People with bipolar disorder can live a good life, be happy and be successful—just like people without the disease. Society makes it hard for us to remember that sometimes. In fact, you might be surprised to find out that some of the greatest and most creative minds have or had bipolar disorder. For some people, they consider their greatest work to have been done when they were going through their darkest times.
When you are living with bipolar disorder, it can feel like all you are or ever will be is the disorder. Surrounding yourself with people who are outspoken about their illness, you can begin to see your own experience echoed in someone you can identify with. You realize you're not alone. You are part of a community. You start to think “If they can do it, I can too.”
Here are some people with bipolar disorder who not only achieved great success while dealing with the disease, but also used their success as a platform to help others.
“At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you’re living with this illness and functioning at all, it’s something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication.” – Carrie Fisher, actress
Many recognize Carrie Fisher for her role as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy. But for the mental health community, she was one of the leading activists in the fight against the stigma of bipolar disorder. She spoke candidly about the illness in a way that people needed to hear and brought the conversation into the spotlight. Through her books, stage shows, and interviews she told the truth about bipolar disorder, and showed through infectious humor that people with it are just like everyone else. Carrie Fisher lived by example, proving anyone with bipolar disorder can live well and thrive. Sadly, Carrie passed away in 2016 but her legacy lives on as she continues to inspire others who share the illness.
“I think scars are like battle wounds - beautiful, in a way. They show what you've been through and how strong you are for coming out of it.” – Demi Lovato, singer and actress
Demi Lovato is well known for her career as a singer and actress. As of late, Demi has emerged as an outspoken advocate for bipolar disorder. She works with organizations, including Mental Health America, through her initiative Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, which aims to support individuals with mental illness and encourage them to open up and seek help.
Here are some more successful people you might not know live or lived with bipolar disorder:
Catherine Zeta-Jones Russell Brand, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vincent van Gogh, Virginia Woolf, Pete Wentz, musician Brian Wilson, Edgar Allen Poe, Winston Churchill, Ludwig van Beethoven.