Why Is Mental Health Awareness Month Important to me?

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As I have mentioned many times before,

I was diagnosed back in 2014 with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.  It was so shocking and to be quite honest, it was quite surreal. I felt lost and did not know how or what I was going to do knowing that I had been diagnosed with such a serious condition.  I was at a loss of words. It took some years to become comfortable with the idea of having a mental health disorder. When I decided that I wanted to talk about my experiences and advocate for others like me, I know that I would be helping someone.  I just didn’t know who. I knew that there were other people out there like me in the world who had been diagnosed with a serious mental health condition and felt alone and unsure of themselves and what their life would now be because of it.

When I did research initially on bipolar disorder, I would see tons and tons of sad people who were crying and describing really grim realities of what it was like to live with a mental health disorder.  These images made me worry about what my future reality was going to be like.

Mental Health Awareness Month is so important to me,

because this is the month that is dedicated to talking about and spreading hope and good faith about mental illness.  Although mental health awareness for me is everyday, I am glad that there is a time that the world acknowledges mental health and are becoming more familiar with the topic and the cause.  There is such a long way to go of course, but this month for me instills a sense of pride. I can share all that I know and have experienced with others so that they can avoid some of the mistakes that I have made and also feel no shame about their illness.  While we have a long way to go, I am glad that we have May to spread the word and shatter the stigma that is so rampant.

Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone, But How?

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How Many Times have you heard someone say that?  

Just step outside of your comfort zone, and you thought to yourself, that sounds great and all but how do I do that? I can tell you that I have been one of those people who had that very same response.  Gurus and coaches all tell you that stepping outside of your comfort zone is a step in the direction towards “living your best life” ! Another term that sounds great but actually confused the hell out of me when I first heard it.  

As you may or may not know, I have been on my mental health journey, for 2 years now.  

This journey for me has doubled as a self-awareness and self-discovery journey. It has been filled with ups, downs, highs, and lows.  I have learned so much about myself, and this is literally one journey that I would never want to change. It has been life changing. I had to go through a journey of self-awareness to discover what my hopes, dreams and desires.  This allowed me to discover my comfort zone and the area just beyond that region. That area is where all of the magical things would happen, That is what I had heard so many times before and now it was time to start testing this theory out.

I was, for so many years accustomed to doing with friends or family.  

If I wanted to go to an event or restaurant, I would see who I could get to go along with me to make my experience more enjoyable (so I thought) and definitely more comfortable.  It was almost unheard of to go anywhere alone. It was just something that I had never really done. I mean, I would of course go to work alone, but that was about it. I truly let others dictate my flow and my enjoyment.  If I didn’t have a buddy to roll with, I guess I was not going.

About a month ago I heard about a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit that was taking place in NYC that I really wanted to see.

 I asked my friends if they wanted to go and of course they agreed. Here was the problem, the show was sold out until the end of the exhibit.  But, I decided on a whim that I was going to get on the waitlist to see if I could get a ticket to the show. I figured that it was a long shot and that it probably was not going to happen.  Well, guess what, it happened! I got a wait list ticket email at 11pm last Thursday night for Friday afternoon. I didn’t realize this until Friday morning but I was in! I was excited and anxious and this was totally out of my comfort zone.  

Needless to say, I had a really great time.  

Once I got to the gallery, the anxiety had subsided.  I learned something about comfort zones on this trip to the city.  When you allow yourself to stay within comfort zones, people can unintentionally control you and your destiny.  So it is so important to be mindful of what it is that you want at all times. It is okay if your wants and dreams change, but the most important thing is that you are in control.  You are in control.

How Beautiful Brain Collective Came to Be

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Back in 2014

I was diagnosed with generalized disorder and bipolar disorder.  When my psychiatrist diagnosed me, I was in a state of shock. What was this “mental” illness that I had just been labeled with.  There was no way that a person like me, could have a mental illness. I have to admit, I was uninformed about mental illness and who it affected.  I was a smart, hardworking, creative young mother. How in the hell was I going to be able to tell people about this. It was something that I did not want to admit to myself, much less tell other people about it.

When I got over the initial shock of my diagnosis,

I decided to do some research on my own.  This thing could not be as bad as everyone had made it out to be. I was determined to get as much information as I could.  I did a lot of research on anxiety and bipolar disorder. I read up on the illnesses and I also looked for people who were living with the illness and doing well.  It was discouraging to not see as many people as you had hoped talking about their lives despite bipolar disorder and anxiety.

What I did pick up in my research was how important it was to have support systems and the benefit of  going to support groups. It would be a good way for people with similar circumstances to discuss their trials and tribulations despite having a mental illness.  I was determined to find a support group in my area that I could go to and talk to people who I thought would get me.

My first visit to the mental health support group in my area made me feel uneasy.  

There were a lot of middle aged, mainly Caucasian men in attendance who spoke about their illnesses.  The mood of the room and the group in general was very sad and depressing and to be quite honest, I was one of the younger people in the group and felt like no one there would be able to understand me and how I was feeling.  I didn’t write the group off completely. I went back for a second meeting. I decided to give it a chance. I desperately wanted the group to work for me so I went back. Let me just say that the second meeting was worse. I felt worse than I did after the first meeting.  I was depressed and I felt like I was doomed. I would not be able to live a normal life with my anxiety and bipolar disorder because the people in the group did not appear to me that they were thriving. Just merely surviving.

Last year I decided to start Beautiful Brain Collective.  

I wanted to help people who lived with mental illnesses who had jobs, families and were deemed high-functioning.  My mission has always been to show others who have mental illnesses that they can live a great life despite a diagnosis.  I have been on my recovery/stability journey for a year and a half, and I must say I have never felt better. This does not mean that there will not be difficult times, or that hard work will not be required, but I am here to tell you that recovery is possible!!!!!

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Do You Boo!

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Everyday as I move deeper and deeper into my mental health recovery,

I learn something new everyday.  My stability has made me more mindful and aware of what is happening around me instead of living in a bubble.  While I have become more mindful and aware of what is going on, this time has also allowed me more time with myself, I have had much more time to think and actually listen to my spirit and my intuition. During this time of discovery, I have had to think about what the key to my happiness really is?  Can a person with a mental health disorder actually be happy?

Yes!  The answer is yes.  A person with a mental health disorder can be happy and have a great  life. Do you boo! The question that you need to answer and think about  is what will make you happy? What actions would you need to take so that you can live your best possible life.  I know that the answer for everyone will be different. For me, when I started to do my own thing, that was the moment that I set myself free, and found my own happiness.  

Do you boo!  That’s what I tell myself.  That is one of the mottos that I live by.  It is okay to say yes to myself. It is okay to say no to myself.  But the most important thing about this is that I am authentic to myself.  I am making decisions that are in alignment with the life that I want to lead.  My goal in life is to live a great life while managing my mental health disorder.

Photo by Rodrigo Borges de Jesus on Unsplash

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