappropriately (ie slang: She’s so bipolar!, etc.). It is a serious mental health condition with sometimes severe disruptions in daily function and can include suicidal ideations and behaviors.  If you or someone you know is displaying signs of this condition, be sure to talk to an adult you trust or reach out to a mental health professional.

3-30-17 wbd blog 1

(Special thanks to Gabe Howard’s article, “What I Wish the World Knew about Bipolar [Disorder]” (BP Hope, Spring 2016). Reference the DSM-IV for symptoms and further description. Also, check out for more info.)

Posted in:

Leave a Comment (0) →

Time to Change, Time to Talk!

Time to Change, Time to Talk!

One of the biggest contributors to stigma is the lack of conversations surrounding mental health. When someone asks you, How are you? What do you say? ‘Okay,’ ‘fine,’ ‘good’…but I’d bet that 9x out of 10, that isn’t true. We don’t talk about our FEELINGS, let alone mental health. So what gives?

2-2-17 Time-to-Talk lol blogToday is Time to Talk Day. Although this is mainly celebrated in the UK, everyone needs to start talking about mental health and today is a great opportunity to do so! We all have more in common than we do different and individuals with mental health conditions need to know that it’s okay to not be okayyou’re not alone, and you are loved. Mental illness is not a joke, taboo, or something to fear. One in four individuals will experience a mental health condition during a given year. Look around you; chances are someone you know has a mental illness: a friend, a family member, a peer, a co-worker, an acquaintance… Mental illness knows know gender, race, class, education level, financial status, or ‘type.’ But if it’s so prevalent, why is it ‘swept under the rug,’ so-to-speak? Stigma. Stigma is the negative attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes associated with someone that has a mental illness. Stigma prevents people from getting the help they need and preventing tragedy. Stigma causes shame, shame makes silence, and silence hurts us all.

So let’s start the conversation! It’s TIME TO CHANGE, TIME TO TALK! Look for signs and symptoms of mental health concerns. Listen and provide support and encouragement. Link others to a trustworthy adult for further help, especially when someone is going to hurt themself or someone else. So how do we talk about mental health?


1. Call someone you’ve not spoken to for a while.2-2-17 Time-to-Talk balloon blog

2. Go for a walk with someone and see how they’re doing.

3. Make someone a cup of tea or coffee and have a chat.

4. Ask about the resources at your school and help others learn about them.

5. Educate yourself and others to dispel some of the myths surround mental illness.

6. Talk to your friends and family about what they do to take care of themselves physically and mentally.

7. Challenge others when they use stigmatizing language, ie ‘crazy,’ ‘psycho,’ ‘bipolar,’ ‘OCD’ and only use medical terms when talking about someone affected by a mental health condition.2-2-17 Time-to-Talk layout blog

8. Speak up! Speak out! Talk about your own experiences with mental health and don’t be afraid to advocate for others!

9. Recognize the FIVE SIGNS of emotional distress: personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor hygiene, hopelessness.

10. Be patient, understanding, and provide hope when someone shares a challenging situation with you, especially a mental health concern.

In the spirit of talking about it, here’s my recovery story, sponsored by DBSA Young Adult Council:

Don’t give up! People can & do recover! There is hope! Having a mental health condition has NOTHING to do with your potential for success! Start the conversation about mental health today!

(Special thanks to Time to Change (UK) and Change Direction for their ideas and resources.)

Posted in:

Leave a Comment (0) →

DBSA I to We Leadership Weekend: Inspiration & HOPE!

DBSA I to We Leadership Weekend: Inspiration & HOPE!

If you follow us on social media, you know that this past weekend, I attended a Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance conference on unity in mental health, foucsing on eliminating Illness to building WEllness, Isolation and fear to a WElcoming community of support, and Individual views to poWErful, collective voices. DBSA isn’t limited to individuals with depression and bipolar disorders, but those with any mood disorder or mental illness and those that want to help them, including friends and family, mental health workers, and advocates. I had a great time learning about treatment models, wellness, self-advocacy, the power of storytelling, coping, and goal-setting. I wanted to highlight some of the things I got out of the conference and some inspirational quotes to bring you hope!


Our  ‘guide’ for the weekend was none other than the DBSA President, Allen DoederleinAllen reminded us that depression and bipolar disorder are the two most prevalent mood disorders and mental health conditions and that we should OWN it! People don’t understand that we have to take care of ourselves first and that’s okay, but there’s no reason to do this alone. ‘Be the captain of your own ship!’ Mental health is a revolution that can all take a part in, whether we have a mental illness or are the friends, family, co-workers, anyone; EVERYONE is affected by mental illness. I to We means Illness to WEllness, from isolation to a welcoming community of support and encouragement for all. Allen also shared that we just need to TALK to each other: ‘When you get to know someone, it’s much harder to hate them.’ Start the conversation about mental illness & stigma! #StandTogether!

Other presenters were Mark Bauer, MD who shared the importance of working in partnership with those around us to become the best we can be and expecting no less of ourselves, while Melody Moezzi, JD emphasized the parallels between immigrants and people with mental illnesses, focusing on the impact of stigma: ‘People don’t tell you to be ashamed. They tell you to be quiet. But you have something important to say!…You should never have to lower your expectations because you have a mental illness!’

There was also a focus on important historical figures with mood disorders, including Buzz Aldrin, Ludwig van Beeethoven, J.D. Salinger, Charlie Parker, Isaac Newton, Kurt Cobain, Marie Curie, Tennessee Williams, Winston Churchill, Dick Clark, Charles Dickens, Abraham Lincoln, Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, and J.K. Rowling, just to name a few…Where would we be without these amazing people that just happen to have a mental illness?!


Gayathri Ramprasad was a passionate storyteller with so many nuggets of wisdom. In her book Shadows in the Sun, she explores the lack of understanding, respect, and even acknowledgement in other cultures, like her own country of India. She shared her struggle, saying that ‘you can have everything you want, but every day can be a living nightmare.’ So is the difficulties of mental illness. After many negative experiences, Gayathri made the important realization that ‘walls can confine my body, mental illness can control my mind, but nothing can contain my spirit!’ and discovered that ‘faith, hope, and healing have no boundaries!’ through the power of a stranger. Gayathri’s social change organization, ASHA (Sanskrit & Hindu for hope, but an acronym for A Source of Hope for All) provides encouragement and support for people all over the world with mental illness by encouraging them to ‘dare greatly, love deeply, and share your light.’ Remember: ‘We’re all just human. Love and hope unites all of us. A hurricane can come to level you, but you have everything in you to rebuild again!’

By far my favorite presenter and the one I spent the most time with was Tim Bono, PhD. Did you know that research in psychology focuses at least 10x more on mental illness rather than mental health? Not everyone has a mental illness, but everyone is affected by them and everyone can have good mental health. Tim shared Five Habits for Happiness:
1. Don’t be happy-be happier!
2. Don’t let failures go to waste-learn from them!: Mistakes are part of the human experience, but our response either paralyzes us or provokes us.
3. Take time for gratitude: the more gratitude you have, the more optimism and positive you will become. (Emmons & McCullough 2003)
4. Spent time with others, spend time on others.
5. Healthy body, healthy mind.
Henri Matisse said that ‘there are always flowers for those who want to see them.’ What are the things we can do to help ourselves? Practice mindfulness (be present in the moment) & altruism (give back, be there for others). Be patient with yourself. Make S.M.A.R.T. goals. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Take time to take care of yourself. And remember, you are never alone!

DBSA post

Posted in:

Leave a Comment (0) →