I first heard Bassey Ikpi’s voice during one of the Def Jam Poetry shows…it was clear as a bell and I felt an instant connection to her. At the time, she was known as a writer / poet but not much more. Since then, she’s become an advocate for mental health and started to speak on the stigma surrounding it in the minority community.
I found her on Twitter after randomly re-watching some of her work on YouTube. She was a tangible person and we had Bipolar in common and she became the voice I wish I was strong enough to be.
Here is a piece written by her for XO Jane back in 2012. It starts:
I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder at the age of 27. Living with a mental illness is a study in survival. Every day, every emotion is questioned. What is this? Am I happy or am I starting to head towards mania?
In December, I launched a global non-profit organization called The Siwe Project. It was named for Siwe Monsanto, the 15 year-old daughter of a good friend.
I’d known Siwe since she was 4 years old so I was aware of her ups and downs. But, it still came as a shock when in June 2011, she took her own life.
As a black woman, I understood the stigmas and shame that come with mental illness. I know that all cultures have issues dealing with and understanding mental illness, but I also know that the global black community has specific ways of dealing with illness, in that, we rarely deal with it. If at all.
Here is the direct link for the full piece: http://www.xojane.com/healthy/does-make-me-crazy
You can check out her blog here: http://basseyworld.tumblr.com/
As someone who is diagnosed Bipolar, it would be remiss of me to not share someone who has been inspiration and source of encouragement for me.