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Hear it from the advocates series- Meet Michael

1. Your name: Michael Noll

2. Tell us a little about yourself. I’m a mental health therapist who 13 years ago decided that I needed to take control of my life, again. I was a computer programmer who was bounced between 5 jobs, over 4 states, in 6 years. So I went back and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, then a Masters in Community Counseling. I’ve got 2 kiddos (15 and 8), wife of nearly 12 years and a terrier/pug mix named Milo. Before becoming a therapist and programmer/analyst, though, I played Bass Guitar – teaching for nearly 7 years and in bands over the course of 23 years. I found my passion for mental health back in high school, though. There I was shy, but friendly, anxiety ridden (although I never really understood it), but that’s a whole ‘nother story altogether. But, in high school I was able to help other students in the SOS (Student’s Offering Support) program, alongside the STOP (Students Taking on Prevention) program. I absolutely loved helping and listening to others issues, and was pretty darn good at it. But, I hated school, so instead I went to work in warehouses, manufacturing jobs, flipping pizza’s (and burgers for a time). Until I hurt my foot (plantar fasciitis) by jumping off a forklift. The blue collar jobs couldn’t be done anymore – so I went back to school for computers.

3. Your social media accounts (URL) https://www.facebook.com/MichaelNollLPC/ https://twitter.com/mnoll_LPC (not using much, yet) and https://www.instagram.com/michaelnollcounseling/ (this isn’t used much at all)

4. Mental health diagnosis? ADD and potentially Generalized Anxiety (but never formally diagnosed).

5. How long have you been diagnosed? Not long, really, probably a year with ADD, but tested 2 years earlier – but I fought it for a long time.

6. How long have you been advocating for? 30 years off/on

7. What made you want to start advocating for mental health? (Please give as much detail as able) Being involved in the SOS group was probably the biggest part. Also just dealing with depression/anxiety throughout my 20’s and early 30’s.

8. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an advocate? In a way I think it’s my title as a therapist (LPC – licensed professional counselor), but if I wasn’t a therapist – known to many, I think it would be my willingness to “sit in the shit” with someone who’s suffering with _________ (fill in the blank). I also choose to NOT see people as their diagnosis…dunno where that came from, but I’ll thank my parents (who adopted me and my brother at age 1 ½ and 3 years of age (he’s older))

9. What more would you like to work on? Greater sense of how I can help people in general. Again, I don’t care about a diagnosis, I just want to be able to help people get to the next level of their existence…and hopefully 2-3 levels higher. I’m currently kicking around a book/e-course or both concept about how the Engligh language sucks, because words no longer hold the meaning they were meant to.

10. What do you feel you have accomplished so far as an advocate? I’ve helped de-stigmatize mental health in my community, and potentially across the globe. I continue to remind people that there’s nothing wrong with being “you.” And, how to be authentic in all situations, and be ok with that.

11. How has the stigma of mental health affected you? My attention issues have been so on-going for so long, that I finally asked my primary doc for meds to help with focus. You see I was moving my office in September 2018, and I was able to paint the new one. So I gave myself a ton of time – 3-4 weeks…well, one example of how my ADD was kicking in was that I painted the ‘W’ on the wall, stood looking at it, then walked away to do something else. I just couldn’t focus, and the painting took 3 weeks!! This is a 19’x10’ room mind you, a little over 200 square feet. So, I finally couldn’t do it anymore. My daughter suffers with depression and social anxiety, which has taken a toll on the family. Many of my friends and family all have un-diagnosed mental illness, from anxiety disorders to depression to the potential of forming BiPolar and Borderline Personality Disorder.

12. What message do you want to share with those who are staying silent about struggling? Be strong, know that help is out there. You’re not alone! Keep advocating for yourself , friends, family and strangers that aren’t able/willing to do it for themselves. I, along with many other therapists, coaches and advocates would love to help you on your journey…in fact, we are honored that you allow us to walk with you.

