I came across a Ted Talk by Elyn Saks today that inspired me a lot. (This can be found here.) I started thinking about the kinds of role models I want, and who I choose to look up to. This has been particularly in my mind because of some recent comments on the Thrive community wall. I was particularly excited about the disability appeals board ruling in my favor, so I posted about it. Robin, who mediates the group, asked for advice on how to get disability. There were a few comments made to the effect of being as awful as you possibly can, having a drug/alcohol problem or some other disability for a dual diagnoses, in order to speed up the disability process. As much as it can suck to wait for benefits I disagree with making yourself more sick in order to get disability benefits.
Everyone’s experience with mental illness is different, but there are so many success stories for inspiration. I read about Kay Redfield Jamison, Ken Steele, Terri Cheney, and I’m inspired. Now I can add Elyn Saks to that list. I have the opportunity through education and amazing support from family & friends to do something really amazing with my life. My interest and proficiency in biochemistry allows me a chance to do some real research into the disorder that had the potential to consume my life entirely. I’ve had so many friendships and relationships destroyed by my inability to cope with myself, and as a result my inability to cope with other people.
I’m not afraid to speak about how awful my experiences have been. I’m not afraid to admit to some really horrible things I’ve done as a result of lack of education, lack of thought, or lack of caring. I’m also not afraid to call employers out on things that I know are wrong according to the ADA laws. If I didn’t have strong mental health role models, and know I was capable of what they are capable of, none of this would be possible. I’d be locked away in a hospital all alone.