In our culture, the topic of mental disorders exists mainly in the shadows. It has yet to reach the light of day. You can learn about mental illness if you go looking for the subject. Yet, aside from an occasional made for TV movie by an actor so afflicted, it is not the subject of coffee house chats.
We are afraid, I suppose. But of what? Of catching one? Not in our logical minds. Maybe somewhere down deep — where we keep our superstitions and fears — we wonder if we learn something, if the subject becomes more real we might discover something in ourselves. Education has the opposite effect. It dispels fears. If you feel your reading uncovers the possibility that you have depression or something else…then please see your doctor and be thankful that you found out when you did. There is one thing worse than mental illness: untreated mental illness.
I think about the million plus people in our country with bipolar disorder and some speculate many more are undiagnosed and my heart goes out to them. There are many more people with major depression or panic attacks. Many of them are are living in the shadows, without support, or recognition of their suffering or their humanity. It makes me want more than anything, to bring this topic to into the light.
My story is starting to be embraced by the blogosphere. The Howie Blog: a regional blog with over hundreds of thousands of readers is publishing each post. Howie Hanson put a link to one of the articles in http://startribune.com with 30 million readers! I believe the word is starting to get out in Minnesota a bit.
I am calling people in churches in the Twin Cities right now, working on getting a chance to speak. I found a great link today to send in a follow-up email: http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/topic/bipolar. It contains great information on causes, treatment, good health habits. I met with a my dear friend and first minister last week. He was so supportive and gave me some names of people to call. He and his wife Molly run a ministry now to bring healing to the hearts of people around the world with the message of forgiving each other: Dr. Arthur Rouner, The Pilgrim Center for Reconciliation. (Pictured below):
When you begin to share, more and more wonderful things start to happen. Yesterday I shared my story on my High School’s Facebook page. I discovered a dear friend from my class was bipolar and neither of us had known about the other! Now we do. We had a long conversation, right in the middle of the Facebook page. Hopefully others will be helped by it. There was a time when I would not have wanted my classmates to know I had developed bipolar disorder. I would have been ashamed. I am not ashamed anymore. I have an illness. No one should be ashamed of that.
I believe that by keeping everything so hush hush in our culture we contribute to the isolation and sense of shame. So let’s take things out of the shadows and into the light, shall we? Let’s talk my friends. Thank you for listening.
@copyright Libby Baker Sweiger