Like A Broken Vessel

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Jeffrey R. Holland
How do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you

or those you love?
The Apostle Peter wrote that disciples of Jesus Christ are to have “compassion one 
of another.”1 In that spirit I wish to speak to those who suffer from some form of mental illness or 
emotional disorder, whether those afflictions be slight or severe, of brief duration or persistent
 over a lifetime. We sense the complexity of such matters when we hear professionals speak of 
neuroses and psychoses, of genetic predispositions and chromosome defects, of bipolarity,
 paranoia, and schizophrenia. However bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some 
of the realities of mortal life, and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than 
in acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.
In striving for some peace and understanding in these difficult matters, it is crucial to remember 
that we are living—and chose to live—in a fallen world where for divine purposes our pursuit of 
godliness will be tested and tried again and again. Of greatest assurance in God’s plan is that a 
Savior was promised, a Redeemer, who through our faith in Him would lift us triumphantly over 
those tests and trials, even though the cost to do so would be unfathomable for both the Father 
who sent Him and the Son who came. It is only an appreciation of this divine love that will make 
our own lesser suffering first bearable, then understandable, and finally redemptive.
Let me leave the extraordinary illnesses I have mentioned to concentrate on MDD—“major 
depressive disorder”—or, more commonly, “depression.” When I speak of this, I am not speaking 
of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. Everyone is going 
to be anxious or downhearted on occasion. The Book of Mormon says Ammon and his brethren 
were depressed at a very difficult time,2 and so can the rest of us be. But today I am speaking of 
something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to 
function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go 
away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a 
vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!
No, this dark night of the mind and spirit is more than mere discouragement. I have seen it
come to an absolutely angelic man when his beloved spouse of 50 years passed away. I have seen
it in new mothers with what is euphemistically labeled “after-baby blues.” I have seen it strike
anxious students, military veterans, and grandmothers worried about the well-being of their grown
And I have seen it in young fathers trying to provide for their families. In that regard I once
terrifyingly saw it in myself. At one point in our married life when financial fears collided with
staggering fatigue, I took a psychic blow that was as unanticipated as it was real. With the grace of
God and the love of my family, I kept functioning and kept working, but even after all these years I
continue to feel a deep sympathy for others more chronically or more deeply afflicted with such
gloom than I was. In any case we have all taken courage from those who, in the words of the
Prophet Joseph, “search[ed] … and contemplate[d] the darkest abyss”3 and persevered through
it—not the least of whom were Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Elder George Albert Smith,
the latter being one of the most gentle and Christlike men of our dispensation, who battled recurring
depression for some years before later becoming the universally beloved eighth prophet and
President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love?
Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend.
As President Monson said to the Relief Society sisters so movingly last Saturday evening: “That love
never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is
there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.”4 Never, ever doubt
that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring
the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual
well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to
the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of
them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those
miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished
example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.5
In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you
may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a
tank low on fuel. When you face “depletion depression,” make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is
the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that
if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.
If things continue to be debilitating, seek the advice of reputable people with certified training,
professional skills, and good values. Be honest with them about your history and your struggles.
Prayerfully and responsibly consider the counsel they give and the solutions they prescribe. If you
had appendicitis, God would expect you to seek a priesthood blessing and get the best medical care
available. So too with emotional disorders. Our Father in Heaven expects us to use all of the
marvelous gifts He has provided in this glorious dispensation.
If you are the one afflicted or a caregiver to such, try not to be overwhelmed with the size of your
task. Don’t assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can. If those are only small victories, be
grateful for them and be patient. Dozens of times in the scriptures, the Lord commands someone
to “stand still” or “be still”—and wait.6 Patiently enduring some things is part of our mortal education.
For caregivers, in your devoted effort to assist with another’s health, do not destroy your own. In all
these things be wise. Do not run faster than you have strength.7 Whatever else you may or may not be
able to provide, you can offer your prayers and you can give “love unfeigned.”8 “Charity suffereth
long, and is kind; … [it] beareth all things, … hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never 

Also let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be
hopeful about and grateful for. We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!
Stephanie Clark Nielson and her family have been our friends for more than 30 years. On
August 16, 2008, Stephanie and her husband, Christian, were in a plane crash and subsequent fire
that scarred her so horrifically that only her painted toenails were recognizable when family
members came to indentify the victims. There was almost no chance Stephanie could live. After
three months in a sleep-induced coma, she awoke to see herself. With that, the psyche-scarring
and horrendous depression came. Having four children under the age of seven, Stephanie did not
want them to see her ever again. She felt it would be better not to live. “I thought it would be
easier,” Stephanie once told me in my office, “if they just forgot about me and I quietly slipped out
of their life.”

