10.07.2008

Mark those calendars

You knew there was something special about this week, didn't you. You might think I'm talking about the fact that it is National Metric Week. Or maybe it's because it's National 4-H Week. Or, maybe you got confused and were thinking of next week...in the UK...when those crafty Brits will be celebrating their own National Knitting Week.

But no, I'm reminding you again of this year's installment of Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 5-11. Since 1990 (the year I graduated from college but 12 years before I received my first diagnosis), mental health advocates across the country have joined together during the first week of October to remind the world that we're people, too. Or something like that.

People with my specific, most recent diagnosis actually get a whole day within the week. Bonus! Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day is held each year on the Thursday of awareness week.

So, live it up, people. Are you depressed? Do you clean obsessively? Hoard pets? Drink too much and gamble even more? Talk to yourself? Talk to the other voices? This is the week to stand up and declare ourselves! And then next week, we'll get back to the regular, ordinary, everyday living...with mental illness. This awareness week business is really for those of you out there who don't have a mental illness, or who don't know anyone who has a mental illness, or who aren't in any way touched by mental illness.

Consider the fact that the National Institute on Mental Health reports that an estimated 26.2 percent of Americans age 18 and older -- about one in four adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. The U.S. Census figures for 2004 help to tell us that that's more than 57 million people.

How much more aware can we get?

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