Remember me? It's been far too long since the last post! Since I've been preoccupied with my small business, I've neglected poor MindfulEats. I've thought of you often, but Pop Karma has been all-consuming over the last year. Anyway, I'm back and I have a guest post on mental health that I've been meaning to share for many many months. We tend to focus on eating and physical health here, but mental health is just as important. People can often seek sympathy and support for physical diseases, but we tend to ignore mental illness. It is just as real and debilitating, but we often sweep it under the table and don't ask for support, or don't know how to discuss it with those that need it. As in any disease, professional medical help and treatment can be a lifesaver. Taking care of yourself physically also helps.
People (myself included) often don't know how to provide support or what to say when someone suffers from mental illness. If you find yourself with someone who has been diagnosed with mental illness and don't know what to say, an incredibly smart, kind and brave friend of mine wrote the below post for those of us that feel awkward. Mental illness takes as much discipline and effort to treat as any other disease, and there is an unfair stigma. It takes bravery to seek and maintain treatment, so if someone if someone confides in you, they should be applauded. Listen and be supportive. Without further ado:
My friend Jean asked me to write something on the subject of mental illness. So here I go. Do you know someone with uh…ahem…a mental illness? Are you related to that person? Well it’s not the end of the world, ya know. I speak from experience because I have a mental illness. I am a manic depressive, a.k.a. bipolar. I am 41 years old and was diagnosed more than 15 years ago when I was 25. I’ve spent almost half my life as a wacko. I wanted to reach out to those of you who know someone, or (gasp) are related to someone, who is crazy, nuts, bananas and don’t talk to him/her about it…because you don’t know what to say. Most of my friends don’t talk to me about being bipolar. It actually makes me sad because being bipolar is a big part of who I am. I went through a lot of personal angst and soul searching after I recovered from my first nervous breakdown and was diagnosed as a bipolar. Was I normal I asked myself? Granted I am now a highly functional bipolar. I am highly educated with three Ivy League degrees. I have a good job and own a home and a car. I’m actually on the Board of a non-profit dedicated to adults recovering with mental illness. I’ve being taking meds since I was diagnosed more than 15 years ago, and I’ve worked with my doctors to make sure that my meds work. Not all of us are like that however. When you see your friend/family member with mental illness, don’t worry about saying the right words. There are no right words. The most important thing is to say SOMETHING. Acknowledge it. An “are you okay?” goes a long way…a really long way. Ask about his/her doctor and the meds if you need to have something concrete to talk about. Something on the order of an Avatar-like “I see you” would be great but not necessary. I’d point out that it is important to try to be sensitive to your friend/family member. Some of us crazies don’t appreciate references to manic behavior or nervous breakdowns by people who don’t know what they’re talking about. The important thing is that you made an effort to talk to your friend/family member about their “illness”, and that’s a big deal. Remember that there is no such thing as normal. We’re all normal.
What I ate: 1 latte, udon noodles + spinach + enoki mushrooms + egg in chicken broth, 2 cups of cheddar & cajun popcorn, pork, salad, creamed carrots, 1 slice of chocolate cake, 1 glass sparkling wine, 2 glasses red wine, 30 oz. water