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#OK2Talk: Join the Mental Health Movement

24 Jul

#OK2Talk-Join-the-Mental-Health-Movement2

Experiencing a psychotic break can be an isolating and debilitating event. If I talk about it, will everyone think I’m “crazy”? Will I lose my friends? Will I lose my job? Will I ever get better?

When mania grabbed a hold of my brain at the age of twenty-six, I thought my life was over. I had been hospitalized for three days and had to be tranquilized in order to force sleep, my mind brought back to reality only through the use of antipsychotics. The details were not pretty. I practically suffocated from the weight of keeping my pain bottled up inside. It seemed like no one in my immediate circle of family and friends understood what I had just gone through. My close friends tried, but the truth was everyone was so scared to talk about it.

I wanted desperately to find someone, anyone other than my psychiatrist and therapist, who knew what I was feeling. Wasn’t there anyone out there, a peer, who was like me?

My emotions pummeled my personality to the ground with their negativity. Thoughts raced through my head and nothing I did could make them stop.

Fear of the future. Guilt over what I had put my husband and family through. Sadness for the career that I had to leave behind. Disbelief in the words the doctors kept repeating. Anger that this was happening to me. Why me? Why?

I remember visiting bookstores with my parents where we’d search the Psychology section for titles that might help us understand what was happening to me. On one trip, my dad bought three thick paperbacks with promises on the cover which gave us hope. We went home and flipped through the pages, eager to find the answers to our questions.

We did find some, but they were clinical in nature. I was searching for different answers. I wanted to read personal stories of recovery and inspiration. I wanted to know that others had walked in my same shoes, had lost touch with reality, came crashing down to the darkest place they’ve ever felt, and made it out okay.

I wanted to know I’d be okay too.

Back then, in 2007, there weren’t many people blogging openly about bipolar disorder. There were women bloggers who were starting to open up about their experiences with postpartum depression, but blogging wasn’t nearly as prevalent as it is today. Social media was in its infancy, at least for regular Internet users like myself, so the ease in sharing information wasn’t quite there yet. You had to do the digging yourself, and my efforts at finding stories of hope and inspiration from other mental health consumers weren’t successful.

Back then.

The times, how they’re changing.

Today there are more and more people opening up each day about their journey to recovery from mental illnesses. There are blogs and vlogs, online support groups, Tedx talks, Facebook groups, and community performances which are educating the public on what it’s like to live with a mental illness. I’m proud to have opened up on my blog, sharing my true identity because I can now celebrate being a part of this change.

I can feel the change as its happening. I feel it in every email I get from a friend thanking me for writing about my story because they’ve been through something similar. I feel it in every message I receive on Facebook or Twitter from someone I’ve never met who has read my words and felt inspired to share their own.

This is how a movement starts.

It starts with one person who is brave enough to share,
who inspires others to share,
which in turn inspires the world to change.

 

On Tuesday I attended the launch event on Capitol Hill of #OK2TALK, a national media campaign produced by the National Association of Broadcasters in an effort to spread mental health awareness and teach young adults that sharing our stories of hope and healing can help others who are struggling. The campaign includes PSAs in both English and Spanish featuring teens and young adults talking openly about their experiences with mental illness. At the end of the ads, there is a call to action directing you to create the conversation about mental health online via social media.

NAB President and former Senator Gordon H. Smith described the campaign as “bringing the issue of mental health into the sunshine,” and I couldn’t agree more. I applaud the NAB for its commitment to increasing the awareness and understanding of mental health and I encourage you to contribute to the conversation via the blog, www.ok2talk.org.

Help is available and treatment is effective, and by encouraging society to be supportive of those struggling we will save lives.

 
#OK2Talk-Join-the-Mental-Health-Movement
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The Truth About Living Openly with Bipolar Disorder

10 Jul

LivingWithBipolarDisorderMe & my little firecracker on July 4th

I will never regret my decision to write openly about living with bipolar disorder. Never. There is something to be said for reaching a point in your life when you take an important leap. One you can tell your kids about someday. When I realized it hurt too much to keep it bottled up inside was the point when I realized that I wanted people to know I’m not perfect but I still love my life just the way it is, mental illness and all.

I love the moments right before I fall asleep. My mind replays my day’s highlights, as if to ingrain the smile or giggle or kiss in a corner of my brain, so that I won’t ever forget it. Tucked away safe so that I can unwrap it again when I need that memory.

