Mental Health Should be a Priority

differenceThere is no doubt that America’s system for the mentally ill is broken.  However, how much have you heard the candidates talk about it?  Have the candidates worked through what they would say if they were confronted with the answer? Is the media daring enough to ask the candidates questions that deal with mental illness?

Some questions that candidates should ponder:

  • Should a soldier be able to still serve after being diagnosed with a mental illness?
  • Are famous people who have a mental illness capable of continuing their careers?
  • If someone is employed, should they be forced to quit because they have a mental illness?
  • Should police officers with a mental illness be allowed to serve the people they protect?
  • Should someone running for political office not be allowed to run if they have a mental illness?
  • If someone with a mental illness lived next door to you, would you want to move?
  • If you found out someone you were related to had a mental illness, would you accept them?

These are all questions that all presidential candidates who are running for political office should ask themselves. That would be the first step in deciding how to approach the topic that no one wants to talk about- mental illness and the broken mental health system.

After they ask themselves these questions, they really need to think hard about what their own opinions are when it comes to the mentally ill.  There is still the dark shadow of stigma as it relates to mental illness.  How much do they actually know about mental illness and have they ever judged anyone because they have a mental illness?  Are they someone who contributes to the stigma by not standing up for them or getting involved in legislation that can change the mental health system? Are they afraid to talk about mental illness at all because they are afraid they will say the wrong thing? Is it easier for them to say that there needs to be a major overhaul when it comes to mental health, but really have never thought about what their first steps would be?

From here, there are different directions and approaches the candidate can take:

First, they need to  re-evaluate their thoughts about the mentally ill. This would require learning as much as they can about each illness, finding out what the resources are where people can go if they  have a mental illness, learning where people can go if they suspect someone has  a mental illness, find out what famous people through out history have had mental illnesses, what major organizations deal with mental illness, and start to realize that they had been stigmatizing the mentally ill or I would predict they would have no chance at reaching the voters who have a mental illness or have a loved one who has one.

If they do think they know as much as they can possibly know about mental illness, don’t contribute to the stigma, have a mental illness, have a loved one who has a mental illness or recognize that everyone in America is affected by a broken mental health system, then they have a good chance at capturing those voters who consider mental health as an important topic that should be discussed in the debates.

It is then up to them to come up with a plan as to how they are going to address this topic that people just do not want to talk about.  It is like Congressman Patrick Kennedy said when he was referring to mental illness and how important it is to face the stigma head on.  He said, that my child and all children should start having “check-ups from the head up”  starting young. That needs to continue throughout a person’s life.

Their plan to bring it up may be solved as there is mental health advocates are on a mission to Make the Candidates Talk about Mental Health. If they succeed, they need to make sure that they do not use words like “crazy” or “psycho” to describe the mentally ill. Those are hopefully common sense. However, they also need to make sure they do not use the terms bipolar, OCD, and schizo as adjectives or very loosely.  They should learn what not to say when talking to people who have mental illnesses by reading the many blogs written about this.

Being sensitive is important, but what America needs right now is to fix this broken system. Here are some of the things that mental health advocates think are important:

  • There are not enough psychiatric hospital beds and psychiatrists
  • Stigma runs rampant throughout society.
  • People are not educated as to what to do when they suspect someone has a mental illness
  • The mentally ill are not getting the help they need when they need it resulting in horrific events
  • Even doctors have no patience and compassion for the mentally ill
  • Mentally ill patients are treated poorly while hospitalized-sometimes abused
  • The mentally ill are being jailed instead of getting the help they need
  • The mentally ill are actually being killed as a result of officers not being trained

These are just some of the problems that need to be solved. As far as solutions, Congress is currently work on bills. However, the mental health advocate community is constantly debating those.

A leader- THE PRESIDENT- needs to understand the problems by gathering as much information as he/she can and then start getting  input not only from the legislative branch and doctors, but also the mentally ill and their families.

So, if you are a presidential candidate, HOW do you plan to SOLVE the mental health system?

If you would like to gain at least 25% of voters (1 in 4 people in the United States has a mental illness) come up with a solution. Please don’t just tell the advocates that you think there is a problem and something needs to be done about it.

