I wanted to help my niece. That’s why I started making videos - to hear from other people with bipolar disorder about their experiences. I needed to understand why my hospitalization had been such a breakthrough for me, while for so many others it led to a lifetime of medication. Then I wanted to help the people I met online - so many people suffering.
But, if I’m really honest, I think the only thing that has kept me going on this mission for twelve years is that I am doing this for me. Even back in university, while I was majoring in economics to puff up my resume, my other major was sociology. There, I spent every opportunity I could studying religion. This was before I’d ever heard of a non-religious spirituality.
Then, even when my career was taking off in advertising, I would still find myself wandering over to the local new-age bookstore at lunch hour. The calling to something deeper, something more substantial, was relentless.
Here is 2019, I’m still not satisfied. There’s a long way to go. But at least now I think we’ve found a path.
My wife, Ligia Splendore, has played a huge role in the discovery of that path. Although she has preferred to stay out of the public eye in my bipolarORwakingUP video series, she has had a very influential role in what I’ve posted online. I’ve asked her for feedback on every video I’ve ever made, and often ended up starting all over again after hearing what she had to say. Although Ligia is a transpersonal psychologist here in Sao Paulo, she is also the best advertising executive I’ve ever met. She just knows what works!
Together for twenty years, it hasn’t always been easy. At the beginning of this work together, I was pushing for a more independent, radical approach, while Ligia stressed the importance of building relationships within the mental health community. While we were both fighting passionately for the same cause, sometimes it felt like we were heading in opposite directions.
However, with each setback we both became a little wiser and a little softer; gradually moving towards the approach we share here at Bipolar Awakenings – an approach that incorporates the beneficial aspects of psychiatry, psychology, the peer support movement and shamanism into a program that has the potential to help many people.
Ligia Splendore is a graduate of Santos University in Clinical Psychology and has a post-graduate degree in Transpersonal Psychology from ALUBRAT - Associação Luso-Brasileira de Transpessoal. She has experience with the mental health system in Trieste, Italy - internationally recognized as one of the pioneering mental health services of the anti-psychiatry movement. Over the past eight years, she has been studying the correlation between bipolar disorder and spiritual emergency. Along with Sean Blackwell, she created the social network almabipolar.org which offers psychoeducational support for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Ligia has also helped in the development of the Bipolar Awakenings Healing Retreat.
Since 2007 Sean Blackwell has been researching and teaching about the spiritual dimension and healing potential of bipolar disorder, through his YouTube channel, bipolarORwakingUP. His videos graphically illustrate subjects such as spiritual emergency, transpersonal psychology, and the evolution of consciousness, always demonstrating how these themes relate to transcending the bipolar condition. His book, “Am I Bipolar or Waking Up?” describes his own “bipolar awakening”, subsequent hospitalization and complete recovery, which happened in 1996. His latest project, The Bipolar Awakenings Healing Retreat, is designed to help people who are currently medicated work through the subconscious, bio-energetic material which is at the root of their disorder.
In September of 2016, Sean received his certification as a Holotropic Breathwork facilitator with Grof Transpersonal Training, the official training program of Dr. Stanislav Grof. This education has been fundamental to the development of the healing retreat process.