199: Navigating Bipolar Disorder in Higher Education with Dr. Lauren Yang

199: Navigating Bipolar Disorder in Higher Education with Dr. Lauren Yang


In this episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast, I interview Dr. Lauren Yang who discusses the topic of navigating bipolar disorder in higher education. Dr. Lauren Yang is a clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, CA. Currently, she is completing her postdoctoral residency at Kaiser Permanente. Her professional interests include bipolar and other mood disorders, young adult concerns,, AANHPI mental health, and BIPOC advocacy.

In this episode, we cover: Dr. Lauren’s personal journey with bipolar II disorder and the challenges with recognizing and seeking help. She stresses how bipolar disorder in higher education requires awareness and support. Dr. Lauren also addresses the stigma surrounding mental health in the AANHPI community. We also talk about the complexities of disclosure and what to consider when making this decision. The show ends with mental health resources and advice for newly diagnosed individuals.

You can connect with Dr. Lauren Yang on Instagram @dr.laurenyang and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenyang/

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Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:02

Welcome back everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring podcast. This is your host Doctora Yvette and today we're going to cover a really important topic, the topic of navigating bipolar disorder in higher education. Our special guest is Dr. Lauren Yang, she her, who is a clinical psychologist in the Bay Area, California. Currently she is completing her postdoctoral residency at Kaiser Permanente. Her professional interests include bipolar and other mood disorders, young adults concerns, AANHPI mental health and bipoc advocacy. With her lived experience of bipolar two disorder. Lauren serves as vice chair of the Young Adult Council for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. She has contributed to articles, podcasts, episodes and panels for DBSA, International Bipolar Foundation, and BP Hope Magazine. She's also a Leadership Fellow and newsletter, co editor in chief in the Asian American Psychological Association. Welcome to the podcast. Dr. Lauren.

Dr. Lauren Yang 1:09

Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 1:13

Oh, I'm equally as excited to have you here. I would love love for you to get us started by sharing a little bit more about who you are and what you do and whatever you're comfortable sharing about your background and your backstory, too.

Dr. Lauren Yang 1:29

Yeah, definitely. So I was born and raised in Southern California. I am a second generation multi ethnic, Asian American. So Korean and Filipina are my heritages. I am as of recently a happily married cis woman to my husband. And yes, as mentioned, I have lived with bipolar two disorder for the past 10 years now. And I'm an early career clinical psychologist working towards her licensure. So just in brief, you know, what I do is I provide therapy at the outpatient level for adults ranging from as young as 18 years old to as old as 80 plus years old. So really across the lifespan, and it's just yeah, really such enriching work. And I love what I do. I could go on about that.

But so little bit more about my background and backstory, you know, how I got to this point, it's still wild to me that I can say it's been 10 years since my first hypomanic episode and my diagnosis of bipolar two disorder. So to run it back, you know, all the way to that beginning of that journey, you know, mental health was not a concept to me, I didn't have the language, you know, to describe it. And so while you know, it was a different time for all of us back then around mental health is definitely talked about more. Now. A lot of it is more accepted. But you know, me and my Asian family did not talk openly about our feelings. And I was even shamed for having pretty big feelings back then. So who knows if that was like, early, early signs. But I was a pretty emotionally sensitive kid back then. And I was not made to feel good to express those feelings. But in any case, you know, it wasn't on my radar, so let alone as a career path. Right. So what initially sparked this journey for me was my own mental health experiences. Of course, with that first hypomanic episode.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 3:32

Describe what that means, I'm so sorry, when you say a hypomanic episode for folks who are less familiar with it.

Dr. Lauren Yang 3:40

Of course. Yeah. No, I was definitely gonna go into the symptoms part of it too. And that's a great question. So what I mean by that is, you know, so there's hypomania and mania. And so for me having bipolar two disorder, hypomania, in the simplest terms is a less severe form of mania. So for me, at least what that looks like is I wasn't sleeping I was going off of two to three hours of sleep multiple days in a row and still feeling very energized, actually very productive, prolific as grandiosity goes, I thought I was going to make the self help blog that was going to change the world. And in one night, I came up with like, over 60 ideas, I think, for topics for this blog. And so yeah, just running off little amount of sleep. Felt like all cylinders are firing like I just felt like a lot of things clicked. I was very creative. I felt like more engaging or interesting as a person.

