But one thing that hasn’t changed is my desire to write for you, dear reader. I know that some of you experience the same feelings I do. You tell me so. Some of you have frequented psych wards. Some of you have friends or family that alienate you. I get it.
I am you.
I want you to know I am rooting for you- from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep. I wish you joy and happiness and everything that comes wrapped-up in a bow. But more than that I wish you clarity. I hope you can make it through each panic attack unnoticed. I don’t want you to risk your job because of a mental illness. I hope your friends are understanding when you have to cancel plans for a night out with them.
Being sick isn’t easy. It is NOT. I don’t like to compare illnesses so I won’t, but we have it as bad as any other illness, only ours is silent and undetectable. Fifteen years ago you wouldn’t have told me who – mentally – I would become today. That is what I mean: For a lot of us, we don’t even see it coming until we are in break-down mode.
I am (last I checked) one of 5.7 million Americans with bipolar disorder. Just one in a sea of mentally-ill folk. Here is how I rise above that. Lean in. I will tell you.
I write about my experiences. Sometimes they are weird, sometimes mundane, and sometimes fantastic! But I KNOW, if it has happened to me, more than likely, something similar has happened to a reader or two, and that is my goal, to connect with you, one reader at a time.
I get emails often about how one particular blog post touched a reader or how a reader wants to follow my lead and speak up.
I encourage everyone to speak up. Can you imagine the noise we’d make if all of those with mental illness cried out at the same time for equality, compassion, and help?! I can. It is what keeps me writing.
So, today I challenge you to, in some way, break down some stigma. I am not telling you to come out of the “bipolar closet” (though I wish you felt safe enough to do that), I am merely asking you to bring up the mentally ill in conversation without it ending on a dark note. I am asking you to share a story on an online forum anonymously. Sharing anonymously leads to confidence. Confidence leads to speaking up. Speaking up leads to change. Change leads to freedom.
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