Bipolar & Anxiety Disorders blog imageI am excited to announce that I am the second place winner of HealthCentral’s Live Bold, Live Now Photo Contest. The Live Bold contest is designed to show a person living well in spite of a health challenge. I have bipolar and anxiety disorders and I live bold every day.

During the contest, over 1,150 individuals cast almost 2,100 total votes for me alone. The outpouring of support was amazing. As I sit here, I am still in shock, knowing the cumulative effort of so many people made this possible.

Winning this contest means an incredible amount, not just to me, but to anyone living with mental illness. The people who were voting sent me message after message cheering me on for my bravery, my openness, and they used my story to openly discuss mental illness with their friends and family. The amount of value this has is immeasurable.

Living with Bipolar and Anxiety is Uncertain

Living with bipolar and anxiety is uncertain, but I am absolutely certain about this: While it may be my name on the ballot, this is not entirely my victory. This victory belongs to every single person who wakes up every day and works to lead a good life in spite of their mental illness. This is a victory for every person who works to eliminate the fear, discrimination, and misinformation about mental illness. This is our victory, because we all stood together and weren’t quiet. We shared our stories, believed in ourselves, and supported each other. In the end, we all won, together.

We didn’t just click a gray box that said VOTE. We opened ourselves up to the idea that people with mental illness can, and do, #livebold. Thank you to everyone who voted and shared this story with the people in their lives. Working together, we accomplished something amazing.

I cannot thank you enough.

~Gabe Howard

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