But to her eternal credit, and with the prayers of her husband, family, friends, four beautiful
children, and a fifth born to the Nielsons just 18 months ago, Stephanie fought her way back from
the abyss of self-destruction to be one of the most popular “mommy bloggers” in the nation, openly
declaring to the four million who follow her blog that her “divine purpose” in life is to be a mom
and to cherish every day she has been given on this beautiful earth.

Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or
otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it! Trust in God. Hold on in
His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee.
Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says,10we must remember, that
vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones
and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work making those repairs, the rest of us can help
by being merciful, nonjudgmental, and kind.

I testify of the holy Resurrection, that unspeakable cornerstone gift in the Atonement of the Lord
Jesus Christ! With the Apostle Paul, I testify that that which was sown in corruption will one day
be raised in incorruption and that which was sown in weakness will ultimately be raised in
power.11 I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality
will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling
moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed
such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally “free at last.”12 Until that
hour when Christ’s consummate gift is evident to us all, may we live by faith, hold fast to hope,
and show “compassion one of another,”13 I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

    An Apostle's Perspective

    “…however bewildering this all may be, these afflictions are some of the realities of mortal life and there should be no more shame in acknowledging them than acknowledging a battle with high blood pressure or the sudden appearance of a malignant tumor.
    … Seek the council of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being.               

    …Though we may feel we are like a broken vessel as the psalmist says, we must remember that vessel is in the hands of the Divine Potter.
    Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed. While God is at work, making those repairs, the rest of us can help by being merciful, non-judgmental and kind.”
                                                                                         -Elder Jeffery R Holland

    What, Really, is Mental Illness?

    by Sarah Hancock

    When people are first diagnosed with a mental illness, everything around them shatters. Suddenly they picture themselves tied up in a straitjacket and locked away in some asylum. They think, Is that who I really am?

    It feels as though every single goal they ever dreamed of achieving is ripped away, handing them a death sentence instead.

    No, I take that back. Having a mental illness can be worse than a death sentence. Here's why.

    When you think about mental illness, what are the first things that come to mind? Straitjackets, mumbling incessantly, heinous murderers -- the list goes on and on, none of it flattering. Why is that? Because the public at large only takes their information about mental illness from what they see on TV or in the movies.
    Let's face it. Movies, news, television shows and any other media could never make money broadcasting stories about everyday people living boring lives. Instead the media turn their attention to things either positively amazing or downright horrific. Average doesn't sell.

    Consequently, the general public gains all information about mental illness from either positively amazing people (like John Forbes Nash, Jr. a mathematician who received the Nobel for Economic Sciences in 1994, diagnosed with schizophrenia) or by heinous murderers diagnosed with mental illness. I'd give you an example but you can probably already think of several on your own.

    If you believed the media, people who have a mental illness just don't fall in the gray area between amazing and horrific. In that respect they're like Mormons. You rarely hear about everyday Mormons on the news. But the minute a member of the Church does something bad, the news headlines read, "Mormon Steals Car!"

    However, I bet that your preconceived notions about mental illness are just as erroneous as the average nonmember's understanding of what members of the Church truly believe. Did I just say that?
    Many people think that schizophrenics are violent. However, evidence suggests that "people with psychotic symptoms account for only 5 percent of violent crime, and some estimate the number closer to 1 percent. In fact, people living with schizophrenia are in greater danger of being victimized by both violent and non-violent crimes than the general population." Surprised?

