American Culture Studies Ph.D. Dissertations

An Autoethnographic Exploration Into Bipolar Depression and Social Support As A Factor Of Resilence

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Culture Studies

First Advisor

Sandra Faulkner (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Sheri Wells-Jensen (Other)

Third Advisor

Ellen Berry (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Sarah Rainey (Committee Member)


This dissertation is an autoethnographic inquiry into mental illness, social support, and voluntary kinship. I explore relationships with my voluntary kin - people who act as family without biological or legal ties - and the types of supportive relationships in which we engaged that helped me accept the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder (BPD). Because of their communication and commitment to me, I learned to thrive while complying with mental health treatment. This document describes the process by which I went from being self-centered to other-centered; from social support receiver to social support provider; and from defining myself as an individual to understanding my role in the collective.