But there also comes the irritability part in the hypomania for me so I was going off on people in public she was really just minor transgressions, like cutting me in line at the grocery store. And people close to me like they really got hurt by my by my words like my boyfriend at the time, was very much on the receiving end of a lot of that. And unfortunately, you know, we had some he was my high school boyfriend, and we stayed together throughout college and a little bit after but, you know, so there's cracks forming in that relationship. And unfortunately, with the nail in the coffin for that was my symptoms, unfortunately, exacerbating that relationship stress. And so yeah, just to get the picture of what that looks like.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 5:24

So at that point, you had an understanding that this was different from how you normally behave because of the like the sleep or the like you said, you felt prolific or wondering how you arrived at this stage where you realize what it was?

Dr. Lauren Yang 5:41

Yeah, so at the time, I had little insight into that part like the, quote unquote, positives or what feels like the benefits of hypomania, I thought, literally, I was becoming this new and better version of myself. So being towards the end of my fourth year as an undergrad in college, 22 years old, I thought, you know, I was coming out of my shell, like, I've had always been like a pretty reserved and quiet person back then. didn't really speak my mind or just was outspoken in general. So this felt very electrifying to me, it actually felt very gratifying and exciting to me. So there wasn't that insight just yet.

But then what really caught my attention of like, I need to get help for this was really the irritability and how I was affecting people around me, like, you know, anger is one thing, but I was raging at people. And that is definitely not me. Like, I don't cut people with my words, just at the flip of a hat, you know, so that's what spurred it. And so, you know, being still an undergrad at college, I was able to access my University Counseling Center, fortunately able to use those services at the time. So, you know, in talking to professionals more there, you know, that's when I first started seeing my first therapist, this wonderfully warm man who was, you know, a psychologist, back then I didn't have quite a concept of what, you know, all the different titles in mental health meant just yet, but he was a psychologist and started seeing a psychiatrist for the very first time. And, yeah, just my first foray, I'll say into like medications or psychotropic medications for myself. As it is for a lot of folks, you know, it was I guess I'll say scary, or like, you know, I was very much open to that intervention or treatment option, I wanted the help. I wanted to get these symptoms under control.

But, yeah, I had no idea how I was going to react to any of it, right. And so I ended up going to the ER in reaction to one of them, the very first one that I tried, actually, because of the side effects, unfortunately, that affected me. And then the psychiatrists who prescribed me that medication, she doubted me, in my experience, and that was very sure that wasn't the flu. I was like, I don't think I would have been bedridden or having a rash all over my face and body. It was just the flu, you know? So. I mean, she was, I think, a resident at the time, so I don't know not to try and justify or explain away that kind of comment. But that was my first experience with psychiatry.

I requested after that comment, I requested to switch to a second psychiatrist. He was pretty hands off in his approach. Like I had very little idea as to like, how to advocate for myself with medication what even to try, but he very much put it on me like so. When you want to try it. I was like, I have no idea. You're the doctor. And so yeah, he tried some antidepressants with me. They didn't really work. Just not that great of a first experience with that, but my therapy with a psychologist was wonderful, very much set me on that. Just the very beginning of like my mental health journey. Um, but yeah, we'll get back to like, the journey of that too, is just you know, so I then eventually graduated, right like in the spring, like, or rather June I guess, of 2013 and then moved back home to family because I did not know actually, at the time. I thought I was pre med I still had one foot in one foot out the door of pre med wanted to hold on a bit longer as an option. But I was still in the midst of the episode or at least rather, I'll back up a bit.

I fell into my first major depressive episode during that summer, so I was taking summer classes, but I couldn't bring myself to go to them. I ended up withdrawing from those courses in the end, but because I literally wasn't going at all and so there's that but then I was back in the swing of a hypomanic episode like it On the fall, and then unfortunately, my dad got the brunt, then of a lot of my irritability and my rage. And so we had quite a lot of conflict, unfortunately, when I moved back home, so that again, it like that prompted me further. It's like, okay, I really need to make sure I seek out, you know, help and really get my mental health treatment in line. And I'll just say, you know, that was such a frustrating, confusing, stressful experience. For me, I had no idea how insurance worked, let alone in the mental health capacity with services.

