A Humble Stance

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There’s an old adage, “The older I get the less I know.” As I am well into the second half of my lifespan I believe this to be true. As someone who is often asked about mental health, and in particular Bipolar Disorder, I must confess that I still have a lot to learn.
 
There have been times when I encounter individuals who have little if any knowledge of mental health. I quickly realize how much of this knowledge I take for granted. But in the same respect, I never want to think that I know it all.
 
The times that are the most humbling are when I am asked by a parent of a child living with Bipolar Disorder how to best help their ailing loved one. While I may be able to offer simple suggestions on how to be guide the individual, by no means do I have all the answers. This is particularly difficult considering that I would love nothing more than to help alleviate the pain the parent and child are experiencing.
 
Bipolar Disorder is so very complicated and no two people living with the condition are quite the same. There is no “cookie cutter” approach to treating it. On the other hand, there are a number of common denominators that can be practiced to improve one’s mental health. Sleep, exercise, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol are but a few of the things one can do to stay stable.
 
Much of what I’ve learned about recovery has been through my own experience. The remainder has been through formal study and working in a clinical setting. But the beauty is that I’m still learning. And it is through this learning that I have a better chance of keeping what I’ve worked so hard for.

About the author
Karl Shallowhorn is the Education Program Coordinator for the Community Health Center of Buffalo. Karl has been living with bipolar disorder since 1981. He is a New York State Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor and has worked in both the addictions and mental health fields for over 17 years. Karl is the author of Working on Wellness: A Practical Guide to Mental Health. He is a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor and also works as a mental health consultant for organizations across New York State. Karl has provided a variety of mental health-related seminars and workshops for conferences, schools and businesses on the local, state and national levels. Karl serves on the Board of Directors for the Mental Health Association in New York State, the Mental Health Association of Erie County, the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network, as well as the Erie County Mental Hygiene Community Services Boardand the WNED/WBFO Mental Health Advisory Council. Karl has received numerous awards for his advocacy efforts in his professional career.

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