image of a woman doing yoga

By Amanda Kearney-Smith, Executive Director

People often tell me.. “You don’t seem depressed” or “It doesn’t seem like your illness affects you” or “I’ve never seen you struggling”. I think people are surprised to hear that I’ve battled bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder most of my life, apparently I fake it well! Well lets face it – if I went around weeping and having panic attacks at work I wouldn’t be able to accomplish much and it certainly wouldn’t look very professional. I am definitely not alone here, most people dealing with mental health disorders are “faking it” to get through the day because really, staying well is like a full-time job.

It’s a balancing act of the right medication (for some) and then the side effects of said medication, exercise, the right foods, getting enough sleep, managing the fluctuations in mood, the stress and worry, the ruminating and lets not forget the stigma. Self-stigma is tough, always second guessing yourself and beating yourself up for not dealing with things well. Its exhausting!

So how do we all do it? Well, we’re tough, resilient, strong and determined! What gives me motivation is my family and the amazing people we are privileged to work with here at The Network. Two weeks ago we graduated another 8 peer support coaches and I was able to sit-in on their graduation day. What a gift to be surrounded by people who have overcome such adversity, such overwhelming barriers and trauma, only to rise above, achieve wellness for themselves AND choose to give back to their community. AMAZING!

We all have a story to tell and a journey that has made us who we are. Each day is a blessing and a gift, lets remember that and support one another. Know that your friend, colleague, or loved one is balancing a lot and might be “faking it” to get through the day. Lets be kind to one another and share our collective strength. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much!”

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Amanda Kearney-Smith

I founded the Network as the Executive Director in 2011 and, before that, I was a program director at Mental Health Colorado. My educational background is in Developmental Psychology, but living with bipolar disorder has drawn me to this work. I'm most passionate about protecting the civil rights and dignity of others. In my free time, I love reading, practicing yoga, and spending time with my family here and in Illinois.

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