Dear Gabe:

What is the one greatest thing you have chosen to do in your recovery that all of us could do to impact this movement of stigma breaking and awareness?

Regards, Laurie

Laurie,

I’ve decided to break up your question into two separate questions and answer both. I hope that’s okay.

Question number one is straightforward: “What can anyone do to eliminate stigma and educate people about mental illness?” The answer is very simple: anyone can talk about mental health and mental illness with an open mind in a caring, respectful, and non-judgmental way.

What our society needs is more understanding, open dialogue, and education. By facilitating these conversations, you raise the level of knowledge that society has about mental illness. In other words, as understanding increases, stigma decreases.

What is Something that Anyone with Mental Illness Can Do to Reach Recovery?

Question number two is going to be: “What is something that anyone with mental illness can do to reach recovery?”

I try really hard to stay away from absolutes. I seldom say that if everyone with bipolar would do this one thing, they’d be guaranteed to reach recovery. I do this because there just aren’t that many absolutes in the world.

People are all different, with or without mental illness. What works for me may not work for you, and what works for most people won’t work for all people. It’s always important to remember that.

That said, there is an absolute answer to this question and it’s extremely valuable. In order to reach recovery with mental illness, a person must stay alive. Let’s not get bogged down in how difficult or painful that can be, nor do I want to assign blame in the event of suicide. But it’s important that, in order to reach recovery, you value life and fight to stay alive.

It’s easy to lose focus on how important living is to moving along the path toward wellness. I swear to you that believing your life has value is the most important thing you can do to reach recovery.

Regards, Gabe

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 Gabe Howard is an award-winning writer, activist, and speaker who lives with bipolar and anxiety disorders. Gabe runs an online Facebook community, The Positive Depression/Bipolar Happy Place, and invites you to join. More great information can be found on his website, GabeHoward.com.