Join our group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses or follow our pages Mental Health Advocates UnitedMental Health Advocates Making a Difference and The Mental Health Advocate to better understand our frustrations. We welcome you to ask questions and give input. We would welcome to be our guest speaker and ask us questions and let us know what you are planning to do.  If you are interested in doing so, please contact

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Presidential Candidates Need to Talk about Mental Health


It does not matter if you have already picked out your candidate, if you are a Republican or a Democrat, or what issues that are being debated that matter most to you.  However, if you are a mental health advocate, one issue that really should make a difference in how you vote and is hardly being talked about at all is mental health and mental illness.

The candidates have mentioned that something needs to be done about it, but very few if any have talked about a specific plan that would help not only the mental health community and/or society in general.

One in four people in the United States have a mental illness. Even more have a family member, co-worker, or friend who has a mental illness.  If that is not the case, I can argue that everyone is affected by mental illness in any way.  Only about 1% of tragedies involve people with mental illness, but the media likes to point out when they are and rarely take the opportunity to educate the public about the illness that person has, things to look for if you suspect someone might have a mental illness, what resources are available, and that stigma is a problem. Instead, they contribute to it.

There are so many thing that need to be changed in our mental health system and listing them all is not the purpose of this blog article. The purpose is to raise awareness that our next president needs to do something about the problem that involves everyone in the United States.  25% of the voters have a mental illness. That is a huge voting base. Our questions deserve to be answered. I personally have not decided who I would vote for, but a lot of what would determine that would be based on their mental health plan.  How can I do that if the candidates are not even being held accountable to answer questions from the mental health community?

If you are a mental health advocate, your help is needed now! Please join our efforts in getting mental health to be a hot topic in the debates.  Advocates are starting to join forces to bombard our candidates and the media.  Consider being one of those people who can make this all happen.  Together we can make a difference!

The two main places right now that are discussing ways to go about this are on MHAU’s page and mainly in our advocacy group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses. You are welcome to join our community of over 18,000 members. If you would rather not do that, there are so many other things you can do.  As all this develops I will write another blog.  However, I did want you to have a way to contact all the candidates and the two television stations who will be having the next two debates now.

In the group, we are working on form letters, FB messages, tweets, etc. We are also encouraging people to think outside the box and write their own and contact celebrities who are advocates, their psychiatrists, their local media stations and the ideas are continuously pouring in.

The list of the candidates are below in no particular order.  They all need to talk about mental health and mental illness.  Most of them have at least FB and Twitter pages.  I provided mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers if they were readily available. 

Let’s do this!  We might have a mental illness, but we are intelligent individuals who matter.  It is time our voices are heard.  If you would like to contact me personally, my email address is 

Note: I write under the name Bipolar Bandit, but I also founded the advocacy group mentioned above and operate the page.   The same article can be found on MHAU’s website, but I know different people read this blog, so I wanted to share it here too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Using Your Manic Energy Can Go Too Far

del energizer bunny

Do you know that feeling when you start feeling like you might be getting hypomanic? Do you know how when you feel thatway, you have all that excess energy?   You suddenly want to take on all the things you have been wanting to and have either been depressed or just did not have the motivation or energy to do.  You don’t need to sleep as much and you go go go like the Energizer bunny.

Well, I am not saying it is wrong to use that energy.  However, I think there needs to be a limit as to how much you use it.  If you don’t pace yourself and do too much at a time, it can easily lead into a manic episode.

When you feel yourself getting hypomanic set reasonable goals for each day and only do those things.  The rest of the things you want to do can wait for another day.  By trying to fit too much into one day, you can over-stress yourself and that can lead to you going into that turbulent ride into mania.

If you are like me, you want to avoid mania as it leads to doing things you later regret.  Things will most likely get done during your hypomanic state, but if they don’t, it is better to not finish things than to end up manic and in the hospital or doing things that you would normally wouldn’t do that cause harm later.

Over the 30 years I have struggled with bipolar disorder, I have learned a lot each time I cycle.   I have just come to the realization,  mostly because of my husband,  that not everything needs to be done in one day. I need to pace myself and slow down once in awhile to relax.  This is really important. I think trying to do so much at once is stressful and sometimes I don’t even recognize it.  Stress contributes to mania and if I can limit the stress of trying to fit as much as I can in one day, then it really does help.