    Mental illness is simply misunderstood, yet it's something that affects everyone in one way or another. If you think you don't know anyone with mental illness, you're wrong. I promise!

    According to the National Alliant for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), "One in four adults -- approximately 57.7 million Americans -- experience a mental health disorder in a given year. One in 17 lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder and about one in 10 children live with a serious mental or emotional disorder."

    The thing is, no one talks about it. Well, hopefully that is about to change.

    I can be quite verbal about my experience with mental illness. I'll be the first to admit many people don't feel comfortable about my candidness, but I am candid for a reason. When I was diagnosed and drudging through the worst symptoms I'd ever experienced, I felt alone. What made matters worse was no one wanted to talk about it. People felt uncomfortable when I brought it up. I felt completely alienated.
    I never want anyone else to feel like that. So, sometimes if there is a moment in class where I feel my experience with mental illness taught me something I share it, regardless.

    One Sunday after sharing such an experience a sister came up to me after class in tears because she'd felt all alone and didn't know where to go to talk to about her depression. She was grateful I said something, enabling her to recognize she wasn't alone. She swore me to secrecy, not wanting anyone else to know about her struggle.

    Ironically, a sister who'd sat next to this first sister also approached me afterwards, asking to talk to me more about her depression while swearing me to secrecy. She, too, didn't want anyone to think less of her for struggling with depression. Two sisters sitting next to each other were struggling with the desperate symptoms of depression, yet both were unable to support or console one another because of the embarrassment of being labeled as mentally ill.

    Feeling isolated in a room full of people can be worse than a death sentence.
    So what can you do about it? Be willing to talk. I'm not saying you have to shout it from the rooftops, nor am I saying that being glib about details is always appropriate. I am saying that in order for the general public to become savvier about mental illness, we need to start talking about it.

    Helping people become more aware of mental illness will help their understanding to grow. Only then will the general public realize people with mental illness are just everyday people. After all, one fourth of the general public already knows that since they have a mental illness!

    Perhaps its someone you are sitting next to at church or someone you share a cubicle with at work. Perhaps someone you love needs your support and you don't even know how to give it. If we all start talking about mental illness a little more, everyone will realize no one is alone.

    Be wise in sharing things with others. You'll be surprised at how many people understand because they've been there too. So, back to the original question: What is mental illness? Start talking and asking questions from sources outside the sensationalized media, and you'll find the real answer.