Eventually, I figured it out. But and I got, you know, a great therapist, I got a really great third psychiatrist, she really understood my needs and really listened to me. So yeah, you know, that was, I would consider that kind of like the second phase of like, my mental health treatment and journey. But so on the professional end, I was trying to figure it out, I ended up taking four gap years between undergrad and entering my doctorate program. So after graduating, I did an internship at a hospital while working as a swim coach on the side, just, you know, turn some cash. And I think I'm trying to think what made me then eventually pivot and reconsider mental health more seriously. And I think, after having gone through therapy for a good amount of time, and then I think a professor even encouraged me to like, professor mentor, like, towards the end of my time at college, who I still kept in touch with she encouraged me like really think about maybe PhD or, you know, psychology, like really pursue psychology in the on the doctorate level.

So those got me thinking, and then I decided to find jobs. And that's a whole, right, but so at the bachelors level, that was kind of actually pretty difficult to try and find jobs for that, but eventually found, you know, a couple outpatient treatment centers in LA, which is where I ended up meeting my now husband, and so it just that kind of like kick started, you know, a bunch of like, I would say, the next part of my journey of then, okay, so affirming mental health is the path that I want to go. And then I applied to grad schools, and eventually into my PsyD program in New York City, and after graduating with my 200, and then, yeah, so that brings me to now.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 12:29

Wow. I appreciate how forward and transparent you are about your journey. Because we don't always get to hear details, or backstories, or testimonies from individuals, and why they went into their professions. And also, one of the reasons I was excited to bring you on today is because there there a lot of mental health issues among folks in higher education, both in undergrad and especially at the graduate student level. And I know that I, in my experience, I don't have the data. But in my experience, I hear a lot of folks who primarily focus on addressing issues related to depression and anxiety. But I know that there are so many other you know, like mental health concerns, or disorders or illness, like you name it, whatever it is, like there's, there's such an array, and I myself have a loved one who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I'm not sure which type it was, I'm sorry, I'm still learning. And it's, it's so incredibly challenging.

And so I wanted to bring someone who has that twofold experience, you know, you've got the lived experience, but also the that the researcher or the professional knowledge, if you have your PsyD, or you're doing the work you're practicing, as well. And I know that going, you know, navigating higher education, whether it's the college years or graduate work is already hard, it's challenging as it is, but then you add something like bipolar disorder, and it just compounds that even further and I could hear some of that and when you talked about the two stages for you in and getting support.

So I'm wondering if you can share maybe some other common challenges that you know, that specifically students with bipolar disorder may face in higher ed or as they go through their educational journey in general. And, and then additionally, whatever you know, is comfortable for you because I am a daughter of Mexican immigrants and I know that for us and in our community culture, mental health was highly stigmatized, so similar to you. I was highly sensitive, or I still am. I still am highly sensitive but as a child and it was something that I was shamed about. And so you mentioned about, like, your experience with your family. And so I'm wondering if you could share a little bit more about if some other challenges that students specifically in the AAPI community may be dealing with, if they themselves also have bipolar disorder?

Dr. Lauren Yang 15:33

Oh, yeah, absolutely. You know, there's so many layers to this to write of, you know, I also identify as a first gen graduate student, no one else in my family pursued beyond a bachelor's degree in my family. So I was very much, you know, kind of trying to strike on my own, I didn't quite know what this path exactly is gonna look like or what, you know, I really had to figure it out a lot along the way. And so, you know, I wish I had a resource like you back then when I was going through my grad school experience. But back to your question, though, of, you know, some of those challenges. And, you know, as we can imagine the stressors that are ramped in in grad school, right exams, presentations, eventually our thesis or dissertation defense, right, we can imagine that there will be some flare ups.

For me, there wasn't many episodes along the way, I don't think I would call them full blown episodes, because I was well managed under medication at the time throughout, fortunately, um, so there's that, you know, we can imagine that and then for me, like irritability, again comes in with that I was extra snappy when stressed. Like, I really went off on a rooomate during the first year, like that level of rage, right? Like it really came through at that time. And so there's some of those, like some interpersonal difficulties that could come up for folks with bipolar disorder going through higher ed. A couple else I'll mention is impulsivity, being another part of the hypomania or mania. So for me, I was spending a lot impulsively racking up debt, when I'm already a graduate student, I ended up taking out more loans than I needed looking back on that now. So that's unfortunate, but you know, that I needed that extra cash to just go spend, spend, spend.

