mental illness survivorI was talking to a woman whom I admire a great deal, and we were discussing shame. That’s when it hit me, I think many people out there are genuinely ashamed of being mentally ill.

But why?  If you spend years struggling to understand what is so “different” about your life (as I did) and you finally realize what’s going on, why be ashamed of it?  I think everyone should embrace it, learn about it, and search for the best course of treatment.

I am not ashamed, and I’m proud to say it!

I would shout it from the rooftops if I could, and I will tell every person that is willing to listen.  I am proud of who I am, even if some people think I’m crazy, that’s okay with me!  It’s all about the stigma.  It is really irritating that people walk around under the shadow of shame for having something that they need help in coping with.  Let me explain.

Look at cancer, that is an illness, right?  Yep.  It is a serious illness that you have to monitor for the rest of your life.  So, after watching people I love very much battle cancer with courage and dignity, I hold my head up high and follow their lead, without shame!

I am proud of my journey through recovery and the steps that I take to maintain good mental health, like taking my medication and seeing my doctors – even though I sometimes have problems that arise from my illness.  How does that make me any different from a patient who is recovering from cancer?  It doesn’t!

Just as a woman I know and love can stand tall and proud and say that she is beating cancer, she is a breast cancer survivor, I can stand tall and proud and say “I am beating mental illness, I am a bipolar survivor.”

So why don’t you do the same?  Stand up, brush off the stigma, let go of the shame, and be a proud bipolar survivor!!

Photo by kodomut, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.