Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mental Health Awareness Month

Image found on Google Free Images

April Showers might bring May Flowers but is also brings Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. 

Found on Google Free Images

Now despite what a lot of Americans think mental health awareness is actually not a new concept but rather a shift in attitudes. The first mental health awareness week was observed in the early 1940's in May. It is kind of hard to imagine what they were making the world of aware of but there was some effort to make awareness towards mental health issues. It was not until the 1960's that Mental Health Awareness week became a month. It is still kind of hard to imagine what the awareness was back then. I can though say that was then and this is now. The concept of the month is to shift negative attitudes towards mental health and break the stigma surrounding it! 

For me mental health awareness month is not just sharing my illness but all the mental illness in general. The fact is no matter what mental illness you have been diagnosed with and no matter where you are in your journey you have likely experienced some sort of negative attitude or even been stigmatized about the illness you are living with. It is not fun being on the end of negativity or being stigmatized because of our illness but the thing I have learned there has come a point in everyone life that they have likely felt stigmatized, singled out, or stereotyped. The fact is a lot of people just don't know and it is our job to be the teacher and show the people who have the negative attitudes that they need to shift their way of thinking. The less stigmatized people feel about mental illness the more likely a person is willing to seek help and treatment. A that is one thing we want, people not be afraid to get help because of what other people may think of us. 

So I thought I would share a couple of things I have learned through my journey of Bipolar!

Hi I am Courtney! : Property of Bipolar Mom and Her Daily Life

Your illness does not define you! 

I do not walk around with a big stamp on my forehead that says Bipolar! No one else walks around with their health issue stamped on their forehead whether it is consider "physical"or "invisible". The truth is you were you before your diagnosis and you are still you after you diagnosis, This one thing alone does define who you are it is just another thing that makes you. So yes I have Bipolar but I am also a wife, mother, crafter, book addict, science geek, carnival glass collector, thrift shop hunter, music lover, nerdy, a semi-gamer, loves to match her nails to her mood, DIYer, quirky, has to left feet, gravity tester, and marches to her own drum beat.

Image found on Google Free Images

Be the teacher! 

I discovered the reason why people say something for the most part is not of malice or out of ill will but rather a lack of understanding. Now I know there are cases where this is completely opposite and I have faced true negativity and have been singled out because I live with Bipolar and another invisible illness. However, for most of the time the lack of knowledge seems to be real reason behind the stigma and negative attitudes. However, simply being who you are not hiding who you are is one of the biggest teaching tools of all. If someone questions about your mental illness don't hide it. Being honest with them is being honest with yourself and you can find out the reason they are asking you is because they are in need of help themselves. 

Be proactive!

Be proactive in your health, life, and your mental illness. One of the biggest stigmas we have to fight in mental illness is that we are unstable, incapable, laying in bed, and not treatable people. A lot of mental illnesses are life long illnesses and there will be bad days, time frames, and so on but we cannot live in those moments! We must always try to push to forward! You must be encouraged to seek treatment (which there are many many may types of treatments out there). We are not unstable, we capable, and treatable people! We may not have asked to have an illness but we can take control of what was handed to us!