If there is one thing that can assist in maintaining a mental illness, it’s self reflection. The more we know ourselves, the better we’re able to manage the highs and the lows. And while living with a disorder isn’t the easiest, there is a special kind of knowledge that is on the other side of pain. Read on to learn about how Yolanda created a project to focus on those positive lessons.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, your project, and how it began.
My name is Yolanda and I was born and raised in North Carolina, USA. I am 30 years old. I love to read, write, and experience new things. I have a BA in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. I love learning, so I’m always researching or watching a documentary on something. I started the Instagram @Mentalillnesstaughtme in 2015 as a personal account to help me realize what I’ve learned while managing my mental illnesses. I kept the account private for a while because I just wanted to document my thoughts and keep myself accountable.
How has documenting your thoughts affected your own mental health?
When I started the Instagram in 2015, I was coming down from an hypomanic episode and transitioning into a depressive episode. The transitional periods are the hardest, and I wanted to document reminders of what I’ve learned through dealing with my mental illness. It gives me accountability and I’m able to express gratitude through my struggles. It gives me the ability to engage in self-care and self-reflection to help manage my moods.
How did you come up with the name?
I came across a few articles where people expressed what they learned over the years through their mental illnesses. They talked about the good and the bad things they learned. I liked the idea and I wanted to create something simple for people to express their own statements.
What is your goal, and why is it important to you?
I want others to realize that they aren’t alone and sharing could save others. People hear so much about the negative, but there are positive lessons learned that comes with dealing with a mental illness that I want people to hear. So I decided to open the Instagram up for others to share because I realized the importance of sharing and I wanted to give others the voice I lacked for so long. I will have to manage my own mental illnesses for the rest of my life, so I’m going to make the best of it.
How have people reacted since you changed your Instagram from private to public?
People have been very gracious and forthcoming, which I’m actually surprised at. I had no expectations with the project, but I appreciate others being so honest with their stories. I’ve received nothing but positive feedback and I’m grateful to provide a safe place for people to share.
How can people contribute and/or get involved?
People can follow the project via social media here: our website, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr. People may submit anonymously, and if you want your post deleted to let me know. I want to respect everyone’s story and even though I can’t control the reposting, I can remove it from the social media accounts.
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