Lying still, listening to the steady rhythm of the one I love beside me, I think about the day that awaits me when the sun rises.  I soak up all the sleep I can because chances are, I was up too late writing the night before. I no longer set an alarm; the sweet voices of my kids will wake me when the sunlight pours into their rooms.

The truth is, even though I will never regret my decision to tell the world about the chemical imbalance in my brain, I still wonder if I chose the right time in my life to open my heart.

Living openly with a mental illness means you’ll always wonder if the world is judging you. You’ll wonder if you will ever be looked over for a job you applied to or a promotion you earned because of the fact the employer knows you have bipolar disorder. You might wonder if you will ever work a regular job again now that you’ve written about the darkest and also the most manic times of your life.

These are the things I’ve been worrying about lately.

The truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that even though I know my husband loves me with his entire heart, someday he might not because my illness might get in the way one time too many. My entire world would come crumbling down around me.

And if my world did come crashing down, if I was left to manage on my own, how would I do that? Again, the future employment picture bubbles to the surface. How would I support myself financially when my loving husband has been the main provider for the last six years? And would my symptoms suddenly break through the surface again, like a volcano that has been dormant but now is ready to explode?

These are the big, scary thoughts that sometimes make me wonder if I did the right thing.

Because the truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that once you’re diagnosed, it’s yours to live with for the rest of your life. It’s yours to manage, to curse, to medicate, to appreciate. There is no erasing a mental health condition. Therein lies both the beauty and the beast.

The truth about living openly with bipolar disorder is that it’s shown me how far I’ve come as a person. How I’m no longer afraid of showing my true colors. I love my brain and all the creativity it has allowed me to express. Even though it may break down from time to time, I love this piece of me which has shown me what I’m capable of. And that is overcoming my fears and insecurities.

For this I say, I’m glad I’ve decided to be open about the fact that I have bipolar disorder.

No looking back. There’s only the beautiful mystery of what lies ahead.

On Staying Up All Night

30 May

LifeIsTooShort

Over the course of the past three months, I’ve made the transformation from Mental Health Consumer to Mental Health Consumer/Advocate, and from anonymous blogger to someone who finally realized she was entitled to call herself a writer. A writer who was no longer afraid to write her truth.

And I’m only just getting started.

Here’s a quick re-cap of the intertwining events of the past few months which led up to what is taking place this weekend.

Back in March, I attended the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat as a newly self-proclaimed writer. It was on the Friday the retreat began when I read the email that I had received my first offer to join a major parenting website as a contributing blogger. A paid contributing blogger. They were going to pay me to write for them.

I was at the top of the highest high possible without actually being manic. It was blissfully refreshing.

This was my first post: My Love/Hate Relationship with Sleep. It was featured on the AOL Homepage on April 11th, and although it wasn’t the post I had hoped would be my “coming out” piece to the world, I was still very appreciative for the exposure and was in complete awe of the avalanche of love and support that followed from my family, friends, and readers I had never met before.

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The following day I posted what I would have chosen as my reveal post, had I been given the choice. My Time to Stand Up to Stigma was my big announcement to whoever was willing to listen. I stood at the top of the platform that is my blog and said {well, wrote, actually}: “I have bipolar disorder, and I’m no longer ashamed about it. I’m ready to finally show my true colors and talk about that piece of my life because I believe it’s important for me to do so.”

After having met an incredible person and fellow writer, Natalie, who happened to be my roommate at Wild Mountain, I had purpose to make my next leap. Natalie had overcome a suicide attempt last year, and her story inspired me to sign up to walk the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight Walk {this weekend!} in Washington, DC. I had heard the commercials on the radio prior to meeting Nat, but it was only after listening to her tell me the harrowing narrative of what she went through that I actually logged onto AFSP’s site to register to walk.

I’ve raised $2,025 for the walk thus far, and will be meeting up with several blogging friends (and meeting new ones!) over the weekend who have also made the same commitment to the cause. We believe in the importance of speaking out, of telling our stories, of starting the conversations about mental illness so that we can help others. I am so proud to be a part of this amazing event. {Follow me on Twitter (@BipolarMomLife) as I live-Tweet during the event.}

I’m a part of a movement that is changing the world. One word at a time. One day (& night) at a time. One reader at a time. If I were never diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I might not be writing right now. I consider my mental illness a blessing in disguise because at first diagnosis I became a prisoner of my condition. But over the years I’ve learned that condition doesn’t have to take over my life. In fact, it enriches my life.

