Bipolar: A Diagnosis Not An Identity - Kelsey Delane Yoga
It's time to leave shame behind when it comes to conversations about mental illness. My diagnosis of Bipolar disorder does not define me.

Bipolar: A Diagnosis Not An Identity

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. 

I believe wholeheartedly that it is important to keep the focus on mental *health* rather than be bogged down by discussions of mental illness. If we focus on pathology rather than solution, we stay stuck.

I also, however, wholeheartedly believe that when we share our stories of trials and tribulations, we can build bridges of connection through our shared humanity.

This is why I choose to speak candidly about my mental health journey.

I live with Type II Bipolar Disorder. I am unashamed to be associated with mental illness for one reason: my diagnosis does not define me.

Yes, it is true that I have a mental illness. It is also true that I have a full life complete with healthy relationships and profound peace, and I coach others on how to do the same. 

I first noticed signs of mental illness as a teen. My emotional outbursts and instability began to affect my relationships and ability to preform my responsibilities as a student and an employee. Looking back, I can now see that the signs began much earlier in childhood, but were interpreted as “immaturity.” 

I have experienced loss of relationships as a result of my behavior, and I have been held back in my professional pursuits because of my inability to regulate my mood and focus on my goals.

I am proud to say I have worked diligently on building a large tool box of coping mechanisms that have allowed me to navigate life with more grace. I have used traditional talk therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, medication, journaling, community, Yoga, meditation, prayer, time in nature and self help books. In my opinion, more is better when it comes to coping strategies because there is no one tool that always works. The more options I have when experiencing a high or low, the better the odds are that I will have access to the one I need in that moment. For me personally, the most impactful tool has been my Yoga practice.

Gratefully, I have experienced very little stigma related to mental illness. What I have experienced is a struggle to be taken seriously by those closest to me when they believe I am “up” or “down” — sometimes I’m just experiencing normal human emotions totally unrelated to my mood disorder.

I feel free to share about my diagnosis because I recognize that it is not “who I am.” Just as being a mother, a daughter, a wife, a teacher etc. don’t define my worth or my identity, neither does the reality that I live with a unique biochemistry that challenges my ability to regulate my mood. Because I am comfortable owning this truth, answering questions and sharing honestly, I have found a lot more acceptance from the outside world.

There’s no shame in living with mental illness. Whether you can relate to my story and want to connect, or my experience is foreign to you and you are curious to know more, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m an open book because I want to do my part to end the stigma.

We all benefit when we allow ourselves and each other to be human and still worthy of love and belonging.

Kelsey Delane

E-RYT500, YACEP & Reiki Master Kelsey Delane serves yogis and teachers throughout Orange County. She teaches asana, trains Yoga teachers, and educates yogis on the power of Yoga Philosophy in action. Kelsey is overflowing with passion for using the tools outlined in the Yoga Sutras to create sustainable practices to nurture the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. Her mission is to empower her students to be the hero of their own life!

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Nicolette O'Connor - June 1, 2018

Great story! Thanks for sharing!!

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Carol Lopez - June 1, 2018

Thank you for your openness regarding your diagnosis. Your perspective is enlightening and your honesty calls me higher.

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    Kelsey Delane - June 1, 2018

    Thanks for sharing this Carol. You have always been a kind and generous spirit <3

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Stephanie - June 1, 2018

Thank you for sharing this. I hope more yogis can come out about their mental illness and encourage others by giving them hope for a better quality of life. I am diagnosed with moderate, recurring depression as well as borderline personality disorder (but sometimes feel like it’s type II bipolar). It isn’t easy, but my yoga practice has saved my life on more than 1 occasion. Xoxo

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    Kelsey Delane - June 1, 2018

    Thank you for sharing your experience as well. I couldn’t agree more — talking about it is so important and there is improved quality of life available if we are willing to do the work!

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Karina - June 1, 2018

It’s so important to increase conversation around all types of mental illnesses, because without this the stigma never fades. Thanks for reminding the world that we are so much more than our biochemistry.

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    Kelsey Delane - June 1, 2018

    Yes!!! So much more than our biochemistry!

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Brittney - June 2, 2018

Kelsey… you are an amazing human. I love you for sharing this. I relate with you on so many levels. I too was diagnosed with bipolar II, and like you, I can remember showing signs of the condition ever since I was a kid. At times this illness has ruled my life… BUT having a feeling of acceptance towards the situation has actually made me feel empowered and strong. Yoga has helped me to transform into a better and more stable version of myself, but I am sure as you know.. the illness can still takeover here and there and it’s up to me to recognize and keep it under control.

With that said… I’ve actually really struggled over the past year to get back to yoga. A year ago I did teacher training with corepower. I finished the entire program (literally only have to observe three classes to officially get my certificate) but I withdrew from yoga entirely. I am sure you know how it is.. to feel completely withdrawn from things that you really love. At the time I worried so much that my instructors felt I didn’t take the program seriously etc… contstantly worrying when in reality at the time I was just struggling to get through my regular day to day routine. I became extremely discouraged and couldn’t go back after my test out. This is something I struggle with every day and I hope to get back on track really soon and maybe even get my official certification before my time is up.

Anyways.. my point is that we actually somewhat have control over this crazy illness. To me.. that is empowering.

You have no idea how much you have impacted my day just for sharing your story.

Love always,
Britt

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    Kelsey Delane - June 2, 2018

    You have no idea how much it means to me that you took the time to respond so thoughtfully. Yes, I can understand exactly what you depicted. I would be more than happy to support you in getting in touch with the appropriate manager to complete your graduation requirements and get your certificate. Trust me, I have led so many teacher trainings and it is not uncommon for students to come back months after the program ends to tie up loose ends.

    I agree, it is empowering to know that we have the ability to choose habits and responses to life that support the extra challenge of living with a diagnosis like Bipolar II. Yoga is all about becoming the hero of our own lives! <3

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lisa - August 2, 2018

thanks for sharing great post with us.

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    Kelsey Delane - August 2, 2018

    Thank you for taking the time to comment and encourage me to keep wtiring <3

    Reply
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