People with mental illness need heros

I spent Saturday afternoon at the movie theater watching Black Panther. I came home and watched Wonder Woman. Wow! I absolutely love the superheroes. I enjoy the plot line of good conquering evil.

The truth is everybody needs a hero, but people with mental illness really need superheroes. We need to hear from the people who are living well with their illness. We need to learn from those who have conquered, those who know how to deal with their struggles.

Here are a few people who I’ve found inspiring:

Jennifer Marshall is the co-founder of This is My Brave. She wanted to find a way to help fight stigma so Jennifer created a platform where people who live with mental illness can share their stories. Jennifer lives with bipolar disorder.

Gabe Howard has so many mental health advocacy titles I don’t think I know all of them. I do know Gabe is a writer and speaker, has won many mental health advocacy awards, and was a past board member of NAMI Ohio. He often does many creative podcasts. Gabe lives with bipolar disorder.

Ellyn Saks is a professor of law at the University of Southern California. She has written a book called, “The Center Cannot Hold,” and has a great Ted Talk. I admire her strength and courage for speaking openly about her journey with schizophrenia.

Michael Phelps the most decorated athlete in Olympic history has joined the ranks of mental health advocacy. He is using his Olympic platform to raise awareness for mental illness. Michael lives with depression.

Brandon Marshall is a wide receiver in the NFL whose struggle has been borderline personality disorder. Brandon has partnered with “Bring Change to Mind” and has worked hard at promoting men’s mental health.

So these are a few of the people who I have found inspirational. It’s not that they haven’t struggled or have been cured. What they have done is shine a light so people know more about mental illness.

We can have a picture that says a person with mental illness looks lots of different ways. And we can be inspired by their willingness to share part of their journey with us.

Like many of the evil doers in the superhero stories Mental illness doesn’t play fair. Mental health advocacy is not straight forward like other illnesses with advocacy efforts (think pink). We aren’t fighting for research dollars for one illness, but many. We are fighting stigma hard, only to have our progress nearly wiped out when the loud voices with access to national media platforms make an overly generalized link between mental illness and violence.

We need lots of heroes out there to help fight the battles, because I’m afraid a few inspiring superheroes are not quite powerful enough to take on the world.

But they sure do shine a bright light for the rest of us. It’s up to us to follow the path.

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