May is Mental Health Awareness Month: A Moment of Transparency

The Mindfulness Movement blog is meant to be a healing tool for those that may be in need or are looking for wellness resources. I genuinely love what I do and what I am able to offer. From this blog, I have gained friends and insight, and have been able to be expressive while providing care to individuals that I have never even met (yet)! It's been amazing! I realized, however, that I never truly introduced myself.

I mean, you could easily read my biography and find that I am a daughter, sister, friend, dancer, student, teacher, etc. Like everyone else, I am an iceberg. From the surface, yes, you can see so much, but what's under the surface is even greater in mass. On the outside, one might say "when isn't Raven smiling?" or "she's one of the most positive individuals that I've met" (these are real reviews from real people lol). I'm honored that this is the perception of me for some, but what is below the surface?


Hidden below the surface of what the general public may see is a woman that has made great strides is a woman that is and has been giving a bipolar disorder these hands (I don't condone violence, but this one is justified)!


What most don't know is that I have been dealing with symptoms of anxiety and depression since my youth and for many years, I hid the diagnosis because of shame and fear. I'd constantly ask myself "what will they think of me if they knew? How could this happen to me? How can I manage this enough to never show it? Am I crazy?". Then when medication was incorporated into my lifestyle, I questioned my day-to-day functioning for the rest of my life and my very existence. How could I be the person that I saw in my head with this..."thing"?


Following every manic episode, I was consumed with sadness for showing that side of me to my family and close friends. One thing that just isn't talked about enough is the shame that is felt on the other side of a depressive episode. This shame began to interrupt the relationships around me to the point that I would isolate myself for days or even weeks at a time with very little explanation and that is literally the worst thing that someone dealing with manic depression can do, so...


I learned to give myself grace. I learned to forgive myself for those moments where I wasn't quite feeling like myself, and when I took those feelings out on others that genuinely cared about me. I released feelings of embarrassment and instead allowed myself to be an example of the possibilities that were available to those like me that had been diagnosed with disorders that they don't quite understand. I sought help and looked towards dance and other holistic practices instead of isolating myself and hiding from what I was experiencing.


I began to look at every day as a win.


I won because I made it out of bed today. I won when I realized that something was wrong. I won when I decided to seek help. I win every time I share my story. And I really get the gold when I help someone else tell their story or at least get help in finding treatment.


Every day isn't easy. I hope that I, in no way, glamorized this diagnosis. Instead, I hope that I inspire you to keep fighting. I hope that I can be the motivation that you need to prioritize yourself and your mental health. Together, I hope that we will break the stigma and shift the narrative associated with mental illness because you and I are so much more than a diagnosis. We're winners, baby!

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