Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Even on my weakest days I get a little bit stronger" -Sara Evans                                  

I love this line from her song A Little Bit Stronger. It holds so true for individuals living with a mental illness.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Stigma Hurts: Real Life Examples!

I have been working on the blog post that I mentioned to you recently for a few weeks now. I am having trouble figuring out exactly how to put part of it into words. The inspiration will come to me eventually it just may take me a little while longer, my apologies. In the meantime, here is something else for you to read, something that I believe to be so incredibly important. 

From time to time, I will ask a question on the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook page and some of the individuals that like the page will post their responses.  Recently, I asked a question that is extremely relevant to part of my goal behind this blog and behind my Facebook page… fighting the stigma of mental illness. In this blog post, I am going to post the question I asked, along with the responses (word for word) that I received from fans of the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Facebook page.
The discussion below provides real life examples of the hurtful things that people say to individuals living with a mental illness. You can’t get any more real life than this, each of the responses below is an example of something or multiple things that have been said to an individual who is living with a mental illness or a loved one of an individual living with a mental illness. Many people don’t think about the things they are saying, I like to think positively and believe that much of the stigma comes from ignorance and not from hatred. Making individuals more aware of how hurtful the things that they are saying is of the utmost importance in fighting stigma. Everything you will read here is a real life stigmatic phrase, let’s all work to be more aware of the things we say. These things hurt whether the intention behind it is ill or not, they still hurt. Please take the time to read through what the amazing Facebook followers of Kissing Stigma Goodbye find to be hurtful. 

I have turned every individuals name into “Anonymous” and you will see “Kissing Stigma Goodbye” a few times throughout which is a response of mine throughout the conversation. I didn’t really make any changes outside of ensuring that no individuals name was used so everything is copied and pasted just as it was written by the individual.

This was the original post by me: 

Kissing Stigma Goodbye One of my most hated things that people say... "Bipolar disorder is just mood swings, everyone has mood swings". What is your most hated thing people say about BP or mental illness?

Here are the series of responses that followed: 

Anonymous "everyone has issues concentrating, and sleeping, and has mood swings, you're just calling yourself bipolar for the attention"

Anonymous You can get over it. Ugh I hate that.

Anonymous "You're not really bipolar. You take too much medicine. You just need to go off all the meds and you'll be fine."

Anonymous It's just in your head!

Anonymous I hate when ppl say u shouldn't have kids bc they automatically think its going to b passed on 

Anonymous "they should lock you up"

Anonymous Its all in your said i have it too and i dont need all them drugs and i work.

Anonymous "snap out of it, you are just being a spoiled brat" is what I hate to hear the most.

Anonymous Youre just lazy...hou get a fat check. Omg makes me so mad

Anonymous I hare it Whenever anybody tells me that they're feeling 'bipolar today' ... AND I really don't like it when in trying to make a point in casual conversation someone in my family asks me if I've taken my meds today. Seriously people? Just because one is diagnosed with bipolar disorder it doesn't mean you can't be passionate or outspoken. And don't tell me you're feeling bipolar 'cause it's not an emotion!

Anonymous I don't have a "pet peeve" so to speak about it. ANYTHING said about someone who is suffering these or other ailments pisses me off. I'd love to just Smack some smart and compassion into people sometimes. :)

Anonymous I hate when people say "(insert name here) is bipolar because they are (put action the person doesn't like, here.)" when that person really isn't bipolar and you just say they are because you're just being a jackass.

Anonymous Not so much any specific comments, just that they can't understand that there are things I CANNOT do sometimes.

Anonymous Im a mother with a son who has EMOTIONAL DISTRUBANCE ADHD. Im so sick of how people puts lables on people who has disabilaties.I myself have ADHD N IM DISLEXIC ALSO.So my point is we r diffrent but we r not that diffrent from everyone esle.It just makes us AMAZING PEOPLE;)

Anonymous Get out of the house and do something! No wonder you're depressed, you don't do anything! Another thing, I'm on disability, I need to get off the "crazy checks" and get a job according to my daughter's dads side of the family

Anonymous "You just need to get your sh*t together, everyone has mood swings." OR "I really don't think you're bipolar." (like this person is a doctor?! Um, that would be a no!)

