"In the dark and uncertain days after the Tucson, Arizona, shootings, seasoned journalist Andrea Ball of the Austin-American Statesman gathered the courage to confront the inaccurate and sometimes sensationalized coverage of the tragic shootings. Demonstrating a great confidence in her readers she wrote, "Well, I have bipolar disorder, and I'm not coming to kill you. I promise."[This is the post in which I "out" myself as a chronic sufferer of - and battler with - clinical depression.]
These words, hanging unspoken for so long, were out on the page for the first time to her readers and colleagues. Andrea chose to push through any fear or questions that she may have had to share her private struggle with mental illness with her readers like me.
The response to Andrea's column was overwhelmingly positive. She received hundreds of emails and phone calls from readers offering support, encouragement and in many cases, acknowledgement of their own battles with mental illness. Then, there were the inspiring messages from those who were strengthened by Andrea's courage and found the ability to seek help for their own mental illness for the first time."
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wing
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring ther
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of a
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God
John Gillespie Magee, Jr -
The reality is that the face of mental illness is that of an award-winning journalist who has bipolar disorder, or a businessman going to work every day despite his depression, or a student studying for an exam and trying to manage her panic attacks. They are your friends, family members, neighbors, and colleagues, who write, work, study, and also struggle with a serious health problem.
To keep the momentum against stigma moving forward, we need women in the U.S. and around the world to rise up [and] say, "No more will we discriminate against our mothers and daughters living with mental illness!" Each one of us has the opportunity to change inaccuracies and shatter stereotypes around mental illnesses. Our daughters and granddaughters can live in a world where they do not fear seeking help for any health condition and are able to get the support and resources they need to fulfill their greatest potential.