If you are reading this and are hypomanic, challenge yourself to stop researching, sending emails, cleaning the house, making important phone calls, etc and make yourself watch tv, spend time with friends, listen to music without multi-tasking, sit in total silence for awhile. Decide what time every day you are going to stop using all that excessive energy and start to unwind.

Sleep is so important when you are manic. If you start to unwind at a decent hour, you hopefully will sleep. If you get a good night’s rest, all those projects will be waiting for you in the morning.  If you pace yourself again the next day, your stress level should go down and hopefully your mania will start to subside also.

I know it is hard. I am not the greatest at it. However, I am getting better at it and as I have been getting better at it,  my manic episodes have been less severe and I don’t do as many things that I regret later.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bipolar Disorder and Self-Control

self control picI am not sure if it is characteristic of other people with bipolar disorder, but I tend have  OCD tendencies.  I am not using that word loosely because I know that it bothers people (including myself)  when words like adhd, ocd, bipolar, schizo are tossed around as adjectives.

For example, when it comes to exercising, I will exercise every day for three months, but I miss one day and then I am done and basically quit.  I have to have everything just right or I am not happy. I have been labeled a perfectionist and although I have gotten better, I still struggle. I can’t stand messes, things on my walls and shelves need to be balanced, and I will write and rewrite things until it almost gets ridiculous.

As I struggle through mainly the mania part of my bipolar disorder, I get very discouraged if everything is not the way I want it.  I will get very down on myself when I slip up and do things I have decided not to do ahead of time.  I expect myself to be perfect and appear “normal”   I try to convince others so much, that I think it makes me sicker. Note: the people who know me know anyway as I tell them when I sense myself getting manic.  It has been observed by others and I tend to agree that many times I work myself into a manic episode.

It was today when I was struggling with hypomania that I realized that I was being way too hard on myself.  Everyone has bad days and I just happened to be having one.  I have been very irritable, my mind  has been racing, and I just talked my husband’s ear off.    Thank goodness he understands that this is just part of my illness and knows he can tell me when he has had enough.

Getting to the self-control part-  While hypomanic, I need to do certain things. I might find it hard to control certain behaviors and get down on myself when I do a bad job, but these are things I do have control over.  Here are some things that I can control and having bipolar disorder should work as hard as I can to do so.  I apologize for using the word control so many times, but it is the best way to express what I can do for myself to get through the hard time of being “manicky”.

  •  I need to do them in moderation. Spending time online, writing furiously, sending long emails, calling people I would normally not call are okay. However, I do need to slow down. Things can be done tomorrow and if I want others to think that I am just someone with a mental illness rather than a crazy person, I can’t do so many things.
  • I need to take time to relax.  All the energy and motivation I have been lacking while depressed, comes to the forefront and I would stay up all night working on all the things I have wanted to do.  However, this is not smart. I need to take breaks and relax.  I can go for a walk, force myself to watch a television show or read.  It can be really hard to concentrate  on a show, but I can try my hardest to control this and need to.  Playing the piano or violin or listening to music are other things that help.
  • I need to pace myself- Set goals and only work on those things that day. The other things can and should wait.  If I try and tackle too much, I know from experience, I will get sicker.  I know that I can convince others that I am okay and have proven that over and over again. I have worked at jobs when I was totally manic or severely depressed and no one knew. They would be shocked when I did tell some of them.  I also have convinced psychiatrists, first responders, and ER doctors and nurses. Even though my family knows I am full blown manic, I have a way to just appear normal.  Hiding this from others is exhausting and in the long run, I have learned is not helping me.  I always let my family and a few close friends know when I first see the red flags.
  • I need to eat right.  I can control this and should.  It is easy to forget to eat when I get so goal oriented and have no appetite.   Making sure I set times to fix something healthy and eat is important.  This can go with the relaxation part. I should stop what I am doing and cook.  I can even multi-task and eat while watching television.
  • Exercise is essential.  Again, I get so busy doing all these things with all this energy I have, it is easy to forget or just avoid exercising. Exercising really is one of the best things to do to get myself grounded, help with the racing, and mostly get rid of some of that part of energy.  I can control this by going for a walk or run first thing in the morning before doing anything else. I also should have my husband or friends tell me to go run around the block when I am talking a mile a minute to give them a rest.
  • Taking time to sit in silence and just breathe is something I can do too.  A lot of times, noise and a lot of things going on makes it harder to concentrate and makes me more irritable. I need to be smart enough to withdraw myself from the commotion and just go sit by myself for awhile until I what I call grounded. I can usually get myself to a place where I am not racing too.
  • Being smart about taking medications that help with the anxiety and racing thoughts is something I can control too.  I hate taking meds because of the side effects I have endured over the years and my fear I will get addicted.   I do take my regular medications all the time. I have others I take only when I need them. When I am hypomanic, I do need them, and need to use them.
  • Praying for me is another important thing. It is through my faith that I can get through these hard times.  He has pulled me out of my depression which is something I have been praying for and He will get me through the mania too.  I just forget sometimes to have faith that He will be watching over me.
  • Relying on others is something that is hard to do. I have always been independent. However, I have some true friends and family members who would do anything for me and love me unconditionally have told me to lean on them.  I oftentimes don’t.  Again, I can control this.