    Identity and Mental Illness: Not, What I Am, but Who I Am
    by Sarah Hancock
    The other day I went to a service project as the passenger in my friend’s car. When we pulled into the parking lot, a baby blue, vintage Volkswagen bug pulled beside us and parked. My friend turned to me and said, “That’s my brother. He’s schizophrenic.” I stared at her for a moment, collecting my wits, and asked, “What’s his name?”
    Gee. How many of us have done that? Some of you may ask, what? Done what? Introduced someone as their diagnosis. Come on now, we can all sheepishly admit we have.  So this is my promise to you: I won't do it any more.
    I share this incident in an effort to plead with you to reevaluate how you interact with and think about people who have mental illness. For those who have mental illness, I share this as a plea to you to reevaluate how you think about yourself.
    Would you ever introduce a friend to your “cancerous sister”? Would you introduce your coworker to the diabetic? Nope. Or at least, I hope not. Don’t you think it’s inappropriate to disclose someone’s medical history? So why do it with mental illness? Why the double standard? Yet people do it all the time. Suddenly gossip morphs into necessary knowledge. A little bit of the natural man coming to the surface? Okay. Maybe it’s just human nature to fill in the details, but what details are really necessary?
    There are three primary reasons I think that you shouldn’t refer to someone as their diagnosis or even tell others about the diagnosis, especially when mental health is involved. First, it doesn’t allow a new person the opportunity to meet a person without the looming negative stigma associated with mental illness. Second, the more a person with mental illness is referred to by their illness, the more people treat them as ill. Third, when people are constantly referred to as their diagnosis, it leads them to believe all they are is the diagnosis.
    When I was first diagnosed and struggling through the depths of my symptoms, I often sat down at meetings where people spontaneously stood up and moved. At first I honestly thought they had to make a last minute trip to the restroom. Perhaps many of them did.
    But I will never forget the day when I sat down next to a young woman who got up and moved to the row behind me. When questioned by her new neighbor about the sudden spontaneous space shuffle, the young women loudly whispered, “I can’t sit next to her. Didn’t you know she’s schizophrenic and gets shock treatments?”
    Tears filled my eyes. I sat there waiting for the meeting to start while staring at the teary, shimmering pattern on my skirt, all while wondering if that’s all they saw in me. As time passed, I wondered if that was all everyone saw in me.
    There were many dark and dreary moments where that’s all I saw in myself. Lost was the girl who loved to write and sing at the top of her lungs to the car radio. Lost was the woman who’d been a college leadership trainer, camp counselor, editor and oral historian. Lost was the trilingual returned missionary.
    Lost was the girl who loved expressing herself with ceramics, the one who frequently enjoyed laughing so hard her face and stomach hurt. Lost was the girl who planned the parties and group dates. Lost, the girl who excelled academically. Sometimes I wonder if I would have lost sight of all of those things had more people seen me for those qualities, rather than seen me as a scary mentally ill person.
    You may think my perspective is skewed. Surely my illness affected how I perceived the reaction of others. Maybe it was all in my mind. A figment of my imagination. A result of the illness. I wish it were.
    I’ve been to social activities where people I didn’t even know actually asked me what it was like to have shock treatments and to hear voices. Their tone made me feel like some sort of freak show.
    Often I discussed it with a trusted friend, asking her if she’d heard it. Reality testing. She always did. There were times in my life where it got me down; now I’ve gotten used to it. When a person asks me such questions one-on-one, truly wanting to learn, it’s a decidedly different circumstance — one that I welcome.
    I guess my question is: When you know someone has a mental illness, do you further perpetuate the negative stigma by referring to them as their illness? Or do you refer to them by their characteristics, qualities and talents? If the only thing you can see is the illness, you need to look deeper.  
    If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness and it’s all you can see or who you’ve become, take a step back and remember. Remember who you once were, what you liked to do, where you liked to go. Revisit a favorite thing about yourself.
    Take a moment to enjoy an old talent you’ve shelved while struggling to take care of your symptoms. Get out of your head and enjoy something you hold dear. I know it may feel awkward at first since you haven’t done it in so long, but those lost qualities and talents are still a very important part of who you really are. You are you; you are not your diagnosis!
    If you love, serve, or work with someone who has a diagnosis, take a moment to evaluate how you talk about him with others. Work to recognize every aspect of his personality.
    Work to point out his strengths. Work to focus on the fact that she is child of a loving Heavenly Father who allowed her to have this illness not as a punishment but rather as witness of an abiding confidence God has in her. He knows all things, including her true, inner strength and potential. Remind your loved one of this truth.
    One wise woman (not me!) diagnosed with a mental illness explained it quite simply by saying, “It is something that I live with, that I attempt to circumnavigate around, but it is not Who I Am.”
    Please, stand with me and take the pledge. We will stand together and recognize people for who they truly are, sons and daughters of a living and loving God.


    About Sarah Hancock
    Sarah Hancock is currently in her final year of studies at San Diego State University's Rehabilitation Counseling Program (just voted 9th in the Nation by U.S. News & World Report) with a psychiatric emphasis.  A portion of her internship was spent as the Coordinator of Disability Services Office for Alliant International University's San Diego and Irvine Campuses.
    Having embarked on her own journey with a mental health diagnosis, she is passionate about Psychiatric Recovery and teaching others how to strengthen their "Recovery Toolbox." Sarah finds comfort in writing, having completed more than 29 journal volumes. She teaches occasional recovery workshops using principles she learned from Recovery Innovations.
    Born and raised in San Diego, California, Sarah served a Spanish speaking and ASL mission for the LDS Church in the Texas Dallas Mission. She was graduated from Ricks College and BYU. Sarah currently resides in the San Diego area with her husband. They have four teenage children.

    She currently loves serving as Young Women secretary and ward missionary.

    What Would Jesus Do????