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Hear it from the advocates series- Meet Lindsay

1. Lindsay Murtle

2. I was always kind of the odd duck. When I was young I was incredibly smart, in my teens and early 20s I became incredibly impulsive- I made a plethora of terrible decisions and attempted suicide twice. The first- when I was 14- I tried to overdose on aspirin (about 450 of them at once). I didn’t die, but I vomited for 3 days, which scared me out of trying again. That was, until I was 24, and I set out on a mission to end my life via cutting. Thankfully, I have a great support person and he got me into a great hospital, where I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I’ve been able, since July of 2017, to heal in ways I’ve never imagined. I got married, we bought our first home, which we share with my 7 year old son Kinnick, and our cats Bennett, Darby, Izzie, and Gus.

3. @lmurtleblogs on twitter & instagram, and I blog at http://www.lmurtleblogs.com

4. borderline personality disorder, major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and mild alcohol abuse disorder, in remission.

5. since July 3rd 2017, when i was released from a mental health unit after attempting suicide.

6. I think I took about a month to soak in as much as i could about the disorders (especially BPD, which I’d never heard of). Then I started my blog, which eventually led to my website that I write on.

7. I have a lot of experience and training in the healthcare field as a former nursing student, and nursing assistant for years. I realized that this put me at a huge advantage over the other people in the mental health unit, who knew little, if anything, about their conditions. Because of my social anxiety, working as a nurse wasn’t going to be plausible for me I reailzed, and i needed a way to use my knowledge to help other people.

8. That hard hitting, fact based research. I don’t shoot from the hip when it comes to facts. I bury myself in study for hours, days, weeks. When i “know” something about my illness, I mean i know it inside and out, backwards, forwards, inside out, and upside down.

9. I am currently working on a book- the premise of the diagnostic manual for mental health conditions (the DSM-5) is great, but it’s super impractical for those living with mental illness. It’s a hard read, especially without medical training. My goal is to make it easy to read, understand, and be entertained by.

10. I’ve found my place- my identity. not in BPD, or my diagnoses, but in writing, advocating, and sharing the knowledge I have with as many people as possible.

11. I lost most of my friends, who couldn’t or wouldn’t grow and heal with me. I became hyper aware of my quirks and oddities and wasn’t able to work outside of my home anymore, too worried that I’d “mess up”. I’ve been brushed off or told I’m wrong because of my conditions.

12. That despite my answer to number 11, I’ve gained so much more. I’ve gained stability, passion, creativity, and a loyal group of readers who support me through everything. My husband is my rock, he’s there for me and has learned as much as he can to help me recover. My sister became my best friend, and we’ve laughed, cried, and screamed together as we BOTH were diagnosed with BPD and share a lot of the same environmental reasons. I have gained better, stronger friendships and relatinships with those who stayed after I was diagnosed, and it makes the things I lost really feel like dead weight off my shoulders.

specifically to those who choose to stay silent- it’s okay. You don’t have to speak out to get better. writing and posting helps me heal, but my sister would NEVER share her writing. but writing helps her. some may not find writing helpful- but we can all find something to make the time here a little better. take it one day at a time, heal a little more each day, and suddenly a year has gone by, and the things that keep you silent today will seem small and insignificant.

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Hear it from the advocates series- Meet SM

1. Your name

SM (named after my social Media Account My Simple Mind)

2. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a blogger, wife, daughter, sister, friend. I have issues with my mental health. I work full time and most of my spare time is spent with my family, friends, and running my Twitter account as well as running the @MHCrisisAngels account.

My Simple Mind is a Twitter account for random stuff… My thoughts, feelings, fun stuff such as #LunchtimeLaughter and #ThursdayTheme as well as discussing mental health and my latest campaign is #MHStigmaMission – a mission to help people understand more about mental health to help erase the stigma – any mental health related posts using the hashtag I retweet as well as creating educational tweets MH related tweets.

MH Crisis Angels is a peer support group run through Twitter DM – confidential, non judgemental support.

I also run 2 blogs… my personal blog (My Simple Mind) and the other for the Angels.

