Why Instagram Is the Platform to Talk About Mental Health in 2018

Instagram is not only a place for pointless selfies anymore. In 2017 Instagram took significant steps toward becoming a tool for self-expression, mainly focusing on mental health. Now more than ever it is becoming a platform for mental health advocates, and users who are advocating for change. This type of movement lessens the control of the gatekeepers of information such as the news media. How does this help the mental health community? It reduces stigma in a groundbreaking way. It gives the everyday person an opportunity to share their side of the story with a broad and diverse audience. Instagram is the platform to talk about mental health in 2018, and in this post, I explain the reason why.

#HereForYou Campaign

In May 2017, Mental Health Awareness Month, Instagram showed their commitment to spreading awareness with the #HereForYou Campaign. It’s objective was to bring awareness to mental health, portraying users of Instagram who are sharing their story and making an impact. Chief Operating Officer Marne Levine told Abc News, “People come to Instagram to tell their stories in a visual, and through an image, they’re able to communicate how they’re feeling, what they’re doing. So what we decided to do is to create a video campaign highlighting these communities of support that exist on Instagram.”

As an advocate who is very active on Instagram, I was taken back by the initiative, and I will explain the reason for this reaction. I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old with bipolar 2 disorder and started advocating for mental health four years later. The last four years, I have spent time traveling on my own dime, reaching out to brands and businesses, speaking at events where only three people sat and listened to my thoughts about mental health. Thankfully, HealthyPlace.com was the first to reach out to me, giving me the opportunity to share my story on their YouTube Channel. However, again they are a mental health website, whose main objective is talking about mental health. To be honest, I felt like people, outside of advocates and online platforms like Healthyplace, didn’t give a sh*t about mental health! Then in 2017, a year after I came forward with my diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder on mediated platforms, everything seemed to change. When Instagram started this campaign, I saw that other major companies were finally taking action.

Mental Health Advocates on Instagram

Advocates, like myself, are sharing the truth about our lives with a mental health condition and persuading the public to take a different outlook on mental health. Not only is it where advocates are building a career, but a place where everyday users feel comfortable sharing their own experience. Not feeling as though they are alone on this journey. It is a diverse range of advocates which makes Instagram all the more appealing to users. It gives everyone a voice and a safe place to share it. Can you believe it? Social Media? A Safe Place? For the most part, it is a safe place, and the person who takes the hit with stigma usually is the person with the account. In 2017, Instagram showed their loyalty to the mental health community. It has taken steps to ensure the content being shared is meaningful and with a genuine objective. In 2018, influencers will continue to grow, using Instagram as a tool to spread awareness and advocate for change in society. Personally, I have some major projects as well that I will be revealing on my Instagram. Please follow if you have not done so yet, and say hello!

 

 

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Keeping Faith and Living with Bipolar: My Interview with ‘Bipolar Brave’ Author Katie Dale

This past May, I was fortunate enough to go to a Mental Health Influencer Summitt in sunny San Diego, California. It gave me the opportunity to meet advocates from all over the US. This is where I met Katie Dale, author of the blog, Bipolar Brave: Power, Love & Sound Mind. Katie is beautiful, and her genuine spirit and open mind make you feel so comfortable around her. Katie is diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder and started her blog to raise awareness about mental health. Katie’s story is very unique, being that she is open about bipolar disorder and her strong faith in God. This is something you do not see often. I reached out to her for an interview and luckily she was gracious enough to answer some of my questions.

You were very young when you went to the psych unit after your manic episode, how did that experience shape you into the person you are today?

Katie: As I had never been in a place or situation before like it, I absorbed every detail of it and have carried the story with me. It was the initial jumping-off point for the direction my life would eventually take. I remember being super intuitive and telling the doctor I would write a book about that place (which I have), and that the experience there instilled a belief in me that I may not have had if I never went there, that inspired me to go off my medication years down the road. I still am in awe of the kindness I received from a patient aid that I wonder about from time to time still.

You say in your “About Me”-”My Junior year began with a lot of hopeful expectations to learn a Biblical worldview, but I transitioned roughly.”

Was it the Biblical worldview that caused you to question yourself or triggered you into a depression? 

Katie: Being the perfectionist/idealist I was, I aimed my expectations too high, and when I was confronted with a Christian education that was at times rather Un-Christian, it caused me to question the schooling. I was so disappointed in the way I was received as a new student, the way chapels were mandatory and out of duty, to the unfair reprimanding way I was treated for coming to class late, yet with a pass. My pristine notions that it was a perfect place had been shattered, and I internalized that, along with my insecurity, fear and secret desire to end my life.

Your religious beliefs seem to play a significant role in your journey, past, and present. What role does it play in managing your bipolar disorder?

Katie: My faith is important to me since I have experienced a personal, real, genuinely loving God at a young age (in the hospitals especially). Now I rely on those experiences to have grown a backbone in my personal faith so that I never question God’s love for me or His faithfulness (or His existence for that matter). Every day I look to Him as a guide and source of strength, so that gives me a profound sense of comfort in my management of the disorder. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life” – if He’s the truth, I’ve discovered all of His sayings are good and true -, and that gives me confidence on a day-to-day basis.

Has it been difficult to not only live with bipolar disorder but work as an advocate, while trying to maintain your religious beliefs?

Katie: No, not at all. It’s been a joy to share the great work God has done in and through me since the reason I’m doing so well is His grace. God gets the credit, and I am so glad I have Him rooting for me.

What do you want to accomplish with your blog, Bipolar Brave?

