Turning my bipolar disorder diagnosis into my purpose

By: Stacey Raina

In 1993, I went off to college and I was longing for acceptance and approval.  That is when I came across Body building.  Body building would be the driving force that allowed me to shine and hide my true colors.  I was committed and disciplined, and it felt good.  The day I got up on that stage and performed in front of an audience was life changing. I felt confident and in charge, I was finally worth something that I could be proud of.

Because of my success as body builder, I honestly believed that you could achieve anything if you put your mind towards it.  I had a feeling of ultimate euphoria.    I thought that my purpose on earth was to show everyone that they had the power to create this same feeling of euphoria.

I was pleading with God to help me discover the meaning of life.  I felt birds flapping in my stomach and I started to cry hysterically.   I thanked God profusely as I thought that I entered Heaven.

That night, I was an emotional mess. I was delirious.  I was crying, then laughing, and then crying all over again.  My parents were unsure what to do.  They thought their only option was to take me to the psychiatric hospital.  I begged and pleaded with them to not take me, but they felt like they had no choice.

After my two weeks were up the doctors thought I was ready to be discharged.   I was not ready, and still felt so confused as to what I just went through. I was going to have to navigate this life with a new diagnosis. I had bipolar disorder.

I hid my story for years, only my close friends and family knew. I wished and prayed my diagnosis away.  I was ashamed and embarrassed.

One day my whole perspective changed when I sat in the audience of “This is my Brave” and witnessed other people thriving despite living with a mental illness.

After the show, I knew that I had to audition to become a cast member.   I shared my story for the first time in front of an audience.  I left the stage feeling inspired and I knew from that day on I would continue to share my story, to hopefully inspire someone else.

Back in August, I committed to becoming whole again.  I knew I would have to be disciplined and committed.  I altered my diet, exercised, took my medication, journaled, and meditated daily.  I slowed down my pace and I took each day as a chance to better myself.  I now know that to feel whole, I will have to commit to the package deal.

Through therapy and self-reflection, I knew that I was a person before my mental illness.   I felt free from the burden and label.  I am proud of myself for my achievements despite the obstacles along the way.  The shame has been lifted and my diagnosis has become my purpose.


3 thoughts on “Turning my bipolar disorder diagnosis into my purpose

9 April 2021

What an inspiring story, Stacey! Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your story with all of us. YOU are the hero!!

9 April 2021

Thank you for sharing your story. It is very inspiring to many people we’re not only bipolar, but also going through mental illness.

19 April 2021

It is very moving to see you go beyond the diagnosis. Know that people with Bipolar disorder are some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. You just have to balance the brilliance with practices that keep you grounded. It sounds like you are doing and you found the bravery to share it with the world and inspire others.

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