And then also, with transition, and adjustment, whether just starting out of grad school, throughout grad school, there comes a lot of opportunity for stimulation and activation, which can rev up the mania, at least for me, I can speak to that, for sure. So moving to a new area, meeting new people getting used to a new system that we find doesn't work for us changing practicum training sites each year. So yeah, all those changes or transitions, right. So it really stresses the need for stability and routine for students with bipolar disorder. But that's incredibly difficult, right, given how destabilizing grad school is much of the time, as I'm sure you and other guest speakers talk about and so. But, yeah, I cannot stress enough, like how much stability and routine is paramount, at least again, for me, you know, for my mental health with bipolar disorder.

And then switching a bit to the aspect or layer of being Asian American identified, or, you know, other students who are in the AAHPI community. We deal with the dual sort of experience of both invisibility and hypervisibility. So what I mean by that is, you know, you have invisiility as the model minority, if folks don't know what that means it's the model minority myth were pitted against other minorities being viewed as, quote unquote, better than, more successful than. And because we're, quote, unquote, so successful, we don't need help, which we know isn't true. And we're not a monolithic group. There's a lot of disparities and across the diaspora, you know, AANHPI communities. So that gets internalized, though, you know, for people in who are AANHPI identified, and we see that in the under utilization of mental health care services by our community. There's a lot of other factors that go into that, but that's a big one.

And when I talk about the hyper visibility part, we are seen as the perpetual foreigner or the token minority, right. So I was the only Asian female in my cohort at my grad program at a PWI. So I was called on once before by a white older man professor, to explain why would an eight excuse me an Asian female patient, avert her eyes at him in session, as if I can speak for one that patient and two for all of Asian female identified people. So now, I didn't quite catch that as, you know, these micro or macro aggressions, we're still not so salient to me, but one of my classmates actually called attention to that to me later, after the fact. And she was like, she's a white identified student, but still, she caught that and run, you know, raise that with me. I was like, oh, yeah, that is that, that is micro aggressive. But um, so, you know, we are seen as that. And so with that comes assumptions, stereotypes, we should be smart, quiet, deferential. Or we're not speaking up enough or worse, according to white standards, really.

And so I've gotten feedback in the past before from my program, even though I felt like I was like to give myself credit, I felt like I was fairly engaged in class, like, I was pretty participatory. But then I would get feedback in my evaluations, like, oh, I need to speak up more in class, when it's like, is that because, is that really a fair assessment? Or are you just viewing me through the lens of how you think an Asian female should be held up to the white standards in those ways. And so obviously, like, these stereotypes are really harmful views of us, were especially salient during the pandemic with anti Asian hate crimes. Rampant. Right.

And so another challenge that could speak to for myself during that period is that the silence was deafening from faculty and staff on that issue. Oh, sorry, about showing support around. For students who may be impacted by anti Asian hate. Um, you know, I emailed one time after a shooting happened, unfortunately, over in Atlanta, requesting for check ins, or just making space some kind of added support for those of us who may be more impacted by that sort of event. And just the broader general, you know, context to what's been going on. But out of the faculty and program director, I emailed three faculty, so I think there was maybe like, 12 or so faculty, I can't remember exactly. But out of those three responded to me, the rest, no response to theirs were adjunct faculty. One was, yeah, so one was, I forget exactly the status. But you know, he'd been part of faculty for a long time. Yeah.

And then the program director who I have, like, had additional relationships with too in other capacities. She responded back to me saying, oh, yeah, we have a statement planned, we're gonna put out a statement, we were just holding off and waiting, you know, because of the shoot, you know, to account for the shooting that happened. And I found that very hard to accept or to believe, to be honest. I'm like, okay, but this has been the anti Asian hate crimes have been going on for some time. Now. This was like, I think maybe in this. Yeah, just some months have passed, or any, and we were already seeing these things. And so I'm, like, it's taking you this amount of time, and you're waiting, you said, you're gonna put out the end of the week? What's the holdup? We're like, why is it taking my prompting, you know, in order to have a statement, even just a statement, let alone actual concrete support, which was not given at the time. So those are some challenges.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 24:01

I feel like that's a whole other layer too. It's not just the challenges of like, the challenges of navigating higher ed with bipolar disorder but the challenges and navigating higher and as a person of color, but then as AANHPI member of that community, and then on top of that you're at a PWI so there's, you know, specific things that come up when when you're attending graduate school at a PWI as opposed to you know, another institution whether it's you know, HBCU or HSI you name them yet that, like you brought on a whole, it's like, you opened up a whole can of worms. All in your graduate school experience and just how challenging it must have been for you. Yeah, Yeah. And I'm wondering, What helped you to, like, how did you navigate or overcome or like deal with these challenges or like multi layer challenges when you were going through your program?