Over the past few months, I’ve chosen to stop wasting time being scared of being vulnerable because life is too damn short. I’ve realized that it’s my life to live and I control the end of my story. Staying up all night – for ONE night* – this Saturday into Sunday is only the beginning.

*I have put several precautions in place for this weekend, including asking my parents to be here so that the kids will be taken care of while I nap before and catch up on sleep after the walk. Staying healthy for myself and my family is my number one priority. 

My latest post for WhatToExpect.com’s Word of Mom blog is live! Please stop by & check it out if you have a few minutes. It’s got an important message. 10 Reasons I’m Thankful I’m a Mom Fighting a Mental Illness Thanks so much!

My story on It’s All In Her Head

11 May

LearnToSurf_BML

A few months ago I attended the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat in Leavenworth, Washington. It was my second writer’s conference, but that didn’t make me any more confident in my writing ability. I was going for the sole purpose of learning the best way to go about writing a memoir. I needed advice on structure, voice, publishing, and most of all, I wanted to learn the secrets to becoming a better writer.

I had no idea that I would leave Wild Mountain more inspired, more motivated and more excited about my writing than ever before.

But those weren’t even the best things that came out of the retreat.

I met intelligent, forward-thinking, fun-loving, witty writers who I feel incredibly fortunate to know now, to be able to call them friends. Real life friends. Their friendships were by far the greatest take-away I could have ever asked to receive through spending a long weekend surrounded by nature in all its glory.

I learned a TON at Wild Mountain, and it took me what felt like a month to digest it all. I got home and began to work on applying what I had learned. I reached out to my new writer friends for editorial guidance and encouragement. I came out of the closet about my illness. It felt liberating, not having to hide anymore.

I was encouraged by several people from Wild Mountain, to submit to an online anthology being created by the wife of one of the instructors. I was intrigued. After reading what it was all about, I was pumped to contribute. I was positive I wanted to be a part of her project.  The hardest part was finding time to write it all out. I knew my piece would be long and I had a hard time figuring out what to keep and what to cut, while still showcasing in detail what I went through when I was diagnosed and how I was able to pull through the sadness and intense anxiety over my illness to get to where I am today.

It took longer than I anticipated, and I kept emailing Laura to tell her I needed just “one more day” which she always granted me graciously. I’m so pleased with how it turned out and it’s my hope that it sheds some light on what it’s like to be hit with a mental illness out of nowhere. To live a year of your life in darkness, not able to care about the next day because this day is too heavy to carry. To keep fighting until one day you realize that everything is okay. That today isn’t scary anymore because of all the tools and resources you’ve accumulated over the years. The tools and resources which help to keep you healthy and alive and enthusiastic about the future.

That’s where I am right now. I know that there will be plenty of waves ahead of me in life. I just feel as though I’ve finally realized that I can surf.


My piece went live this morning on It’s All In Her Head. If you have a chance to read it, I’d love to hear your feedback. And if you know someone who might be inspired by reading this piece, please share. Thanks so much and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

This Is How Big My Brave Is

6 May

Something incredible happened to me on Friday. I linked up with one of my favorite writers online, Lisa-Jo Baker, and her Five Minute Friday writing flash mob. The stars must have aligned for me the night before. Because her prompt last week couldn’t have been more perfect for what I was hoping to write about that morning: how my friend Natalie survived a suicide attempt a year ago and so bravely chose to live her life and tell her story to help others.

It was through Lisa-Jo’s post that I was introduced to the brilliant new single by Sara Bareilles, Brave:

I chatted with Natalie via Facetime on Friday morning and told her how awesome the song was, how excited I was that I got to write on the word Brave for my post, and how perfectly fitting it was to use as a dovetail into her own blog posts this weekend describing what she’s gone through over this past year.  We couldn’t have asked for a better anthem for Nat’s Alive Day Anniversary weekend.

She went skydiving on Saturday. Talk about brave!! So proud of you, Natalie. Keep it up, girl. You’re inspiring more people than you’ll ever know.

