As I spent several hours standing at a busy intersection on the Plaza in Kansas City, I held a sign that revealed that I have Bipolar Disorder, that I am not ashamed, that silence is death, and that I was acting in conjunction with advocates across the country via #ProjectIAmNotAshamed.
While two people stopped briefly to tell me they too had Bipolar Disorder, and several people offered verbal and non-verbal support and encouragement, an overwhelming number of the thousands of people who walked or drove by my son, Micah (who was there for support), and me quickly looked away, shot judgmental looks, or expressed disdain with their facial expressions.
I felt (and feel) very comfortable in my own skin, with having a mental illness, and with the person I have become in Recovery. But what a great opportunity to discover how much fear, ignorance, and stigma permeate our society.
I don’t go out of my way to hide my Bipolar Disorder, but I have never spent a few hours in a big city at a major intersection announcing it either.
We have, arguably, come a long way when it comes to society becoming more enlightened about mental illness. But my experience today, though it be but one bit of anecdotal evidence, confirms to me that we have a long way to go.
Hopefully I planted some seeds today that will find the light and nourishment to grow into compassion, acceptance, and understanding.
Learn more about Project I Am Not Ashamed:
#EndTheStigma #BrainHealth #MentalHealthAwareness