    …and being of very tender years, and persecuted by those who ought to have been my friends and to have treated me kindly, and if they supposed me to be deluded to have endeavored in a proper and affectionate manner to have reclaimed me—I was left…
                                                  -Joseph Smith

    Where we have no documented evidence that the profet had a mental illness, there were many who believed he did because of the vision he claimed to have seen. We know those claims to be true... but to those who thought otherwise... I think brother Joseph can relate to the experiences some of us who do have a mental illness may have faced at one time or another in our lives....

    How do we treat those people in kind? What would Jesus do?

    No longer silent: Man with bipolar disorder speaks up about his illness, inspiring others

    A few months ago, Logan Noone made a decision that everyone told him would be a terrible idea. He started talking.
    In May 2011, Noone was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition marked by alternating periods of intense depression and good or irritable moods. While seeking treatment for his mental health at a hospital, his doctors and fellow patients all told him the same thing – don’t tell anyone about your illness.
    “They all said, ‘You have to be careful about who you tell, because people may discriminate against you, and it could ruin your career,’” Noone, a 23-year-old Connecticut native who now lives in California, told “And it was really frustrating for me because I thought, ‘Yeah, but they might not.’”
    Though he adamantly disagreed with the idea of keeping quiet, Noone ended up taking his physicians’ advice and ultimately kept his condition to himself.
    "I’m just a normal guy, and I can still fit in with everyone else. We all have something wrong with us; no one’s DNA is perfect."
    - Logan Noone, on his new attitude towards being bipolar

    The silence tore him apart. For the next six months, he spiraled into one of his worst depressions, feeling nothing but shame for his condition and the life he was leading.
    “I thought it was a flaw; I didn’t think I could be anything successful,” Noone said. “I didn’t have the drive to get better, because I thought I was destined for suicide.”
    Then a seemingly small moment would catapult Noone into a completely different phase of his life. Just two days after moving to California for a job transfer, Noone nonchalantly told his new Craigslist roommates his biggest secret – that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Then something incredible happened.
    Nothing changed.
    His roommates did not discriminate against him and embraced Noone for who he was.
    “I’ve been able to teach them what bipolar disorder is and change their misconceptions about it,” Noone said. “…They also taught me the lesson that I’m just a normal guy, and I can still fit in with everyone else. We all have something wrong with us; no one’s DNA is perfect.”
    Since then, Noone has purposefully gone against the “keep quiet” mentality, making the choice to step up and speak out about his experience with mental illness. Having recently been hired by the California Speakers Bureau, Noone travels to different colleges throughout the state, giving speeches about his life story and how people can help erase the stigma surrounding mental illness. He has since posted a video of his speech on YouTube, which is quickly gathering views and enormous support.
    Now, Noone and others are poised on the brink of what they are calling a mental health civil rights movement, aimed at encouraging those with mental illness to break their silence and talk about their experiences as something positive – and not something to hide.
    Depression vs. mania

    Having grown up with a loving family in Litchfield, Conn., Noone had always been a happy, normal kid. He would sometimes experience periods of depression and anxiety, but he could always turn it around quickly.
    It wasn’t until he studied abroad in Scotland while attending his junior year at the College of the Holy Cross that he started to notice something wasn’t quite right.
    “I started to have racing thoughts that were so consuming,” Noone said. “I couldn’t focus; I had trouble interacting with people. I didn’t feel like I knew who I was. It ultimately lead to drinking and self-medicating, which is certainly not healthy.”
    Noone questioned everything from the love of his friends and family to his sexuality. And the thoughts showed no sign of going away, haunting him throughout his junior and senior year – causing him to isolate himself and become extremely anxious. Then when it came time for his final week of college, a lot of major changes happened all at once. He had just recently broken up with his girlfriend, was about to walk the stage for graduation and was starting a new job in just a few short weeks.
    He said his parents likened it to the ‘Perfect Storm.’
    Noone finally decided to speak with his friends about how he had been struggling. While he was telling them, his mood suddenly started to turn around. He started to have feelings of euphoria and felt as though he had a ton of energy. As his friends began their celebrations for senior week, Noone felt excited enough to join in on the fun – but the partying didn’t stop.
    “I was having a blast, but I couldn’t turn it off,” Noone said. “I had a constant, insane amount of energy, and it continued to get worse as I continued to lose sleep. I started having all these grandiose ideas that I thought could make work. I thought I could make a billion bucks off of them in a week. I was calling investors before I had even written anything down, and it even got to the point where I thought people were going to steal them from me, that people were monitoring my email and cellphone.”
    It didn’t take long for his friends and family to figure out something was very wrong. After about a week of not sleeping, Noone himself started to realize he might be suffering from something very serious, and knowing that bipolar disorder ran in his family, it wasn’t hard for him to put the pieces together.
    Seeking help
    Realizing he needed help, Noone’s family arranged for two psychiatric disease experts to come to their home in order to advise him about what to do next.

