Description: Selma by Jutta Bauer.
Story: I was on my way to achieving my dreams. I had traveled a long way from the poorest neighborhood in Toronto to becoming a lawyer and being accepted at the best business school in the world. Everything looked promising. Except when I got there, several events triggered my bipolar disorder and put at risk my ability to realize my success. These dreams of success were really the expectations and standards that I allowed society to place on me. The sense that I had disappointed my family and friends was also very painful. It was as if nothing I had ever accomplished before bipolar had ever existed. My history of achievement had been completely wiped out. More painful still was people now telling me that my dreams were now grandiose, unrealistic, that my mental illness made it impossible for me to be ambitious, that I should not have high expectations for myself, that I should settle for less. The lower expectations that so many people have of the mentally ill was crushing. I was even made to feel that wanting to help people on a larger scale was completely unreasonable for me. The social stigma towards the mentally ill, particularly the perception of their diminished capacity, only worsened and sustained my illness over the years. In my recovery, I have focused on pursuing what will truly make me happy – helping others in a large scale. I refuse to shy away from challenging and ambitious dreams because of my mental illness. I execute strategically and patiently with a focus on staying healthy. In the end, it may just have been my bipolar disorder that saved me from myself. Having experienced so much pain and suffering, I knew that I wanted to avoid those things that might return me to that place and help others going through what I had.
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