Dr. Lauren Yang 25:17

Right. So I was desperate for mentorship, whether that be from peers, you know, in cohorts above me, whether that be outside of my program, I, I, it didn't take me too long to figure out or fine, like, I'm not getting that support. Within this program. Unfortunately, I again, being the only Asian female, I did not identify, I could not see, as far as I could tell it in passing people who identified as Asian as well on faculty, so I was desperate for some sort of contact with people who could possibly, to some extent, understand what I was going to say that's in the, you know, my, as a bipoc, first gen grad student, but I have to this day, you know, I feel like I still have never really found a community or even really many people, like talk to you who have bipolar disorder, who have also navigated higher education in the way that I have. So there's that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 26:18

You gotta find those folks for you.

Dr. Lauren Yang 26:20

Seriously, if you're out there, please reach out to me, I would love to talk with you. But yeah, so you know, it took some time. But eventually, I found Asian American Psychological Association, I think I got like it, I forget how I first got connected to them. Maybe it was like, an email, some alerting to one of their events or something. But so during the pandemic, especially, I was feeling very isolated, I felt very alone, my family is all back in California, a lot of my friends and support. My fiance at the time was back in California, so I felt very alone. And so I really turned to a lot of online support. At the time, like, they were offering mentorship office hours, by professionals in the organization. I was attending, like community peer support groups, so one by Asian mental health project that I found on social media. They're doing amazing things now, and I'm so proud and happy to see how much they're doing with the organization out.

But so yeah, you know, attending, trying to find those spaces for myself really trying to seek out, where can I get the support, continue to attend therapy, as well, like really needed to continue attending to my mental health in those ways. I've been real fortunate to have found, you know, this therapists who I still talk to you this to this day. So that was what you know, like, over five years ago, now that I first started working with this therapist, so if that says anything, you know, about the relationship I have with this therapist, and that's the longest I can say that I've worked with one too. So that's, that's, I feel like uncommon for sure. But I've been real fortunate in that and, and so attended therapy, continue to attend therapy had my medications will manage.

And then eventually, you know, found the select few people within my program. In cohorts above me like I can name you know, a couple off the top of my head, you know, they attended my wedding, like they're very close friends, and now, to this day for me, and you know, they are Asian identified. And it's not to say that those who aren't, can't be supportive, or be empathic towards these experiences I describe. But truly those people just got it with me. And it was very, like, it just felt restorative to be around them. So those are some ways Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 28:53

It's so critical, so important to have community and to have support. And I'm glad that you call the attention to kind of finding support, even if it's also virtually, especially like you mentioned during the pandemic because I, I, I myself have struggled with this with navigating chronic illness. And I also know other individuals who are navigating different types of mental health disorders or different types of disabilities. And it can get pretty isolating. And sometimes, like you said, like, it's that's not to say that someone who doesn't have same identities, same experiences, same struggles, it doesn't mean that they might not get it, but it definitely helps to have support from folks who have some sort of shared experience. So yeah, thank you for mentioning that because I know it's hard and it takes a while and I'm I mean, I'm assuming like it's it's a ongoing process because I'm still building my community. I feel like it yeah, and that never stops.

Dr. Lauren Yang 30:00

Yeah, really, though, yeah, and if there's anything that the pandemic taught us, among a lot of things is that it did open the doors, I felt like to, you know, we can find these communities, we can find these spaces for ourselves. And I think a lot of those support, yeah, the support that I can now identify, like, a lot of it has been virtual or has been, you know, across the country or in different parts of the country. So I think that's really important. Yeah, that we are able to access those things for ourselves.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 30:30

Yeah, I actually want to transition to a different topic that comes up a lot for folks who either are dealing with, you know, any type of disability, chronic illness, mental health issue, neurodivergence, you name it. That's the topic of disclosing and disclosure. And I know that there's no right or wrong answer for this. And that it's a very, very personal thing. But I, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject is specifically disclosing bipolar disorder diagnosis, and also what individuals should consider thinking about if they're thinking about disclosing to different individuals might it might be, you know, loved ones, might be family members, and might be peers, classmates, and even potentially, professors.

