Thursday, September 12, 2013

My goals behind this blog! (Originally Posted 3/1/12)

Let me start off by saying that this blog is a huge triumph for me. The reason I say this is because my mental illness is not something I have ever openly discussed. Instead, it was something I tucked away in the back of a closet while trying to pretend it did not exist. I did what I needed to do to remain stable or to regain stability when it was lost, but outside of that, I did not acknowledge my mental illness. Historically, there have been very few people in my life that knew about my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and of those people most only knew very little in the way of details.

This blog serves two main purposes. The first purpose is to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness. Telling my story is my way of working towards erasing stigma. I want people to read my story, my challenges, what I have overcome, and how far I have come in life. I want them to look at all of that and then realize “Wow, she is just like me. Her mental illness does not make her any different.” Everyone has overcome challenges in their lives, some bigger than others, but all challenges none the less. Different people deal with various types of challenges; I happen to live with the challenge of Bipolar Disorder. The bottom line is that my challenge of mental illness does not make me any different or any less of a person than anyone else. I want people to read my story and see that and be able to view every person with a diagnosis of mental illness in that same way.

The second purpose is to provide empowerment to others living with a mental illness. If I can help just one person who reads my story and realizes he/she is not alone in this battle, it would all be worth it! However, my goal is to touch the lives of far more than one person in my lifetime and I know that, in time, I will. I spent a number of years feeling alone as if I had no one to talk to, and no one understood. I aim to provide individuals living with a mental illness a place where they do not feel alone and instead feel empowered in knowing, they can do whatever they put their mind to.

I have had many challenges to overcome through life. Some of those challenges, I have overcome with no trouble at all; others I have had much more trouble overcoming. However, in the end, every challenge I have encountered has made me a stronger person. I have proven to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. While challenges may slow me down from time to time, they can never stop me! This is a mentality that has taken me a very long time to develop. I no longer allow myself to succumb to my mental illness. I am stronger than that and I know it. This mindset has taken a lot of work and a lot of effort on my part. I hope that my blog can help others living with a mental illness realize that they too are strong and that they are not alone in their battle.

The following list is what I want to come out of this blog:

  •   I want people to look at this blog and recognize the accomplishments I have made  despite the fact that I have Bipolar Disorder.
  •   I want people to look at this blog and realize that my diagnosis makes me no different than they are and transfer that to society at large. One in four adults lives with a mental illness in any given year and they are no different from the three in four who do not. Mental illnesses are no one’s fault and no one should feel ashamed for having a mental illness.
  • I want people to look at this blog and realize that mental illness does not mean someone is weak; instead it forces that person to be stronger.
  •  I want people to read this blog and erase the stigmas they have about mental illness as well as to help erase the stigma they hear from others in society about mental illness.
  •  I want individuals living with a mental illness to read my blog and feel strong and empowered.

This blog is a courageous step for me. While it may be written about me, the mission is not about me. It is for the greater good. It is to help others. Stepping out of hiding was not easy but well worth it. There may be some backlash along the way, but it will all be worth it in the end. It is liberating to be able to tell my story, which is something I have never had the courage to do in the past. I feel satisfied knowing that my story could help others get through the challenges they may be facing from their mental illness.

For those of you living with a mental illness like myself, always remember, mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. There should be no shame in telling the story of what you have overcome. It should not be a skeleton in the closet; it is part of you, and it is what has helped to shape you into who you are. Never forget how strong you are!

My biggest inspiration in overcoming and beginning to talk about my illness has been Kay Redfield Jamison. She is a well-known author who has written multiple books about mental illness. My favorite book of hers is An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness which talks about her life with Bipolar Disorder. Her onset of Bipolar Disorder happened in college. She had many obstacles to overcome throughout those years but went on to complete her PhD in Psychology from UCLA and now practices at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She is incredibly inspiring to me with all she has accomplished and the strength she has shown in telling her story publicly. About ten years ago, her book An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, gave me the inspiration and the courage to know that my illness could not stop me. I still hold that with me today and even re-read the book every so often.

To my family, friends, and everyone else reading the blog: Please continue to spread the word I cannot do it alone. There have been an astonishing number of visits to the blog already; I know that number will only continue to grow. Thank you for helping me spread the word!

I am tired of hiding, tired of misspent and knotted energies, tired of the hypocrisy, and tired of acting as though I have something to hide.”

 –Kay Redfield Jamison-
 An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Thank you for reading! Until next time…
-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

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