What does it mean to be aware? To spread awareness? I mean, have you ever really thought about those words?
Merriam Webster lays it out:
: knowing that something (such as a situation, condition, or problem) exists
: feeling, experiencing, or noticing something (such as a sound, sensation, or emotion)
: knowing and understanding a lot about what is happening in the world or around you
Let’s take the given definition and apply it to bipolar disorder:
First, do we know that bipolar exists? I mean we probably do, since many readers here either experience it themselves, or through a loved one. But what about those who use hurtful phrases like, “snap out of it” or “stop being so dramatic”. Do they know bipolar disorder is a true, often harrowing disorder? Sadly, many do not recognize it as being real.
Second, to ‘feel, experience, or notice’ bipolar disorder is actually pretty intense. Those of us who live with it most definitely experience all facets of the disorder, no matter how unique each of our experiences are from one another. What about the uneducated? Your loved ones who keep asking questions? The general public with stigmatized views of bipolar folks? Sure they may have residual feelings from their own perception, but think what a world of difference it could make if they had a true grasp on the bipolar experience, or had a clear idea of what to take notice in.
The last part of this definition emphasizes knowledge and thorough understanding of notions larger than oneself. In this case, do we (you, me, they) allow our brains to penetrate past the point of comfort and acceptance, and into the realm of higher learning? Are we hungry for knowledge on something that makes up our daily lives? Are we okay with a large percentage of the world being ignorant of mental illness? Have we really thought about the fact that we are often discriminated against, are faced with shame, with embarrassment? That is what is happening in the world around us. That is why this movement of bipolar disorder awareness is so very important.
What you can do:
Get educated. Seriously, tap into the internet (see links I have listed on the side of this page), go to the library or snatch an ebook such as Bipolar Disorder for Dummies .
Educate others. Start a conversation with your friends. Tell your parents how your disorder makes you feel. Don’t be shy.
Remember that bipolar disorder and other mental disorders are just as important as physical illnesses such as diabetes or cancer.
Address the issue of stigma. Don’t allow others to incorrectly label or generalize serious mental health issues.
Never use mental disorders as slurs, and correct others for doing so as well.
Share links to blogs, books, websites, advocacy groups, sources from mental health professionals on your social media.
Share your own experience through a creative outlet, or even a speaking engagement.
Let’s all commit to making a change this time around. Let’s all push a little harder to make our voice heard. Awareness exists for a reason, so let’s use it as a vessel to deliver our message.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. If you believe you have bipolar disorder or another medical illness, please contact your primary health care professional. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of death or suicide, please call (or encourage them to call) the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to your nearest Emergency Room immediately.