Dr. Lauren Yang 31:28

Yeah, I really appreciate you bringing up this topic, because I have been asked about that before in other talks or spaces, and it's been a continuing or evolving sort of thing for me. So, you know, that's something I'm still developing for myself, how am I navigating that for myself, like, really is context dependent, person dependent, but so I'll just say, you know, on a personal and professional level, I think of disclosure, as a gift that not everyone gets to have, from you, or you know, anyone who has something to disclose, because this is personal, it is sensitive. So, I would say, and this is something that I try to ground myself in myself of like being intentional, and selective about who it is that I disclose to. So what I mean by that is, you know, I'm a pretty intuitive and relational person, as it is, again, as a person as a professional like, that comes through in my line of work in my approach to therapy as well. So what I say is going to follow that of considerations to make and, you know, for me, it's like I consider the rapport of the kind of relationship I have with that person, do they feel safe? Are they someone who will be receptive to this kind of personal information about me, with this ultimately helped me more than it may hurt me.

And I think those are such hard questions to ask ourselves, because there's always that risk, it will feel risky, and we can't ever fully know, with confidence how someone may react, even those closest to us, right? Like how you know that that kind of response to disclosure will be. So even if the reaction isn't what you want from that person, I try to then take that as you know more about that person then and your relationship with them, and where you might stand or how you might want to go forward in that relationship with that person. So with family, it's more complicated, though. It's not like, especially in the AANHPI are really, you know, I feel like any BIPOC community, it's not so easy to say, just cut off family, just don't just walk away from family if they don't accept you receive you. And I wish I could speak better to that myself, because I haven't really talked to my family immediate extended, otherwise, you know, within about my bipolar disorder to be real honest, even after all these years. So that's something that's still a, an open Pandora's box that I haven't quite.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 34:05

I don't talk about that openly with family members either. So I'm pretty open about it struggling with waves of depression and anxiety and high sensitivity. But I sound like it's something and I'm like, oh, mom, lately, I haven't been feeling so well mentally know. Exactly.

Dr. Lauren Yang 34:25

Yeah. Which is so tough, right? It's just like you no one would hope or at least I would love to be able to feel that with my family, but that's where I'm at with them. And so not only considering the report kind of relationship, but also consider was the purpose or intent of your disclosure? So what outcome are you hoping or looking for from this disclosure? Is it to educate and raise awareness? Are you challenging a stigmatized statement or questioning someone's bias? Statements like the weather so bipolar? That's a common one, I hear still so much to this day, people with bipolar disorder are crazy. They're violent, they're unpredictable. Things like that. Which aren't considered like a higher level sort of consideration of like, you know, as for me, I still hold her hesitates, gently or, you know, out of kindness, you know, call out someone or to educate someone on those kinds of things. Even as more open as I've been with my diagnosis, it's still an ongoing struggle for me, and like how I do that with people. So anyway?

Is it to inspire others? Give them hope, help them feel less alone with your disclosure? Is it to draw in more support for yourself? Is it to repair a relationship that is important to you? So I say that I pose those questions because you know, there's a lot of shame and guilt that can come after episodes, whether hypo manic manic or depressive, but I would consider giving pause before disclosing if it were to alleviate those kinds of feelings right away. Or to explain away behaviors that happened during those episodes. Or worst of all, feeling coerced into disclosure.

Unfortunately, I heard about this just the other day about a student who very much felt that and that person did not was actually pretty manipulative or did not was not a safe person to disclose that ultimately to so that was sad to hear. But again, so you might want to consider the kind of relationship you have with a person. And the last thing I'll just say is it really should not feel mandatory, or again, like you're being pressured into disclosing so with professors. That's a tricky one. Because, you know, at least as far as my understanding goes, like, either at most, or if not all, universities, you have the Disability Center Department, you know, yes, like HR at workplaces, right to facilitate accommodations, without it being compulsory for any of us to disclose the nature of our conditions. So I just want to put that out there, too, that that is an option. We should never feel like we have to be forced into disclosing. Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 37:12

I think it's good to remind students about that, because I think that that there is a fear there and accessing and requesting accommodations, because they might think that they have to then disclose to quote unquote, justify the accommodations, as I'm glad that you mentioned that, that you can still request accommodations go through Disability Services, Accessibility Services, and not have to disclose to your professors. And actually, on that note, I'm wondering if I know some of these questions are very, like, highly individualized. But are you aware of any type of accommodations that might work for individuals with bipolar disorder who are students? I know that you know, that's a tough one.