I downloaded Brave to my ipad mini and had it on repeat basically all weekend. Besides making me wish I had been a part of the music video, it also made me want to take action. The lyrics will do that to you. Trust me.

So I spoke up.

It was a shortlink to my post about deciding to come out and write openly about the fact that I’m living with bipolar disorder.

And then this happened:

Screenshot 2013-05-05

You may be squinting right now since my screenshot is so small. So I’ll just tell you.

Sara Bareilles re-tweeted my tweet to her 2,749,330 followers.

I may have let out a little “WHOOOOOOO!!!!” loud enough for our entire neighborhood to hear.

I was so flattered that she cared enough to share my tweet. She believed in my brave. Enough to share it with all. of. her. 2.7+ million fans.

And I thought that was pretty cool.

My household now has this song memorized, and I love that the kids have fun watching the video with me. We play it loud and sing along while dancing around the kitchen. I thought it was an appropriate time to share this post I wrote to them last year, which I edited a bit to use as my Listen To Your Mother audition piece in February.

~~~~~

Dear Mister Man and Sweet Pea,

I’ve been thinking about writing a letter like this to you two for a while now. These past four years with the two of you in our life, have been the best (and most challenging) years your Daddy and I have ever experienced. They have not passed without some terrifying ups and downs. When I say “ups,” I really mean mania. My year-long battle with depression was won before you both were born.

You see, your mommy has Bipolar Disorder.

It’s something I probably won’t explain to you until you are much older. You don’t see me take my medication every night, but you have been with me to see my psychiatrist. You both love the special toy box she brings out to keep you occupied while we talk, and now when I tell you “Mommy has to go see her doctor,” you always ask if you’ll get to play with her superheros. Last time I had to go “to the doctor” it was my gynecologist and she only had a plastic uterus to play with. Wasn’t as fun, was it?

Right now my illness is hidden from you, but there are times it creeps out. I may yell a little too loud, or in a nasty way with a scowl on my face. Maybe it’s just part of being a little worn out from the whole Stay-At-Home-Mom thing, juggling the demands of running a busy household, but I also believe that my occasional outbursts have something to do with my condition. My patience is so thin you could poke a hole through it with a feather. Not all the times, but sometimes.

Your Daddy and I have worked so hard together to manage this thing though. We’re beating it, he and I. We’re doing it together. He tolerates my moods and hugs and holds me when I need the extra love. And I know that the only way I stay balanced is by taking my meds, seeing my doctor and therapist, eating right, exercising regularly and most importantly, getting enough sleep. The occasional bubble bath doesn’t hurt either.

Whenever I do have one of my moments, I immediately feel full of regret. I wish I could go back to re-do what happened so that I could handle the situation differently, more lovingly. But I guess that’s kind of what parenting is all about; learning from our mistakes and doing things better next time. I’m always trying to do better, my loves.

It’s true, sometimes I fear that one (or both) of you could inherit my condition. If either of you end up fighting my fight, your Daddy and I know we’ll survive. In fact, we’ll do better than survive. In the years since I’ve been diagnosed I have built up a library of my personal notes and records of my treatments: things that worked and didn’t work for me. We’ll beat it because we have so many tools and resources to turn to in order to get you back to healthy. So my loves I tell you this: don’t worry your little hearts. Having a mental illness is not the end of the world. In fact, it just means you see the world differently than other people do. In some ways that isn’t always a bad thing. Some great artists have Bipolar Disorder. It brings out your creative side.

Regardless of what your future holds, please know that you both have made our family so much richer, even in the midst of learning to cope with something as complicated and intense and draining as a mental illness. I am so incredibly thankful that your Daddy and I took the leap we did to start our family. Looking at your precious smiles today, I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

Someday, when the time is right, we’ll have the talk. It’s hard for me to imagine that point in the future. I worry about how my revelation of my illness may affect you. Will it make you sad? Will you feel hurt that I waited to tell you? Will you be upset that I kept a blog about living with a mental illness in which I wrote about you? I guess I won’t know until we get there, but my hope is that someday when you’re old enough and we do talk about it, you’ll listen with open hearts.

I hope you’ll tell me that you’re proud of me. That you’re proud of me for not being ashamed of having Bipolar Disorder. That you’re proud of me for telling my story to help other people. That you’re proud of me for trying my hardest at being the best mom I could be.

Because I finally am brave enough to say: I have Bipolar and I am not perfect, but I am perfectly your mom. I hope someday when I tell you this, I see you both smiling back at me with pride.

I love you both to the moon and back.

xoxoxo

Mommy

~~~~~

“Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is”

~Sara Bareilles

I have a feeling that this song will become a huge catalyst for not only the fight against teenage bullying, but also the battle to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. Please share. Everyone deserves their own chance to be brave.

