Mean people suck. In my first draft of this blog, that bumper sticker sentiment was all I could type. It’s a natural response to an emotional situation, but I know better. Responding in anger only fuels more intolerance. I have enough to deal with just managing my mental illness. Advocacy is not a license to bully. Leave that to the narrow-minded. Then help them change their mind through peaceful interaction.
My career as an actress began after my trigger moment as a teen. The only difference is I required no acting lessons. No beautifully written scripts were sent to me for memorization. My stage was built outside the doors of my own home. There was no payment received for my skills or an award given.
I am actually enjoying my life now. This change took a long time, many many years from when I was initially suicidal. I had to learn how to rest, when to sleep; I had to learn when to take my medication so my days would be full of activity, not sleepiness. I had to learn to really talk to my doctor so he could help me. I had to learn to not be embarrassed by my limitations.
All six Canadian NHL teams – Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks – during this month will be hosting a mental health awareness day and game. “Hockey Talks” encourages the conversation about mental health.
When mental illness is a part of the picture it takes more effort than some people are willing to give, but I’ve seen it work. I know couples where one partner or the other manages a difficult diagnosis and they both live through the facets of that illness together with strength and grace. They might even throw in a bubble bath or two.
After accepting my husband’s proposal of marriage, I felt it was my responsibility to provide all facts possible about my diagnoses before we wed — how being bipolar has and does affect me and whether or not children could be a part of our family. Christopher was more than a trooper – he went to myriad doctors appointments with me as I asked my practitioners to put it all on the table for him. He had to know, especially since he’d never seen me manic.
A relationship can be seen as an intimate system, a loop. So what breaks this circuit and invites misunderstanding, and what is it to be truly understood? As a person living with schizophrenia, it is the difference between profound loneliness and a semblance of life. For those of you born with a standard neural network this may sound like melodrama, but to think so would be a mistake. Whereas you are in constant control of your thinking, the thought disordered person is not.
As I slowly began to understand depression and the impact it had had on me, I thought that if I could get healthy, perhaps I could have another chance to enjoy life. Part of my recovery was to seek my own voice. I had this deep need to explain to people what had happened to me, how mental illness played such a powerful role in my life.
As a society, we need to accept this reality and begin putting the money toward mandatory training programs strictly taught by qualified mental health professionals. With mandatory programs, we could potentially see a decrease in deaths and an increase in communication between people. Communication is crucial and with it, we can begin breaking down the barrier of stigma associated with mental illness.