Holly: Talking about Mental Illness

Holly finds that when she does share about her family experience with mental illness, others will then share experiences they have had with family members who live with mental illness. When she worked with teens and young adults, ages 16 to 21, as a special education teacher, she would explain that many people encounter mental illness.

I would say, look around at your friends. Count 5. One out of five people in this room has a mental illness. Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your friend. Maybe it’s your cousin. Maybe it’s your mom. Maybe it’s your dad. Maybe it’s your grandma. It’s a physical illness just like any other illness. We talk about heart attacks. We talk about anything else. We can talk about mental illness too. It’s not something we have to hide and don’t do anything about and live for the rest of our lives not getting help.

She also acknowledged that some good things have emerged from her family experiences with mental illness.

I think it made me a more accepting person. I don’t tend to judge people based on their behavior like I used to. It made me have more patience. I’m not normally a patient person, but over the years, I’ve grown to be patient. Patience and just appreciating people’s differences. You can say that bipolar is an illness and it is. There’s a lot of bad things about it. But there’s also some gems in the illness.

Holly noted the many ideas and gifts that persons who live with bipolar disorder bring to the world. She said, “It’s getting to keep it under control and learn how to deal with it that really makes people successful.”

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