3. Your social media accounts (URL)

https://mysimplemind.home.blog

https://www.instagram.com/my_simplemind/?hl=en

https://mhcrisisangels.wordpress.com

4. Mental health diagnosis?

Currently officially diagnosed with anxiety, but also scoring for & experiencing symptoms of, other mental health issues so currently referred to Psychologist.

5. How long have you been diagnosed?

I am not sure exactly but I have been on and off medication for anxiety for about 11 years

6. How long have you been advocating for?

Despite having set up my Twitter account in 2017, i didnt really use it and had maybe 3/4 followers. I became more active on my Twitter account around the end of July 2018 when i began discussing mental health.

7. What made you want to start advocating for mental health? (Please give as much detail as able)

I have always struggled with anxiety and other issues for as long as I remember but always held myself back from properly seeking help for it due to the stigma. After I eventually sought help, I started to talk about it on Twitter as an outlet during one of my hardest times and found it helped. Not only did it help me but others commented on how it helped them so this inspired me to keep tweeting. Anything that helped me and others feel better and helped to raise awareness and understanding was a positive thing in my eyes.

Before being an advocate on Twitter I have always been pretty vocal on behalf of others who have struggled, encouraging them to reach out – reassuring them it is ok not to be ok. It just felt like my case was different.

Having suffered with anxiety for years I found it easy to relate to family and colleagues and friends who struggled so I was often the person they could speak to about it.

8. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an advocate?

My willingness to learn and understand people’s issues, so i can expand my own knowledge and share my knowledge with others.

9. What more would you like to work on?

Educating others to help and the stigma. My latest campaign #MHStigmaMission is all about educating people a bit more. A lot of stigma comes from ignorance or lack of knowledge I believe. Why, for example, would I know symptoms of a physical illness if me or someone I know had not experienced it? It comes down to experience, education and understanding. With us explaining things it may contribute to breaking that stigma

10. What do you feel you have accomplished so far as an advocate?

My main accomplishment I would say is starting @MHCrisisAngels – The feedback we get is amazing and drives us to continue the work we do!

11. How has the stigma of mental health affected you?

For years I have not spoken about how bad things have been. I wear my heart on my sleeve but when it comes to mental health I would tell people I am anxious but perhaps not the full extent of what was goibg on for me, for fear of the stigma.

12. What message do you want to share with those who are staying silent about struggling?

Take it one step at a time. Open up to someone who you can trust. That might be a family member, a friend, a colleague…

Once you tell one person it can make it easier to tell the next, and the next…

If you want to talk to someone who has been through it, DM @MHCrisisAngels. It might be a good start to talking about your issues, and we can guide you through 😇💙

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Hear it from the advocates series-Meet Cordelia

1. Your name

Cordelia Moor

2. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a copywriter, social media editor, and blogger from London. I work for a small tech company during the day, and blog about mental health, skincare/beauty, and drag during the evenings! I’m a strident feminist and a mental health advocate, and in my spare time (lol) I study with The Open University, aiming to complete a history degree in the next 2 years.

3. Your social media accounts (URL)

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cordeliamoor_

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cordeliamoor/

Blog: http://cordeliamoor.com

4. Mental health diagnosis?

Depression, anxiety, emotionally unstable personality disorder

5. How long have you been diagnosed?

Depression and anxiety: 6 years, EUPD: 2 years

6. How long have you been advocating for?

Since Julyish last year so around six months now

7. What made you want to start advocating for mental health? (Please give as much detail as able)

When I first spiralled down into mental health difficulties, all I mostly felt was incredibly lonely. At that point I didn’t really know anyone else going through the same, and it wasn’t as prevalent in the media as it is today. And even when people’s stories did start coming through and I started to realise that I wasn’t the only one, it was still really only stories of depression and anxiety and ‘easy’ routes to recovery that I saw.

I didn’t see myself represented in the stories the media was pushing.

