When I scheduled the pre-release party for Tears to Joy, I had no idea that it would serve to kick off Mental Illness Awareness Week. Sadly, millions of people with a mental illness fail to get help, because of the stigma associated with mental illness. Stigma exists because of ignorance. I hope as people read Michael’s story of his battle with bipolar disorder, it will open eyes and hearts as to the seriousness of the disorder.
It’s true. There are a lot of people walking around today with a bipolar diagnosis who don’t have it. For some doctors, it seems to be the tag they stick on people who’ve continually made poor choices, in much the same way ADHD has been overdiagnosed in children. Personally, I don’t think bipolar disorder can be diagnosed in one appointment; I think erratic behavioral patterns need to be observed over a period of time. Because of the challenges associated with finding the right balance of medications, I also encourage people to seek help from a psychiatrist. A general practitioner may be able to make an initial assessment, but I’d get a second opinion from a psychiatrist.
What can you do for Mental Illness Awareness Week? Read and post an article about mental illness on facebook, twitter, or your blog. Pray for people you know who struggle with mental illness. If you struggle, know that each time you share your story with someone else, you are doing your part to eliminate stigma!