Imagine gathering a think tank of the world experts on resilience, courage, hope, and survival. Who would you invite? I have a suggestion; individuals with mental illness.
Who has overcome uncertainty, negative thoughts, and impulses with skill and stamina more than a borderline or OCD?
Life struggles? Motivation to succeed? We, who suffer from a mental illness, are the experts.
We must organize mental illness think tanks across the nation
Every major city should host multiple power wisdom mental illness think tanks. Mental illness and not mental health think tanks because our wisdom is rooted in the experience of the disease. We must own our illness without shame. Our quest will be to turn mental illness into an asset.
The national think tank network will issue a yearly report on character strength development and its application. A popular book on life, “lessons from mental illness,” must flood the market. We will turn the perception from being disabled to becoming wise agents for good.
We must claim our voice from the “experts”
An internet search of top mental health speakers shows doctors, CEOs, former presidents, many Olympic athletes, Hollywood stars, psychiatrists, journalists, and foundation executives. Some of them may struggle with a mental illness. Still, it seems that power, recognition, and influence are perquisites to speak for our mental illness constituency. What about the speaker whose credentials are just having the illness? Who can better convey mental illness’s existential challenges and meaning than one who lives with it? Talks by us must replace the monopoly of others talking about us. We are the legitimate authorities on transforming illness into strength and wisdom. We must take control of our narrative.
We are the top motivational speakers. Let’s market our wisdom
I dream of a time when corporations and leadership programs will seek those with schizophrenia or borderline conditions as their top motivational speakers. That shift will not occur until we translate our experiences into concrete and applicable lessons. We must generate a new field of knowledge centered on mental illness applied to leadership and entrepreneurship.
My mental illness partner, I have one request for you: please do not waste our pain. Extract deep wisdom from your struggle and deliver it to society.
We are infinitely more than Lithium and clonazepam. We are masters of wisdom, and we must take our rightful place at the wisdom discussion table.