BringChange2Mind

September 28, 2010

New Regular Blogger! Please Welcome Marc…

Marc

Hello fellow BC2Mers! My name is Marc Peters and I’m honored to be joining as a blog contributor. I wanted to take an opportunity to introduce myself and tell you why I’m invested in this important cause.

I’m a graduate student at the Clinton School of Public Service, but for the year prior to my graduate work, I worked as a mental health advocate. However, long before that and all the jobs and degrees to come, I’m a bipolar patient.

During my freshman year of college, I had a psychotic breakdown. I ended up spending a month in a mental hospital and months in outpatient treatment, eventually being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Afterward, I was a shattered version of my former self. I wasn’t sure where to go from there or, honestly, if I could go on. I realize that in hindsight, it would have been easy to quit. I could have stayed on medical leave indefinitely. I’m not sure what made me think that what was waiting for me on campus made it worth going back.

Like many other colleges and universities, at my school there was a real lack of understanding about mental illness. I could have transferred to a school closer to my safety net of family and doctors and further away from judgmental students who bought into the stigma tied to mental illness. I decided, however, that I did not want to let my disorder rob me of anything. I wanted the college experience that I planned on and that meant staying at Syracuse University.  Even with understanding people around me, it took a couple of years before I began to feel comfortable talking about what had happened with anyone other than my doctor.

Given my lack of comfort with the subject and my ignorance of any world of mental health beyond my own, I never thought that this would be an issue around which I would center my advocacy. While in college, I jumped from one ambition to the next. From journalist or policymaker, to taking on issues of gender equality to working against systemic racism – there wasn’t a job I didn’t consider or a worthy cause I didn’t care about.  Even after the psychotic break that so jarred my world, I still returned to my favorite causes. I just moved on, wishing, hoping and praying that my classmates would begin to forget that it ever happened. Considering I was hiding, I certainly wasn’t going to work to raise awareness about mental health on campus.

I came out of hiding when I started a personal blog about mental health: www.bipolarrealities.com and went even further by working at Active Minds. However, full-time advocacy just wasn’t sustainable for me. It was too close to home. It’s impossible (for me anyway) to deal with mental health every day, both at work and in my personal life. When I went through bouts of severe depression that led me to be suicidal, the last thing I wanted to do was to advocate. When I could barely make it out of bed, I didn’t want to be reading about other people’s struggles with depression. It was too much.

I think groups like BC2M are important because we need people who just simply care to join voices with people with mental health disorders and become an effective team to advocate for change. Sometimes it just hurts too much for me to talk about. I need you to speak up because sometimes I just can’t. If we all take a little bit of the load, it won’t get overwhelming for any one of us. I’m glad that you are checking this site out and I’m thrilled that I will get a chance to connect with you every week, but I need you to do more. I need you to get involved.

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8 Comments »

  1. I’m happy to see you here!! I try to stand up and have a voice… yet I’m still kind of a mouse just squeaking a bit here and there. I am more open on my blog than anywhere. My family doesn’t understand me and people have told me to get over myself and not to label myself. When ignorant things are said by family members is when it hurts the worst. I can walk away from others… Thanks for being a voice! ;D

    Comment by Holly — September 28, 2010 @ 11:34 am

  2. Thank you, Marc. You’re so right about speaking up and bearing the load for all those who suffer in silence. I personally am working on it, but it’s daunting. Your message is well-taken and VERY well-spoken.

    Comment by Laura — September 28, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

  3. .

    Comment by Laura — September 28, 2010 @ 1:02 pm

  4. Thank you so much! I totally get “When I went through bouts of severe depression that led me to be suicidal, the last thing I wanted to do was to advocate.” I am on the Board of Directors for AFSP-Los Angeles (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), so when I go to my dark place, it’s hard to practice what I preach about suicide prevention. Thank goodness for other advocates like you who we can all depend on in our times of need.

    ~Cindy Bertossa-Weger

    Comment by Cindy — September 28, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  5. Welcome Marc! It’s great to have you on board. You WILL make a difference! I’m so glad that you’re here with us in this campaign!

    Comment by Theresa — September 29, 2010 @ 12:16 am

  6. Marc, welcome! Thank you for sharing this and for joining voices that will make a difference. As a college professor (in special ed/mental health no less!) I am so sorry that it continues to be difficult for students to find the support, accommodations and understanding the deserve and have a right to in ANY college. I look forward to getting to know you. Cinda (BC2M Volunteer, Linea’s momma)

    Comment by Cinda — September 29, 2010 @ 8:49 pm

  7. […] and hope. Discussions of what selfishness means and what learning means. Please read Kim and Marc’s posts to get a sense of the kind of empowerment I am speaking of. These are the things I will […]

    Pingback by The Benefits of Advocacy: Healing through Empowerment « BringChange2Mind — October 4, 2010 @ 12:59 pm

  8. Thank you for your words, encouraging, enlightening, insightful, raw, truthful and lastly, helpful in bringing awareness and much needed empathy to loss who suffer. My son, was bipolar. He lost his struggle to a suicidal bout 4 days prior to his 24th birthday this past March. I work at a middle school and it was difficult to return to work and face all the masses. I have stumbled across your blogs on BC2M. I, too, really like their work. It’s courageous, progressive and carries a much needed voice.
    I have shared your blogs and they have brought comfort and awareness to those who needed both. Thank you!

    Comment by Pam Curley — October 24, 2010 @ 12:11 am


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