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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,

Ian

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Photo by contributor.