Anonymous This is all so frustrating to me because I never knew everything I needed to know about my disorders until about 5 years ago and I've been talking medication for 27 years. So my past and my behaviors have followed me this whole time. I want so bad not for anyone to feel sorry for me but to understand!! Understand I can't make myself feel a certain way when I want to! My BF and I have been together for 4 years and he sees my struggles but still doesn't get it!! I have to get away from everyone because I get so upset. I can explain, or try to explain how I Feel, I'm told there's nothing to be mad, sad, scared about or of. Just think this way instead, if I could I wouldn't needed my medication...

Anonymous Get over it rages me!!!

Anonymous everyone has a cross to bear pull your big girl panties up and get over it.

Anonymous That I can control it with my mind. And basically saying its not real.

Anonymous get over it is the big one that just makes me want to slap someone, and how everyone has bad days

Kissing Stigma Goodbye Another one that I hate... "Well you look normal", I got that one the other day!

Anonymous My son has autism, epilepsy, speech delay, and something called intermittent explosiveness disorder (very similar to bipolar). It makes me insane when people ask me whether the doctors think he'll be able to "grow out of it."

Kissing Stigma Goodbye I was diagnosed as a teenager and went through a lot before I was stable on meds and someone once said to me at that time, I see you've decided to be good now as if it was a choice I made to just snap out of the bipolar symptoms that had been negatively affecting my behavior all that time.

Anonymous "Did you forget to take your crazy pills today" if I am in a bad mood or tired

Anonymous I hate when people say snap out of it. And I really hate when they say I must not be praying hard enough at church because we Christians etc.

Kissing Stigma Goodbye (in response to above comment) I hate when people tell me that god will fix my mental illness and all I have to do is ask god, no god won't fix this for me- My own active role in treatment is how I manage the symptoms of my illness. Or when people say I'll pray for you, I just want to say, I'd rather you show some understanding that would go a lot further for me than prayer in this situation.
Anonymous I am faking it and get a job, if they only knew

Anonymous I get the "everyone has problems with blah blah blah" as I said in my first comment.... a Lot from one of the bosses at work; makes me wanna deck him every damned time, or the bf "everyone has days where everything goes wrong" dude.... you don't f*cking GET it 'cause you don't HAVE it ((I myself have never been diagnosed with anything other than depression several yrs ago, but have experienced Many 'episodes' so to speak in the past year, mostly brought on by the high-stress & high-dipshit content of where I work.)).

Anonymous "If it's to do with your mind, then you can control it"
and "You choose your mood"

Anonymous People have said to me, "oh thats convenient" or " doesn't everyone have bipolar

Anonymous When I was first diagnosed in 2004...I sat down with my father to tell him...all I got in return is the comment its all in ur head...fucking hate that!!

Anonymous You are just lazy, worthless, crazy and should be put into a asylum

Anonymous Lazy. Just get up and do something you'll feel so much better

Anonymous That we are crazy!

Anonymous "Mom and dad were too good to you" as a primary reason and "You're unpredictable" as a reason to keep me out of his (my only sibling) life.

Anonymous My x ( why he is my x) You only get sick when you want to get sick.

Anonymous ….Or when I overhear...."she's bipolar....she really can't be trusted those people scare me"

Anonymous Oh we are all a little bipolar! Lol that one makes you want to scream.

Anonymous I was kept out of my family's lives because they "could not deal with me."

Anonymous Just snap out of it. Also, don't you think it's time to get off the meds?

Anonymous You're not really bipolar. You just use that as an excuse for your behavior.

Anonymous "Chin up, you don't need medication. You're just not giving it to God". Arghh! Hate that one. Very hurtful..

Anonymous I hate that they won't acknowledge it as an illness and think your making it up or perhaps it's all because of a lack of good parenting

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

Monday, March 18, 2013

The faces behind mental illness!

Behind every mental health diagnosis is a beautiful human being, an individual who has so much to share and who has fought so hard to get to where they are! Behind every individual’s fight is a story of their own. Behind every story of mental illness is a face that tells part of that story. There are many faces of mental illness, many stories of mental illness, millions upon millions! Showing the world that I am not just a mental illness but I am an individual with a story, a struggle, a fight but even more importantly so much potential is so important to me. Having a mental illness doesn’t set me apart from the rest of the world. Here is the story that tells the brief version of my fight and the face that lies behind it all, one of the millions of faces behind mental illness!

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 15.  I was initially given a misdiagnosis of clinical depression and was treated solely with an antidepressant.  This course of treatment kicked me out of depression and right into the hands of full blown mania. This mania ultimately landed me in the hospital after an intentional overdose of over the counter pain medication. I received the diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder while in the Emergency room which was then followed by a 2 week stay in a psychiatric unit in the hospital. Those 2 weeks were the very beginning of a journey that forever changed my life; the journey of living with and overcoming a mental illness! This is a lifelong journey for me and so many others!

