Athlete rides bipolar’s ups and downs
An Albany fitness fanatic is harnessing the power of social media to help dissolve the stigma and isolation around mental health diagnoses such as bipolar and schizophrenia.
After Bill Irving’s bipolar diagnosis, he started an Instagram account, among other social media platforms, where he could document the highs and lows of living with the disease and training for triathlons while balancing it with family time.
“The Bipolar in Transition name came because I was initially training for the Busselton half iron man triathlon,” he said.
“So it was a play on words — when you transition from depression to mania and when you’re racing, you transition from swim to bike to run.”
Mr Irving, 40, said depression in Australia was very well recognised but mental health diseases, including bipolar and schizophrenia, were still taboo.
“For me, it is about breaking down those barriers and showing that we are human and putting a human face on it, and that people who have what appears to be a regular life still struggle with these sorts of illnesses,” he said.
When he is not at home with the family or out running and cycling, Mr Irving is helping to save lives at Albany Health Campus.
At 36, Mr Irving left his job as a fly-in, fly-out heavy duty plant mechanic to begin a nursing degree, which he has since completed and is now undertaking a graduate program at Albany Hospital. “Part of the role of a nurse is to be an advocate ... and I see my social media accounts as a version of that continued,” he said.
“Quite often, I get people who have found me and want to thank me … they are just glad to know that they are not the only one. That is a lot of what drives me.”