What do you want people to know about your disability?
I am very lucky that I have flourished and managed my symptoms as I have, but others are not so lucky. More than anything, I want others to know that Bipolar disorder is a legitimate concern with very real symptoms.
Why did you choose Armstrong?
I originally selected Armstrong when I was still a biology major. I was very impressed with the program, and I’ve always loved Savannah.
How have you been involved at Armstrong? Organizations? Activities?
I was mostly involved with Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, and the E. B. Twitmyer Psychology Club. I was occasionally involved with other various activities.
Describe your disability.
I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a mood disorder characterized by extremes in mood. While that’s the dictionary definition, it is a total body experience that affects much more than just moods.
Provide background of your disability (diagnosis, treatment etc.)
I was diagnosed shortly before coming to Armstrong. My treatment has involved medication and talk therapy. Many people diagnosed with bipolar disorder are on a lengthy list of drugs, but my symptoms are managed with lithium carbonate, a popular drug for bipolar disorder. I have been on the lithium for more than 3 years.
How would you describe your experience at Armstrong as a student with a disability? (Faculty and peer interaction)
Many of my instructors and peers knew about my diagnosis, and I was treated with respect. The stigma surrounding mental illness can be overwhelming in some environments, but my experience at Armstrong was wonderful.
Did you receive accommodations in while in college?
I never received official accommodations.
Do you feel that your disability has any affect on how you interact with friends, family, and peers?
Yes. For individuals who are not familiar with bipolar disorder, it is very difficult to explain such drastic changes in mood and behavior. Even very close friends and family are often baffled. Fortunately, appropriate treatment has helped with a great deal of that.
What does self-advocacy mean to you?
To me, self-advocacy means taking charge of my own situation.
Have you had any experiences with having to self-advocate on your own behalf?
I would describe my entire diagnosis and initial treatment stage as self-advocacy. Even dealing with general practice doctors, there seemed to be a resistance to appropriate treatment of mental illnesses.
Any advice or encouragement for incoming Armstrong students with disabilities?
There is nothing wrong with seeking help. It is not being weak. It is not being a nuisance. It is getting the necessary assistance.
This student has asked Able Armstrong for anonymity in this article. We respect the wishes of all Able Armstrong students and cherish their willingness to share their stories.