I don’t think I’ve ever met somebody as straight-forward about bipolar disorder as much as this man who I’m about to interview: John Poehler.
Picture John, a Chemical Engineering student, extremely close to finishing up his degree back in the 90’s. With only a few classes to go, there’s not much that could have gone wrong at this stage. But going wrong had been a consistency in John’s life. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and immediately admitting himself to ECT therapy, he found himself confronted with a profound memory loss right before the final months of his degree. All the notes, reports, and pamphlets John wrote bore his own handwriting, even though they produced an absolute-zero resonance in his head. Looking back, this may have been one of the most rock bottom, moments of John’s life. It was “pretty awful”, he says.
18 years later, John has a family, a few kids, a beautiful wife, four academic degrees, and, yes, he still has Bipolar (reminder, people: bipolar is not a condition. It’s a disease that causes dramatic fluctuations between two conditions. More on these conditions here.)
The Bipolar Battle
Most significantly, however, is that John has a very clear purpose in life, and it’s something his mind refuses to sway from. It’s not a regular blog. John’s ‘The Bipolar Battle’ is prophetic in nature, imposing in content, and utterly revolutionary for its potential. The Bipolar Battle is a website that all bipolar sufferers, people with mental illnesses, and people who struggle with their mental health should follow and visit and keep up to date with. There, you can see the power of attrition really work against life’s harmful ills. On the website, you’ll see John’s own struggles, the struggles of those around him like his father, and the occasional guest post from contributing authors and experts ready to empower you on your journey to recovery.
The Rare International fashion brand is about two things: let’s talk about the first. “self-reflection for self-empowerment.” What does that motto mean to you, from the perspective of a bipolar sufferer?
Having bipolar disorder, you do not have a ton of control. It is an illness based on extreme variations in mood, energy level, and motivation. I do whatever is in my power to take control of my illness. This motto means I take control of the measures I am able to. Being proactive in the treatment of bipolar disorder is self-empowering.
With bipolar disorder, it might feel like there’s two sides to the coin of your character. Is this correct to assume?
I am a strong believer to not assume anything in the first place. Here, I think this statement is a common misconception of individuals that suffer from bipolar disorder. Our moods do shift between deep depression and elated mania. Between these two poles, there is a ton of grey area. Each person is different and not defined by bipolar disorder. It is merely an illness. I think that is important to remember.
What does the phrase “you are rare” mean to you?
I like this phrase. Each person in the world has a unique personality and makeup. I find great comfort in this fact.
Do you think that reminding yourself that you are the only you in this world, as in you’re the only John Poehler in the world, could provide you with any sort of relief in your daily struggle with bipolar disorder?
To be honest, I already look at the world from this perspective. Knowing that I am the only John Poehler in this world, provides me a sense of positive self-esteem. This, in turn, creates self-empowerment. With a daily struggle of being pulled between both poles, having a positive self-identity helps.
Fans of Rare International’s headwear often say they felt self-empowerment while wearing the hats. Do you think this is just a temporary high, or a deceiving high, sort of like the manic stage of someone with bipolar?
I think it is hard to compare anything to a manic episode. Feeling self-empowerment while wearing a hat is a positive enlightening experience.
I once read somewhere that wearing a turban in Sikhism can act as a constant reminder that they are a Sikh. It motivates the Sikh individual to live according to Sikh principles and not to divert from it. You see the same sort of method working with recovering alcoholics wearing badges. This sort of self-reminder: do you think there can be something materialistic, other than necessary medicine, that can self-remind people with bipolar disorder that the fluctuations they might experience is part of a constant struggle that they must always fight through?
I think you can turn any object into a reminder for individuals with bipolar disorder that the fluctuations we might experience are part of a constant struggle that we must always fight through. These objects can include hats, necklaces, bracelets, rings and more. I think this is a great idea to motivate those with bipolar disorder – or any other ailment – to follow treatment.
You said back in November that bipolar is a “constant battle”. It’s almost like you have to fight against it.
Bipolar disorder is a “constant battle”. That is why I call my blog The Bipolar Battle [www.thebipolarbattle.com]. I look at my illness this way because I have to fight on a daily basis to keep my mood, energy level and motivation all in check. I have to utilize various coping skills each day to fight this battle.
Rare International focuses on people suffering with their mental health. Particularly those who feel depressed. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness, however, that actually has depression at one extreme side of its fluctuations. Do you think that wearing self-empowerment clothes, like our unique fashion ranges, can bounce bipolar sufferers from the depression extreme all the way to the other pole, to mania?
I do not think that wearing self-empowerment clothes would bounce an individual from depression to mania. I can only see a positive response from wearing your unique fashion ranges. Wearing clothes that help you feel self-empowered can only boost your mood and self-esteem.
Would you say that wearing a Rare hat is extremely beneficial or extremely dangerous to a person with bipolar disorder?
I would definitely say that wearing a Rare hat is extremely beneficial to a person with bipolar disorder. I can only see it providing a more positive sense of self and well being. These are things that any individual suffering from an illness can use.