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Susan Page Gadegone

Susan Page Gadegone

In 2013 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The diagnosis was a shock to me and the people around me. I was not the “stereotypical” bipolar person. I wasn’t “crazy” nor did I encompass anyone that needed to go to a psychiatric hospital.

But I was struggling mentally and not many people could see that. As I told more people about my diagnosis, some people did not want to be my friend, and some people did not understand what it meant to have bipolar disorder.

At first my family did not understand me and that frustrated me. I wanted to scream to everyone that I had bipolar disorder because I knew that coming out with it would help other people realize it was something not to be scared about and that it was possible to live with the disorder. I felt alone.

One day I realized I could use one of my passions (writing) to share my story. I looked up organizations around where I lived that might publish some of the things I wanted to write about. I wrote several writing pieces and got published several months after their submissions. I began to get recognized for my writing in the San Francisco Bay Area among organizations. From there I became an advocate for those with mental illness. I spoke at events, and became mental health board member on the San Francisco Mental Health Board to inspire policy change at a local level.

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder originally made me fear myself. I was scared of my diagnosis and what it could make me do. I knew people in jail had bipolar disorder, and that bipolar disorder was never seen in a positive light in societal terms. The negativity towards the disorder and those with mental illness that I observed inspired me to speak out and become fearless. I found that the only boundaries that were between me and the life I wanted to live with bipolar disorder were boundaries I was setting myself. I had an entire world out there to show what I was capable of doing. While fighting for a voice with my disorder, I eventually found myself and my passion for helping other people with their struggles. I found a passion for helping people to find a sense of well-being.

I recently attended the Fearless Women Summit 2019 in San Francisco, CA, USA and became more inspired to form an organization that empowers young people to take care of their well-being. The summit made me realize that I have the potential to impact people with my story. It made me see that everyone has a special story and that we can make a global impact. I never saw myself potentially making a global impact by practicing my mental health advocacy. It is something that I enjoy, and to impact others is my dream, but to make it a reality is something that the Fearless Women summit made me believe can happen. It excites me that we have more potential than we can imagine is possible.

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