May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. I am VERY aware of mental illness and the need for mental healthcare providers. Are you? May is also National Bipolar Month. The proper color of ribbon for mental health is green.
I attended a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) meeting last evening. No mention was made of making people more aware of the need to truly see the people with mental illnesses in our community. This sort of surprised me given the nature of the the people at the meeting–they were all either ill themselves or family members of people who had these illnesses. If NAMI isn’t aware of Awareness Month, then who is?
Don’t get me wrong; NAMI is a great advocate for individuals like myself and I am certain that on a higher scale, they are aware of May’s significance. However, I decided that I wanted to do my part to promote awareness by blogging about how important May is.
Being aware of what triggers episodes in friends and family and what the symptoms of mental illness are in the first place is so important for people to know. While my family acknowledges and supports my efforts to control my symptoms, they don’t want to see some of the same things in themselves.
I don’t think I am alone. The stigma that surrounds us still has a tight hold on some of our family and friends as well as some of our world at large. This is what we are fighting to break. This is what I am fighting to break by writing this blog.
We are not all bad people–in fact most of us are wonderful people who contribute to our society in various ways. But there are some of us who are so blinded by illness, who have gone without treatment, love and support for so long that they do bad things. They make the news. We do not. We are not as interesting, and we continue to suffer from society’s hatred and mistrust in silence.
I am not silent. Ask my hubby. I talk all the time. But even I feel like I have to walk on eggshells around certain people I love when it comes to my illness. I can’t say anything too upsetting or too graphic or detailed because it might upset them. Might upset them? I am LIVING it.
All I am saying is be aware of mental illness this month and every month from here on out. Do something to educate yourself about it so you know how to react when a loved one tells you that something isn’t right. You could save the life of someone you love.