Vincent van Gogh’s work as displayed at a recent immersive exhibition in Montreal.
March 30th each year is World Bipolar Day. The date was chosen because Vincent van Gogh was born on that date in 1853, and he is one of the most famous artists to have been diagnosed—posthumously—with bipolar disorder. (He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 37, in 1890.)
The photo above was taken at a unique, massive-scale, interactive exhibition of his work titled Distorsion (sic) in Montreal recently. The exhibit featured 225 paintings, drawings, and sketches projected on four walls and the floor of the huge hall. If you’ve ever experienced visual hallucinations—as I have during manic episodes—you will strongly relate to the swirling, vibrant, mesmerizing, other-worldly effects the exhibition managed to convey. One could almost see through van Gogh’s super-sensitive eyes and perceive through his mis-firing brain.
My husband, Rob Collins, and me posing at the van Gogh exhibition.
World Bipolar Day (WBD) in 2019
Back in 2019, I organized an event to mark World Bipolar Day at the library in my hometown of Baie-D’Urfé.
I started by sharing excerpts from my recently published memoir, Mad Like Me: Travels in Bipolar Country, and then several invited guests with personal experience either of living with bipolar or of supporting an affected family member spoke. It was a memorable and moving event; for a full report, please see:
That’s me on the left, wearing my Starry Night jacket in honour of van Gogh at the local World Bipolar Day event in 2019.
World Bipolar Day (WBD) 2020 and 2021: pandemic times
In 2020, everyone’s priorities had shifted, and no in-person events were taking place for World Bipolar Day or anything else. I started researching how COVID-19 might affect people with mental illnesses, and in July 2020 I published an ebook, COVID-19 in Bipolar Country. It summarizes the early peer-reviewed research about this topic.
The cover of my COVID-19 in Bipolar Country ebook.
World Bipolar Day passed quietly for me in 2021.
In 2022, I marked World Bipolar Day by officially launching my anthology, Navigating Bipolar Country: Personal and Professional Perspectives on Living with Bipolar Disorder, available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca.
I also wrote a blog post about the day: Happy World Bipolar Day
Now here we are: how will you mark WBD in 2023?
Now it’s 2023. Some people feel comfortable meeting in-person, but others of us are still hesitant. We know that any physical illness—let alone a life-threatening one like COVID-19—could easily derail our hard-won mental stability. I personally err on the side of caution and will find “safe” ways to mark World Bipolar Day. One idea you may like: watch the excellent illustrated mini-lecture (15-minutes) titled Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night: Great Art Explained on YouTube.
Together with his process and artistic influences, van Gogh’s mental illness features prominently in this short documentary. Treat yourself to a few inspiring minutes to honour this year’s World Bipolar Day!
Or take out a library book about van Gogh. Or search online for a van Gogh poster, mug, t-shirt or other small gift for yourself. Or anything else you can think of.
Some of my van Gogh-inspired treasures.
What will you do to observe World Bipolar Day this year? Please let us know in the comments below. And whatever you do—or don’t do!—have a great WBD!