One of the most difficult parts of coping with any kind of mental illness is the feeling that you’re all alone. Trapped in your own mind; a victim of your limitations.
It’s a feeling Sarah Fader knows all too well. Fader has struggled for years with anxiety and depression, and was just recently diagnosed with Bipolar Type II.
“I always felt like I was different from other teenagers, but had trouble figuring out why,” Fader tells Babble. “I suffered debilitating panic attacks that literally made me sick.”
And while she started seeing a therapist at 15 and was prescribed medication by 18, it wasn’t until Fader became a mother that she started to cope with her mental illness in a new way: She started talking about it with others.
“Should my kids ever develop mental health issues, I wanted them to know that they are loved and supported,” Fader says.
In 2014, she penned an essay for The Huffington Post, about fighting the stigma of mental illness, and was overwhelmed by the positive response she received. Many readers commented on her bravery, with several asking where they could share their own stories, too.
And that’s when Stigma Fighters was born — a non-profit organization that offers people living with mental illness a place to share their stories openly and without fear of judgment. Fader launched it along with her business partner Allie Burke, a fellow writer who lives with paranoid schizophrenia.
This May, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Fader has also launched the viral hashtag #WorkWithToday with her friend Katie Klabusich, which Fader describes as a movement “meant to inspire mindfulness within living with mental illness.”
Across Twitter, users have been sharing snippets of their day — both the good and the bad — in an effort to share the honest (and sometimes difficult) truth of what living with mental illness, day in and day out, is really like.
Fader says it’s all about embracing how you feel and allowing yourself to acknowledge it, whether it’s a good day or a bad one.
“You can get through your day if you feel your feelings,” Fader shares. “Be that anxiety, mania, hallucinations, or PTSD. You got this!”
While all of the tweets so far have been enlightening, many are heartbreaking to read.
“Anx spiking and feel so sick,” wrote Twitter user @Deenor. “Have places to be, and can’t back out. Just want to run and scream.”
“I know I have friends but I feel like I don’t & I want a best friend again,” shared @KevinsBebe. “BPD is killing self esteem today.”
“Some nights you just have to go there,” wrote @AliciaHare. “I took in this view and gazed at the stars and then I sobbed.”
But overall, the response has been positive, with many people telling Fader that sharing their stories has been therapeutic. And that’s certainly something she’s personally found to be true.
“Talking about it helps me to see the reality of my life,” Fader tells Babble. “I accept myself flaws and all.”
As for those who are still struggling in silence, Fader offers these words of encouragement:
“Speak your truth. There are people who want to listen and can relate to you. Silence is deafening.”
You can share your own #WorkWithToday tweets on Twitter now, or learn more about Fader’s mission to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illness at StigmaFighters.org.