Dr. Lauren Yang 37:55

It is because that's it. But it's a great question, though. And I wish I could answer that better. Because to be honest, so when I was still an undergrad, when I entered my grad program, I have still wrestled with that kind of identity for myself of having a disability, to be real honest. And so like, you know, from an outside perspective, or from a third party perspective, I am fairly high functioning with my diagnosis. And it's taken a lot of work right for me to like, be able to get to this point with this condition. But I could not say or speak specifically to what those accommodations could look like, because I didn't seek those out for myself. During grad school I wish I could have there were some moments that it could have been helpful. I don't know what that could have looked like but or

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 38:44

Alternately, like what could faculty, staff, administrators do to better support students struggling with mental health conditions in general, I know, when it comes to accommodations, it's very, I says, highly individualized. And, you know, not everybody will end up needing to request accommodations to navigate their higher ed journey. But I do think that a lot more can be said about what the systems and folks who work for the systems can do to support students.

Dr. Lauren Yang 39:17

Yeah, so a few things I'll say about that. And I'm also drawing from what I observed during my internship, your training at a University Counseling Center as well. So being in a university system, but on the mental health side, like that was a very, you know, very much learning experience too, and like navigating that kind of system in that capacity. But so few things I'll say is show that students can come to you for support, not just saying it, not just having a statement on the syllabus about an accommodations actually speak to it explicitly. Some people I feel like kind of just plop that on there. And then just kind of take it for granted. Like it doesn't need to be talked about but I think it can be important And if it is talked about explicitly, even if briefly, you know, just going over it, you know, not just as a rush thing to check off the box of, you know, going over what accommodations could look like, in your classroom or yeah, the process of getting those. So walk the talk, follow through with your actions and extend support within the scope of their roles.

So I couldn't speak to specifically what that could look like for them. But consider the scope, right? I feel like this goes without saying, but it is surprising to me still how often I hear of how inappropriate or insensitive some people are, and with, you know, in response to students with mental health conditions, so be compassionate, be curious, you never know what someone might be going through, or what it took for them to get to that point. You know, do not pressure anyone ever to have to disclose about their conditions. But if they choose to disclose to you, you know, ask what may be helpful, or not helpful as support, don't assume, or impose your own opinions thinking you might know better than the student themselves. If they don't know or can't articulate it, then offering resources to them. So that they can get better informed and access the support they need. So giving them that agency, right. And then the last thing I'll just say is, you know, being mindful of the language used in messaging sent around mental health explicitly or implicitly. And again, I really appreciate your word choice actually have mental health conditions, because that's how I describe it for myself. Yeah, that's a whole nother thing that I won't get into, but, you know, worse have impact, they do matter. And so we also

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 41:40

I'm so sorry, I just want to tell her, I am not perfect. And sometimes I know that I myself mess up even though I tried to be more aware as a using mental health condition, because sometimes I will switch in between that and saying struggle like mental struggle, but that I think about like with everything, there's always the other side of the coin. So like, I feel like with that condition comes a certain assets or like the positives, there's there's, there's, there's two sides to everything. So for me with like neurodivergence, and with chronic illness, it's like learning to embrace some parts of it, too. But I just, I'm sorry, I cut you off there. Just to acknowledge that like, one, I'm not perfect. And two, I'm very aware that words matter. And that when we do know better to try to be better and try to, you know, know better do better. But it can be tricky. And yeah, so even if it like if you could say some things that maybe folks can start to rephrase or anything that you know, you mentioned some things that come to mind. Sometimes people say that can be harmful to folks who have any kind of mental health conditions.

Dr. Lauren Yang 42:52

Yeah, like, I'm not saying things like, oh, whether she was students face directly, or if it's somehow gets back to students of attributing their whatever challenges that's coming up for them as laziness as incompetence.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 43:12

That's a trigger of mine. I don't I don't believe in laziness.

Dr. Lauren Yang 43:19

Oh my gosh, yeah. Oh, we can go on.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 43:22

Yeah, I'm not like I am so many levels for me like chronic illness needing to pace myself to survive. neurodivergent folks, like sometimes they're just like, things are so hard for them to navigate that are for us, I should say that like some things get, you know, perceived of as laziness when I need extra support.

Dr. Lauren Yang 43:42

Yes. And then again, if you add that extra layer being BIPOC, being first gen, all those things are stereotypes

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 43:51

of folks who are bipod version or immigrants, children of immigrants have, like you have to be hard as hard working. That's not to say that it's necessarily a bad thing, but we also are allowed to rest we deserve to rest. Yeah, yes. Absolutely. I just went off on a tangent. It struck something in me.

