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1 in 5 Americans lives with a mental illness, but over 60% of them do not receive timely access to services. Voices for Health seeks to change this statistic by empowering more people to seek treatment and removing barriers to care so that recovery is possible.

 

To be a survivor of a mental illness is to live a successful life while having a mental illness. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are symptom-free or in remission.

The Voices for Health blog consists of many voices. We publish stories for and about people living with mental illness, including stories about stigma, experiences at school and work, and overcoming adversity. We would love to share your story for the purpose of educating and inspiring others. Submit it to: stories@voicesforhealth.org.

Purpose of the VFH Blog

The primary purpose of the Voices for Health blog is to offer hope and peer support to people who are struggling with a mental illness. A secondary purpose is to educate the public about the daily realities of living with a mental illness and to dispel stereotypes about these conditions. As Voices for Health grows, we will eventually offer an e-Support Network and other online resources for people who are seeking treatment or who are in recovery.

In order to encourage an atmosphere of positivity, we only include stories from people who have found ways to function with their illness and live full, successful lives despite the daily challenges of living with their condition(s). Knowing that others have overcome similar obstacles can mean the difference between a person having hope that recovery is possible or sinking deeper into the quicksand of depression.

If you are reading this and are currently struggling, we hope that the stories here will show you the light at the end of the tunnel; reassure you that you are NOT alone; that many people struggle with the same issues and have found ways to successfully manage them; that no one is beyond help and you WILL get better if you put in the work; and most importantly, you owe it to yourself to get your life back. When you are better, you can pay it forward and contribute a story here to help those who are where you are now.

Structure of the VFH Blog

The Voices for Health blog includes personal stories written by and for people with mental illness as well as posts responding to media coverage of related topics. All posts are tagged by condition and topic so that readers can easily find topics relevant to their situation and interests. We always welcome submissions, so please contact us if you would like to share your story!

Guidelines for Blog Submissions

As stated above, Voices for Health seeks stories from “survivors” of mental illness- that is, people who have found ways to live full, successful lives despite the daily challenges of living with their condition(s). This does not mean you need to be symptom free or in remission to share your story! Mental illness is often chronic and requires continued maintenance to keep symptoms at bay.

Below, are some general guidelines for blog submissions. Voices for Health reserves the right to edit posts for clarity, content, style and tone.

  • Please include your name as you would like it to appear on your blog post. If you would like your post to remain anonymous, we will create a pen name for you.
  • Aim for your post to be between 3-5 paragraphs. If your post ends up being slightly shorter or longer, that’s fine.
  • Keep the tone positive and hopeful. Remember, the purpose of this blog is to give hope to people who may be going through the worst time of their lives.

Please respond to the following questions:

  1. What kind of mental illness(es) do you have?
  2. What continues to be challenging for you? How do you manage your condition and live a full life in spite of it?
  3. What are some positive things in your life that you are grateful for today?
  4. What was your breaking point where you realized that you needed to seek treatment? Did anyone help you or did you do it alone?
  5. Describe your journey of treatment and recovery. What obstacles did you face and how did you keep going?
  6. If you have relapsed, how did you find the strength to get better again?
  7. What triggers your symptoms?
  8. When you feel your symptoms returning, what steps do you take to advocate for yourself so that you don’t fall down the “slippery slope” and get worse?
  9. What advice do you have for others who are facing similar challenges?
  10. What do you wish people better understood about your condition? Are there any myths or stereotypes you would like to dispel?
  11. When you were at your lowest point, how did you love or value yourself enough to realize you deserved a chance at a better life?

These questions are optional and are intended to offer ideas for topics to write about:

  1. Do you often feel that what you look like on the outside is very different from how you feel on the inside? What do you wish you could tell people about how mental illness impacts your life?
  2. Have you faced stigma and if so, how has it affected your life? Give specific examples.
  3. Are there any silver linings to your experience with mental illness? For example, has your illness given you a different perspective on life? (i.e. Has it influenced your career choices, made you more compassionate toward others or helped you succeed in certain areas)? If so, please explain.
  4. To what extent are you currently or have you been defined by your illness?
  5. What was your lowest point and how did you pull yourself out of it?
  6. Who was there for you when you needed it the most?
  7. Were there people who said you would never get better? How did you stay strong despite this negativity?
  8. Did you isolate yourself when you were sick or did you prefer to talk about your issues?
  9. Think back to your lowest point when you felt like there was no hope. What do you wish your present-day self could have told you back then when you were struggling?
  10. What challenges did you face with navigating the healthcare system while seeking or receiving treatment? Finding a therapist? Health insurance? Waiting lists?
  11. How did you deal with your illness in the workplace, in school, or while unemployed? Were you able to be transparent about your situation or discuss your needs with your supervisor or instructors as appropriate?
  12. Were you discriminated against either socially or in a professional or academic setting? If so, how did you deal with this?
  13. How has your mental illness impacted your intimate relationships?

Here are some potential topics that you can write about:

  • Stigma
  • Stereotypes
  • Silver linings
  • Self Love- You are worth it!
  • Finding a support system
  • Recognizing you need help
  • Navigating the healthcare system
    • Finding a therapist
    • Health insurance
    • Waiting lists
  • The Journey of Treatment
  • After relapse- getting better again
  • Maintaining your gains
  • Overcoming the “impossible”
  • Workplace
  • School
  • Unemployment
  • Family
  • Intimate relationships
  • Discrimination/ADA

 

You can email your stories to: stories@voicesforhealth.org