Mental Health: It's All About Perspectives
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I am going through emails replying and sending them off to people with different organizations, and I find myself writing about my views on a new medications or a new application that has come out that allows college students to gauge their mood on a day to day basis on their phone or tablet.
As I was writing one email, I remembered that before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder I thought that being mean to people with mental health conditions was not right, but I still thought they were weird, and would have never been one to help a mentally ill person on a side walk, because I would be scared that they would attack me. I had a good heart deep down for the mentally ill but I am not going to lie I would have never helped a person, if I knew who was mentally ill, or had even had an ethical view of someone that was my friend who had bipolar or any mental illness because I was always saying 'what if' or 'she could have this second life'.
When the Aurora shooting happened in Colorado they said the shooter was most likely bipolar. When we heard that there was a shooter in the neighborhood at my college in Colorado I immediately assumed that he probably had bipolar and wanted to kill a million people. I imagined bipolar people as being what Jack Nicholson was in the Shining and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. There were only two mental health conditions that I knew about that I was scared of and those were bipolar and schizophrenia.
My Bipolar Diagnosis
The day I was diagnosed with bipolar, I was shocked, and I remember just dropping to the floor as this young doctor told me my diagnosis. I remember there was a pause, and he left with a 'good luck and I hope you feel better'. Realistically once you are able to stop fighting the illness 24/7, life is pretty amazing. I realized this yesterday. If I were to have my old life back I would be lying, and probably end up homeless because I didn't face the problems that I knew needed help. When I put it in perspective all of this was meant to happen. My life is what I have really always wanted. All I have ever wanted to feel like is to feel like I was someone in this world. My brain being hyperactive, I was never able to get to know myself completely. I only had tastes of my true self.
That day I put my first dose of medication into my body was the day that this so called hell broke out into a million pieces, and my life changed for what I thought was the worst. Most importantly the hell that I got to live in for most of my life was me living in the footsteps of all those crazy people that I was scared of on the streets who couldn't get treatment or didn't want treatment.
Choosing My Words Wisely
The concept of saying something about a mental health condition to me now is 'Think Before You Speak'. People with mental health conditions as well as other ethnic groups daily are bombarded by things portraying them in a different light. No one tries enough to portray mental illnesses realistically. Mental health condition is not just a one day thing, it is a day to day battle for most.
Now living with an illness that I had originally labeled as what only mass shooters have/had, I see how hard it is to try and fit in, to try and be yourself, but most importantly how hard it is to live life with a mental illness undiagnosed and diagnosed. Ignorance is bliss for some, but educating yourself about mental health conditions could save a life and could make your heart bigger than it already is.
- Susan Page