Hannah Blum Talks with Me About How Her Bi Polar II Diagnosis Encouraged Her to Become a Mental Health Advocate

Hannah Blum Talks About How Her Bipolar II diagnosis

Hannah Blum is an author and mental health advocate. She is the author of ‘The Truth About Broken: The Unfixed Version of Self-Love,’ which she released in 2019. Hannah has been open about her mental health struggles and has gained a following across social media, where she has created a community and safe space for those struggling with their mental health to see her writing and feel seen in knowing that they aren’t alone in what they’re going through.

She talks to me about her journey with bipolar II, her struggles, and how it’s shaped her and helped cultivate her career as a writer and educator.

[Sign up here for our newsletter to read more stories like these from our Real Stories from Real People section]

1AND1: Can you describe your life and emotional experiences before being diagnosed with bipolar II disorder?


View this profile on Instagram


Hannah Blum (@hannahdblum) • Instagram photos and videos

Hannah: So you know, I think I have always felt like I’ve had a bit of a racing mind since I was a kid. It was in the form of imagination, and I would always be wandering in my own world, I would say, more so than most kids. And then, when I became a teenager in high school, I started experiencing more, and that’s when I started having this big disconnection. I was going through body images and working on getting through my emotions. My father was in the military, so mental health/illness discussions were very taboo, so I never spoke up about what I was going through. And at that age, a lot of what I was experiencing was blamed on being a teenager, but I hid many things.

I was prom queen, an athlete, and even won the best smile. On the outside, I looked like a girl with the perfect life, but on the inside, I was withering. Then when I got to college, that’s when things started to change, and I had a breakdown.

1AND1: What led to your breakdown? Can you share more about that experience?

Hannah: I went to college and did my freshman year, then dropped out sophomore year because of my breakdown. And just like any college freshman, you’re having fun and experiencing new things. But even amid the good times, I could feel a storm coming and could see it was coming. I knew something was happening inside of me that I could not control. It was chaos at the time, and there was so much going on inside, and I didn’t have any answers as to why I felt that way. I was self-harming (cutting myself, and I was bulimic). I was taking all of it out on my body because that was all I knew how to do then.

A lot of my sophomore year, when I had my breakdown, was a blur. Even now, my friends and roommates tell me things that happened. And in therapy, we’ve been doing a lot of work, and little parts of the memory have returned. But I remember that I went to a campus mental health professional.

She wasn’t well-equipped and told me I needed to leave school. I ran out and fell into the parking lot, which was very bad. And at that point, my family, my brother and mom specifically, came up to Boston and took me down to North Carolina. At the time, I couldn’t even see straight and didn’t care. I just went. And a few days after I got home, I went to a hospital, and while I was there, a therapist was on duty, and I was involuntarily placed into a mental hospital. I was put in handcuffs and then later diagnosed with bipolar II.

1AND1: What was it like getting that diagnosis? Do you remember how you felt at that moment?

Hannah: I’ll never forget the moment I was diagnosed. I was sitting at this long table with these doctors, and they said,” We’ve concluded that you have bipolar II disorder.” And I remember before they could even finish their sentence or get out the word two, I said, “No, that’s not true.” I refused to believe it. And after that, I remember going into the bathroom and staring at myself in the mirror, and I was rubbing my face as if I was almost trying to see a monster or this toxic person that I had been told people with bipolar II are. I kept looking in the mirror and thinking to myself I must be delusional and tried to wipe the mirror continuously.

I went into this manic episode of delusion, and I couldn’t connect with or process what I’d been told. You would hear so much negativity about people living with or with bipolar. They were deemed as monsters, killers, mass shooters, etc. And I couldn’t believe that I was that person.

1AND1: What was life like after you were released from the hospital? Did you have more acceptance and grace for yourself?

Hannah: While in the hospital, it was a dark experience for other reasons as far as injustices and how many people with mental illness are treated. The hospital was also in a very rural place with poor individuals. I, fortunately, grew up in a middle-class family, and I know that my race plays a part in that. But outside of those injustices, the good side of that experience was the people that were there, and they really motivated me and saw the beauty in me that I have never seen before or was able to see myself.

Walking out of the hospital, I felt very lost, and I relapsed right after, too. But after my relapse, I felt a little more at peace. It took me a couple of years to really accept the diagnosis, and this was my reality, and self-acceptance came. That self-acceptance really came when I started educating myself about the structure of stigma relating to those with bipolar or any mental illness.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hannah Blum (@hannahdblum)

I went back to college and got my degree in media. Pursuing this degree in media allowed me to write papers on the way in which the media frames certain things, and the focus I chose was mental illness. I started learning about historical stigmas against people with mental illness and how they’ve been framed in such negative ways. In my research, it made more sense to me, and the dots connected of why I was feeling this way, and it wasn’t because it was true; it was true because of how those with mental illness have been viewed.

It goes as far back as the 1200s. In a study of mine, I found that at England Bedlam Hospital, they were making the hospital an attraction for people to come in to look at people who had a mental illness, ailments, alcoholics, etc, and people would pay a fee to watch. They did this to fund the town and the hospital. The people in the hospital were even called creatures. This became a generational pattern in how we began to see people with mental illnesses and is now why many of us struggle to accept ourselves. That non-acceptance doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s built.

1AND1: When did your other writing that you now post on Instagram begin? Was that something you always did?



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Hannah Blum (@hannahdblum)

Hannah: That writing came later. I always loved writing as a kid. I wanted and needed something as a vessel to translate what was going on in my head and articulate it on paper. That’s where writing became freedom. It helped me sort out all of the ideas and thoughts going on in my head. But I didn’t think that I was smart enough to be a writer. I wasn’t confident in myself until I started blogging and coming out about mental illness. I was one of the first people to talk about bipolar II, and one day on Instagram, I released one of my poems that I wrote a long time ago about it. And when I did, that’s when I saw how many people were responding to it, and it ignited something. I was able to establish myself and said,” Oh, I can do this.”

Writing has taken me far, and I’ve been able to create and get involved in a supportive community. They are my inspiration and my forever muse.

Writing is an art I’ve used as my voice to extend my reach to other people and communities. And in those communities, I know they’ll continue to build and grow stronger through love, empathy, self-acceptance, and curiosity.