Woman shares battle with bipolar disorder to help others
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) -As the affiliate relations manager for NAMI Virginia, Shavonda Joyner hears about the mental health struggles Virginians face every day, but it wasn’t long ago that she felt lost too.
“I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder,” Joyner said. “I’m from a very small conservative area where these things aren’t really talked about. There’s a lot of stigma in rural communities.”
Although she may have looked okay on the outside, on the inside, she was battling her undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
“I felt so alone. I didn’t know where to turn,” Joyner said. “We have this preconceived notion of what mental illness looks like. I was [a] high achieving student. What did I have to be depressed about? But I still struggled.”
When Joyner was younger, no mental health resources were readily available to her.
“I really struggled with ‘I’m not crazy’ when I was younger right? Like, this is what crazy looks like,” she said. “I knew that I had to find resources elsewhere in the community.”
She eventually got the help she needed, and that’s why now, through her work with NAMI, she is sharing her own story.
“Mental illness doesn’t look a certain way. It doesn’t present itself a certain way,” Joyner said. “Just because someone is smiling, just because they are pushing through their day-to-day, doesn’t mean they are okay.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the national suicide at 988. If you are not in crisis but still struggling, call the Virginia Warm Line at 1-866-400-6428 (MHAV).
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