Mental Illness Awareness Week - How You Can Help The Cause
When I sat down to write Invisible Driving in 1990 there was no way for me to know that this simple act of literary recklessness would hurl me down a path of mental health advocacy ultimately culminating, 22 years later, in the conclusion of this sentence.
Such is life in the land of Whackadoomious. Prior to writing the universe’s first bipolar memoir, I had labored valiantly to keep my mental illness under cover, hidden from the pitchfork-wielding town folk who welcome the mentally ill with the same enthusiasm they shower on seven-year locusts. Going public as a bipolar bear gave me what I call “confession Tourette’s” – I went from “lips are sealed” to bipolar blabbermouth.
Essentially, I wanted to educate the public as much as possible and, I dared, even defied, any of them to look down on me. I had a surly honking attitude back then. In time, I actually came to a point where I condescended to square shooters because – without mental illness as a teacher – their life experience was, quite frankly, inadequate in comparison to mine.But that’s just me. For every passive-aggressive exhibitionist nursing a grudge, feeding a habit, and putting a resentment to bed, there are 100 nice, quiet Whackadoomians who would prefer to recover and strive towards mental health in quiet anonymity and fuzzy slippers. I would like to make it clear that I do not condemn this stealth, but, and this is a big but, (stop that), I will say that – if you want to change minds, spank stigma, and educate the not-so-great unwashed – and I know you do – the best way to do it is by example.
Make yourself a teacher, a model, and show them that folks like us are - candidly - just like them. To paraphrase Hemingway, “Living well is the best revenge.” To paraphrase Napoleon, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Finally, to paraphrase Taz Mopula, “Since you’re going to be jealous anyway, you may as well be jealous of yourself.”
Action Ideas for Mental Illness Awareness
As you know, I’m a practical – problem/solution - kind of guy. So, when I first learned it was Mental Illness Awareness Week, I thought of a few action items that could kick-start the knowledge building process.
- Annual Mental Illness Memorial Day Telethon – Hosted by Charlie Sheen
- Mental Illness Trading Cards containing profiles of famous mentally ill people in history.
- “Halfway Home” – a board game based on Monopoly in which players take turns trying to escape from a Halfway House so they can return their dysfunctional families.
- America’s Got Illness! In this homage to American Idol, mentally ill contestants would answer questions and disturbed celebrity judges would try to guess their disease.
As good as these ideas are, I’m still going with suggestion number one. Make the stigma-waving public watch as you rise from the ashes and enjoy a better life than theirs. If they learn a thing or two, great. If they don’t, the main thing is – you’re doing just fine without them.
McHarg, A. (2012, October 10). Mental Illness Awareness Week - How You Can Help The Cause, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/funnyinthehead/2012/10/mental-illness-awareness-week-how-you-can-help-the-cause
Author: Alistair McHarg
Thank you so much,
Mental Illness Awareness Week is October 7th thru 13th: What can you do?
I thought you might be interested in reading a blog I wrote about the same topic. http://bipolarbandit.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/mental-illness-awareness-week-is-october-7th-thru-13th-what-can-you-do/