Mental Health Empowerment Day was almost 6 months ago, but the lessons I have learned from the virtual conference still linger. In particular, on the MHED website, there is one blog that recently caught my eye. It explains the importance of finding your own happiness.
I first met @Michele.viner at @mhed several years ago, as she was @leanneMatlow‘s partner in crime when the conference was held in person, before COVID. I had a booth in the foyer, so when there was a break between speakers, I got to talk about my book Me and My So-Called Friends, the program, Brave The Waves – A Program for Building Resiliency, and of course, shmooze with the volunteers; hence, where I met Michele.
As many of us know, we spend our time in certain fields for all sorts of reasons. Michele has her story for volunteering at this organization, and it’s a good one.
Michele is a gifted writer with the ability to pay close attention to those she cares about. After reading a few of her blogs on her own website, I wanted the chance to share one of her stories on my pages as well. I have seen and heard a lot. I enjoy writing most of the blogs on my own, but I welcome a different perspective. Especially if they wrote something that we can all learn from.
Here is Michele’s story and what she thinks of finding your own happiness.
By: Michele Viner, Vice Chair of MHED
I got involved in MHED as a mom. Simple as that. A mom who has watched her daughter live with bipolar disorder for the past six years, being diagnosed at the age of 15.
I am a mom who made a lot of mistakes along the way during those years, thinking that I could don my cape, jump in, and make everything better for my kid.
Isn’t that what moms do? If I could be happy, maybe I could help her be happy. If I smiled, maybe she would smile. Maybe if I did this or did that for her, she would be fine. Maybe I could just will away her diagnosis.
Of course, I could do none of the above.
Chances are if you are a mom – or a dad, or an aunt, or a cousin or a bestie – or anyone who loves and supports someone who lives with mental illness, you have at some point donned your cape too. And you have done so, like me, with the best of intentions.
Let’s just fold them up and put them away, shall we?
Because at the end of the day, here’s what took me so long to learn. Not only is it impossible to be someone’s happy, you really don’t want to be. You want your kid or your loved one to be their own happy. Mental health challenges or not, we all need to learn how to wear our own capes in life to feel capable. Feeling capable allows us to feel less anxious and to know that we can achieve goals.
To support someone doesn’t mean you do everything for them. It means you encourage someone to know about their own personal power.
No capes required.
Michele Viner is Vice-Chair of MHED, and is author of A Few Words About Mental Health, a self-published book about mental health through the eyes – and heart – of a parent.