Why are you speaking up about your experience with bipolar disorder?
There were so many times when I felt like I was alone, especially when I was dealing with bipolar depression. It was only when I finally hit rock bottom, started speaking up and got help that things started to change. As someone who has learned to live well with bipolar disorder, I really want to share with others that there can be life on the other side of hard times.
MP: How can people living with mental health conditions speak up for themselves?
The most important thing to remember is that asking for help and speaking up for what you need is a sign of strength. For me, being open and honest with my doctor and others in my life is key. It was only when I spoke up about my full experience—both the depression and mania—that I was able to get the right diagnosis and find a treatment plan that was right for me.
How did you get involved in the Be Vocal initiative?
Be Vocal evolved out of The Mental Health Listening & Engagement Tour, where I learned from our country’s top mental health advocates about the power of advocacy–why it is important for myself and others and how to use my voice to help the mental health community.
By working with these advocates, I became a stronger, more informed mental health advocate and realized how important it is for all of us to speak up for mental health.
What would you like to happen as a result of encouraging others to speak up for the mental health community?
People living with mental health conditions face many challenges—from misunderstanding to limited access to programs and services. Whether it’s through meeting with elected officials or getting the word out through social media, we need to work together to end bias and improve understanding.
What advice do you have for others looking to live well following a diagnosis with a mental health condition?
The best advice I can give is to speak up if you’re struggling and remember that a diagnosis doesn’t define you. There is no magic formula to living well with a mental health condition. Everyone’s process and treatment is different, which is why it’s so important to speak up so you can partner with your support team to find what works for you.
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