Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mental Health and College

A sketch of the human brain by artist Priyan W...Image via Wikipedia

I took the plunge in 1998 and went back to school, my goal? A degree in psychology, I was finally living my dream. Many people may say that my past dictated my degree choice, which may be true. I wanted to know how it happened, what could be done a how we get this way. I would have the answers and could use them to help those who are where I was.

It didn’t take long though to see my ideas about psychology were not quite right. The background, the reasons for ones actions were clear, but as we began the study of disorders I became less and less comfortable with my choice of degrees. I found that everywhere I turned there was a “label,” a name for what we were feeling. There was no escaping it.

I hated the labels, that’s all it was labels. These names given to a feeling, action, attitude or outburst could create a persons future with no say from them.

Maybe it was personal but I began to feel that’s it all we were, all those of us with Mental Illness were a number, a label, an experiment and report. We weren’t people, the goal was to give a name, add medication and find the reason for the actions. This bothered me. I wanted to help others without labeling them, I wanted to listen and help them feel human again. How could I do that while being told I had to give a name to how it affected her/him?

At the worst times in my life, when I was having flashbacks and going through therapy I didn’t care about what the diagnosis was, I cared about making it through the day, the night, and the next day and continue that cycle until I could breathe again.

With this knowledge I changed my mind; I changed my major to social work and moved forward. Of course when we moved, I lost some of my transcript and well, 10 years later I am back at square one and have decided that I do not need a piece of paper to help others – my experience, my desire to help them find their way is enough. I can be myself, be real and honest – exactly what they need.

Don’t fall for the labels, don’t play into them. I have a label of Bipolar disorder and because of my abusive childhood doctors have added to that, but it doesn’t matter. MY bipolar medication keeps me in check, giving me the ability to continue my work.

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