I definitely did not leave the hospital at 15 thinking, alright, I’ve got this mental illness and I’m going to take medication every day and everything will be alright.  In fact, it was just the opposite. High school was a time of complete turmoil for me. The addition of the onset of bipolar symptoms to the already difficult time that high school brings to everyone did not bode well for me.  I really can’t even begin to put into words how treacherous that time in my life was.  It is a time I try so hard to forget. It was in my senior year that things began to turn around. At that point I was finally faithfully taking my medication every day.  The change in me that accompanied my medication compliance was truly phenomenal.  It was like night and day, two totally different individuals.  During my senior year in high school I was able to take half a day of classes in high school while taking a college course at the Community College in the afternoon. I had hated school so much during these years and was able to discover through taking college courses how much I actually love learning. It was a fantastic discovery to have made at a point in which I thought I completed hated education.

Let’s fast forward 5 years from my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to my 2nd psychiatric hospitalization at the age of 20. I was experiencing a very severe depressive episode during this time period and was feeling suicidal. I locked myself in the bathroom with the intentions of taking an overdose.  My dad came to the rescue by literally banging the door down before this could fully occur; I had taken a few pills but not enough to cause any damage. I was hospitalized psychiatrically at Sheppard Pratt for 6 days inpatient followed by a week in the day hospital.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in 2007 and went out into the full time workforce. Two months after graduating college I went through the scariest experience of my life.  I made a suicide attempt that I am extremely lucky to have survived.  I spent quite a few days in ICU and managed to come through it all! I am so thankful to be alive!

Since that event in 2007, I have been through a subpar marriage (which is an understatement), a divorce, a series of increasing intensity in my bipolar symptoms requiring medication adjustments and an onset of a psychosis like I’ve never experienced before.

On the other hand, since that scary event in 2007 I have overcome the psychiatric symptoms that I have dealt with on various occasions, I have changed my outlook on life and on mental illness, I have taken a stand to fight the stigma of mental illness and most recently I graduated with my MBA degree!

In between the major events that I have mentioned I have experienced many rough patches throughout my life. I have experienced times of severe mania and times of severe depression.  I have also experienced times of mania and of depression that were much less severe yet lingered over time before I achieved a successful medication increase or change. Finding the right mix of medications hasn't always been easy.  In fact it has often times been tiring and cumbersome. There have been obstacles to overcome through every step of the way as a result of my Bipolar and I am happy to say that I have successfully done so. Bipolar can’t and won’t stop me from anything! I proudly take the 3 psychiatric medications I am prescribed and stand tall for all that I have accomplished despite having a mental illness!

Bipolar has knocked me down temporarily but I will never let it keep me down!  The stigma of bipolar kept me from ever discussing that I had an illness until recently.  At the beginning of this year, I went from hiding my bipolar in the back of a closet like a big dark secret to telling the entire world that “I have Bipolar Disorder and I am just like you”. I started a blog called Kissing Stigma Goodbye dedicated to raising awareness of mental illness, fighting the stigma attached to mental illness and providing hope, encouragement and a sense of belonging to individuals living with a mental illness and their families.  I also developed a Facebook page with the same purpose.  These pages provide me with the chance to use my experiences to help others and to show others that they are not alone in this fight! I hope to dedicate my career to raising awareness, fighting stigma and providing a sense of hope and belonging!  My bipolar disorder and my experiences have given me the gift to help others!  I call it my beautiful madness; I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


It is that time again... time for the NAMI Walk in Baltimore. It will be held at the inner harbor on Saturday May 18th with check in starting at 10am and the walk starting at 11am. I would love to have anyone from the Baltimore area walk with me on the Kissing Stigma Goodbye Walk Team.  The web address to the team site is On that page you can sign up to walk with the team or make a donation to NAMI on behalf of the Kissing Stigma Goodbye walk team. I will post more about who NAMI is and what they do over the weekend. They are a fantastic organization.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I haven't posted a picture of me in a while, so here is one that was taken last week. I am working on a blog post as we speak, I was hoping to have it done and proof read by tonight but I am not sure that will happen but it will definitely be posted tomorrow evening if I don't get it posted tonight!

And just for fun, the black and white version I made on Instagram (an unfortunate new addiction of mine)!

"To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don't need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself" Thich Nhat Hanh