If I think back about the times I have been manic, I don’t think I have done my best to control my surroundings .  I have not used all the tactics I have at my disposal to prevent me from escalating.  That is why today I decided that I need to work harder at controlling those things.

Self-control is important when you are not only manic, but depressed. I am not going into the depression part of it in this blog article, but have written about things you can do when depressed in the past.  I just need to do those things. I need to practice what I preach and force myself to do those things.

Self-control is defined as “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires” by Merriam Webster.  I need to exercise those restraints. It is harder to control my impulses, desires and emotions when I am manic and hypomanic, but with about 30 years of having bipolar disorder, I have learned that this is important and what techniques to use.  I just need to implement them better.

Picture Credit:

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How my Bipolar Disorder has gotten in the way

gotten in the wayMy parents have told me that ever since I was little, I was a fighter. I have never given up.  Although I have been in the darkest depressions and done so many things I have regretted when I was manic, I have not given up.

I can tell you that at times, it would have been easy to throw my hands up and surrender to this illness. In some ways I have.

I have accomplished a lot in my life despite my illness including graduating from college and teaching.  However, I do tend to regret the things I had wanted to do before my illness struck.

I was not able to go into the career I wanted and now I am even on disability.  I miss working yet know that right now, I could not possibly have a full time job.

I want to conquer this illness and go back to work. I want to live a life where I can plan things and not have to worry about being sick and having to cancel.

Bipolar disorder has gotten in the way of friendships.

I have had so many great friends over the years.  Unfortunately, I would get manic and scare them or withdraw from them because I was depressed.  Oftentimes, I stopped keeping in touch because I was embarrassed by the things I did when I was manic.   I often wonder how many of those great friendships would have lasted if I had not been the one to let the friendship fade away because I was embarrassed.

The biggest way that my illness has gotten in the way is by treating my family and closest true friends in horrible ways when I was manic.  I have been very lucky that I have had a family and some friends who have stuck by me and loved me unconditionally. They understand that the things I said when I was manic were because I was sick.  Their forgiveness is not really deserving, but I am so grateful they have stood by me throughout the years.

I like to say that even though I have a mental illness, I am just like everyone else and I can do anything I set my mind to do. However, in reality, I am not sure how true that is.  I won’t ever be able to work as an interpreter for the United Nations like I always wanted to do. I am not sure if I ever will learn how to make friends that I can keep.  One thing I do hope is that I can stop hurting the ones I love.   I wish I could take all the hurtful things I have done over the years, but I can’t.

My illness has gotten in the way of who I want to be.  If I try and look on the positive side, I can think that eventually I won’t have such huge mood swings and will find the right treatment to keep my symptoms at bay.   I hope that day comes.  Until it does or even if it never does, I won’t give up. I will keep fighting. However, it does seem to get harder to fight the fight after each episode.  I try and forget the bad things as they would wear me down.  I move on as that is the only thing I can do.  Dwelling on the horrible things will make things worse.

I usually am not so negative about my illness, but wanted to share a reality that I have left out in other posts.  Better days are ahead and I hold onto that.  I may not do the things I once wanted to do and won’t be able to get back those friends or take back the awful things I have said and done, but I can find things I can do where my illness won’t get in the way.




Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Virginia Shooting: Mental Illness vs Gun Violence

mental illnesss blogEvery time there is a mass shooting, I just wait for the media to tell us that the person was mentally ill and that is why they did it.  It saddens me that the media oftentimes does not mention that less than 1% of people with mental illness are violent.

