This past May, I was fortunate enough to go to a Mental Health Influencer Summitt in sunny San Diego, California. It gave me the opportunity to meet advocates from all over the US. This is where I met Katie Dale, author of the blog, Bipolar Brave: Power, Love & Sound Mind. Katie is beautiful, and her genuine spirit and open mind make you feel so comfortable around her. Katie is diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder and started her blog to raise awareness about mental health. Katie’s story is very unique, being that she is open about bipolar disorder and her strong faith in God. This is something you do not see often. I reached out to her for an interview and luckily she was gracious enough to answer some of my questions.
You were very young when you went to the psych unit after your manic episode, how did that experience shape you into the person you are today?
Katie: As I had never been in a place or situation before like it, I absorbed every detail of it and have carried the story with me. It was the initial jumping-off point for the direction my life would eventually take. I remember being super intuitive and telling the doctor I would write a book about that place (which I have), and that the experience there instilled a belief in me that I may not have had if I never went there, that inspired me to go off my medication years down the road. I still am in awe of the kindness I received from a patient aid that I wonder about from time to time still.
You say in your “About Me”-”My Junior year began with a lot of hopeful expectations to learn a Biblical worldview, but I transitioned roughly.”
Was it the Biblical worldview that caused you to question yourself or triggered you into a depression?
Katie: Being the perfectionist/idealist I was, I aimed my expectations too high, and when I was confronted with a Christian education that was at times rather Un-Christian, it caused me to question the schooling. I was so disappointed in the way I was received as a new student, the way chapels were mandatory and out of duty, to the unfair reprimanding way I was treated for coming to class late, yet with a pass. My pristine notions that it was a perfect place had been shattered, and I internalized that, along with my insecurity, fear and secret desire to end my life.
Your religious beliefs seem to play a significant role in your journey, past, and present. What role does it play in managing your bipolar disorder?
Katie: My faith is important to me since I have experienced a personal, real, genuinely loving God at a young age (in the hospitals especially). Now I rely on those experiences to have grown a backbone in my personal faith so that I never question God’s love for me or His faithfulness (or His existence for that matter). Every day I look to Him as a guide and source of strength, so that gives me a profound sense of comfort in my management of the disorder. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” – if He’s the truth, I’ve discovered all of His sayings are good and true -, and that gives me confidence on a day-to-day basis.
Has it been difficult to not only live with bipolar disorder but work as an advocate, while trying to maintain your religious beliefs?
Katie: No, not at all. It’s been a joy to share the great work God has done in and through me since the reason I’m doing so well is His grace. God gets the credit, and I am so glad I have Him rooting for me.
What do you want to accomplish with your blog, Bipolar Brave?
Katie: I want to be a subject matter expert and looked to as a beacon for those struggling with an understanding of bipolar disorder, whether they have it or not, whether they are a Christian or not. I think blogging is one of those things that brings people together in the sense that they’re open to learning other things and in a non-threatening non-committal way. I hope my blog does that.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
Katie: I’d love to make it to the bestseller list with my memoir and have it turned into a movie. If that doesn’t happen, just getting my story out there and speaking about the experiences I had so others understand it better and can experience it through reading my story. There is so much in my story I still don’t understand, I wonder if the material would serve as a guide to future studies into the relationships between the spiritual and the psychiatric, the emotional and the supernatural.
I know you have been working on a book, which I am so excited for! What is the overall purpose and message of your future book?
Katie: The plot of my book is a recollection of most of my days being emotionally shipwrecked at 16 and 24 because of the episodes of bipolar I was subjected to. I want the purpose to be so others can understand what bipolar disorder looks like, feels like, acts like, and I want the theme to be how to stay brave in the midst of it all because it is such a scary thing. It’s like Philippians 4:13 – Paul the apostle’s words “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” At the very least, I had to go through a hell and back to learn the greatest lesson: God allows trials and tribulations to shape and discipline His children because that’s what a loving Father does.
What do you want people to know about bipolar disorder?
Katie: A couple things: 1) It’s scary and unpredictable, so trust God and 2) medication works, so trust God for that to work out too. Also that it is a monster when it’s kicking your ass, but when you finally get a leg up on it, accept it and treat it, you will kick its ass.
Thank you, Katie! You inspire so many individuals with your story and authentic spirit. I look forward to your future work in advocacy and writing!