Are You More Aware? #DCfC
Towards the end of March I went through a pretty major medication change for my mental health. By the first week in April I was thinking more clearly than I had in probably a year, maybe longer. One evening I was sitting on the couch watching television with my husband when all of a sudden I had this idea! Could I host a guest series for the month of May all about mental health awareness? May IS mental health awareness month, and I AM passionate about promoting education and awareness in regards to mental health. So, I hopped online to consult my blog sister, Lizzi, and see if she thought it was a viable concept. She did! But then I thought, who do I ask to write for me? It was already April, was I giving my potential writers enough time to put something together?
The very next day I sat down and wrote out a pitch I could send to the writers I wanted to participate in the series. I had looked at the calendar and decided if I could get eight writers to agree I could post something every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the month. The writers I decided upon were some pretty big names in the blogosphere and I was super nervous just to ask them! Somehow I worked up the courage to send that pitch out, and then I had to wait. I’m not good at waiting, I mean, I am a very patient person so it was no big deal waiting on their responses. Finally the emails started coming in. I was absolutely shocked and humbled because I was receiving yes after yes after yes, “I would love to be part of this project!”
As I told my guest writers in the pitch I sent them, I wanted to run this series to show the world how beautiful we are when we put our words together, when we stand as one to promote education, spread awareness, fight stigmas, and work towards cultivating a compassionate community regarding mental illnesses. If you have followed the series, if you’ve read any of the articles, I believe you’d agree it has been a resounding success!
Lizzi got things started by telling us of The Things She Says and the battle between mind and body that is anorexia nervosa, which so many of us can relate to. It goes far deeper than a desire to be thin, it’s a psychological obsession that, in the worst cases, leads to death. From there, the baton was passed to HastyWords, who showed us how she’s learned to lead in the dance that is depression, even though He Is A Killer. Hasty discussed how important it is to understand your triggers when you live with depression and how she avoids her own triggers, advice we can all learn from. My third guest was Vince Berryman who shared his story of astounding ineptitude and abuse and why he is, understandably, Done With the Mental Health Profession. My next two guests discussed opposing sides of the same coin – psychotropic medications. Nicole Lyons, founder of the nonprofit organization The Lithium Chronicles, wrote about her frightening experience of being vastly over-medicated under the care of mental health professionals in her piece, Medicated Madness. Two days later I published They’re Just Medications by Kimbery Morand and Kimberly tells us how much medication has played a role in helping her live a more balanced and healthy life. It just goes to show that no two people have the same experience when it comes to mental health and those afflicted truly have to be their own advocate in their treatment plans. Both articles about medications are true and valid, there are important lessons within each of these stories. My sixth guest changed the pace of things a bit by writing a poem about his struggles with depression and anxiety. Days of Pain by Peter Leske is a beautiful piece where he speaks of the possibility to approach the pain of depression with love and compassion, which is the aim of this whole series – to approach mental health issues with love and compassion rather than ignorance and stigmas. Next came the blogosphere’s favorite dino-girl, Rarasaur (aka Ra Avis). Ra married a man with depression and she loved him despite it, so she shared some tips on How To Love someone with depression. Ra’s article includes incredible hand-drawn doodles and a simple yet most powerful message – love is the answer. My final guest for mental health awareness month was none other than founder and CEO of the NPO Stigma Fighters, Sarah Fader. Sarah has helped people all over the world speak out about mental health and tell their personal stories, but here she tells us how she’s Fucked Up and Owns It. Her message is clear and strong, be proud of who you are because we are all beautiful despite our flaws.
I genuinely hope that seeing these varying points of view in regards to mental health – stories of failures and successes, stories of people who have fought to be who they are today despite being labeled and shamed for diseases they didn’t ask for – will enable you to see their beauty and strength. I hope you walk away with a little more understanding of the struggles we face and the courage it takes to conquer those struggles. I hope you feel more compassion in your hearts and think a little differently about people who fight mental illnesses. I hope you choose to join our fight and stand with us in this journey towards smashing stigmas associated with mental health issues. Because that is why I wanted to host this series.
Are you more aware? Did any of these stories resonate? What other ways would you suggest to combat the stigma surrounding mental health?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
May has come to an end, but this fight has not. If you or someone you know struggles with mental health issues and you would like to share your story here please contact me! I will continue to publish these stories as they come to me. I would be honored to share your stories which provide new perspective or edification and put matters concerning mental health into accessible, relatable tales of true life.
Abbie is a published writer and poet who creates with passion and conviction. She doesn’t shy away from the truth and often writes about her personal journey with depression and anxiety. Abbie is a fierce mental health advocate determined to promote awareness and fight stigmas, which inspired her to start Depression: Catalyst for Change. Connect with Abbie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.