They also don’t use the opportunity to educate the public about mental illness, let them know what signs to look for, assure them it is okay to get help and where to get it.  Instead the media would rather just let the public think that all people with mental illness are violent.

After this horrible tragedy, some  politicians have tried  to use the opportunity to further their stance on either gun control or to express concern about  how the nation needs a better mental health system. However, I was encouraged to see that most of them didn’t. Some of their responses

This time is different!  I have heard the people in the media blame this on Vester Flanagan’s, (Bryce’s) mental health and others make it clear that gun control would have prevented it.  These people in the media came to the conclusion that the shooter was crazy and had a mental illness within hours of the incident.  It is now two days later and no one has mentioned what mental illness they have.  For some examples, watch Fox News, specifically The Five the day of the shooting and the day afterwards.

Trump used it as a chance to say, “This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem.” He went on to diagnose Bryce himself by saying, ““In the old days they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized,” Trump told CNN. “At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it.

Rather you like Trump or not, what he said is ridiculous!   The man at no time was told he had a mental illness that we know about.  Does he have any idea how hard it is for family members and friends to realize if someone is “not right”?  Does he also have any idea how hard it is for family members to get help if they need it?  Oftentimes there are no beds and they are turned away.  Other times, they have to say they are a threat to themselves or others to get admitted.  Most of the time, what the family member says has no influence if the person can get admitted or not.  Does Trump even know that?

He went on to say, “Everybody sees the signals … they see people and they think they’re disturbed” I don’t think people know what to look for.  This could be helped by the media letting the public know like previously stated.

Clinton seized the opportunity to bring up gun control. Whether you like Clinton or not, gun control would not have helped this because he did not have a known mental illness and a background check would not have changed anything. What exactly is she going to do to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness, educate the public about mental illness, provide places for  people to go when they need help?

People with mental illness need help. They need better resources, and  less stigma so they are more willing to seek help.  Families of people with mental illnesses need help too. They need to know that their voice matters when it comes to getting help for their sick loved one.

People with mental illnesses do not need the media and politicians leading the public to believe that these horrible crimes are being committed by only people with mental illnesses and not make it clear that not all people with mental illnesses are criminals.

The way the media and politicians treat these crimes in regards to mental illness matters. “It exacerbates negative attitudes towards people with mental illnesses” according to a study done in 2013.  Source

The quotes below and other information about mental illness and violence and the connection can be found  here.

“Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small, and further, the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population”

“The vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses”

“The absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is very small. . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill”

When will this change?  I hope soon because people with mental illness have it hard enough. They don’t need to fight the politicians and media and their biased,  views about people with mental illness that contribute to the stigma.


Picture Sources

Note: My heart goes out to those affected by this horrible tragedy.  My thoughts and prayers are with their families and co-workers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

d54 bbandit

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know


1. The illness I live with is: Bipolar Disorder
2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 1987
3. But I had symptoms since: 1983
4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: I started to struggle with depression at the age of 13 and had my first manic episode when I was 17.  At the time, I was embarrassed and humiliated and honestly thought I was crazy and weak.  I have had to readjust my thinking to I am a strong person living with an illness that affects my life every day.  I have tried to think that this is something I should be proud of not ashamed of.
5. Most people assume: Unfortunately, with the stigma of mental illness, many people think that I am violent.   I really think that those who are uneducated think I am crazy.  It is frustrating because some people think I am weak and others think I am faking it or that mental illness does not even exist.  Many think they should steer away from being my friend or from being associated with me.
6. The hardest part about mornings are: When I am depressed, it is hard to even get up out of bed and get motivated.  Sometimes I wish that I could just go back to sleep and not deal with anything.  When I am manic, since I have a lot of energy, I am ready to go and there really isn’t anything hard.  However, there is the challenge of not doing things I will regret, remembering to eat, and to relax.
7. My favorite medical TV show is: ER
8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My laptop
9. The hardest part about nights are: When I am depressed, it is when I am trying to get to sleep I think very negatively and it is hard to keep my mind off of them.  I often replay all the horrible things I have done when I was manic.  If I am getting manic, I can’t sleep and toss and turn and worry that I am getting manic. If I am manic, I oftentimes don’t sleep.
10. Each day I take __ pills & vitamins:   I currently take 2 meds regularly and 2 vitamins, but have 3 that I can use if needed. Over the years, there have been times I have taken 16 meds at a time.
11. Regarding alternative treatments I: I believe that people holistic approaches are important.  I think in most cases, with mental illnesses, it is hard to control without some medications.  Unfortunately, many psychiatrists push medications with the encouragement of the pharmaceutical companies.  It has been hard to find a doctor who is willing to work with me with an alternative approach.
12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I think having a serious mental illness is awful. It is not only invisible, but many people don’t understand it and judge  you.  I would not wish my illness on anyone.  The cliche “the grass is greener on the other side” applies here though. I think my illness is awful, but until I were to live with another illness, I could not really say.  I have had dystonia (I could not lift my head up-my chin was attached to my chest).  If I were to compare bipolar disorder to that, I would have to say that even though the dystonia was awful, I would rather have that than bipolar disorder.