I knew then, especially when I got my EUPD diagnosis and started to see the stigma surrounding personality disorders, that one day I would start advocating and showing people the realities of mental health difficulties. It wasn’t until July last year that I felt in a stable enough place to start sharing, but once I did and once people started responding to those stories I realised I was doing the right thing.

8. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an advocate?

Brutal honesty and an ability to be completely raw and uncensored. I’m not afraid to talk about the really sh*t things, the things that people don’t always want to see or hear about because it’s so hard.

9. What more would you like to work on?

I’d like to start publicly speaking out about my experiences, and about what more needs to happen to ensure everyone suffering from any sort of mental health difficulty receives the right care and the right help at the right time.

10. What do you feel you have accomplished so far as an advocate?

I feel like I’ve shown people, who might not have seen it before, the harsh realities of living and dealing with mental health, and I’ve lifted the lid on some darker topics like what it’s like to be in an adolescent psychiatric unit.

11. How has the stigma of mental health affected you?

For years I was frightened to tell anyone about what I had been through or what I was diagnosed with because I didn’t want it to cloud their judgement of me. Even now, although I am so vocal and open on my blog and on the internet, it’s still hard to talk with the people who know me best because I’m so afraid of hurting them, or being dismissed, or not being understood.

12. What message do you want to share with those who are staying silent about struggling?

Although it might feel like you are in the loneliest place in the world right now, you aren’t alone. There are other people out there who have been through this and understand – even if the people in your life don’t. One day it will get better, and you will get stronger, and you will start to understand and find your people.

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Hear it from the advocates series- Meet Jon

1. Jon D

2. I’m a 20 yr+ HR and Recruiting professional. I’m a father to two daughters, 19 and 16. Soccer coach, Youth Speed & Agility Coach and active in the community with non-profits.

3. @JonTheHRGuy & https://www.linkedin.com/in/jondrogheo/

4. Mental health diagnosis? Depression/Anxiety

5. How long have you been diagnosed? 7 yrs.

6. How long have you been advocating for? 4 yrs.

7. What made you want to start advocating for mental health? 4 yrs ago I begin working in a Community Mental Health Center as the Sr. Recruiter where I hired the mental health professionals. This was my first time in health care and community mental health. Working there I was able to connect with the industry, learn so much more about mental illness, learned more about me and what works for me and knew I was not alone. I need to share all this information to that may help my family, friends, people I cared about that it was ok and there were resources and people who could help. During that time I new about friends of mine who completed suicide and that I did not want to lose more people that way, knowing there were places to get help. I announced to my network and friends that I was diagnosed with depression to show a known face, a face they knew, but did not know that about me, and that it could be anyone (1 in 5) and that it was not a scary face, but a face of someone they knew and a cared about. I coach kids (13 yrs to 19 yrs) and saw them struggle with mental illness in a full range and understood/saw some of their trauma and wanted to know who I could best work with them as their coach and a person they could trust to help them get help. In 2016 I was MHFA for Youth trained and unfortunately/fortunately I’ve had to use my training to help some kids in crisis. I want people to be in a good place, happy, thriving and know they are not alone and there is a place to get help.

8. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an advocate? My voice and connections along with my own experince to share.

9. What more would you like to work on? Building my skills as a peer advocate.

10. What do you feel you have accomplished so far as an advocate? I’ve helped some kids get help and see hope for themselves, I believed I’ve saved someone or provided the information that someone directly or down my network get help.

11. How has the stigma of mental health affected you? It somewhat scares me that someone may thing poorly of me or think I’m unstable. Or it prevents someone from getting help directly because someone does not support/believe them or cases doubt on their own based on what people around them have said.

12. What message do you want to share with those who are staying silent about struggling? Don’t be silent, you need to talk about it to someone. You will build strength and resilience to where you can see and experience hope, happyness, and love. Someone is there with you, and wants to support you. Its ok, its a good thing and it is ok to let some things go.

