Confronting mental illness stigmas

Confronting mental illness stigmas

Jaime Lyn Smith and Michael Trzcinski are both bipolar, a disorder that can cause huge mood swings from extreme highs to depression.

"For some reason when I was in the hospital I had to hit a rock bottom. I got very scared and said to myself that if I don't do everything humanly possible to recover or I, my future isn't going to look that good," explained Trzcinski.

"I had shown some crazy behaviors. I was spending a whole lot of money, and that's kind of my bipolar thing, I spend money that I shouldn't. I wasn't sleeping, I was extremely irritable, I was agitated," Smith said.

Both Smith and Trzcinski use medication to manage their illness. They both volunteer with NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and help others use the grass roots organization.

NAMI offers free support for people with mental illness and their families. Sometimes the hardest step is asking for help.

"You have to reach out. You have to make a decision that you want to change," Trzcinski said.

"We're really no different than anyone else. It's just that our brains are wired a little bit differently," Smith said.

And that highlights the other problem surrounding those looking for help with mental illness: the stigma associated with disorders.

"I've heard horrible stigmas that mentally ill people are just crazy and wander the street and that we take up all the government resources and that's just
not true," Smith said.

If you need help with a mental illness start by reaching out to NAMI Greater Cleveland.

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