Dr. Lauren Yang 44:13

It's such an important point, though, right? Yeah. resonates? Yeah.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 44:18

Yeah. Um, okay, I want I know, we're getting close to wrapping up. But I want to explicitly ask you for any insights or words of advice or resources for individuals out there who might be new to arriving at a diagnosis and are not quite at a space where, you know, they might be high functioning, like they might still need that extra support and trying to figure out like, how, why manage how do I navigate this? How do I arrive at a place where I'm not on survival mode, but I can begin to thrive? You know, what words of advice what resources are anything that they can tap into or learn more about, or just anything that comes up the top of your head because yeah, I this is what I wish I could tell folks that I don't have that experience.

Dr. Lauren Yang 45:12

No, yeah, absolutely. Thank you for asking about that. And I'm happy to share. Yeah, cuz I wish I had this knowledge that I have now. I mean, you know, lived experience or, you know, learn as we go. But, um, so I want to be mindful of your audience, too. I think you said that some of your listeners are international or global across.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 45:35

Over 90% of my audience is actually in the US. And yeah, so primarily in the US actually have a really strong population, or amount of folks that listen to me, I think 1/4 of my listeners are all based in California. Because I'm originally from California prior from that. And then and then next after that, I do have it's Canada, India, like in terms of what other countries are, are higher on my listenership? Yeah.

Dr. Lauren Yang 46:05

Got it. So as far as resources go, just to frame it, as you know, I'm speaking us space. Yes. Yeah. So organization. So these really aren't plugs. Like it's just because I'm familiar with from my involvement with these organizations, but Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance and National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI have peer led support groups and other programming to help support folks, whether with depression, bipolar, or other mental health conditions. International Bipolar Foundation is another resource similar to them. You mentioned BP Hope Magazine. So bphope.com, and its publication BP Magazine, wealth of information and a lot of articles, personal stories, educational info, research backed for folks to pourover. I wish I, I have not even I feel like I've scratched the surface of like the amount of information they have on that side in their publication. So I would direct folks to that.

And then, in general, for words of advice, you know, three that I have in mind is identify and build your support network. I feel like that's crucial to have, whether that be peers, faculty, administration, family, if that feels appropriate, or, you know, you're at that point with family partners, friends, and as we mentioned, online groups, right, like whatever that network could look like for yourself, creating that safety net for yourself with coping skills. You know, self care is very much a buzzword nowadays. But that is part of it, you know, having your toolkit of different ways in which to take care of yourself, know your resources, have a wellness plan, an emergency plan, so meaning, you know, knowing how to identify folks who can help you in times of crisis or what will promote your wellness. And then finally, taking heart that this is temporary, all this is temporary, it will become a phase in your life that you can look back on. The journey is different for everyone. But really giving ourselves credit for already making it to this point, taking stock of how far we've come what it took to get here. Because this is no small feat, you know, what we're doing and what we have done to get here. So I would just like to leave listeners with that.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 48:38

Thank you so much. I was taking notes. I'm gonna be adding all of those things in the show notes. So that way, folks, and I also provide transcripts so folks can access that information if they need to. So absolutely. Anything else that maybe you wanted to share before we close up? Because if not, I would love for folks who resonated with what you shared to know how they can find you reach you follow your work?

Dr. Lauren Yang 49:06

Yeah, so I'll share that in a bit. And just my final thoughts that I'll close with is, you know, first, thank you so much for having me. Today, I'm glad we can make this happen just within the week of speaking with each other truly was a pleasure to get to talk with you about these really important things. I'm grateful for the work you do. And for listeners out there, again, with mental health conditions of any sort. And you know, who your audience that you you know, do this for know that you don't have to suffer in silence or be alone in your struggles, especially when navigating systems that are not benefiting or very much work against us. So the more informed and aware you become of your mental health, the more you empower yourself and give yourself options. So just now these conditions do not have to define or limit you. Yes.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 50:00

All right. Thank you so much, Dr. Lauren. I so appreciate you taking the time to speak with us to share more about your knowledge and experience on the topic. So I really, really appreciate you being here with us today.

Dr. Lauren Yang 50:15

Of course Yeah, and if others would like to continue following me you're welcome to go to Instagram. My handle is @dr.laurenyang. And I invite any connections on LinkedIn as well. You can find me as Lauren Yang, PsyD.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 50:32

I will add those to the show notes as well. Once again, thank you so much.

Dr. Lauren Yang 50:37

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

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