In a given year, bipolar disorder affects about 5.7 million American adults, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population 18 and older, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The disorder, which is characterized by intense highs and lows of manic and depressive episodes, is unfortunately shrouded in stigma. Bipolar disorder is often something people dismiss, trivialize and misunderstand.
While in Alaska last week, it was easy to see these stigmas laid heavily on the shoulders of a participant in my “I AM” Girl Noticed workshop. In the workshop participants were asked to create signs declaring their future. Taking notice of their strengths, and declaring the future they would stand in.
Adriel expressed to me that she struggled with Bipolar disorder, and although the struggle is real and often challenging, there is a lot more of her to be noticed. She is not just a statistic. Adriel is also a mother, a wife, a friend, an advocate, a writer, a volunteer…her list goes on.
“The mentally ill frighten and embarrass us. And so we marginalize the people who most need our acceptance. What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation.” Glenn Close
It was clear to see in the short time I spent with Ariel, all she had to offer. Her loving heart, generous spirit and kind demeanor lit up the room. I have no doubt she will be unstoppable in her determination to tear down the walls of mental illness. I wish her well. I wish her compassion and understanding from a world quick to judge.