13. Regarding working and career: Although I struggled with mania and depression while in college, I was able to graduate. I have worked several jobs including being a teacher for over 9 years.  However, due to being in the hospital 16 times in a year for my mental illness and other serious medical issues, I had to go on disability. When I am up to it, I have worked part-time for a relative, mainly at home where I can set my own hours.  He also understands that sometimes I am just not able to work.
14. People would be surprised to know: Despite having a mental illness, I have never been in jail and never done anything violent. I have accomplished a lot in my life. I was the president of several clubs in high school. I was the grade level chairperson, organized successful  school wide events, and was  even was Teacher of the Year one year.
15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: People are going to judge me and there is not much I can do about it. I have to ignore those people and know that I am a fighter and am a good person despite my mental illness.  Also, going on disability was a very hard thing to do as I have always been a hard worker.  I hate the question, “what do you do for  a living?”.  Honestly, rarely do I admit that I am on disability.
16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: I have always reached for the starts and unless I am depressed, I don’t and won’t let my mental illness stop me from making a difference.   I also didn’t think I would be accepted by people and be loved. However, I have some really good friends and am married to a wonderful, patient man who is very supportive.
17. The commercials about my illness: So many of them are advertising medications, unfortunately.  It saddens me that so many people with mental illnesses are talked into taking really expensive medications that don’t have a generic yet.  Once in awhile, I will see a public service announcement about mental illness that are encouraging. There are people out there making a difference when it comes to educating others and reducing the stigma. 
18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: I wish I knew what normal was.  I am not sure if I ever will. It is hard to plan anything in the future because I don’t know how I will be feeling.
19. It was really hard to have to give up: It  was hard to give up working full-time. I have always been a hard worker. Admitting that the stress was too much, was a really difficult thing to face.  
20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: I blog about my bipolar disorder and run several social media sites that deal with mental health advocacy and mental illness. I also started an advocacy group on FB.  
21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: I am not sure if I would know what normal is. However, if I knew I was going to stay that way, I would get a job and plan a vacation not having to worry about if I would be too depressed to enjoy it or manic and risk doing things I would regret.
22. My illness has taught me: My illness has taught me perseverance.  It has taught me to try and leave things I have done in the past and move on.  It is hard to forgive myself especially when I have hurt the people I love.  This often takes time, but is very much needed. If I were to dwell on all the mistakes I made when I was manic, I would stay depressed indefinitely.
23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: It really upsets me that when someone commits a violent crime that the media so quickly wants to talk about how the person had a mental illness. This often happens before it is even confirmed.  I wish the media would not contribute to the stigma and instead educate people that less than 1% of the people with mental illness are violent.  It saddens me that they share all their opinions and yet very rarely use the opportunity to educate people about mental illness, let people know that it is okay to get help, and give resources of where people can go if they need help.
24. But I love it when people:  When someone accepts me for who I am. It is really amazing when they want to know more about my illness and what they can do to help me.
25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: The “Don’t Quit” poem was given to me by my dad when I was first struggling with my illness. I have included it below. It has gotten me through some very hard times.
26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: I would like to tell them I am sorry and how awful my struggles have been. However, I don’t because I don’t want to discourage them. Instead,   I let them know I am here if they ever need anything. I also let them know they still can do anything they set their minds to. I sometimes let them know that it will not be easy, but it depends on the person and situation. I let them know that it is important to have a support system and an action plan if I get the chance to talk to them in great detail.
27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: I have been able to help others through my blogging, FB group and page. I can still make a difference even though I am not getting paid.  It is good to know that there are days that I am hopeful that they will find a cure and that stigma will be erased.  Thinking that gives me great hope.
28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:  My mom was always there no matter how badly I had treated her. Just having someone to listen and not judge is invaluable.  She passed away less than a year ago and this has caused a huge void as she was one of the very few people who really tried to understand and would do anything to help me. She loved me unconditionally, was a great listener, often knew exactly the right thing to say and had a way of making me feel special and accepted no matter what I had done.  She also was good about encouraging me and sometimes gave me the “kick in the butt” that I needed.
29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Awareness Week because: I think it is important that others know about the various illnesses so there is less judging and more understanding. I hope that some day people accept us for who we are.  Until then, weeks like this are necessary. I appreciate you having this important time when people can share their story and educate others.
30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: I am glad that you took the time to read it and thank you for caring enough to do so. I hope that you take some time to learn more about bipolar disorder and the other mental illnesses and share something you learned with someone else.  It is through education that we can change the way society views mental illness.

