Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Coming out as Disabled - Experience of a student with bipolar

Today is International Day of Disabled People and to mark this, NUS have launched “Coming Out as Disabled” a campaign in which they encourage people to write articles about their disabilities and experiences. RUSU has collected several blogs from Reading students who wanted to share their stories. We hope that starting these conversations on our campus will encourage all students to talk more openly about disability and most importantly remind disabled students that they are not alone.

Thank you so much to the students who wrote to us and supported this cause, we hope you found it to be a positive experience.

Sophie Davies, RUSU Welfare Officer and Ellie Brady, RUSU Disabled Students Part-time Officer.

I “came out” as being bipolar to everyone who saw me on World Mental Health Awareness Day by wearing a yellow jumper I had written the word “bipolar” on! Before that I had told two of my flatmates in the first week (so they would know why I was so moody), and both were stunningly supportive & accepting. I was expecting at least an odd look or two when I wore the “bipolar” jumper, but I received no mean looks and no negative comments! People continue to astound me with how accepting they can be. Of course, I was lucky - often mental health issues aren’t so pleasantly accepted, which needs to change!

The comments I did get made wearing the jumper worth it  - one person told me he was bipolar too, and one person said my jumper reminded them that it was Mental Health day. Wearing the jumper meant people felt they could talk to me about their mental health issues too, which was lovely! It was nice to hear people talk about it openly without any kind of fear (of a bad reaction) or shame.

I’m an art student, and having everyone already know about my “disability” means I don’t have to explain why most of my work is about mental health issues (and feminism, and unapologetic cuteness, and blah blah blah)! Also, I’m the president of the Mental Health Society at Reading, so I think it’s important for me to be open about my rapid-cycling bipolar, to let people know that they can be open about their mental health disabilities too. Please, please don’t be embarrassed or afraid of telling people! They’re mostly lovely, and the ones who aren’t are ridiculously unaware idiots.

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