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  • Writer's pictureBen R

The Whirlwind of Advocacy

It's been a busy new year!

I finished up my CBT therapy class, began my entrepreneurial class, continued to do peer support, submitted my mental health story to an upcoming mental health organization called Talk About Depression (TAD), been busy working out most days, and celebrated the inauguration of President Biden.

Oh, and slowly trying to put together a January newsletter.

In someways, 2021 so far as been a year of me running on auto-pilot.

While it's not necessarily a bad thing, I'm inherently anxious to just get back out in society. Thankfully, the new administration has made the vaccine distribution their number one priority. My mother-in-law just received the first one this past week. There's light at the end of the tunnel!

I really have to say that I've been productive most days. I'm continuing to do my advocacy work, spend time with family, spend time with Hazel, workout, and am focused on maintaining an attitude of gratitude.

Despite all that, it doesn't mean I'm not a bit burnt out on advocacy in certain arenas.

As far as my pages on Facebook and Instagram go, I do get tired of the feeling that I need to post something everyday. In reality, there's always things to share personally and informatively in the world of mental health.

What I find, though, is that I've received so little feedback on my posts that it often feels like I'm just talking to myself. It's as if I'm just giving myself therapy.

My Facebook page is an absolute joke!

Don't EVER pay to have followers.

When I first started the page two years ago, I mainly focused on daily quotes. I would get consistent responses. You know acknowledgements; which in turn motives you and gives you purpose to continue on?

Well, I felt as an advocate, I needed to get more in depth.

Apparently, people don't seem to really want to learn in depth or think critically, especially on Facebook.

Instagram isn't always better, but I do seem to gain better traction with my posts. I still struggle to gain followers, but I honestly prefer it over Facebook. I think Instagram caters to a slightly younger audience. It makes sense to me, then, why I'd feel more connected on there. Older generations (probably starting with myself- Gen X and before), just don't want to deal with mental health, for themselves or for others.

As much as I consider myself an Empath, peoples random behaviors drive me FUCKING insane!

If we are to ever really make any headway with mental health advocacy, we have to get beyond daily quotes, self-pity quotes, and "I made it out of bed today."

Now, don't get it twisted. Getting out of bed consistently when you have a major mental illness is something to be proud of.

It's just that it can't be the ONLY focus for mental health.

Thankfully, I'm finding a number of accounts on Instagram where individuals with lived mental illnesses are speaking out.

I often find those with lived experience to be far more insightful than the professionals.

Not only do they show vulnerability by speaking out online, but they end up taking us along with them on their journey; their trials and errors. Open raw-honesty, often in video format no less.

They share their stories!

And that's what I'm all about as an advocate.

As content as I am about writing at times and posting mental health information, what really gets my "gears" going is witnessing heartache and sadness, but also realization and happiness.

Humans have been sharing stories for thousands of years.

Mental health is really no different.

We all have a story to share, whether we are the person with a mental illness or we know someone with one...our stories matter!

It's certainly not as easy to talk about repeated relapse and sexual abuse as it is about our favorite comic book hero(s) or our epic travel adventures, but it needs to be told.

Let's become or encourage a new line of heroes!

My vision for mental health, as it stands today, is an open, yet safe place (platform) where people of all abilities, class, and gender(s) can feel empowered to share some of their most vulnerable and traumatic past experiences.

My long-term vision for mental health is that it's as mainstream talked about as physical health.

Someone who hears voices in their head is no LESS of a person than someone with cancer.

I fully believe, despite what my social media experience as shown me thus far, that sharing our stories will be a major key factor in reducing the stigma of mental illness.

I'm starting to get educated on how to make that a reality. What can you do?

- Ben

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