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!

 

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

Keeping It Candid On “I’m​ Bipolar Too” Blog

I started my journey with HealthyPlace.com almost a year ago. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my experience and talk about mental health in an authentic and open way. The adventure continues on my HealthyPlace blog, “I’m Bipolar Too.” There will be new posts every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I am getting personal, sharing advice and keeping it candid about mental health. Share your thoughts and experience in the comment section of posts or do a response video and send it into info@healthyplace.com.

Also, don’t forget to keep up with my HealthyPlace YouTube channel! New videos every Monday morning. Again, please share your experience or do a video for us. You have a story, a voice, and it deserves to be heard. Please subscribe if you have not had a chance!

 

 

 

 

StandUp SpeakUp: A Candid Interview About My Experience with Bipolar II

In this podcast done for Wearable Therapy Tokii, a company creating wearable art with a powerful message about mental health. In this interview, I talk in depth about my experience with bipolar II and the need for better resources for those struggling with mental health conditions.

Podcast: https://standupspeakup.podbean.com/e/episode-1-overcoming-bipolar

Blog: http://www.standupspeakuptokii.com/a-journey-through-bipolar/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bipolar Disorder and Friendships

When I was diagnosed with bipolar II, I had to come back to the place I had run from, my home. In this video, my best friend Courtney opens up to me about her experience having a best friend with bipolar. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Why People Feel Uneasy Taking Meds for the Head

Treatment plans for mental health care differ from situation to situation.  In some cases, it calls for therapy and in other cases medication is needed.  This doesn’t mean that when you wake up feeling sad, you call the doctor and start popping pills.  However, when depression or severe emotional behavior begins to affect your daily life, work and relationships, it is time to seek help.  There is no shame in taking medicines if needed.  If you get the flu do you take meds?  Yes.  So what is the difference when it is the flu of the mind.  There is none.  Would you blame someone who lost her husband in war for seeking out medication for anxiety?  Would you judge a woman for taking antidepressants who lost her child 2 months shy of his 1st birthday to cancer?  We all want to end up at the same place, but some need to take a different route to the intersection of happy and healthy.  There is no shame in that.

Reasons why people feel uneasy taking meds for the head…

I don’t need a pill to make me happy.

Lets do a word replacement, instead of happy, lets put healthy.  I don’t want to take a pill to make me healthy!  Make sense?  Happy and health go together like PB&J.  Think about people from the past, who would have done anything to receive treatment to help them maintain a stable life with a mental disorder.  Virginia Wolf is shaking her head.

I feel like I am weak if I have to resort to medication.

Are people who have diabetes weak because they have to resort to insulin in order to survive?  It is all about how you frame it.  You are not weak, you are honest about your situation and health.  A strong person acknowledges their pain, and does something about it.

I am afraid people will judge me.

Okay, write out those people who you think will judge you.  Now delete them from your phone.  People who love you won’t judge you.  I hate to tell you, but when you get a prescription you are not the headline on the 10’oclock news that night.  If you fear judgement…dont tell anyone.  You will be pleasantly surprised that over half the people you fear in opening up to, are going through a similar situation.

I don’t want people to think I am crazy.

What is crazy is having the available resources to receive good mental health care, and not taking advantage of it.  Reaching out for help is far from crazy.  People will get wasted, and have sex without a condom with the first person they meet at a bar (no judgement) and that is not considered crazy.  However, taking anti-depressants for depression, YIKES that is insanity!  Think about it.

I don’t want to stay on medicine long-term.

Okay, do not jump the gun.  Get to Point A before jumping to Point Z.  You may not be on medicine for the long-term, but if you are so what?  If you feel like your life, relationships and your day to day has improved since taking a medication than why would you stop.   Again, everyone has to take a different route to happiness sometimes.  Do not be ashamed of the route you take.

