Featured Authors

Crushing the Stigma: Living with Bipolar Disorder

By Brandon Koebernik | Featured Contributor

There’s a stigma when it comes to seeking help for mental issues. After 6 years in the military, I would have never dared to bring up an issue I was having. The fear of judgment or of appearing “weak” amongst my peers was incredibly debilitating in an of itself. I played it off; fake smile every now and then, pretending I was “normal”. I was emotionally withdrawn and apathetic towards life.

Ups and Downs

It wasn’t until I started noticing patterns in my life that I thought something was genuinely off about me. I had periods of hypomania, which I didn’t know what that was at the time. I would feel great about myself; I felt as if I could do anything. I would start new projects that I declared would be my new passion in life and make a career out of, only to lose interest several days later. I was up late at night working on these projects; often until 3AM and waking up at 7AM to start my day. My mind was constantly racing, so much so that I couldn’t stop myself stumbling over my words when talking…which I did a lot of. If I wasn’t motivated to be the next Picasso, I was out spending tons of money on unnecessary things, putting myself in debt. Not to mention the increased irritability that ruined friendships with people I cared about.

Then there was the periods of depression. I was aware of these and understood how they felt. What I didn’t know was that these aren’t exactly normal occurrences for ordinary people. We all get sad sometimes, but not to this degree. Several weeks at a time I would only want to stay in bed; unmotivated and not wanting to participate in activities I used to love. I was battling demons behind closed doors and I didn’t understand why. There was no external entity that made me feel this way. There was nothing that could have upset me to make me feel this hopeless. One day it hit me: I need to get help.

A Healing Journey

This was the best decision I’ve ever made. After 6 months of seeing a psychologist and having been diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, I felt a sense of clarity. There was a set of words to describe my actions and how I felt. I could call it as it is: a chemical imbalance in my brain. No longer was I feeling guilty for being unmotivated to do regular everyday things. No longer did I feel like I was just over exaggerating or being lazy. It wasn’t my fault, and it’s not your fault either if you feel the same way.

I say we crush the stigma; don’t feel ashamed of seeking help if you think you need it. Likewise, support others’ decisions to seek help if they want to better their lives. Your brain is a muscle; just like any other muscle, you need to train it to make it stronger. This comes in the form of being mindful and living in the moment. Live for today and don’t be ashamed of who you are. Seek the help you need. No one is judging you.

Author Bio


Brandon Koebernik is a 24-year-old man who was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder. He feels now that it is now his mission to encourage others to seek help and promote positivity through a shared passion of video games, art, poems, and more. As the creator of the blog The Bipolar Gamer, Brandon has a profound passion for helping others in their journey to living a better life..

– Visit Brandon’s Blog –

If you would like your personal health story to be considered for publication on PhoebeMD.com, click here for information regarding submissions. 

25 replies »

  1. It is always the pain in my chest or the lack of sleep that keeps me in a state of permanent irritation. I was always scared that I will have to take medication for life but your words have given me strength

  2. I have Bipolar 1/Rapid Cycling & medication has never worked for me. What has worked is a healthy diet, lots of exercise & meditation. Also acceptance of my mood changes … it’s nothing more than the changing of the seasons within me. I work with these changes instead of fighting them. As for the stigma of having a so-called “mental illness”, that’s in other people’s eyes. & I could care less what they think of me.

    • You find what works for you and you stick to it. Accepting who you are is an important step to being fully mindful and living in the moment. You learn to cope with it and it won’t take over your life. Thanks for reading!

  3. I found your story inspiring, and well- written! I think it is so important to share personal battles like this; not only for yourself, but because you never know when it will reach someone who needs to hear it, or in this case, who may need to seek help.
    Phoebe recently shared a poem of mine, but you’ve inspired me to take my own advice and submit an essay I wrote about a personal triumph from my own past. Take care!

    • I’m glad I could be of help! My goal is precisely that; encouraging others to seek the help they need without the fear of judgment because that was the main reason it took so long for me to do it. Thank you for reading!

  4. Great post Brandon! You’re so right, the brain needs stimulation to function properly. In addition, seeking help doesn’t indicate weakness; rather asking for help demonstrates strong self awareness. And, thanks Phoebe for providing this invaluable platform!

  5. This is very inspring. You should be proud of yourself! Many consider seeking mental help as a disgrace which should not be the case because our mental health contributes to our health as a whole. I feel we need to address issues relating to our mental health because what mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor and more unashamed conversations. Thank you for this motivating post, Phoebe 🙂

  6. Well said. I have suffered from unipolar depression for all if my 64 years. It is a terrible condition and it took me a long time to realise it was mere chemicals at work. Sadly, in my case, it is never entirely banished.

      • Unfortunately the “Stigma” will not go away until organic brain disorders are stopped being labeled as mental illness.

        My grandfather lost his ability to restrain his emotions after undergoing by pass surgery.

        Did that make him mentally compromised or ill?

        Absolutely not as his symptoms had an organic cause and could be treated. Just as Bi Polar II has an organic cause and can be treated with medication.

        True mental illness is caused by a brain so physically defective that the electrical impuses. From which our thoughts arise are twisted beyond the realm of reason.

        There is no cure and no medication can or will repair the damage. All that can be done is to keep the patient as calm as possible so that she/he does not become a danger to themselves or others.

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