I’ve been hearing a lot lately about “serious mental illness” or the “seriously mentally ill”, both in legislation and in posts. I have a real problem with this. I know I’m going to upset a few people with my post and for that I’m sorry, but as I have always said “Everyone is entitled to their opinion”. (even ones I don’t agree with)
Anyway, in my opinion there should be no distinction between a serious mental illness and a mental illness…all mental illnesses are serious! Some lucky people are able to go into a sort of remission for a time, but even that doesn’t last forever. So when you start to make laws for only the “seriously mental ill”, I begin to worry. You are leaving out a vast majority of the mental illness community and who is to determine just who is seriously mentally ill and who is not. Dividing us out like that isn’t going to solve anything. It’s not going to stop the violence (of which we, the mental illness community, only account for 1% nationwide). It’s not going to increase the amount of people seeking help. And it certainly won’t do anything to stop this pervasive stigma. We, all of us in the mental illness community, have the same chances of exhibiting more serious symptoms of our illnesses. You can’t single out part of this community and hope the problem will go away. It won’t.
This is why it is so vitally important the we, as a mental illness community, come together to be one voice, to be heard. If we don’t do it, then true, meaningful legislation will not be achieved. We have to be brought to the “table” so to speak with legislators. We cannot let legislation be created out of fear and miseducation.
Okay, so I may not make any friends with this post, but this is how I feel. Just as I am entitled to feel this way, you are entitled to disagree. If there are to be discussions on this post, please let’s keep them respectful.
I’ve been taking a wee break from blogging to pursue some creative outlets. I find it helps to keep me balanced. I didn’t want you to think I had forgotten about you. I don’t remember if I had mentioned that I make stained glass art. That’s what I’ve been doing, well that and walking and hiking to get the anxiety under control. I find that more than the exercise, the act of making a stained glass piece keeps the anxiety at bay even more.
I’m particularly proud of my most recent piece and will post a picture of it, most likely tomorrow. The original piece I will never sell, but I’m thinking I might make smaller ones (no two would be exactly alike) to sell as a fundraiser for different organizations (not sure). See, there I go again. I can’t get away from helping charities.
Anyway, I hope all is well in your world. I’m hanging in there. I’ll be blogging soon! 🙂
I have been inspired by my fellow blogger, Dyane, of ProudlyBipolar… The Birth of a New Brain. Her recent post “The Bipolar Identity Diet” hit home and hit hard. I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately, especially since I was forced to cut ties with a national suicide prevention charity that so severely disappointed me (and that’s putting it lightly). It has made me think. I’ve continued on with my advocacy work and it looks like I will be the reason for some new Congressional legislation, but who knows when we’ll see that and how long will it take to pass. I’ve focused so many years of my life to healing not only myself, but others as well (sometimes to the detriment of my own mental health). Is it all worth it? This fight needs to be heard. Are we really going to change anyone minds? So far, at least on some of the boards I’m on, all I’ve seen are very heated debates with no resolution. No one side willing to concede that the other side has a valid point. I think until we are able to allow each other to have our own opinions and be kind to one another regardless of how we feel, I see no end to this stigma that holds us back. This could be the late night, non working sleep meds talking, but it’s how I feel at the moment…actually quite a bit lately. My last meeting with a local legislator just left me feeling…blah. He did’t seem to get it and no matter what I said or how politely, statistically, humanely I put it…it seemed to go in one ear and out the other. He seemed more concerned about his next appointment. That’s not to say they are all like that, but it’s very discouraging.
I still want to help. It’s just in me to help. To what capacity I let it take in my life is another story. It has begun to jade me towards other charitable organizations and that’s not a good thing. You see, I know how much government funding these other organizations receive compared to suicide prevention and mental health care. Let’s just say we have billions to go before we are even close to what they get. I think I need to step back from the national charity organizations, let them do there thing. I will focus on advocacy, because it’s in my blood. I just see something that needs to be changed and I want to do something about it. I just have to adjust my expectations of legislators, both national and local. I think by doing that, I’ll be able to manage things a bit better…maybe actually get some sleep. 🙂
“If you believe in a cause, you must be willing to put yourself on the line for that cause.” ~ Adam Clayton of U2
“If you can have a sense of humor and think about what you can do for others it just seems to help take the focus off from whatever you’re suffering from” ~ Adam Clayton of U2 when asked to give advice to his younger self and other young lads.
