By: Christine Saenz
Ever since my diagnosis of Bipolar II back in 2010 I’ve worked really hard to get family and friends to understand that people with mental illness should be shown the same kindness and compassion as someone with a physical illness.
When I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital for one of the worst manic episodes I had ever experienced I remember feeling alone, scared, and nervous. Friends and family visited but I felt how awkward it was for them to be there. In their defense I had never visited anyone in a psychiatric hospital either so I am sure I would have been a little awkward as well.
When I left the hospital there were no get well cards or wishes for a speedy recover. Well wishes were far and few in between. Not that I thought I deserved special treatment but we typically don’t treat people who get treatment for their mental illness like we would someone who went in for something physical. I was at home adjusting to all new drugs and not feeling so good about life in general. This memory has always stuck with me.
After talking to others who were hospitalized and also felt alone and forgotten about during their treatment, I knew I wanted to do something about it.
Last year I started sending out post cards to people who were struggling with their mental illness and that turned into sending holiday cards as well. This small gesture of kindness was making people feel less alone with their illness and struggle. I was a perfect stranger to most of them but I did relate to their experience of feeling alone.
This year I wanted to really reach out and send love to those who were powering through their mental illness as well as those who need a little extra care. I started up the Pepper Vintage Care Package campaign and while it’s still in its infancy stages, I hope this campaign can inspire others to do something nice for their loved ones battling mental illness. I started out sending mini-bipolar care packages out to those who were having a tough time. Then in March I sent out my first big care package to wonderful lady who was suffering with postpartum depression. Each person I sent a package to shared their incredible stories of resilient and strength.
My care packages are made with products that are produced locally in Houston, Texas by woman owned companies, some of whom battle a mental illness as well.
I want to see everyone feel cared for and be treated with the same compassion and kindness as those who are treated for a physical illness. Let’s send those get well cards and well wishes to our mental health warriors.