My Take on ‘Mental Health Advocate’ as a Label

Steven wrote recently about removing the wording ‘mental health advocates’ from our bio. He gave his reasons, which I agree with, but I wanted to share my point of view as well. We are partners after all, with differing viewpoints and opinions. It’s part of what makes us work, as a couple and as people who write songs together. 

Anyway, here are my two cents:

I agree with what Steven said about the current trend of folks (especially on social media) using mental health, mental illness, and the discussions surrounding those things to further their platform. I am sure that some people are helped through those accounts, simply by making mental illness visible and normalizing conversations about it. That’s needed and it helps, so that’s good. What I don’t want for the broken fits. is to be so wrapped up in the image put forth on our social media that it impedes the real work we do. By ‘real work’ I mean the place of raw honesty that we can share from. 

For us, mental illness isn’t a buzz word or a trendy social issue to hop onto. It’s our daily life together as a couple and as musicians who work together. Every part of our lives are affected by bipolar disorder, severe anxiety, and depression. For us to be able to honestly share what we feel should be shared, in this current social climate, we had to ditch the label. Doing so will allow us to share honestly, and respond just as honestly when conversations grow around something we share or post.

For me personally, I wanted to do this for two reasons. One, I live and talk with Steven everyday and I know him. I see him longing to share certain things, certain points of view he has, but having to pull back because, “what would people think of that? Would this offend the wrong people and hurt what we’re trying to do?” and I want him to be free to be as honest and open as he feels he needs to be. To share as much as he feels he should. Whether his thoughts, experiences, or opinions rub some people the wrong way, well that in itself will enrich the conversation and maybe both sides can learn from one another through a healthy dialogue.

Two, what I love the most about what we do is connecting with people in a real way. Sure, posting on social media can be helpful, and being the PollyAnna of this outfit means I will still probably post an encouraging image or two here and there because I like things like that. But I am most grateful for those times after we play a show when someone comes to talk to me about their life, or about their loved ones who struggle with mental illness and how much it means for them to feel understood. To speak with another person who they know will not judge them. That is what has my heart about what we do. I feel like being even more open ourselves will help those people feel comfortable coming to talk to us.

I think that by lowering the filter, so to speak, while it may be offensive to some from time to time, will be of more use to the conversation. 

Life is not as pretty and perfect as it looks through an Instagram filter, or as tidy as it sounds in the space of a Twitter post. We’re ready to have those real, raw, and imperfect conversations. We’re ready to share the good, bad, and ugly of what our life is like, without regard to the possibility of losing a social media follower or two (or fifty, whatever). 

Thanks for being here. Thanks for listening. 

Now let’s all get real.

~Amanda

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