Katie: I want to be a subject matter expert and looked to as a beacon for those struggling with an understanding of bipolar disorder, whether they have it or not, whether they are a Christian or not. I think blogging is one of those things that brings people together in the sense that they’re open to learning other things and in a non-threatening non-committal way. I hope my blog does that.

What would you like to achieve in the future?

Katie: I’d love to make it to the bestseller list with my memoir and have it turned into a movie. If that doesn’t happen, just getting my story out there and speaking about the experiences I had so others understand it better and can experience it through reading my story. There is so much in my story I still don’t understand, I wonder if the material would serve as a guide to future studies into the relationships between the spiritual and the psychiatric, the emotional and the supernatural.

I know you have been working on a book, which I am so excited for! What is the overall purpose and message of your future book?

Katie: The plot of my book is a recollection of most of my days being emotionally shipwrecked at 16 and 24 because of the episodes of bipolar I was subjected to. I want the purpose to be so others can understand what bipolar disorder looks like, feels like, acts like, and I want the theme to be how to stay brave in the midst of it all because it is such a scary thing. It’s like Philippians 4:13 – Paul the apostle’s words “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” At the very least, I had to go through a hell and back to learn the greatest lesson: God allows trials and tribulations to shape and discipline His children because that’s what a loving Father does.

What do you want people to know about bipolar disorder?

Katie: A couple things: 1) It’s scary and unpredictable, so trust God and 2) medication works, so trust God for that to work out too. Also that it is a monster when it’s kicking your ass, but when you finally get a leg up on it, accept it and treat it, you will kick its ass.

Follow Katie’s journey on her fantastic blog, Bipolar Brave & on social media @KatieRDale

Thank you, Katie! You inspire so many individuals with your story and authentic spirit. I look forward to your future work in advocacy and writing!

 

It’s Time We #SlayStigma And Talk About Mental Health in a Bold Way

Sunday’s are for Slaying Stigma, as I announced tonight on my Instagram @halfway2hannah. I am redecorating my account and confronting mental health in a bold way. I have been working on this renovation for the last couple months, coming up with ideas to talk about stigma and mental health in unique and vibrant way. I will be sharing personal stories from my journey living with bipolar 2 disorder on images captured by the beautiful photographer Jillian Clark. Sharing mental health awareness, inspirational quotes and bad ass statements!

One of the major reasons I am doing this is to get people to speak up about mental health and the issues facing society by sharing their thoughts and/or experience in the comment section. Mental health pertains to all of us, with or without a condition, so join me by following my Instagram (@halfway2hannah). I look forward to getting to know you!

 

 

A Personal Success Story from My Life with Bipolar. Whats Yours?

On my new HealthyPlace YouTube video, I am celebrating my 28th birthday by sharing a personal success story.  On Monday, September 11th, I took another step into my late twenties with a grateful heart, unfiltered attitude, and colorful hair! Although many people complain about getting older, I embrace aging to the fullest and how could I not? On September 11th, 2001 so many innocent individuals lost their lives. It is a constant reminder of how fortunate I am to be alive.

In case you forgot to buy me a gift don’t worry because it’s not too late. One major goal of this video is to encourage you to share a success story from your life living with a mental health condition. C’mon tell me something that you are proud of! Share your story in the comment section of my YouTube video or do a response video and send it into info@healthyplace.com!

 

Hypersexuality and Bipolar Disorder

Let’s talk about sex and bipolar! In my experience as a single young adult, with or without a mental health condition, sex can complicate any friendship or relationship. When you have bipolar disorder, there are a couple more complications you face due to your emotional extremes. I have the ability to feel everything, however, also the capacity to be completely disconnected. This is heavily present when I am in a manic episode and engaging in sexual relations. In my new HealthyPlace video, I talk more in detail about my experience with hypersexuality living with bipolar 2 disorder.

Share your comments or do a response video and send it into info@healthyplace.com!

Teen Vogue Interview 2017: Bipolar Disorder Dating Tips

Dating is hard with or without a mental health condition. We have this overwhelming pressure to have the perfect body, perfect job, perfect social life and perfect mind. So you can imagine what it’s like when you have a mental health condition such as bipolar disorder. The stigma of mental illness sends a negative message to people. We are crazy! She’s a cheater! She’s unstable! So what is it like when you are actively dating with bipolar disorder? Lucky enough Teen Vogue contemplated the same question and reached out to me. I am so excited to share my interview with Teen Vogue. Check it out and please share.

Teen Vogue May 2017: Bipolar Disorder Dating Tips

Revealing My Life with Bipolar on Voices for Change 2.0 Podcast

This past Saturday, March 4th, I had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca and Joe Lombardo on their blog talk radio show Voices for Change 2.0 podcast. Prior to the show, people always ask me one particular question, “Are you nervous Hannah.” The part of me that always puts on a strong front answers, “No not at all. I am used to this by now.” The other part of me answers, “Hell yeah I am nervous.” The show was live, meaning anything I revealed stuck like glue. Luckily for me, Rebecca Lombardo eased my nerves days prior to the show. We talked about the podcast, but no specifics. It is better not to have the questions prior to a show like this. The thing that put me most at ease, was that Rebecca has bipolar disorder as well and has been sharing her story for years. For an hour we talked about our work as mental health advocates, the future of mental health and parts of our own story living with bipolar disorder.

On Saturday I was asked questions pertaining to my diagnosis of bipolar 2 and what it has been like coming forward. We discussed my experience in media and the importance of utilizing mediated platforms to spread awareness. We took people who called in with questions. One caller requested an answer to the golden question that I think many people hesitate to ask me. How is dating for you Hannah? Take a listen to the podcast to find out what I say.

Please follow this amazing podcast on their journey via Twitter @Voices4ChangeRJ.