This blog about my invisible illness and other people’s stories can be found here:  Invisible Fight: Invisible Awareness Week 2015

don't quit kateonthinice DOT com

Source for Don’t Quit picture

f13 done

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

What can a mental health advocate do to help people with mental illnesses? by Michelle Clark

Advocate-For-Mental-HealthAs the founder and administrator of several groups, blogs and pages online that deal with mental illness, I am often asked how someone can help or what exactly is an advocate.

There are many ways a mental health advocate can get involved and help to make a difference. Sometimes it is simply to take care of themselves because they have a mental illness and sometimes it is helping a loved one or friend who has a mental illness. This is not always an easy task and those advocates should be commended.

There are other ways too as stigma regarding mental illness is common and mistreatment of those inflicted with a mental illness are common.

Mirriam Webster defines an advocate as a person who argues for or supports a cause or policy or  a person who works for a cause or group and 3. a person who argues for the cause of another person in a court of law.  I think the best definition would be a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy as defined by

There are many famous mental health advocates and people who are doing things to advocate for the mentally ill on a larger scale. However, in order to be considered to be an advocate, you don’t have to change policy or be well-known. There are many things you can do to help change the mental health system and the stigma surrounding mental illness.

It might be as simple as letting someone know that you have a mental illness and are not ashamed of telling them. It could be that you have accomplished in spite of having a mental illness and letting others know that.  It might be sharing that a family member has a mental illness and you are not ashamed of admitting it.

If you want to get involved on a larger scale, there are several organizations that deal with trying to change how the mentally ill are treated, perceived and help to educate others about the various mental illnesses.

There are politicians and famous people who have spoken out about mental illness. You could simply write to them and let them know that you appreciate it.

Some ideas that I would like to suggest if you want to do more are:

  • Send an email or call a politician, someone in the media, or a famous person in regards to your opinions, experiences, and ideas how to change things in the mental health system and/or make a difference in the stigma that I think is more discrimination.
  • Start a FB page or page, a Twitter account, start to blog, etc. to help raise awareness and offer support to others inflicted with a  mental illness or others inquiring about it.
  • Join an organization that deals with mental health or illness. Some people lead groups, some show up to offer support, others spread the word about the organizations.  Some such organizations are NAMI, BringChange2Mind, DBSA, Mental Health America.  Give them a call and see how you can get involved.
  • Organize or take part in an event that has to do with mental health or mental illness
  • Contact other advocates for other idea
  • Share information about mental illnesses on your personal social media sites

The ways you can help are limitless.  These are just some of the ways you can help make lives better for those who have a mental illness.   For more ways, please join our group Advocates for People with Mental Illnesses

advocate waysPicture credits: and

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Guest Post: Mental Health Awareness Month- Interesting Information

mhamonthHappy May Day!!! It is officially the first day of May and that means it is mental heath awareness month. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that May is mental health awareness month.

It saddens me that the media (as whole) does not make it a major deal like they (the media) do in October when it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Don’t get me wrong we need education on Breast Cancer as well as other cancers however mental health deserves just as much attention as other health issues, such as cancer.

