Since I was seven years old I have helped take care of my mother who suffers from Bi-polar disorder. Bi-polar disorder falls on the scale of mental illnesses and is totally manageable. However, my mother has always felt a certain shame and will jump to extreme anger if anyone mentions mental illness in the same sentence of her name. While Bi-polar is manageable, if it isn’t managed it causes extreme chaos for the person and the ones around them. This led to me growing up in a very stressful environment, which eventually led to my own struggles.
At the age of 28, I suffer from depression and anxiety disorder. I was one of the lucky ones who grew up having an amazing father and friends who supported me when I needed help the most. I was hospitalized, spent time in a mental ward (California has no long term facilities to help children/teens who suffer from mental illness), and spent fourteen months in treatment center learning all the tools I needed to succeed in life. In my case, I’m the opposite of my mother. I don’t see mental illness as something to be ashamed of or embarrassed about, but instead as something that should be talked about and worked on. In our society today, we are doing a huge disservice to people who suffer every day from the hundreds of different mental illness out there.
I am not alone in that thought. In the last year many celebrities have been stepping forward and opening about their own challenges. Will Wheaten who battles his own demons, has been extremely open about his struggles. While others like, Jenny Jaffe who created Project UROK, help by creating a community for people to share their stories. No matter what role someone takes up in this fight, the important thing is that they are banning together to fight the stigma on mental illness. That is why the Panel (featuring Jenny Jaffe as a panelist), A Force for Good: The Powerful Partnership Between Mental Health and Pop Culture, is a must panel for everyone.
The quick description on New York Comic-Con website states:
“Awareness of pop culture’s power to help people with mental illnesses is reaching new heights, from celebrated depictions of superhero struggles to the personal stories of creators themselves. Join Eisner-nominated writer Alex de Campi, actress/writer Mara Wilson, Project UROK’s Jenny Jaffe, Drs. Bender, Kambam, and Pozios of Broadcast Thought, Superhero Therapy’s Janina Scarlet, and moderator Jeff Trexler as they discuss how comics can be a force for good in mental health. Speakers: Alex de Campi, Mara Wilson, Jenny Jaffe, H. Eric Bender, M.D., Praveen R. Kambam, M.D., Vasilis K. Pozios, M.D., Janina Scarlet, Ph.D.”
Meeting on Sunday, October 11 in room 1A24, A Force for Good: The Powerful Partnership Between Mental Health and Pop Culture panel will run from 3:45 to 4:45. What better community to team up together and tackle the stigma, than a community that opens themselves up to all different possibilities. The nerd community is one to welcome anyone in with open arms and shouts of joy, so lets share the positive energy because only together will we be able to change the way people view mental health.