“Out in the Milkweed” & Stigmama

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Happy Friday My Blogging Friends!

I wrote this piece “Out in the Milkweed” for the cutting-edge, award-winning website/blog STIGMAMA.

STIGMAMA’s tagline is “Motherhood. Mental Illness. Out Loud.”  I loved it as soon as I read that.  I started writing for Stigmama just after its inception in March, 2014.  STIGMAMA was founded by Dr. Walker Karraa, a trailblazer whose new book “”Transformed by Postpartum Depression: Women’s Stories of Trauma and Growth”, is an Amazon bestseller receiving rave reviews.  Last year I asked Dr. Karraa if she’d write the foreword to my upcoming (i.e. by the time I’m 90) book “Birth of a New Brain” – I was deeply honored when she said yes.

STIGMAMA has showcased the work of 70 talented contributors, giving writers a chance to shine (some for the first time) in a public arena writing about deeply personal experiences.  The STIGMAMA page has over 15,000 likes!  Not bad for a blog that’s less than a year old!

Perhaps you’d like to be a STIGMAMA contributor too – visit http://www.stigmama.com and check out the 2015 writing schedule for details.

This free verse (very free! 😉 piece “Out in the Milkweed” expresses how I’ve felt stigmatized by those who see me as mentally ill despite the fact that I’ve been stable for quite some time.  While it’s obvious that I’m very angry about this situation, I believe there’s hope for some healing.  It will take time.  For those of us who are adversely affected by stigma, we can practice vigilant self-care, stay current on research, and do all that we can to become and remain stable.

In turn, we can once again have conversations with our loved ones about stigma. Perhaps our family member or friend could attend a NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) family member support group.  We can give them a handout or a book that includes how to be aware and sensitive about mental illness stigma.

Even if we can’t change the way others see us, we can focus on ourselves and work on our self-stigmatizing issues, either by ourselves or with a trusted friend or therapist. If you have any suggestions about this topic, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks for reading!

love,

Dyane


"Out in the Milkweed"

In some disturbing way that you would never openly admit
You want me to remain
Mentally ill, labeled by the seven-letter word bipolar
You prefer me to fit neatly in a suffocating cocoon
From which I can never fully emerge
As the soaring, vibrant Monarch butterfly that I once was

If I speak with “normal” cadence and joy
You scornfully say that I sound manic
Your words cut me deeper than you could ever imagine
And I shut down, hesitant to share myself with you again

I’m not manic, but you continue to see me in stifling ways
And no matter how high I soar within the realm of stability
You view me through shame-colored glasses

Why do you choose to see me as permanently damaged?
Could it be schadenfreude?
To make your own ravaged self esteem and depression not seem so bad?

I believe that you regard my brain as forever broken
due to ever-present stigma, insidiously affecting us all
I may even permeate your misconceptions by living fully
and throwing my own shame to the wind

Now that I’ve returned
To a life where I don’t stay in bed wanting to die
I can be a writer, a mother, a wife, a daughter
I can laugh, weep, and be present

I will research about what prevents relapse, and be proactive with 
self-care

After years of looking to others for biochemical salvation
It feels good taking care of myself

I don’t know what the future holds
But I’ll do everything I can to remain a butterfly
Hovering amongst milkweed drinking nectar
No longer in need of hermetic, protective coverings
It's time to fly, unencumbered, once again

My Wacky 2014 Mental Health Hero Award for Mental Health Humor

Chato

 

Happy Monday Everyone!

I write this while quite bleary-eyed after a poor night’s sleep, so please forgive me for typos and syntax errors etc. more than usual!

Over the weekend I was notified that a customized, super-wacky caricature of yours truly and a brief bio. was published on PsychCentral’s Mental Health Humor section.  

I was honored as a 2014 Mental Health Hero!  

I was selected for this honor by the one and only mental health advocate/cartoonist/writer/DBSA Award-winner/BP (Bipolar) Magazine blogger/mental health consumer Chato B. Stewart.  If you open up the link below you’ll find not only Chato’s caricature of me,  but more illustrations.

You’ll see that Chato’s three young daughters drew their own pictures of me alongside my girls, which I think is really sweet.  Chato told me they get a big kick out of participating, and they’ve inherited an artistic flair for art from their talented father.  They love doing this special project with their dad!

Chato created this award several years ago and it has become an annual tradition.  What makes this year’s awards especially poignant is that over the past few months Chato has suffered from a severe bipolar depression.  He almost let this labor of love fall to the wayside and his three daughters implored him not to give it up.  The fact that he was able to do it is a total miracle in my eyes.

It’s all in good fun, and if you visit the link you’ll note that I’m part of a group of other “mental health heroes” you may be interested in checking out!

Dyane Harwood Mental Health Hero #mhmonth2014 | Mental Health Humor.