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9 Things I’ve Learned as a Business Owner With Bipolar Disorder

When someone searches my name in Google or another search engine, they find two large pieces of information.

1. I run a mental health blog where I openly talk about my diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

2. I am the business owner of AIM Social Media Marketing.

When I started writing my story and sharing the personal story of my struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, suicide attempts and self-harm, I was warned this could cause problems with my professional career down the road. I took the stance that day and I’ve held it ever since.

“If someone won’t hire me because I have a mental illness, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyways.”

Why would I want to work for someone who hasn’t taken the time to break down the stigma of mental illness; someone who isn’t interested in educating themselves on what the word “bipolar” really means? It’s been over four years since my blog Defying Shadows started. (Amazing, right?) It’s been over three years since I started my business. There has never been a time that having bipolar disorder was the reason why I didn’t land a client. Sure, maybe someone “Googled” me and decided not to contact me after reading my story, but it hasn’t gotten in the way of my business and professional success. Having gone through the struggles and unfortunate events I did years ago, have only made me a better business owner. Here are some of the things that having bipolar disorder as a business owner has taught me.

1. Take care of yourself first.

If you’re not healthy, your business will suffer. Set aside time for your body, mind and spirit to relax. Work too much and you’ll burn out. Self-care is very important.

2. Have your affairs in order.

This was one of the first things I did starting out. Bipolar disorder is unpredictable and can have some disadvantages when it comes to making important decisions, especially financial. So, I got a will. I also got a power of attorney who can take care of my business if I am unwell. It offers ease of mind. I don’t have to stress about this.

3. Have a support system.

It is said that entrepreneurs and business owners often find themselves isolated compared to others who work 9 to 5. We work too much and don’t have as much “social time.” Having bipolar can also be isolating. Having a strong support system has kept me grounded.

4. Be cautious.

Having bipolar disorder causes me to think through decisions very carefully, especially important ones. I overanalyze everything. I want to ensure my decision is based on reason and logic, not on a manic whim.

5. Take a leap of faith.

Sometimes, you have to take that leap. There are moments I have the “close your eyes and jump off the cliff” feeling. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I jump anyways. Everyone has to do this from time to time. It’s OK to do, and it doesn’t mean you’re manic.

6. Work hard.

I’ll repeat it for the people in the back. Work hard. Living with mental illness is hard work. Work hard on yourself. Learn coping mechanisms and management skills. This was great practice for when I started my own business. It’s a ton of work, but I work just as hard on this as I did on myself. And it shows.

7. You can be successful.

The number of articles, tweets and posts on social networks I have read stating that, if you have bipolar disorder (or other mental illnesses), you won’t be able to be successful in your professional lives — it’s mind-blowing. They are wrong. Want proof? Ask me how my business is going.

8. Prove them wrong.

Do you have someone in your life who tells you that you can’t do something because of the symptoms of your mental illness? Here’s what you need to do. 1. Remove the negativity from your life. 2. Set boundaries. 3. Prove them wrong! It’s a great feeling when you accomplish something you’ve been told you cannot do.

9. Dream!

I remember when I was a kid and I told my mom I wanted to live in Toronto one day, work in an office with lots of other professional people, be a successful woman who wore dress pants and heels, and oh, I was going to have a teacup dog. Well, I’m an adult now. I don’t live in Toronto (it’s overrated. Seriously… one word. Traffic!), but I do work in Windsor (which is big enough for this country girl). I do have an office where I am surrounded by successful entrepreneurs just like me. I do wear dress pants and heels; as for the dog thing… turns out I’m allergic, but hey! The rest of the dream came true, so I’ll take it!

I realize not everyone is in the same situation as I am. But it’s important to know you can succeed, even with a diagnosis. Believe in yourself. Be kind to your inner self. You’re going to do just fine.

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash