Laura

I was lucky. I was diagnosed at the age of 20 with Bipolar Disorder, Type II. I say I’m lucky because many people go years without a diagnosis and are miserable without knowing why. When I’m miserable, I know why, and have known why for 9 years. I was diagnosed my second time in the hospital for being suicidal. I have been in the hospital 5 times for being suicidal, and once for an actual attempt. It has taken me years, but I finally accept my actions and my illness.

I try not to be shy about this whole “having a mental illness thing.” I always try to be open about it because I believe in having conversations about mental health. It reduces stigma, and I always seem to learn who else is struggling, just like me. Being open about it has been a blessing, honestly! I’m “out” at work and with all of my friends and family. I figure if you can’t accept me for who I am, we have no business being friends anyway. Being open about it, though, has shown me how accepting people can actually be.

About actually having it though, I just have this thing I have to deal with every day. It does not mean I am “crazy.” I am still a productive member of society. I have a good job with health insurance that I love. I pay my taxes, and have a great relationship with my boyfriend. I like going to concerts and I read constantly. My life is not too shabby. There is just this extra thing I have to deal with, but it does not encompass me.

I have the second type of Bipolar, so I get hypomanic instead of manic, which means the episode of mania is much less severe. I also get severely depressed. I am on medication, which I take consistently and faithfully, and have been very stable for about 2 years (yay! Go me!). I am thankful for all of the support I get from family, friends, etc. I think that is why I am able to live life pretty well. I wish there were supports in place for everyone like me. Many people who have mental illness are shunned by their families or society. That has to change. We are people too and need love and support just like everyone else.

1 in 4 adults experience mental illness in every year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. That means you probably know at least a few people who are struggling at any given time. And people are afraid to talk about it! There is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, which has got to stop. We have to quit being afraid to talk about it. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. People have it. It’s a fact of life. Shame on anyone who shames someone else for having a mental illness. We all need to support one another in times of trouble, and be good friends to those who need us.

My goal in life is to educate and talk to people about mental health. I have several ideas of how to go about that, but suffice it to say I’m working on a book right now and other side projects. I also hope to have a blog soon to start a dialogue about mental illness. It’s time to talk about it.

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