|Posted on December 22, 2016 at 1:05 AM|
Best known for role as the lead character on NBC's series, (Blossom), during the early and mid-1990s and more recently since 2010 for playing the character Dr. Amy Fowler on CBS' comedy (The Big Bang Theory), she is an unforgettable face, a strong voice, with a unique combination of intelligence and talent. Actress and neuroscientist, Mayim Bialik. Although, I had only remembered her from her days starring as Blossom and hadn't followed much since, once I began researching the National Alliance on Mental Illness recently I was elated to discover her recent activism for this cause. With charisma and determination, Bialik has turned the national spotlight onto mental health in a big way. So, for this blog post I want to highlight her efforts and show my appreciation for Bialik's courage as well as the social similarities we share.
"As hard as it is to live with a mental illness, it's also hard to love someone with a mental health condition when we don't know how to help." Mayim Bialik, also added to my Words of Wisdom page. She is absolutely correct, and her point of view excellently reflects the concern down to a one-on-one personal level as well. Many people affected by mental health issues have disrupted social lives and relationships with loved ones that are also in peril, or are kept hidden from their view. Even as basic and fundamental to our daily lives as relationships with the opposite sex. For how many years have I longed to find lasting companionship with the right woman? A few more than the twenty two years afflicted by depression and anxiety. The pain resulting from that longing and failure, in large part as a result of mental illness, is something that when I finally reveal just how immense it has become will undoubtedly raise more than a few eyebrows.
In another one of Bialik's YouTube videos, entitled "Hurts To Be Different", she talks about one of the stereotypes which not only do I embody but also that I have been perceptive of ever since my youth: being a nerd. Well... I still prefer a different term, just about anything else to describe it because all through school and probably as early as elementary grades I hated the words nerd, geek, and dork. I can still remember with mind numbing clarity when a fellow classmate, in Senior High by the way, made fun of me by calling me nerd. "Nerrrrrrrd" was how he said it, just to give you an idea of what I mean. Ever since, it has stuck in my mind and memory. I was, I am, and I will always be different because I fall into this category of liking things and being socially inept which the majority of the popular cool crowds have nothing to do with. Bialik talks about this disconnect in her YouTube video in a way that is so very comforting to hear.
If you want to be the devil's advocate, yes everyone is different. In high schools across the country, for years the differences haven't just been between nerd types and popular kids. But the people who have embodied the nerd stereotype have some of the most troublesome social stigma difficulties of kids growing up from school age. Bialik gives some effective and wonderfully described examples in her video to support this. Also important for me to clarify is that her point of view doesn't influence me to agree just because I am a (nerd) too. Being different period does hurt when it comes to social stigmas. Arguably, anyone could have had the courage to stand up against mainstream society whether they were of celebrity status or not. Mayim Bialik also describes her personal experiences with her own and her family's mental health issues and how it has affected her for a number of years.
Bialik also has a PhD in neuroscience and had studied obsessive compulsive disorder for her dissertation, which puts her in a unique position of having firsthand scientific experience with the medical aspect of mental health. She knows what she is talking about and this is a rarity for mental health advocates in this day and age. To be as recognizable as she has become through acting, Bialik is a valuable voice for advocating on behalf of NAMI and mental health concerns. Her willingness to be seen and heard talking about mental illness issues and her own experiences empowers victims like myself to pursue advocating with more determination and courage. What regular advocates like me are capable of doing right now, while social stigma is still very strong, is to bear the crucial weight of this stigma as we speak out.
By becoming the bridge between the majority of victims who don't need to speak out right away, who don't want to speak out whether it is from stigmas or not, or don't have to speak out because their affliction isn't as debilitating, the regular advocate provides an important service to soften the blow of unwanted public scrutiny. Attention, which if exposed in some cases, could lead to a loss of employment, fear by co-workers and the general public, further discrimination and inappropriate prejudiced attitudes towards them. Make no mistake; confronting and pushing back against social stigma is like surveying a mine field before attempting to pass through it. Painstaking care and attention to the approaches is vital if advocates in general stand a chance of protecting the anonymity fellow victims. I was reminded of this in a most humble way recently, and will endeavor to keep the promise as well as striving to become more of a beacon for hope as I can, even though I too struggle with depression and anxiety disorders at the same time.
Look up to outspoken advocates like Mayim Bialik and myself, as others rise up to create the advocacy safety net and begin to fight back against social stigmas. Know here from me, that regardless of what mental health issue you may have, however severe it might be, or where you live across the world, the time is here for a definitive difference to be made. I pledge to be #stigmafree and do the most I can for advocating on behalf of mental health and awareness. It will not be easy, but improving the lives of fellow victims is worth the struggle. Enough is enough and it is time for fear to be put in its place.
I can only hope that someday, maybe in the near future, Bialik reads this and knows that she is not alone as well. To coordinate efforts with her would be an honor, because her courage and wisdom is what makes this challenge possible. Thank you for your determination and all the hard work you put into your advocacy, Ms. Bialik, and here's to working hard for making a more positive future without social stigmas keeping people from getting the help they need.