Philadelphia Biblical University

Manic Monday: Speaking Up & Reaching Out

Rethink Mental Illness


As most of you know I'm currently a full-time student at Philadelphia Biblical University.


While the curriculum strives to be interdisciplinary and their intent is to educate progressive, forward thinking human beings, the culture is.....conservative. Afterall, it used to be a very conservative institution, so it's fair to say that the majority of students who attend come from conservative, evangelical backgrounds. Not all, but a good majority.

Today I stood in front of that majority and spoke about topics rarely discussed in an evangelical, conservative culture: Postpartum Depression, Bipolar Disorder, mental illness in general and a side of motherhood rarely touched upon. I even said words like "rape" and "sexual abuse." In chapel. In front of at least 150-200 students, faculty & staff members. People who see me on a regular basis, I attend class with, people who at a minimum know me as the black chick with the wildly colorful afro who wears bright clothes....

But today? Today I was the black chick dressed like a highlighter in my neon pinks, oranges & blues, with my rainbow faux hawk'd hair, mic in hand, telling my story about navigating motherhood while living with mental illness. Today I wasn't just a sufferer, a I was a voice speaking up and speaking out into a culture that stigmatize and silences the voices of those who live with mental illness. Today I stepped on stage and owned another part of my story, smacking stigma square on the jaw, knocking it out cold-if for at least during those few minutes I held the microphone.

And the result? I was too nervous to look up from my sheets of paper and out into the crowd often, but afterwards a couple of friends told me people were touched. I spent the rest of the day being hugged by students & professors I had never uttered a word to and being walked up to and told that my story helped them in some way...that they too had a mother who struggled with PPD...a family member who was living with a disorder....that they themselves dealt with crippling anxiety...

It was a moving experience...not so much the part where I shared my story because let's face it-I was an anxious wreck til it was over. But the rest of the day...very moving. Empowering. Freeing. Encouraging.

It gave me enough courage to walk into the department chair of the counseling department's office and ask him what he thought about myself and a few other students starting a NAMI on Campus chapter at PBU. It gave me the drive I needed to finally get in touch with a local area support group through DBSA and make plans to attend their next meeting.

It helped me realize that advocating and speaking out, sharing my experience is not only something that I really want to continue doing, but that doing so helps me just as much as it may help the person hearing they aren't alone in what they're facing.

I felt whole today. For the first time. Really. WHOLE. Complete. ME. I wasn't born to just suffer through life and mental illness and neither were you. We were made and born for more. Take a cue from a person who vomits at the thought of speaking in front of people-SPEAK UP. Somehow, in some fashion. Start anywhere. It's the smallest changes and things that have the most impact.

Share your story. You never know who may need to hear it.