MIAW is this week Oct 2-8. My goal is to shine light where there is a lot of darkness in our country, around the world, and in our hearts right now. Having a severe mental illness has been tough to say the least, and receiving slim to none understanding over the past years hasn’t helped.
If your heart or any other organ is chronically sick, there’s usually no hesitation to get help or to talk to someone about it. With our brains, for whatever reason, it’s a different story. Admitting you have a mental illness is usually done under your breath if at all. And it’s mostly met with “why would you ever admit that.”
I’m a part of 2.6% of the population with Bipolar Disorder. Dbsalliance.org says that 1 in 5 people with Bipolar Disorder will complete suicide. That is a devastating statistic for me. A 1 in 5 chance to live is not a comforting reality and shouldn’t be accepted. This is part of what motivates me to educate others on our illness. Because it is an illness that has been around since the beginning of time, not our imagination. While the manias and depressions are beyond awful, the associated shame and stigma is hell on earth.
People with severe mental illness used to be treated like animals, chained in prisons, hung and thought to be witches, lobotomized, and basically treated as sub human throughout history. I wish I could say this has improved far more drastically than it actually has. (http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/…/the-history-of-mental-ill…)
After I left Clemson finally in the Fall of 2014, after having been sexually assaulted by a student there, being sent into a severe manic episode, and overdosing twice within a week, I went to an inpatient facility for a 2 hour interview where they deemed my case “not severe enough” to stay there. There’s nowhere to go.
I wrote a fan letter to a strong woman in the sport’s industry, Samantha Ponder, where I told her I was coming to terms with leaving Clemson and having Bipolar Disorder. And I was treated by ESPN security like a criminally insane stalker for it. I’m now apparently on a list to look out for, because I told this woman I wanted to be like her one day. I can’t help but feel that if I had a different illness that that letter would have been received completely different.
Education. Conversation. Long term treatment in conjunction with acute treatment. Understanding. Acceptance. Erasing the stigma. These are so desperately needed.
If you would share this post or my one from a couple days ago in hopes of allowing others to be more aware of mental illness, that would be wonderful. Mental Illness affects all of us in some way whether we want it to or not. Might as well do something about it.
“Our purpose is in our pain” -Brandon Marshall