My name is Hannah Blum. I am a media specialist, writer, and mental health advocate. I am a video blogger on the HealthyPlace YouTube channel, sharing my life as a young adult living with bipolar II disorder. I am also the author of the blog, “I'm Bipolar Too,” on HealthyPlace and my blog, Halfway2Hannah.
In high school, I was your typical American teenager, and my life appeared perfect on the outside. However, the summer before my junior year, things began to change. The mood swings and my emotional behavior became more frequent and more extreme. My first severe emotional breakdown occurred the night of prom. I was nominated for prom queen. Minutes before I was supposed to go, I looked in the mirror, and something startled me to the extent that I completely lost control of my emotions. I didn't make it to prom, and it was the first time I felt uneasy about my emotional behavior, but I ignored it for years. It eventually caught up with me.
In the spring semester of my sophomore year in college, I had a bipolar breakdown. I dropped out, went home and was eventually involuntarily placed in a mental hospital where I received a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder. When I left the hospital, I felt like I had been stripped of my identity and the path ahead was very unclear. I was like an empty lot, where something beautiful had once stood but suddenly crumbled and disappeared. To the outside world, I appeared as the girl who had it all together, but I had been suppressing who I was for 20 years of my life, petrified to stand out in a way that made me very different from those around me. I kept my breakdown, my diagnosis of bipolar II disorder, and that part of my life hidden from friends and close relatives for years.
It was my curiosity that encouraged me to get involved in the mental health community. I began volunteering for the local NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) office. I did not reveal my diagnosis to the staff, but eventually, their curiosity prompted me to share my story. A woman named Jennifer Rothman who was an employee at the time started me on the path of sharing my story publicly. Slowly I developed a passion for mental health advocacy.
I enrolled back in college at North Carolina State University and studied media communication. The more I learned about both my disorder and the impact of mediated platforms, the more my path became clear. I could utilize my skills in media and public speaking to talk about mental health as an advocate. Six months before I graduated college, I published Halfway2Hannah. It was a risk, and people told me that it would ruin my life. I have never been good at following society’s standard guidelines, so I choose to publish Halfway2Hannah in spite of being told it would fail.
My primary objective in advocacy is to inform the public about mental health to reduce the stigma and help those living with a mental health condition embrace what makes them different. I want to empower individuals who live with bipolar, depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. I want to be the advocate that I did not have when I was first diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. I share my life publicly because I am not ashamed of my bipolar mind, in fact, I take pride in it. Those of us living with a mental health condition are silenced by society, and the time is now to share our truth.
The last eight years have been filled with ups and downs, but most importantly self-exploration. As for the future, I want to continue utilizing social media platforms to spread awareness about mental health. Outside of being an advocate, I spend time writing fiction. I plan to publish a novel I have been working for quite some time now in the next two years. I have a lot of plans and ideas for the future, but I am focused on the present moment. I want people to know that they are not alone, and that they have a colorful, vibrant, and loving community waiting for them to join. Bipolar disorder does not define me, but it is a part of who I am. If you erase that part of me, you delete me as a whole.
Written by Hannah Blum
If you would like to learn more about the mental health advocacy Hannah has done, please visit one the pages below.