My Time to Stand Up to Stigma

12 Apr

eecummingsquote

 

“I’m ready to not be anonymous anymore.” I said, tensing up slightly at the sound of my voice.

Even as that statement came out of my mouth two months ago at my Listen To Your Mother DC audition, I didn’t yet fully believe what I was saying. I still saw the faces of my parents in my head, grimacing at the reverberations of my words. I sensed a dark hook pulling me back into my closet of shame. It took a trip to the opposite coast for a long weekend at a writers’ retreat a few weeks later to demonstrate to me why I no longer need to hide.

 

I think the shame stems from my upbringing. In fact, I know it does. My family culture taught me that we don’t air our dirty laundry. That we should never appear vulnerable for fear of appearing weak.

 

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in the spring of 2006, my Mom and I took long walks around the townhouse community where my husband and I lived at the time. She led me in praying the rosary. I followed along, because at the time I had no idea what else to do. At the time we grasped at whatever made us feel better. Or she did, at least. I was pretty numb from all the meds I took. And so I just repeated the prayers, over and over again, like the good little Catholic daughter I appeared to be. What she wanted me to be. Not her daughter who just found out she has a mental illness.

 

In going through treatment and therapy, I hid mainly, curled up in my closet of shame. I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I had suffered two manic breaks, both of which hit me out of nowhere and forced me to spend almost a week in a psych ward to be brought back to reality. My hospitalizations were traumatic and harrowing, from the injections of anti-psychotics that I received, to the night I spent in the isolation room because I thought my roommate was a monster. I had no one to talk to about the torment it caused me. Only my closest three girlfriends knew that I had been grappling with a psychiatric illness. They were there for me, but only so much as they could be. So much went unsaid, for fear of feelings being hurt. My world had been rocked to the core, and my personality had crumbled in humiliation. Because of the sudden shock of it all, I experienced severe anxiety attacks and subsequently had to resign from a job which I loved and excelled at.

 

In the course of four months I had gone from the peak of my career as a rock-star recruiter, pulling in six figures at the tender age of twenty-six, to the darkest, most desolate time in my life. I felt so alone, despite the fact that my parents and husband were doing everything in their power to figure out what would get me well. They listened when I cried practically every day for nine months straight. My husband wrapped his strong loving arms around my frail body each and every night in bed so that I could turn off the racing thoughts and fall asleep to the sound of his steady heartbeat. I am forever grateful to them for staying positive and focusing on the end goal of getting me to see that it didn’t have to be this way. That life was worth living. Because I couldn’t see further than a step ahead of me back then.

 

We took things one day at a time in 2006, only consulting with our closest friends and family in the times when we needed extra help or advice. After several months of seeing and hearing me struggle with suicidal thoughts, my parents were desperate to find a doctor who could prescribe the right meds to bring their bubbly, confident, smart daughter back. She had all but disappeared and by this point they were ready to do anything to prevent me from taking my own life.

 

The thoughts of killing myself were only fleeting thoughts, bouncing in and out of my brain. My head was overflowing with chemicals from the drugs I was on, that I sometimes wondered if the thoughts were a product of my meds. The morbid curiosity I was struggling with made it tough for me to connect regular, day-to-day thoughts like, “I wonder what I should make for dinner tonight?” or “How many minutes do I want to sweat on the treadmill today?” In my messed up reality I felt like I didn’t have anything to live for anymore. A very selfish part of me thought my pain would magically disappear if I just swallowed a bottle of pills. It was as if I were trudging through thick, gooey mud in my depressed mind every day when all I longed for was the ability to return to normal.

 

By some miracle of God (or maybe my Mom’s rosary prayers were finally answered), my Dad was able to get me an appointment with the Chief of Psychiatry at the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, MD, near where I lived. That meeting, on a warm October evening the day before Halloween, was a night I’ll never forget.