*As you all know, I am a HUGE U2 fan and to know that one of my boys stands up for mental health (www.walkinmyshoes.ie) does my heart good.
I came across this video on FB and wow did it speak to me. It is just so true. If we were hospitalized with a broken bone or something to do with the heart (basically anything else, but the brain), we’d be inundated with flowers and cards. If you’re hospitalized due to mental illness, you might as well be in Siberia. You’re lucky if you get a phone call from someone, let a lone a visit. It’s worth taking a look at.
I ran across this story on FB the other day (http://www.lifebuzz.com/old-scrapbook/#!9tgAe) about a man, Sir Nicholas Winton, who saved 669 children during the holocaust. He never mentioned it to anyone, except to maybe a handful of people, including his wife. He didn’t feel it was necessary. He did what he did and it was done. A true hero.
You may be wondering why I bring up this story. It’s not particularly related to mental health, but in some way it is. Those of us that advocate for mental health have our own personal reasons for becoming advocates. Maybe we live with a mental illness, maybe we loss someone to mental illness, maybe we’re just sick and tired of the disparity between the care of physical and mental illnesses. Whatever our reasons, we all have the common passion to set things right. The one difference I see here is that most of often we write or talk about advocacy experiences (myself included). We tend to wear it as a badge of honor, calling ourselves MH warriors or the like. Is that right? I hate to use the word “should”, but I’m going to. Should we be more like Sir Nicholas and just do the job and not worry about whether or not we are recognized for it?
So it all comes down to the real question of “why” we do this. Obviously, the situation with Sir Nicholas and Mental Health Advocacy is vastly different. I often worry that by writing about or talking about my advocacy experiences that I’m trying to get some kind accolade, but I don’t think that’s the case (and I really don’t think that is case for many of us). In the case of Mental Health Advocacy, the more people that here about what you’re doing will hopefully inspire more people to do the same. At least that’s why I mention it to people. I want to be that driving force that tells people to get out of their comfort zone and do something (good). So, every time I write a blog post, I grapple with these self serving thoughts. It’s not my intention to be self serving. I do genuinely want to help others and help shape legislation…to make a difference. I just hope the good that I am able to achieve is somewhere in the ballpark of Sir Nicholas. He’s a very inspirational man.
So remember: Be kind to yourselves and know you can make a difference.
This is a wonderful article written by Tom Wooton. He explains so eloquently what I have been attempting to say here on my blog. It is a good read. Please take some time to read it.
I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
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).
Thank you Travel Channel for taking a stand on suicide prevention. Thank you for saying enough is enough. I am not rejoicing in the fact that Adam Richman may have just lost his career, but I am glad the media finally took a stand and fought with us. Maybe a shift in the views of the media is starting to take place, this media who has portrayed us so appallingly. Maybe this is one of the first steps in erasing the stigma.
Adam Richman is not the first person to say something insensitive about suicide or mental illness and I’m sure he won’t be the last. While I praise the Travel Channel for its actions, I am more concerned about why Mr. Richman made the comments that he did. It would have been so easy for him to just simply apologize for the hashtag that offended so many people and change it to something else. Instead, he went on the attack and still did not see how inappropriate his suicide inspiring comment was. I would like to invite Mr. Richman into a conversation so he can learn just how damaging his words are. I would like to educate him on mental health illnesses and suicide prevention.
He should not be treated with harshness. This is a great learning opportunity for him and teaching opportunity for us. You don’t win someone over with negative actions. Remember the old saying? “You catch more bees with honey.” Well, here’s our chance to teach someone (as we would a friend or relative) why their comments were so inappropriate and that those words can cause harm. Let’s look at this as an opportunity, not an excuse to rant.
He has the ability to carry our message much farther by being in the public eye, if he does not feel like he is being belittled or treated harshly. He can become a great advocate for our cause, if he is gently educated. Education is key.
Yes, it’s true…We have bad days, even horrific days, but not always. So when asked about your mental illness, do you say you suffer from it or live with it? There’s a world of difference in those two responses: one implies you are a victim of the illness and the other empowers you. Which are you?
My response (ever since I attended my first support group) has been: I have/live with Bipolar Disorder. If I had cancer, I wouldn’t say that I suffer from cancer. I would say that I live with or am fighting cancer, making the point that I am not a victim…I am a survivor.