Aug 31 fundraising run

One month from today I will be participating in a fundraising 5k running event in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  I’m raising funds for the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) while running in an existing event.  I am not organizing this event on my own (maybe in the future?).  The event that I’m running in is the “Genetic Jungle Run” which raises funds for rare genetic disorders.  I will be wearing a bright yellow STIGMA BUSTERS shirt from the IBPF (just like in the photo below – photo courtesy of International Bipolar Foundation facebook page January 20, 2014).

There are four reasons I am doing this: 
1. To raise awareness of bipolar disorder
2. To raise $500 or more for the International Bipolar Foundation
3. To attempt to run 5k in under 20 minutes
4. To celebrate my 4 yr medication-free anniversary on Aug 31

To raise awareness of bipolar disorder
It still blows me away how many stereotypes people have around bipolar disorder.  When I tell people that I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I sometimes get responses such as “you look normal” or “you handle it very well”.  How am I supposed to look?!  One to three percent of the Canadian population have this mental illness, and the numbers are similar in most first world countries.  In terms of handling it well, I realize that not everyone is as up front as I am with their diagnosis.  I truly hope that in the future this will change and that people will not be embarrassed and/or looked down upon for having bipolar disorder.

There are very few publicly known success stories of people who live a happy healthy life despite having a bipolar disorder diagnosis.  The more people that know it is possible, the more hope it gives to those recently diagnosed, and also to those struggling with this mental illness.

To raise $500 or more for the International Bipolar Foundation
The International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF) is a San Diego based organization that is very proactive and progressive in nature.  I have directly benefitted from the IBPF.  I’ve participated in many webinars over the past year and a half that have broadened my perspective and knowledge with bipolar disorder.  A wide variety of people have led these:  experiencing rock bottom and getting back up, learning to be more mentally stable, which supplements truly support the brain, which foods specifically help, what mobile apps are beneficial, various types of research that’s being done, and a myriad of other topics.  IBPF has many resources available on their website including educational videos and articles, an excellent ebook “Healthy Living with Bipolar Disorder”, lectures, various high-profile fundraisers in the San Diego area, clinic listings, and recorded webinars.

IBPF has a very low overhead and puts the vast majority of donations towards supporting people like me.  They have a small staff, and volunteers assist wherever they can.  This is really appealing to me since I know that the money I raise will get put to good use!

IBPF shares a lot of pertinent and informative content on their website and facebook page.  I have personally seen the IBPF’s facebook community grow exponentially in the last six months.

The mission and vision of the IBPF truly resonate with me.  “The mission of International Bipolar Foundation is to improve understanding and treatment of bipolar disorder through research; to promote care and support resources for individuals and caregivers; and to erase stigma through education.  The vision of International Bipolar Foundation is to be the world’s most valued authority on Bipolar Disorder and envisions a world in which Bipolar Disorder is prevented and cured.

I personally donate to the IBPF and have been a volunteer blogger for them for nearly a year and a half.

To attempt to run 5k in under 20 minutes
On April 29, 2012 I participated in a 5k race in Calgary and ran it in 19:47.  Even though I trail run twice a week year-round and went in a few running events last year, I haven’t run in a 5k race since that time.  All the running that I do near my home is on hilly dirt trails.  The event on August 31 will be on a flat paved course in downtown Calgary.  A totally different type of running than I normally do!  To be honest I have no idea what sort of pace I’m running at now.  The last running event I did was the 12k “Turkey Trot” event I did last year on American Thanksgiving Day in the Hoover Dam area.  My time there was 52:20 on a gravel course with some elevation gain.  Needless to say I will have to really push it to run 5k in under twenty minutes!

To celebrate my 4 yr medication-free anniversary on Aug 31
In the last eight months I’ve had both manic and depression episodes.  The manic episode that I had in December required a short psychiatric hospital stay.  Prior to that my medical file stated “Bipolar Disorder in remission”, and I did not think I’d ever have another manic episode.  I also had depression for part of the spring which is difficult for me to admit publicly.  That being said, I can honestly say that I am grateful for both experiences.  Since these two major episodes I’ve been able to look back at both with an analytical eye.  What triggered each of them – good habits going by the wayside, bad habits creeping back in, how my sleep changed, how my nutrition varied, how I did or did not ask for support of others, etc…  At the present time I’m working on a tool to support me in getting back to being mentally stable when I’m feeling hypomanic or low.  I’m confident that this tool will assist me in avoiding future manic and depressed episodes, and will potentially help others do the same.

While I was in the psychiatric hospital in December I assumed that I would be put back on daily psychiatric medication, which I was on for ten years of my life.  I was fortunate to have an excellent psychiatrist who saw me turn around quickly and probed as to what I did.  I told her what I did in the hospital to have a fast recovery and also what I planned to do once out of the hospital.  Much to my surprise she stated that I would not be put back on medication.  She felt that doing so would be “a step backwards”.

I am grateful to not be on psychiatric medication.  I am living proof that it can be done.  In the past I would rarely celebrate my accomplishments.  This is a big one for me!

How can you support me with my fundraising run?
1.  Donate money via the International Bipolar Foundation website – any amount is appreciated!
http://ibpf.org/donate   Select Gift Type – other and type in “Scott Walker Aug 31 Calgary run”
2.  Write a comment on this blog post and/or facebook post
3.  Run with me in the event on August 31 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada (http://events.runningroom.com/site/?raceId=10449)
4.  Cheer me on at the event!

Posted in Vulnerability

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