I know for me, when I heard the words Bipolar and GAD, I was a bit relieved. I finally knew what was going on with me, however, I was not ready to shout it from the roof tops. I knew the diagnoses as did my husband, but I was NOT ready to admit them to anyone else. This is a bit of the victim part I was writing about. I was afraid of what others would say or do, how they would treat me, would they still want to be around me and be my friends? It took a few years for me to be open with friends and family. I found that once I discovered my courage and was “Brave with my Life”, that a whole new world opened up to me. A world where I willingly told my story to others and it actually helped them. A world where I found others like me and we have become life long friends. A world where my voice can make and has made a difference.
I feel like I’m babbling a bit in this post, but I just want people to make the most of their lives. So we have a mental illness, it can be an incredible strength for good if you let it. There is so much more that we can do than we can’t. I say focus on what you can do, want to do and do it well. Don’t let the “stigma” be a deterrent. Use it as a driving force to show the world how great we are. When you see bad portrayals of people with mental illness played out in the media, write them and educate them. When you hear about a bill that you feel will do more harm than good, write your Congressional leaders. Let them know. When you hear someone making a joke about mental illness, correct them. Let them know that it’s not okay. Even if the person making the joke has a mental illness, it’s still not okay.
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We hear so much about the negative side of having a mental illness, all of the stuff that can go wrong, the medication changes, the medication side effects, etc. Sure, that’s all part of it, but there’s so much more to it. Just as we are NOT our illness, these negative parts are NOT the whole of the illness either. There is so much good that can be accomplished as a result of having a mental illness…here are just a few. . .
2. It can open doors you never thought existed. For example, I have been given many opportunities to help shape national and local legislation that have greatly benefited mental health care and mental health education.
3. There is an increased capacity/ability (even responsibility) to help others. Through sharing my story, starting support groups and even writing this blog, I am able to help others. That knowledge of not being alone in your mental illness is huge. . .
5. We have a very different outlook on the world. I know a lot of people see different as a negative thing, but I don’t. It is our way of thinking and seeing things that can bring about change. Change can be good.
6. You find out who your true friends are. You may lose a few friends or many along this journey. Those that leave are not bad/weak people. They just knew they may not have been able to handle it and be the support that you needed. The ones that remain are the ones worth keeping. Their bond is stronger than steel.
7. Once you’ve become more familiar with your illness, you don’t have to be enslaved by it. You can build on your strengths…knowledge is key. For instance, I have been able to use my education background to work with at-risk youth (elementary – high school) in my local school districts. Since i can empathize with these students, I am able to help them achieve academic goals. I’m also able to help them cope with what they are going through. As many teachers will tell you, we’re not just teachers. We are counselors, friends, sudo-parents, the list goes on and on.
Read the rest of the story! Visit 10 Good Things About Having A Mental Illness | BravelyBipolar.
Why is it that we (those of us with mental illness) have to try to bring each other down? Why can’t we truly support one another even when that support isn’t what we want to hear? How are we to ever come together as a cohesive unit for change? Is it even possible? . . .
I refuse to go on the attack myself. It’s a waste of my energy and time. I would much rather focus on the task at hand: Bringing about meaning change in the government (both national and local) and bringing about change in this pervasive stigma on both our parts and those that don’t have a mental illness.
Stigma is going to be our downfall. Education is going to change that. In order to educate, we have to accept what we have been given and be willing to talk about it. We can’t hold it inside and be ashamed of it. We have to be of one voice, one LOUD voice…and don’t forget gentle. We have to finess this. Stigma and prejudice won’t go away on their own. We have to be willing to stand up and be noticed, to get out from behind the shadows, to shed light on these illnesses.
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I met with one of my local legislators today to discuss possible legislation regarding quality of mental health care and the severe shortage psych beds in our state, among other things. It was quite an interesting experience sitting in this local coffee shop talking budget concerns vs. the quality of a person’s life. I get it. It’s difficult to pass a state bill with funding attached to it, especially when it comes to mental health. So I then switched gears to things I thought could be done that wouldn’t add the burden of funding, like CIT training for first responders. This program puts first responders with those us with mental illnesses together so they can ask questions…in a sense pick our brains on how best to handle the situations they run into. How to diffuse a situation rather than make it worse. I thought, what if we could take this state-wide? Apparently this takes funding as well. They have to pay the first responders for their time. My ultimate goal is to put lawmakers and those of us that live with mental illness at the same table. If we can sit down and talk with them, tell them of our experiences in the “system”, tell them our stories, make it more real to them, put an everyday face to mental illness, we may have a chance of passing some meaningful legislation. We may stand a chance of passing some legislation that will actually work and help. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I still think this is possible.
Read the rest of the story! Visit Politics and Politicians | BravelyBipolar.
I’m blogging to bring a voice to mental illness. I’m blogging to bring hope to mental illness. So much of what we see in the media about mental illness is so negative and I want to show the good in it. Yes, there is good in it. A lot can be accomplished for a great change in this country if we only get together and work in a positive manner (which the majority of us already do).
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