We are privileged to share blog postings from our Ambassador Jessie Close, Adrienne Gurman, Henry Boy Jenkins, and other guest bloggers.  Please visit regularly as our content will be updated often.

Doctor, Doctor Give Me the News

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In the years leading up to my official diagnosis, I’d been on a journey to find out what was wrong with me. Going under the assumption that anyone with expensively framed degrees made them qualified to evaluate, diagnose, and treat whatever was causing my consistent dark thoughts, extreme anxiety and suicidal thoughts, was, to put it mildly, a big mistake.

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Gothic Mirage

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The day I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I decided not to rest for a moment. I wanted to learn everything I could about my disorder, to understand what courses I could take to manage my symptoms, and to express to others my drive to survive.

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The Big Dipper and The Navy Yard

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The recent shooting in the Navy Yard has everyone talking about mental illness again, a conversation we make after each tragic shooting. I mourn and pray for the families left behind.
I heard, on the radio today, a military representative say that he doesn’t think mental illness should carry the stigma that it does, that if someone isn’t well they shouldn’t be afraid to get help.

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Gatekeepers

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The familiar sensation of being outside of my body is amplified by a lack of dimension typically assigned to my everyday surroundings. I am here, but I don’t know where “here” is. Significance is not. I am being interviewed by an anonymous psychiatrist who will determine my eligibility for financial assistance by asking a series of standardized questions – questions drafted by people who likely never sat in my chair …

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Back to Normal

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I wrote this blog on September 11, 2013, a day when it was okay to be sad. Yesterday you were not judged for having outbursts of crying, or openly expressing anguish, grief, loss, anger or bewilderment. Yesterday, if you exhibited any of these normal human emotions, you’d have been hugged and supported with understanding and compassion. There was no stigma attached to feeling depressed and hopeless while walking the streets with a lost look on your face.

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This Season

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Falling into depression, falling into a world of less light, falling falling away from the thick sunlight of summer. I don’t know how to suppress these symptoms of seasonally driven rhythms. In fact, there is nothing I can do about the planet spinning in and out of seasons.

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Lightning in a Bottle

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Physical illnesses are cruel. Witnessing the outward effects of a disabling injury, or the withering weakness from chemotherapy, we empathize. We don’t question what we see before us: our loved ones being ravaged by a lentivirus or malignant cellular growth. For a moment we consider our own mortality, but our brain immediately deletes that notion. Our going concerns become other-focused. We circle the wagons instinctually.

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Connection

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Connecting with other human beings can be very difficult for me and for many living with mental illness. In my private life I rarely make a point to connect with people I don’t know. I live in a tiny house with four dogs and am an hour away from two of my children and many friends.

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Shipwrecked

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My very first anxiety attack occurred when I was eight years old. We were on a family vacation at Disney World. The pictures from that trip—now faded and worn—reside behind a sheet of plastic in an overstuffed photo album. My younger sister and I donned Mickey Mouse ears while squinting from the sun in front of each ride.

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Being Worthy

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I’ve been thinking, on this blustery, wet day, what it is that makes us feel worthy. I have felt un-worthy for a good part of my life, the part that wrecked relationships and hurt my kids. I don’t wreck things anymore but feeling un-worthy still lingers. I think this feeling is attached to self-stigma and shame.

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