I once again asked the lovely Sarah at yesandyes.org to include me her Network of Nice and asked people who suffer from mental illness if they’d be willing to share their stories with me. The interviews will be featured here on the blog and so far, not even 24 hours after the post went up, I’ve received over a dozen inquiries from people willing to be heard, to help fight stigma. I’m extremely moved and excited by the willingness of others to connect, to educate and inform and reduce stigma. I really think the number of responses I’ve received is telling of a shift in the attitude towards mental illness. People want to be heard but understood, as well. People want real talk and real life strategies on how to live with mental illness.
According to statistics published by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (nami.org), 1 in 4 Americans experiences mental illness within a year. That comes to over 61 million Americans living with some type of mental illness. The impact, both on quality of life and financially, of mental illness does not discriminate among gender, race or economic standing. Sadly, stigma and insurance problems can delay treatment. I dream of a world in which people can get the help they need, with no runaround from insurance companies. I long to be able to say to anyone “I have bipolar” and not fear the repercussions.
I truly hope the upcoming series of interviews opens people’s eyes and minds to life with mental illness. My blog has always been a little all over, reflecting my own mental status, but I aim to make mental illness awareness and advocacy an even bigger part than it already is. It’s amazing how connected and accepted I feel when I conduct these interviews and I hope my dear readers feel the same way.