(Excerpt from www.xojane.com)
I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder at the age of 27. Living with a mental illness is a study in survival. Every day, every emotion is questioned. What is this? Am I happy or am I starting to head towards mania?
In December, I launched a global non-profit organization called The Siwe Project. It was named for Siwe Monsanto, the 15 year-old daughter of a good friend.
I’d known Siwe since she was 4 years old so I was aware of her ups and downs. But, it still came as a shock when in June 2011, she took her own life.
As a black woman, I understood the stigmas and shame that come with mental illness. I know that all cultures have issues dealing with and understanding mental illness, but I also know that the global black community has specific ways of dealing with illness, in that, we rarely deal with it. If at all.
Siwe was lucky to have an amazing mother who dedicated her life to helping her daughter but many aren’t so fortunate. The Siwe Project was born out of a need to help people like Siwe have a place to begin the conversation and tell their own stories.
My reasons for taking on this endeavor were also selfish, I needed a place to feel a sense of community as I manage my own illness. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder at the age of 27. I’d struggled for most of my life trying to understand who I was and why I couldn’t ever seem to get it together.
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