Dr. Devika Bhushan – Bipolar

“I was losing hope that I would ever feel like myself again… but I finally got my full self back.”

In an open-hearted and moving op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, Dr. Devika Bhushan, who has been serving as Acting Surgeon General of the State of California, told her personal story of bipolar disorder, which was diagnosed when she was in medical school.  Even with good access to medical care, it took her more than two years to get a final diagnosis and to find medication that actually helped her lead a healthy life.

Still, she kept her diagnosis and health struggles hidden from her professors and fellow medical students.  Around her, she heard people making insensitive and prejudiced comments like “you can’t trust her – she’s bipolar” and she learned never to speak out.

After completing medical school, working as a pediatrician, getting married, and getting a job she “loved” in public health, she found she was pregnant.   By this time, she had learned to share her diagnosis with the people closest to her and she was able to navigate pregnancy and new motherhood while staying well.

She writes: Today, I live with bipolar disorder as a chronic and manageable health condition. Having touched rock bottom and survived, I’m motivated to protect myself at all costs, to fiercely guard the boundaries and care strategies I need to stay healthy. With the right treatments and therapy in place, I hope to be well for the majority of my life.”

Calling on everyone to “shine a light on your story” she hopes to continue dispelling stigma wherever it is found.  “Our struggles are the source of our superpowers,” she writes.

Thank you, Dr. Bhushan!