Advocacy in Action: An Interview with Hannah Blum

BipolarBrave:  Hannah, tell me a little about your work in the mental health arena.

Hannah:  I started volunteering for NAMI North Carolina in 2014. Funny story is, I did not share my diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder with any of the staff. Finally, someone asked, “Wait a minute, what are you doing here, just organizing shelves for fun?” I told them about my diagnosis, and they encouraged me to get involved as a mental health advocate. Over the last couple of years, I have had the opportunity to talk about mental health at different events and on college campuses. Six months before my college graduation, I had a couple of good job offers but decided I wanted to do something different. That is when I published my blog, Halfway2hannah and established myself on social media. Eventually, HealthyPlace.com reached out to me and over the last year, I have worked for them as the author of the “I’m Bipolar Too Blog,” and video blogger on YouTube.

 

BipolarBrave:  How did you find out you had bipolar?

Hannah:  The symptoms were present, but I ignored it for years. When I enrolled back into college, my symptoms quickly went from present to consume. Eventually, I was involuntarily placed in a mental health facility and received a diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder.

 

BipolarBrave:  What is your influence on social media like? How are you growing your audience?

Hannah:  I work hard to keep open communication with my followers and connect with them. I hope they feel valued and can find the beauty in bipolar.

My social media is where I share my daily thoughts and show people a more carefree side of me. One major goal of mine when I started my blog, was that I wanted my Instagram account to be open about mental health, not specifically about bipolar disorder. This has created a diverse following on my Instagram and Facebook. People without mental health conditions get involved in the conversation, which is one of the most important goals in the mental health community.

 

BipolarBrave:  What lessons have you learned through blogging and vlogging on bipolar?

Hannah:  I learn such valuable lessons from those around me every day. On my journey with blogging and vlogging, thus far, there are two main lessons I have learned. Passion upgrades life and creation beats reaction. I used to believe that hitting my goal weight would be the type of action that would lead to my most confident self. Although that is important, finding my passion and taking risks to design the life I want to live gives you a sense of power that is life changing.

 

BipolarBrave:  What are your daily challenges with bipolar and what are your daily ways you manage the disorder?

Hannah:  I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful every day. It is to an extreme which stems from bipolar disorder and causes me to be hard on myself. I am never content, and it’s mentally exhausting. To manage it, I am honest with myself about how I am feeling and challenge my mind in positive ways. The main way I manage my bipolar disorder is by taking my medication every day, same time and keeping honest communication with my doctors.

 

BipolarBrave:  What do your future plans for social media look like?

Hannah:  I want to collaborate with brands to spread awareness about mental health. One of my ‘social media’ goals over this summer is to create a mental health campaign. I think that type of action gets people excited and involved..

 

BipolarBrave:  Is there a book inside you?

Hannah:  There is a book inside all of us right hahaha? Sitting down and writing it is when things get tricky! As of now, I am working on fiction. I wrote a manuscript for a children’s book and roughly jotting ideas for a novel. I would like to get published, but not putting the pressure on myself. Fiction writing is my fun outlet, where I can think outside of the box and explore my imagination.

 

BipolarBrave:  Dating seems to be a topic you are familiar with. How does dating others while having a bipolar diagnosis work out? Are you encouraged by the prospects? Discouraged? Do you think your attitude toward the disorder influences the other person’s attitude?

Hannah:  I love the dating topic, and it is something people enjoy discussing. Dating is hard with or without a mental health condition, but dating with bipolar disorder can be even more challenging. Being that I am open about my diagnosis, publicly, I get a variety of reactions. Sometimes I am in a situation where the person has a stigmatized view of mental health conditions.

I am not discouraged because bipolar disorder does the dirty work for me. It gets rid of close minded people early on. I think my attitude influences the other person’s attitude about mental health. Those of us with bipolar disorder, we go into dating as if we are automatically the underdog, but that’s far from the truth. We have something to offer people that others cannot. No one is perfect, and I think that when someone meets me, they realize that I do not consider myself weaker than them because of my disorder. Are there challenges dating someone with bipolar disorder? Yes. Are their problems dating someone without bipolar disorder? Absolutely.

 

BipolarBrave:  What is your favorite thing to do on a day off?

Hannah:  I love having my friends and family come over, sitting on my porch, shutting off my phone, with a glass of wine, Marvin Gaye and authentic conversation.

 

Hannah BlumHannah Blum blogs for healthyplace.com and has a YouTube channel with them. She also has her own blog about mental health and bipolar disorder, Halfway2Hannah.com.
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