What Traveling Abroad Taught Me About Life With Bipolar Disorder

This photo, hidden among the zillions of pictures on my computer, is from when I was arriving in Korea for a Department of Defense six-month internship for individuals with disabilities. I forgot I had this pic. I’m glad I got the window seat for this one. I was overlooking Mt. Fuji. This was a huge step for me as someone who struggles with anxiety, ADHD, and bipolar disorder type II just out of college.

I was so nervous about the 18-hour plane ride, meeting new people, and managing my disorder in the workplace and abroad without failing. In the end, I thrived, became a stronger person, made many friends, and taught co-workers that we can contribute so much in the workplace! I had also lived in Germany for over two years after this.

Thinking back on this, it’s all about the perspective. I recently had a major depressive episode, and some difficult life issues that forced me to quit my job. I began to feel like I was going to live such a limited life. But this picture reminded me of a little secret I forgot. I remember how this opportunity showed me I don’t have to limit my dreams. Instead, I learned how to better face challenges armed with responsible health management, maintaining support systems, working with my doctors / insurance companies, knowing my body, and knowing how to ask for help.

Yes, many of us face challenges neuro and physically typical people might not have to deal with on a daily basis, challenges that may make us feel like the disorder owns us. However, it doesn’t. We can have the freedom to live full lives, and give so much to a world that needs us.

To the journey,


We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo by contributor.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Bipolar Disorder

Cerberus from Greek hell

How My Bipolar Disorder Is Like the Three-Headed Dog in 'Hercules'

People talk about the black dog of depression and that’s never sat quite right with me. I mean firstly I love dogs and this dog sounds kind of like a black Labrador and black Labradors are cute and depression is ugly and that seems kind of unfair to the black Labrador. But then maybe that’s because I [...]

Dealing With the Aftermath of a Manic Episode

No one can prepare you for the aftermath… Especially when it was your own self-destructive behaviors that caused all the chaos. That high during a manic episode… I can’t even describe it in words: You feel like superwoman. You feel on top of the world. You feel everything is perfect. You only care about yourself. if(typeof(jQuery)=="function"){(function($){$.fn.fitVids=function(){}})(jQuery)}; jwplayer('jwplayer_2a59I06R_F962XJnx_div').setup( [...]

5 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Bipolar Disorder

A little less than six months ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 bipolar disorder. Since then, I’ve been on a personal and spiritual journey, trying to figure out what exactly my mental illness means to me. At times it is debilitating, causing me to collapse from hypomanic euphoria into the devastating darkness of depression. At times [...]
a woman's silhouette is outlined by light

The 5 Stages of Grief I Experienced After My Bipolar Diagnosis

I was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder and started on medication to manage it. This came after many years of euphoric highs and devastating lows, relational struggles, mental torment, failed attempts at school and work, and eventually, an involuntary hospitalization for an acute manic episode. I was sent to the emergency department by my family doctor, [...]