Once upon a time, there was a lovely young lady named Lulu. She was bright and vivid and bigger than life (she still is, don’t worry, I just talked with her the other day), and it was an especial desire of hers to advocate for understanding, strength, support, and education about mental health. She had suffered a long time with her own mental illness, and she never wanted anyone to feel alone, as she had.
If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, my loves, you might know her as the woman with whom I co-founded the community mental health site, A Canvas Of The Minds.
(Side note: Please, if you haven’t, go check Canvas out. It isn’t just a site about being mentally ill, it’s about dealing with so many aspects of life, and chances are if you can’t relate to any of our authors’ pieces personally, we still touch upon topics and situations that you may have to deal with through a friend or a loved one. If nothing else, it will give you a glimpse into life with mental illness, and hopefully foster dialogue and understanding.)
So. Last year, Lulu did something awesome, something so much more, which caught on like wildfire. She started Blog for Mental Health 2012. It was a simple idea that united a community. If you have ever seen this badge on a site (and chances, are, you have):
well, that all started with her (and yes, I know it wasn’t here, but let’s not psychoanalyze me right now).
Now, to be absolutely clear, this isn’t an award. I want to make that very plain, because I know that many bloggers feel that the blogging awards passed along, however well-intentioned, sometimes have a bit of a “chain mail” feel to them. I would love to see even “award-free” bloggers taking up this gauntlet, because it is something else entirely. It’s a simple, yet very powerful way for a community of mental health bloggers to show that they are proud of their lives, that they are writing for themselves as well as for those who have not yet found their voices, that they are ensuring no one ever has to feel alone when dealing with mental illness.
This year’s badge is especially cool, because Lulu put together a number of different choices. She posted them on her blog, Sunny With a Chance Of Armageddon, as well as on A Canvas Of The Minds. The community then got to vote on which image they wanted for 2013. After a mostly scientific tally (read: I made tally marks in a notebook scientifically), I can reveal to you the Blog For Mental Health 2013 official badge:
Designed by Lulu, selected by the community!
Here is how this thing works:
1.) Take the pledge by copying and pasting the following into a post featuring “Blog for Mental Health 2013″.
I pledge my commitment to the Blog For Mental Health 2013 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.
2.) Link back to the person who pledged you.
3.) Write a short biography of your mental health, and what this means to you.
So, I carry diagnoses of Bipolar Disorder I, and also nearly every anxiety disorder in the book (the book being the DSM, the one used for making these diagnoses) — Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Possibly also Impulse Control Disorder.
I kept a lid on things until I was about 25, when a whole series of events led to a complete and total nervous breakdown. The short version is something along the lines of six years of medications (soooo many medications, like upwards of 70), talk and structured therapies, eventually electroconvulsive therapy — which was the most horrible experience of my life, and left scars I will carry forever.
A lot of you who are reading this probably don’t know all about that. That’s because something happened at the beginning of March last year, I can’t really explain it, but I became well again. I became the girl I was at 21, when I could do it all beautifully and flawlessly and joyfully. I have spent this time healing, and I know that I won’t ever be exactly that same girl; I’m a whole lot wiser, and sometimes much sadder. I have to take my medications regularly, or things can get pretty rough for me.
But I am happy, oh so happy. And were you to ask me if I would go through all of that again, six years of Hell (capital H) to get where I am now — 32 years old, living on disability, in my parents’ home — my answer would be a resounding, ”Yes!”, without qualification. I am more blessed than I ever imagined I could be. I love and I am loved, and I discovered the wonderful, loving, supportive community of all of you because of my journey.
4.) Pledge five others, and be sure to let them know!
I am pledging five of my fellow bloggers who have stood with me, and have proven their mettle in my eyes as mental health bloggers.
I’m going to put a little twist on this one.
First, as the entirety of Team Canvas was pledged in the original post, I’ll start out with five other bloggers whom I know and respect and who have made lasting contributions to the online mental health community:
Cate, of Infinite Sadness… or hope?
Kevin, of Voices of Glass
But I also would like to include five more bloggers, just a sampling of the newer voices I am reading, who may not yet know about this. So I pledge:
If you happen upon this without being pledged, I still pledge you. Feel free to take the pledge! Promote awareness!
5.) And, as something novel for 2013, Lulu and I ask one more thing of you.
As you may have noticed, Canvas does not keep an official blogroll, outside of links to our authors’ personal blogs. For something new and special to introduce Blog For Mental Health 2013, and really build a sense of community — and show everyone how many of us there are, and how strong we are, coming together — we are launching a Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll! So, in addition to linking back to the person who pledged you, please include the link to the original post in your piece. As this gets passed along, link back or click here and leave a comment containing the link to your pledge, and we will put you on our Blog For Mental Health 2013 Official Blogroll page! Show the world our strength, show them our solidarity, show them what we are made of. Take the Blog for Mental Health pledge and proudly display the badge on your blog!
(And yes, I do know that I stuck about 752 links in here. I figure the more this gets passed around, the more some will get lost, and I want people to be able to find their way back to the original post and page!)
© Ruby Tuesday and I Was Just Thinking. . . 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruby Tuesday and I Was Just Thinking. . . with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. This work is protected under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.