A symposium of similar minds – Part 1

Friday the 23rd of October I had the privilege of joining in on the bipolar symposium. The attendees were sufferers, supporters and speakers of course. What was most striking upon arrival was the unspoken sense of familiarity between everyone there. Knowing that everyone has a commonality that we all share, there at Valkenberg Hospital.


I have to admit one thing though… I struggled to get out of the car when we got there. Nerves – what if everything I thought I knew about my mental wellbeing is all wrong? Doubt, the friend that always tries to get its way back in. But shame, this poor friend was sent away by the light of truth. A special thank you to my husband who joined me as a supporter. As soon as we were welcomed, fear faded.

The host and organizer was Richard Knoetze. My previous blogpost – Community with a purpose, gives more detail. He made the objective of the symposium very clear:  Sharing personal experiences and sharing the vision of the movement they as the organisers were about to tell us about. I was excited beyond belief, finally a society which I was diagnosed to belong to!


The introductory discussion was about bipolar awareness, I felt my eyes widen with amazement. In a nutshell – bipolar awareness needs to move towards the same goal and us as sufferers and supporters need to move in that same direction. The establishment of solid early detection in children and correct diagnosis (which includes treatment and medication) in ALL individuals. We all know how hastily diagnosis can be made. Not enough time is taken to understand the patient’s mental state, childhood, home environment, all habits, health history etc. Personally, I think this is the saddest of the entire mental health world. HOWEVER, later on we were enlightened on how we can assist in contributing towards making a change. HUH?? How can I make a change? But we will get to that in my next post. We can all join in and help.

As you might have read, the Braaipolar team were responsible for reaching their target of braaing for 96 hours non-stop. Can you imagine as a person with bipolar, being without sleep and having to focus on one thing for 96 hours?? This man had one thing that drove him. Bipolar awareness. So again I ask you – What can we do?? This was my resounding question. What can I do to join this cause? Being bipolar simply isn’t enough. I cannot sit and blame others, the medical world or the normals for my own lot in life. Richard continued in saying that this was his ultimate way of fighting the stigma attached to bipolar and mental illness. He got up on stage – he did not sit in a corner and wallow in self-pity because that brought no results at all.  He did it for himself and for his family.

The pebble of truth that I took with me was about taking responsibility.
I cannot control the triggers, but I can control my reactions and channel my responses. – Richard Knoetze


In my next post, I will talk more about what the speakers brought to the day. Bipolar Disorder brings such a rich pool of knowledge together. It truly is a mystery of our time. How special are we?!

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