Talkback To Gabe Howard & Psych Central:
Using the comments below, talk about a time when you had to explain that, while you live with or advocate for mental illness, it’s not all you are. Share how you educated the listener to the differences and helped bridge the gap between the misunderstanding and truth.
‘Mental Illness Identity’ Video Transcript
People often ask me if being mentally ill is my entire identity. And I can see why they kind of think that. I mean, my entire website, my platform, these vlogs, my podcasts… all of these things are designed around one simple thing: Gabe Howard lives with bipolar disorder. So people ask me, “Hey, to become an advocate, do I have to sell my entire identity as a person? Be someone who only lives with mental illness and nothing else?”
I don’t want my entire life to be all mental health advocacy all the time. That would just be boring, for one thing. But I think it would be obsessive, and it could be damaging. We need breaks.
One of the ways that I avoid letting this just consume me entirely is I make sure that I listen to my friends and family. I go out and do things that aren’t surrounded by the mental health system. I go to the movies. I go have dinner. I have conversations around other things that are of interest to me. And this helps me because it’s fun. And, because I’m having fun, that recharges my battery so that I can tackle difficult topics.
Topics like, “Hey, why are we abusing people with mental illness? Why are we being blamed for all violence in society? Where do I stand on this political agenda or this legislation?” All of that takes a lot of time. So I need to make sure that I have some downtime. It’s important to have hobbies and interests outside of the mental health field. It’s important to know people who you don’t talk about mental health advocacy with. And you talk about anything but. Because you need time to regroup. It’s important.
I think my close friends and family, my circle, understand that I’m so much more than a mental health advocate. My name is Gabe Howard. Visit me on the web down there at GabeHoward.com to learn more about me and watch lots of cool things. I’ll see you next time.
This video originally appeared on PsychCentral as “Video: Is Being a Mental Illness Advocate My Entire Identity?“