Mental health advocate, writer, and entrepreneur; Founder, ForLikeMinds; Faculty Member, Program for Recovery and Community Health, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Yale University; Founder, BipolarThriving and Creator of Psych Ward Greeting Cards; Lawyer; Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner; and New York Certified Peer Specialist-Provisional.
Living with bipolar 1 disorder with psychosis

Katherine has been living with Bipolar I Disorder for more than 15 years. Though she initially struggled with her diagnosis, she found success by embracing it and taking ownership of it. Today, Katherine thrives with the help of her routine, her spouse, and cat therapy.

Katherine’s Story

How has your condition impacted your life?

I was first diagnosed with my condition over 15 years ago during a severe manic episode while an MBA student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. While it went undiagnosed and then I did not fully accept its diagnosis, my condition strained my family relationships and friendships, delayed my family planning, and obstructed my professional goals. The most difficult times for me were three involuntary psychiatric commitments and a criminal arrest.

What is your life like now? What does success/living well look like for you?

I am stable and in recovery, living and thriving with my mental health condition. Having taken ownership of my condition, my home life and family relationships have never been stronger. I am excited to be building an online community for people with mental health conditions and those who support them, utilizing my unique insights and experiences.

What help or specific strategies helped you to get well and move to stability?

After many years of struggle, I accepted my diagnosis and took full ownership of my condition, which allowed me to move to stability and recovery. I finally prioritized my health and self-care. Integral to this shift was including my spouse in my care and building a wonderful medical team with complementary areas of expertise.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy on an ongoing basis? 

My spouse and I very carefully monitor my condition and immediately address any triggers. I am medically fully compliant and actively engage in self-care, including ICT (intensive cat therapy) and regular exercise. I sleep 9-10 hours a night and follow a closely managed medication regime. I am also under the regular care and treatment of a psychopharmacologist, family psychiatrist, and psychologist.

Are there positives that have come from having a mental health condition?

You discover that you are stronger than you or anyone could have ever imagined. My journey with mental illness has shown my resilience. In the end, I would not be where I am today without my condition—a place I have always aspired to be, to be doing well by doing good.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

I would strongly encourage them to look within themselves and family, friends, and kind strangers for hope. It is the most powerful force. Hope can stimulate the courage to overcome mental illness. It can be done.