We are living in the golden age of mental health awareness.
Discussions about mental illness, in various formats, are becoming quite commonplace.
Educational information is available at the click of a link; like this one from The National Institute of Mental Health about Bipolar Disorder, or this one about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from The Mayo Clinic. Universities and labs are studying our behaviors. Doctors are dissecting our DNA. Mainstream healthcare is more accepting of new therapies, treatments and medications.
Wow, and to think that there was once a time when all we really wanted was for you to stop executing us.
But there’s also something else important happening that needs to be acknowledged. As social interest blogs sweep across the internet, the people who actually suffer from these illnesses, and all of the symptoms, finally get to do the talking. We’re the ones writing the blog posts!
We have a voice! We have finally been granted some sort of universal permission, to tell the truth, the whole truth, and everything you ever wanted to know about being… well, a little unwell.
And you really need us right now. Because, whereas it is of the utmost importance that you learn the textbook stuff about our illnesses, it’s more important that you understand the common human experience of it.
I mean, reading a book about scuba diving is a lot different than having a well-trained guide who has dived every day of his life, hold you by the hand and walk you through it.
And you’re learning so much from us, too; things like:
Who We Are
I am your mother, your child, your neighbor, your friend, that lady who babysat your kids for two years, or that weird but funny chick you met on Facebook.
We are legion.
Or as we say in the south…
“you can’t swing a dead cat around here without hitting a…“
Well, you get the idea. The point is, you already know who we are… finally being able to talk honestly and openly about it doesn’t change that.
Who Else May Have Suffered
We are not alone! In fact, we are “in good company“. Modern psychiatrists have suggested that Edgar Allen Poe and Leonardo DiVinnci may have suffered from some mental impairment.
Many current celebrities have beenopen about their disorders. or have admitted to struggling with a mental illness.
Here is a list from Wikipedia of Celebrities With Bipolar Disorder. Some of your role models and heroes are on that list, I promise.
How Our Illness Presents Itself
Once you learn the textbook stuff, you can look back and pick out certain behaviors that you’re now recognizing as symptoms. And keep in mind that mental illnesses travel in packs.
Our parent issue is a biochemical imbalance combined with a genetic predisposition, and/or the experience of a traumatic event. But our collective diagnoses always resembles the alphabet (PTSD, OCD, BP-II, BPD, yada yada yada).
How You Can Help
You can listen, and ask honest, straightforward questions. You understand that much of our behavior is ruled by emotion, and much of our emotion is intensified by an altered bio-chemical and nervous system.
Please don’t take it personally. By doing these things, you can help us live more authentic, productive, and joyful lives.
So sit back, and hear our collective voices crying out!
And then, get the tissues, because some of us are just plain crying.