People like myself fight the stigma of mental illness on the daily basis. Discrimination is a major issue for those of who struggle with a mental illness and it is also something our loved ones have to deal with as well. No one and I mean no one deserves to be discriminated against because of an illness they struggle with or loved one struggles with.

Here are some facts I got from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) website:


  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.7 million, or 18.6%—experiences mental illness in a given year.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—13.6 million, or 4.1%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
  • Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder in a given year. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.3
  • 1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.4
  • 2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.5
  • 6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
  • 18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
  • Among the 20.7 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 40.7%—8.4 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.8


  • An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.9
  • Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.10
  • 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.11
  • Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.8
  • Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.12
  • African Americans and Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans in the past year and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.13
  • Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.14


  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.15
  • Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth and adults aged 18–44.16
  • Individuals living with serious mental illness face an increased risk of having chronic medical conditions.17 Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.18
  • Over one-third (37%) of students with a mental health condition age 14­–21 and older who are served by special education drop out—the highest dropout rate of any disability group.19
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.,20 the 3rd leading cause of death for people aged 10–2421 and the 2nd leading cause of death for people aged 15–24.22
  • More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.23
  • Each day an estimated 18-22 veterans die by suicide.

I hope that I will be able to continue to educate people on mental illness for the rest of May and beyond. I hope to share more of my personal story to give hope to those who a struggling with mental illness and show them that recovery is possible. Recovery is not easy but it is possible.

I also hope to discuss current laws in regards to mental health and pending bills that are being discussed in the House as well as the senate. One of which is Murphy’s Bill. All of what I hope to discuss is dependent on how busy life gets. Life being busy is partly why I haven’t  been able to blog the last month and half. I love blogging and sharing my recovery with others as well as educating others. I hope to blog again at some point this weekend with more educational material if not more of my personal recovery story.

Please do not forget to educate people on mental illness and make people aware that May is mental health awareness month. Peace Out!!

Contributor:  Gertie’s Journey

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It’s World Bipolar Day! Check out these Bipolar Disorder FB pages

There are several wonderful pages on Facebook that deal with bipolar disorder. They offer various information on the mental illness, share inspirational quotes, memes, and personal experiences with the owner’s  illness.

Raising awareness of bipolar disorder and eliminating stigma” is important.  That was why World Bipolar Day  was started.  Please help to raise awareness by sharing these bipolar disorder pages with your FB followers and friends.

bipolar bandit facebook pages

A Bipolar Mom and Her Daily Life
Bipolar Annie: A Fabulous Trainwreck
Bipolar Awareness & Support Power Page
Bipolar Bandit
Bipolar Being
Bipolar Blogs
Bipolar Blonde Butterfly
Bipolar Borderline
Bipolar Burble
Bipolar Coaster
Bipolar Cowgirl
Bipolar Disorder – New Life Outlook
Bipolar Disorder Support
Bipolar Express
Bipolar Groups United on FB
Bipolar Insights
Bipolar Me
Bipolar Parents Uncensored
Bipolar people are awesome
Bipolar prism – bpd and more
Bipolar R Us
Bipolar Resources and Information Page
Bipolar Roller Coaster: The ups and downs of life with Bipolar
Bipolar Rollers
Bipolar support page
Bipolar Twists
Bipolar UK
Bipolar Winds
Bipolar- You’ve got it but I still love you
Bipolar zone
Bipolar, Schizoaffective and Caregivers Support Group
Bipolar/BPD/Schizophrenic Mom
Bipolars Supporting Bipolars
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) (national headquarters)
I love someone with bipolar disorder. Why Not?
International Bipolar Foundation
Me, Bipolar & I
Moodswinger Blog
Musings of a Bipolar Hot Mess
My bipolar life-speaking out and ending the stigma
My Bipolar Memoirs
Parents of Bipolar Children (& comorbid diagnoses)
Pax Nortona 
Positive Bipolar Bear
The Bipolar Artist
The Bipolar Chronicles
The bipolar mama
Tracey Vinyard BPD/Bipolar
Two Bipolar Chicks
Understanding Bipolar
When Bipolar Meets Art.
World Bipolar Day

Note: If you have a bipolar disorder page and would like for it to be included, send me a message at Bipolar Bandit’s FB page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments