Living with BiPolar I Mental Health Matters

Mental HealthBipolar I; The perspective of living with it.


Spoken word poet and mental health advocate, Yashi Brown, explains how she manages her bipolar I disorder symptoms, ways clinicians can better work with patients, and how her journey as a self-advocate has impacted her bipolar treatment and personal experience. Brown was the keynote speaker at the 2022 Psych Congress in San Antonio, Texas. Her address was titled, "Discovering the Sweet Spot: How Bipolar Disorder Became a Blessing... Not a Curse."


Read the transcript:


Yashi Brown: Hi, my name is Yashi Brown. I am a mental health advocate. I also am a poet, spoken word artist, and a music artist as well. What I love to do is talk and communicate and speak about how we can further relate to each other when it comes to mental health.


Having bipolar type 1 and being on the spectrum, even for schizoaffective, depending on what doctor I recently had, I've really realized that this aspect of really seeing your patient and seeing us in a light that is at our maximum potential, at our best is something that is almost...I feel like we're having to fight for it sometimes.


Here, I've been in this space for now, 10 years. I'm realizing that we still have some ways to go. It seems that as a patient and as somebody who's also an advocate, I'm getting asked more and more questions and less assumptions being made by professionals in the field, which is really helpful.


Meeting your patient where you're at and meeting us where we see ourselves, so often we see ourselves inflated too sometimes, but then there's those moments where we don't see ourselves as even being able to get out of the bed, as even being able to manage life. When a patient is in that situation, how do you keep the bar high for them?


The reality is that a split second with the right inspiration, with the right words, with the right person, with the right example, with the right pioneers that have came before us, those situations, those scenarios, those examples can have an overnight effect on us.


I remember, with COVID, my medications got really screwy. I went super healthy on my eating, my alkaline water, and everything, and I was actually started to change the way my body was adapted to my medication. It's so weird how the whole thing happened, but I found myself in the middle health system again and in the hospital trying to get regulated back on my meds.


Like I said, as long as I've worked in it, but even prior to working in it, I've been dealing with these symptoms for over 20 years. I'm very used to these types of settings.


Thankfully, I can advocate for myself. I'm somebody who can also talk about the topic pretty well, and I'm someone who's learned to not judge myself when I do fall into a fallback pattern or relapse, whatever you want to call it.


With those 3 things, I felt so limited when I went back into the mental health care system. I felt like I was constantly being lowered and how I should be acting. I was constantly being lowered. Nobody was meeting me where I was at, which was actually much higher than maybe the other patients only because of my situation, for no other reason, just because of the experience.


What I did in a sense was just try to use my information and my knowledge to help those around me. I saw myself as a tool in that space, in that moment to be able to help, as well as it was helping me being able to continue to talk about it and round people together.


I noticed nobody was really meeting me where I was at. I was having to follow the system that was already in place. The system, the bar was so below par, was so low, that I just thought to myself, "Gosh, this is so low. How's anybody in here even going to really see themself as recovered or even try to follow that track to recovery?"


I can't even. Me, with having this awareness, I'm thinking that's impossible. This is not even in the mindset of anybody that's here, the nurses or the doctors.


Mental HealthThis is a situation that's really important. We should be well past this point. It needs to change, and it can change with just more communication, more talking, and more listening and visioning and with the intention that these individuals can function. They are quite bright.


Just because they might be very unique in ways and might express some very interesting peculiarities, I have those same things. I just don't share them with you. I just don't share them with the public every day.


I have my thoughts on UFOs. I have my thoughts on delusion. I have my thoughts on all my psychotic symptom thoughts. I think they're very well. I just know not to share them, because I understand the social etiquette of all this. [laughs]


It's a learning curve. That doesn't mean that others that are conventionally not the way we think they should be behaving. They might still be living on the street. They might still be living in outpatient facilities. They might still be on their road to whatever recovery looks like for them.


That doesn't mean that that is any less or any better. It's all about meeting them where they're at, wherever they think that road of success is, and in stealing ideas and stealing and showing them examples of people who have gone on to do so many incredible things with these conditions.


The sky is the limit when it comes to someone with a mental health condition and what they can possibly achieve. It is the stratosphere with the right support and structure and support system in place. It is a system, it's a community, and the role you guys play in that community is one of the most important roles.


The only other important role I can think of is that person's spirituality would supersede it, and that spirituality is a foundation that gives...It can facilitate everything else. I'm really a big believer in that. Those two roles, right after that, your role is so key in this whole process.


If your role is that key, it's so important that you guys see us at our best, healed, see us in a light that is just as regarded in high esteem as you regard your families, your children, the people in your world and not look down.


Mental Health Matters.



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