In order to spread awareness and reduce stigma associated with bipolar disorder, as well as to celebrate Vincent van Gogh’s birthday and World Bipolar Day, I, Brooke Hilton, bipolar 1 disorder sufferer and aspiring LCSW, have teamed up with Bianca Rodriguez, LMFT to provide you with:

The Top 5 Reasons Having Bipolar Disorder Doesn’t Suck Nearly as Much as You Would Think:

1. Let go and let loose. When people know that you’ve (literally) lost your mind, they are pretty sympathetic towards you. This understanding allows you to reach for the stars and chase your dreams without worrying about losing face, as no one expects that much from you anyway—plus, everyone loves an underdog!

2. And the Award for Most Entertaining/Awkward Story goes to…you! People love to hear wacky stories about otherwise proper ladies behaving in out of character and absurd ways. Here’s a personal story (and just the tip of the craziness iceberg): I’ve been hospitalized for demanding a DNA test at the UCLA Medical Center ER to prove I was descended from the Egyptian goddess Isis…Carrie Fisher put it best when she said, “If my life wasn’t funny, it would just be true, and that’s unacceptable.”

3. I feel you, man. Losing my mind has allowed me to truly empathize with all types of people and has shown me the ones who are worth maintaining solid relationships with. Having bipolar separates the people who love you unconditionally from those who don’t. It’s really that simple.

4. First Rate Self-Care. You learn how to take really good care of yourself. Part of managing bipolar disorder requires one to prioritize sleep, exercise, medication compliance, and managing stress levels. Treating yourself like the princess you once believed you were is pivotal to one’s recovery.

5. I’m high on life. There is no better drug you’ll ever take than a sweet, sweet fix of hypomania. It truly beats any other mind-altering substance I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot of them). You’re no longer afraid of life. Having experienced the highest of highs (I was convinced that I was next coming of Jesus) to the lowest of lows (bipolar sufferers have extraordinarily high rates of suicide), there is no feeling I haven’t survived.

Should you find yourself engaged in conversation with someone with bipolar disorder, don’t treat them as though they’re so fragile they might kill themselves at any moment. Dare to get to know someone with this disorder. Ask them about their craziest story or what creative passion fuels their heart. In short, just treat them the way you would want to be treated. After all, that’s the Golden Rule—and the key to a greater understanding of those different from you.