Meet Steph, a 25-year-old social media manager and content creator.
Steph is a Rhodes University graduate with a Bachelor of Journalism with distinction, majoring in Journalism, Media Studies, and Anthropology. She is a high-functioning individual who has always been good at completing tasks requiring periods of immense focus. She is charming, witty, and a great conversationalist with a striking presence that people gravitate towards.
At 17, Steph was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. This type of Bipolar disorder is generally less severe than Bipolar I. It is characterized by depressive and manic episodes (sometimes called hypomanic episodes) that are less extreme and shorter than those in Bipolar I. This type of disorder is often misdiagnosed as major depression. Steph says her symptoms can get quite severe during a manic episode, resulting in her going into a complete blackout or hallucination.
Steph’s Bipolar II onset was triggered by a traumatic external physical event: she was attacked at age 14. The assault became the catalyst for subsequent anxiety and panic; these stressors can trigger Bipolar II episodes in those genetically predisposed. After the assault, she went through a terrible period, where she experienced severe depression and could not sleep properly. She eventually saw a sleep therapist and soon after was diagnosed with depression.
“It got to a point where I didn’t even feel depressed, my mind was racing all the time, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I was just in a constant state of tenseness.”
Steph describes herself as a perfectionist, so feelings of panic and anxiety weren’t foreign to her.