 

10 Rules Every Guy Should Follow When It Comes To Her Body

I will never forget when my ex would grab the rolls off the table as I would reach for them, and say to the waiter, “She doesn’t need these,” or all the times he asked for a togo box after I took my first three bites of a meal at a restaurant.  I am not looking for sympathy by telling you this.  I already disposed of that garbage.  I am letting you know this actually happens.  Body image issues are heavily present among women.  We are surrounded by things that make us question our reflection constantly.  The last thing we need is for our guy to do the same.  So I am going to help you guys out.  Here are 10 rules to follow when talking about body or weight to your girl that could potentially save your relationship, get you a second date or even asked upstairs.

10 Rules Every Guy Should Follow When It Comes To Her Body…

1. Don’t ever, ever, ever, ever comment on her eating…ever!

You might think a harmless, “Hey babe you must be hungry tonight,” is not a big deal.  However, the minute you see the devil rise in her eyes, you realize you have made a huge mistake.  We eat, some days more than others, and the myth is true, when our monthly friend comes along, our hunger intensifies.  Its simple, mind your own business.

2. Don’t ever mention her weight.

Even if you are saying, “Wow you look like you lost a lot of weight,” you could enter the danger zone.  “So you are saying I was fat before?”  To a woman, commenting on weight means that it plays a major role in your relationship.  It is almost if we feel like you are constantly watching how we fit in our jeans.  Maybe you are not, but this is how our mind works.

3. Don’t ever buy her a weight related gift.

“Merry Christmas hun, I bought you a Jenny Craig Membership!”  I hope you kept the receipt, because after she has lit the tree on fire, you are going to want to return it!  Imagine if you open your Christmas gift, and it is a hair transplant consultation.  You didn’t think you were balding, but immediately you know that she does!  Buy her a gift that flatters her, and not a months supply of Nutrisystem.

4. If you order for her at a restaurant, it better not be a salad and it better come with a side!

It doesn’t matter if you are a French cuisine expert, and the best thing on the menu is the house salad.  Trust me, women know what salads taste like.  We want you to indulge us, make us feel like you want to feed us delicious treats and make us plump.  Don’t ask, its complicated.

5. Don’t buy her clothes…just don’t.

Some women may love the fact that their man buys them clothes, but come the day you buy one size bigger, that dress is going to be in the garbage along with you.  You don’t need to buy us clothes, and as women, we should not be asking men to do our shopping for us.  Don’t feel obligated…buy her a gift card always.

6.  Grab the most insecure part of her body & tell her you love it.

It may be her butt or love handles, if you know she is insecure about specific parts of her body, let her know that you love them, to the extent that it turns you on.  You have the ability to build her up, only making her a better partner in the relationship, and you getting more action.

7.  If you think she is lacking confidence, make her feel like the sexiest woman on the planet.

Go out and buy her lingerie or just grab her and tell her how hot she is.  She will probably give you the “Oh stop!” but inside heart is pounding with joy.  Even the most confident women in the world go through these spurts.

8. Mind your own business when it comes to her eating habits.

Tell her to get dessert when you go out to eat. You don’t have to be our nutritionist or personal trainer, in fact we prefer that you are not. Its our body, not yours, and if you don’t like it then leave. Trust me the damage of a break up is not half as bad as the damage of body shaming.

9. Remind her that you love every inch of her body.

Remind her every once in a while that you love the design of her body shape.  This is not a daily thing.  Things in the environment we live in have the ability to really make women feel insecure, especially physically.  The last thing we want, is for our safe place to be the place we feel the most insecure.

10.  If you are concerned that she is gaining weight, ask the right way.

It is all in the approach! If you are concerned about fast weight gain or loss,  do not ask…“Hey why are you putting on a lot of weight?”  instead ask, “Hey, are you feeling okay these days?  Is something bothering you?”  Excessive weight gain or loss in a short amount of time usually has to do with something going on inside her head, not her stomach.

 

Just remind yourself, happy mind=happy body=even happier you.  Think if you have a little sister, daughter or niece, how would you feel if you saw them in pain because someone made them feel ashamed of their body.  If a a guy made her weigh herself in front of him to humiliate her (true story).  A real man defines his own type of beautiful.  We are goddess divines, a piece of art, and we deserve to be loved by the artist.