 

Dr. Post explained why Lithium was a good choice for me and that I should be open to giving it a try. He listened to my fears and addressed all of my concerns. He even gave us his notes from that meeting. I cried hard as I confessed my extreme grief at not being able to have children because I’d be taking Lithium for the rest of my life. Dr. Post assured me that this simply wasn’t the case. I would just have to work closely with my doctors before, during, and after the pregnancy and I could even stay on my medication – in fact, he strongly recommended that I do – since the risk of birth defects while on Lithium is so low. The benefits of staying on medication during the pregnancy and after, foregoing breastfeeding, greatly outweighed the risks of not taking the meds.

 

Within three months on my new medication, I began to feel my old self emerging like cheery daffodils poking through the cold, wet spring soil. But instead of opening up and telling our friends and family how happy we were that I was starting to feel better, my Mom kept praying on those  beads, and mouths were kept shut. The whispers shared between the family regarding my health continued, even as I began to surrender to my desire to share my feelings of what it was like living with a mental illness. The writer in me just wanted to be able to talk openly about how I was working hard to get well. I wanted to show the world that I had been through hell and back and I turned out okay. In fact, I was better than okay. I was ready to start writing my story. I started my blog, Bipolar Mom Life, but was gently encouraged by my family to keep my identity a secret, so as not to jeopardize future employment opportunities or my relationships with our neighbors or people in the community. And so for nearly two years I remained a prisoner of my parent’s mortification over the illness, complete with hands in cuffs and duct tape over my lips.

 

It’s been seven years since I was handed my admission into the club of mental health consumers. We’ve had two healthy kids and I’ve had two more hospitalizations, both times because I put my babies’ health before mine. They are my world, along with their Daddy. It only took me seven years and a few months from my first manic episode to figure out that I’m going to be okay. That I don’t have to hide anymore. That if I can help just one person by sharing my story then it’s worth it.

 

I’m ready to not be anonymous anymore.

 

I want to show my kids that it’s important to stand up for what they believe in. If not, then why are we here? I believe that having a mental illness should never stand in the way of anyone’s dreams. I believe we need to educate the world about the various types of mental illnesses so that more friends and family, co-workers and teachers can reach out to those who need help so that they can get the care they need. I believe in standing up, showing up, and writing my way through living with a mental illness. It does not define me as a person; it’s just one aspect of my life which has helped shape me into the person I’ve turned out to be. And I’m pretty damn proud of her.

 

Yesterday I took off the anonymous mask, and emerged from my closet of shame. My voice, my words, my story – they deserve to be told with my real name.

 

My time to stand up to stigma is now.

After: Five Minute Friday {3}

5 Apr

5MinFriAfterBML

I frequently think of my life as either before or after. As in, before I got sick and after I was diagnosed. When I look at picture from my life taken around that time, I can always tell if the particular photo’s event happened before or after by looking at how my eyes smile. I can’t say that I like before or after better or worse than the other, because they are both just different times in my life. Struggles were different after. The importance of sleep was different after. Friendships stayed the same, for the most part, but some became even stronger after because they knew and still stood by me.

I am at the point right now where I can finally say that I like the person I’ve become after. 

Five Minute Friday

Today my 3rd post for WhatToExpect.com’s Word of Mom Blog went up!         Pop on over and check out why I sometimes dread sleeping.

Bring Change 2 Mind

20 Aug

Help me erase the stigma of mental illness

Hello.One in four families are affected by mental illness. Today, I did something to help them.

For people living with mental illness, the fear of stigma can have a devastating effect on their ability to live normal, healthy lives. That’s why I took the Bring Change 2 Mind pledge to stand up against the stigma of mental illness. Will you join me?

http://bringchange2mind.org/joinbc2m

Bring Change 2 Mind is an organization dedicated to fighting the stigma of mental illness, and providing information and support to those living with mental illness.

By taking their pledge, you promise to learn about mental health issues, and to reach out to those who may be struggling with such issues. If you are living with a mental illness, you pledge to educate and manage your illness, and to communicate with others about your experiences.

Most importantly, anyone who takes the pledge is promising to stand up against intolerance and the perpetuation of stigma of any kind.

Take the Bring Change 2 Mind pledge to stand up against stigma today. Together we can change the way society views people with mental illness:

http://bringchange2mind.org/joinbc2m

Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.

XOXO,

BipolarMom

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