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Hear it from the advocates series- Meet Mike

1. Your name. Michael John Mele

2. Tell us a little about yourself. I’m a 42 year old man who is currently living in Florida. I enjoy writing, it’s very therapeutic and a great way to be able to express one’s self. I’m hoping to one day make a career of it. I write to entertain, to help people laugh and to forget about their troubles. I also write to help those who suffer from mental illnesses, something that is near and dear to my heart considering that I have been there and know others who have been there too.

3. Your social media accounts (URL) All my social media information and blogs can be found here, http://mikejmele.wix.com/mjmwriter

4. Mental health diagnosis? I have never been professionally diagnosed, this is unfortunately something I came to find out about myself during my many years here on this planet of ours. I have been down and out, happy then sad, excited to finish the race then ready to call it quits, needlessly to say things have been an emotional rollercoaster for me at many times throughout my life and most of the time for no real reason whatsoever.

5. How long have you been diagnosed? See above

6. How long have you been advocating for? I have been at it for many years now, started out talking about it with friends and family and then brought my voice to the written word when I started to blog and interact on various social media platforms.

7. What made you want to start advocating for mental health? (Please give as much detail as able) I understood what it felt like to feel useless, unnecessary and unwanted and I didn’t want others to feel the same way, especially if I was able to do something about it. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that is keeping people confused, which is obviously a very dangerous thing and is life threatening. People are afraid to speak openly about it because of the stigma that is attached to it, so I wanted to push it to the forefront and help those suffering and those with questions feel comfortable enough to come forward.

8. What do you feel is your greatest strength as an advocate? Unfortunately, personal experience. You can’t really tell someone what an experience is like unless you’ve been there yourself. That’s just my two cents.

9. What more would you like to work on? One day I would love to help people face-to-face, I believe a more personal hands-on approach would be very beneficial.

10. What do you feel you have accomplished so far as an advocate? Spreading the word, helping people who normally don’t have a voice, for whatever reason, have one.

11. How has the stigma of mental health affected you? For the longest time it was difficult to speak up out of fear of being labelled mentally unstable or harmful. Once you stared speaking on the topic most people thought you were dangerous or just an attention seeker.

12. What message do you want to share with those who are staying silent about struggling? Speak up. Seek help, either personally or professionally. Don’t give up and never discount your feelings because if it matters to you then it’s important and should be treated as such. Don’t compare yourself to others, never say “It could always be worse” or “look at what (blank) is going through and I think I have it bad”, because you are significant and so are your feelings.

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Hear it from the advocates series- Meet Phoebe

1. Phoebe P.

2. I’m currently a college student hoping to transfer to UNI to study Social Work and Criminal Justice, so I can work with abused and assaulted women and children.

3. @PhoebeP46 Twitter/Instagram/Snapchat

4. Depression. Anxiety. PTSD.

5. Depression/Anxiety since I was 12 (I’m 22 now- so 10 years). PTSD for a year and a half now.

6. Probably since I had my own mental health break down at 12, but I started focusing on it when I was 17 to now.

7. My own mental health collapse. I attempted suicide when I was 12, as well as suffered with an eating disorder, self harm and bullying. I was able to get help at an in-patient psychiatric facility and since then I’ve been hypervigilant and trying to help those around me that I’ve noticed struggling. I’ve lost 3 people in my life to suicide sparked by depression. I’ve also struggled horribly recently with PTSD due to an abusive relationship. After getting myself out, and healing a little bit, I want to educate those around me about what PTSD and panic attacks look like, as well help those in abuse get out.

8. My own experience that helps fuel my empathy.

9. Learning about mental health issues that I haven’t had to experienced or dealt with myself. I would also like to meet more advocates.

10. I helped save a few peoples lives (who actually reached out to talk) by reposting positive things, but I also got to share my story of abuse at a school event and connect with other survivors to let them know they’re not alone.

11. It used to put me down, and sometimes it still does. I’m very open about my struggled with everyone I know and sometimes people can use that stigma against me. It hurts.

12. Please do not suffer alone. Even if you don’t want to label yourself with the illness, please build your support system and stay safe. You are not alone and whenever you’re ready we are here for you❤