In honor of World Bipolar Day, members of the CREST.BD team led by Dr. Erin Michalak and Dr. Steven Barnes hosted our first-ever Reddit “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” on March 29, 2019.
Reddit and the AMA platform
Our AMA was hosted on Reddit’s r/IAmA – a platform for question-and-answer interactive interviews. Founded in 2009, the subreddit has gone on to become one of Reddit’s most popular communities with over 19 million members. AMA interviewees have ranged from celebrities to people in various lines of work, including Barack Obama, Gordon Ramsay, and several notable appearances by Bill Gates.
Check out our World Bipolar Day AMA on r/IAmA:
We are a psychology teacher with bipolar disorder and a professor of psychiatry from an international research team working to improve lives of people with BD. For World Bipolar Day – Ask us anything! from r/IAmA
With the help of generous Reddit moderators, our AMA was also cross-posted to other bipolar disorder and mental health related subreddits, including r/BipolarReddit, r/bipolar, and r/psychology – helping us draw a total of over 400 questions and comments across Reddit, and making this event the largest bipolar-specific Reddit AMA to date.
World Bipolar Day
The vision of World Bipolar Day is to bring world awareness to bipolar disorders and to eliminate social stigma. Celebrated every year on March 30th, World Bipolar Day falls on the birthday of Vincent Van Gogh, who some believe was affected by bipolar disorder. This international awareness event is an initiative of the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) in conjunction with the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD).
Leading up to World Bipolar Day, we received great support from our friends from IBPF, ISBD, and the official World Bipolar Day page in promoting our AMA on social media. The theme for this year’s World Bipolar Day was #ThisIsBipolar – a call for people living with bipolar to show how the condition is not a one-size-fits-all, and that people affected by bipolar disorder are diverse in their experiences and treatment journeys.
Steven Barnes, Erin Michalak, and CREST.BD members
Dr. Steven Barnes / crestbd.ca/steven / @sj_barnes
Steven is CREST.BD Network Deputy, and Senior Instructor and Associate Head of Undergraduate Affairs in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is also a recipient of Canada’s most prestigious recognition of excellence in educational leadership and teaching at the university and college level – the 3M National Teaching Fellow award. Steven lives well with bipolar disorder, and is known for his work in supporting student mental health and wellbeing at UBC, where he is co-founder of Kaleidoscope – a peer-run support group for individuals experiencing mental health issues.
Dr. Erin Michalak / crestbd.ca/erin / @erin_michalak
Erin is the founder and Network Lead of CREST.BD, and Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC. Her work focuses on enhancing quality of life and reducing stigma for people with BD. Erin’s research interests are in online and mobile mental health interventions, patient engagement in research, knowledge translation, and implementation science. For Bell Let’s Talk day 2019, Erin also hosted a live Q&A on all things bipolar – check out all questions and answers from CREST.BD’s #TalkBD event here!
Dr. Chris Gorman / Dr. Rob Tarzwell / Dr. Ivan Torres
Experts from the wider CREST.BD team also joined in to support the AMA. This included psychiatrists Dr. Chris Gorman and Dr. Rob Tarzwell, who focused on questions related to medical psychiatric treatment, and clinical professor Dr. Ivan Torres who helped tackle questions on cognition and bipolar disorder.
Here we highlight 5 meaningful and important questions – and their responses:
- “If there were one common misunderstanding about bipolar disorder you could disavow, what would it be and how would you address it? What, if any, ethical concerns exist around creating a network directly connecting people with bipolar disorder, researchers, and healthcare providers? Finally, what was something you thought you knew but later found out you were wrong about?”
- “I am currently on my pre-med journey, and having bipolar disorder has been both an asset and a drawback. I get nervous about disclosing my diagnosis to anyone, as I am worried about it potentially impacting my chances of getting into medical school and/or my future career. However, I despise the stigma attached to the disorder and wish I could be more of a vocal advocate. How has being open about your diagnosis impacted your career (or not) in academia and a health care profession?”
- “Great AMA thank you so much! I wanted to ask, what are the early warning signs? How do you know if someone you love might be starting to deal with Bipolar Disorder and how you would approach them to talk about it?”
- “I’ve read conflicting things about lithium: that it’s primarily good as an antidepressant but barely treats manic episodes, that it’s an anti manic that does nothing for depression, that it can be good for mixed episodes, that it does nothing for mixed… what is up with that?”
Thank yous, and our next AMA
We would like to thank everyone who participated and sent us your questions over the past weeks, they are all great questions. A special thank you to the r/IAmA moderators and Reddit Community Manager Cassidy, UBC Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, IBPF and ISBD, and lastly, CREST.BD volunteers Hussein and Amy who helped make this possible.
We’ll be back for another AMA for World Bipolar Day 2020!
Thank you all so much for joining us for our first-ever @reddit_AMA in honor of @WorldBipolarDay, and making it such a great experience! …we’ll keep monitoring your qns and answer them over the coming days as best we can… Happy #WorldBipolarDay! – @erin_michalak & @sj_barnes pic.twitter.com/26CoF64dSK
— CREST.BD (@CREST_BD) March 29, 2019