The journey of life can be a difficult challenge for any of us, but living with a mental illness presents other major challenges that can make the road even more arduous.
The one thing I have come to learn is that recovery is possible. But so often to get to recovery we have to face some of our biggest fears.
As I was preparing for a Mental Illness Awareness presentation I was reminded of how much I have personally been impacted by Stigma. I remember those days when I first heard those words “you have bipolar disorder and it’s pretty serious.” It was as if the doctor’s were giving me news about a terminal illness. I really thought my life was over.
The truth was I was so darn caught up in what people would think that I resisted the much needed treatment I needed. As you can imagine it only made my illness worse and it took far longer to recover than was necessary.
As I embark upon this journey to raise awareness and take a bite out of stigma I can’t help but imagine there are people out there who think I am “crazy” for publicly sharing the fact that I live with bipolar disorder. It’s not that I don’t care what people think, after all I am human, but I feel even more passionate about knowing I can help a lot more people if I am honest.
There are millions of people who live with mental illness. We not only have to fight our illness but we also have to confront our biggest fears. Learning to speak more openly and honestly about my illness has actually been freeing for me. It’s as if I have been carrying around this huge secret and have to tell half-truths to explain how I ended up where I am.
In many ways I believe living with a mental illness has taught me to be a more compassionate person. It’s funny how sometimes our biggest struggles can serve as life’s greatest lessons.