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How Writer Onika Dainty Learned To Embrace Her Bipolar Disorder

"When I started advocating for myself, I felt like that was the key to everything."

As a teenager, Onika Dainty knew she was depressed. But when she experienced her first manic episode at age 24, she didn’t know what was going on — and neither did her family. Her Guyanese mother had grown up believing that mental illness was something you could pray away, and it took the whole family a long time to understand why that wasn’t possible.

Dainty was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She’s had manic episodes that were scary, and has spent about a year altogether in psychiatric care facilities.

But despite all of that, she doesn’t hate her diagnosis: being bipolar “is a very special and unique part of who I am,” she said. And while her mental illness is something she needs to manage on a daily basis, she’s a writer and speaker, and hosts her own podcast about living with a mental illness.

Watch the video above to see how Dainty learned to embrace the complexity of what’s going on in her brain.

In our video series, “Embracing,” we talk to Canadians who are learning to love themselves fully. They’ve learned to accept and celebrate qualities they once perceived as flaws, and they’re ready to share advice for others who are struggling with essential parts of themselves.

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