People choose public service careers for all sorts of reasons, I suppose. Often they are seeking to leave their mark on the world and help change the trajectory of other people’s lives. Many view it as a privilege to take part in a cause larger than themselves. Some public servants are born with a specific passion that drives their work and gives purpose to their lives. For others, it’s an obligation, instilled at a young age, to be our brother’s keeper because that the welfare of our fellow citizens is of concern to us all. In my case, when I entered college in 2004, I was an activist without a cause. Then fate intervened. As it turns out, sometimes our causes choose us. I joined the staff at Active Minds because I decided it was time that I stopped merely living with bipolar disorder and started to use my personal experience with mental illness to help others.
I work at Active Minds because I want to reach a day when everyone can talk about bipolar disorder, depression, and all the rest, the same way they would talk about being born left-handed. Something in our brain chemistry is a little bit different and we’re supposed to be ashamed? I can understand the fear of being judged. I can understand the fear of stigma. Ignorance breeds misunderstanding. Ignorance breeds fear. The best way we can truly combat stigma is to share our stories.
I hope that by writing about my experience, I give one other person the courage to come forward and speak up. There is strength in numbers. When I get in a conversation with someone about mental health, they eventually acknowledge that they themselves, a friend or a family member has dealt with the issues. None of us are immune. Bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD, eating disorders…they hit everyone. They don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, gay or straight, fat or skinny, tall or short, Black or White…mental health disorders don’t ask questions and they certainly don’t pick and choose.
Marc joined Active Minds, the leading voice in college student mental health awareness, at the beginning of 2009. He is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper journalism and public policy studies. From April 2007-September 2008, Marc served as national student blog director for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. He has also assisted on the campaigns of two senators. Additionally, Marc has worked as a research assistant for a senator's political action committee and as a U.S. Senate press intern for another member of congress. Marc is an AmeriCorps alum. He has worked as a communication strategist for the U.S. Public Service Academy, and a blogger for ServiceNation and the V3 Campaign. In addition to his current work at Active Minds, Marc operates, www.bipolarrealities.com, a personal blog on what it is like to live with bipolar disorder. He plans to be a lifelong mental health advocate though he still maintains a passion for politics.