I believe in fighting against this terrible Stigma. I have let it dictate how I should live my life way too much. I became and quit being a high school English teacher because of my fear of the Stigma. I still wonder how the Stigma is affecting my life now. I will do what I can to help eliminate the stigma one step at a time. I see so much need in my own backyard that I will do what I can to strengthen the organizations around me. I just became a member of NAMI, but I have more experience with a different organization out there.
However, I have a secret. Yes, I know. I’m a bigot because of it. If you read my first blog “Don’t Make Me Go Bipolar on Your Ass,” you would see that I believe we should tell others about our bipolar disorder so we can help eliminate the Stigma surrounding it. Well, I’m sure one to talk. I want to. I plan to. But so far, when I open my mouth…I shut it immediately. Fortunately, I have a plan to change that.
Since I met my husband four years ago, I have become a part of a great service organization that works to help communities with any need they may have, the Lion’s Club. Well, in each individual community they are supposed to be general. They can help the community at large in anything they deem as a need for their community. However, in the district, state, and even the world, they concentrate on seriously helping the blind and deaf with a huge variety of services. This world-wide service organization became the “Knights of the Blind” for Helen Keller in 1927, but the club started in 1917. I am proud to say I became a member in February 2009.
But why couldn’t I tell these amazing, caring, compassionate people before that I’m bipolar?
Unfortunately, this organization does have its share of problems. It’s still “the good old boys club.” Don’t worry. Women are being sought out to join, but there is still some animosity in some clubs and we women really have to work to be heard. Another problem is that the majority of members are 55 and over. Here I am, 29, and I’m “playing” with my parent’s and grandparents’ generation.
That is my problem. Will the older generation accept me as an advocate not only for the Lion’s Club, but to join Lions and NAMI supporters together?
I have 3 strikes against me: female, young, and bipolar. Geez, I’m also opinionated! I’m in trouble.
I already get comments about being so young. It’s embarrassing.
“Gee, it’s nice you brought your daughter with you,” my husband and I have heard numerous times. My husband may be ten years older than me, but come on! Okay, okay. I can’t deny that I look more like 23 than 29, but still! They even know I’m his wife and they are just trying to make a joke thinking it is funny, but I’m sensitive to that kind of thing.
The reason I’ve decided to try and get my Lion’s club to get more involved in their local NAMI is because I think they would be an incredible force to reckon with to help us with our fight against the Stigma and their superior ability to raise funds. It would also increase the level of service NAMI can do for our community. One problem my local NAMI has is that its supporters will donate some money, but they are not willing to donate enough time to fundraisers to generate even more money for programs. However, my Lion’s Club is very strong and has superior skills in fundraising.
Before I walk into the next meeting and try to get support for my agenda, I plan to go about this monumental shift in view point, slowly and only one step at a time. My first step begins in a couple of weeks. I am introducing a small group of Lions and their spouses to NAMI and a NAMI supported treatment center for children and adolescents. Their reaction will help me judge whether I will have too many problems moving forward with making this alliance with the Lion’s Club and NAMI. Wish me luck!