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Unwell and Unashamed

Unwell and Unashamed

The stigma of mental illness is under attack by sufferers, who are coming out publicly and defiantly

brave tattoo

Jennifer Marshall, who has bipolar disorder, displays a tattoo of the word “brave” while posing on stage at Busboys and Poets in Washington. Marshall is a founder of the organization This Is My Brave.

For several years, she wrote about her bipolar disorder under a pseudonym. She described how she’d been hospitalized four times, twice since her first child was born. She explained how she went off her medication during both of her pregnancies and how each time — once as the mother of a newborn and then again weeks into her second pregnancy — she was escorted from her home in police handcuffs, defiant.

She blogged to connect and reach other mothers grappling with mental illness. Ultimately, however, she decided that hiding her identity was actually perpetuating the shame long associated with mental disorders.

So even as her parents urged her not to, Jennifer Marshall in 2013 typed her real name on a blog post, hit publish and waited for the reaction.

With those keystrokes, Marshall, who lives in Ashburn, Va., joined a growing community of people with mental illness who have chosen to out themselves.

Read entire article at The Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/local/wp/2016/06/01/unwell-and-unashamed/