    They told him he ultimately had three options. He could do nothing and continue to suffer, schedule an appointment with a therapist (which could ultimately take weeks), or he could do something even more drastic – check into a hospital.
    “Saying I should go to the hospital was shocking,” Noone said, “but it really only took my five to 10 minutes to make that decision. I finally just said I should suck it up and, ‘Let’s do this.’”
    The experience was rough, but necessary. Over the next five days, Noone worked with his doctors to figure out the best treatments for moving forward and the right combination of medications that would help control his symptoms. He wasn’t allowed to leave the building until the process was done.
    It was during his time at the hospital that Noone learned about the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder and mental illness in general. Everyone he met said keeping his disorder a secret was the best course of action, as people would ultimately view and treat him differently. Even his fellow patients at the hospital said talking about their symptoms and struggles was just too risky.
    The silence contributed to his worst depression yet, and Noone spent the next six months feeling ashamed of himself and his condition. But in those last few months, he started to have a change of heart. His employer, Hanover Insurance, decided to transfer Noone to California for a new position, and he spent five days in a car with his father, thinking about life and letting everything sink in.
    Those five days would later change everything.
    “During that time period, I thought, ‘I’m not going to live this life anymore,’” Noone said. “‘This is stupid, and I’m not going to be ashamed.’”
    Starting a movement
    This decision to tell his roommates about his disorder had an unprecedented impact on Noone. His instincts had been right all along. Not only was it OK to talk about bipolar disorder, but it was actually therapeutic, inspiring him to turn his life around in a way he had never imagined.
    “It started this momentum of happiness in my life,” Noone said. “I started working out, eating better…. I started this last May, and until now I’ve lost 70 pounds.”
    Just the simple act of revealing his condition to his roommates motivated Noone to start attending meet-up groups for people with bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. He began listening to all of their life experiences and learned helpful insights and coping mechanisms he could apply to his own life.
    “This was the key to my recovery, because I didn’t feel all alone,” Noone said. “Five percent of the population has bipolar disorder, and they think that number is grossly underestimated. So it was really rewarding being able to connect and meet more of them, because that’s how people are going to get inspired to get the help they need.”
    Noone’s involvement with the bipolar community ultimately caught the eye of William Taylor from Mental Health America, who runs an event called “Recovery Happens,” a celebration of people with mental illness who have made recoveries in their lives. Taylor approached Noone about possibly speaking out about his bipolar experience, and Noone was eager to sign up.
    Now, Noone is set to travel to different colleges to give speeches about his life story. His first speech at Sierra College in Rockland, Cali., turned out to be a great success and encouraged Noone to go one step further. Given the response he received, he recorded a separate video of his speech in his kitchen and posted it to YouTube, hoping to better spread the word online.
    So far, the response has been overwhelming.
    “I’ve been getting messages from people I don’t know, people in different countries,” None said. “They tell me, ‘I can really relate to this story, and you’ve inspired me to live a healthy life.’”
    Besides his speaking engagements and YouTube video, Noone is working to start a non-profit, which strives to create an online community revolving around mental illness pride, as well as a marketing campaign called “Repaint the Picture,” aimed at erasing the misconceptions of mental illness and spreading mental illness pride. And Noone is not alone in this endeavor. He has already received substantial interest in starting his own initiative. Many high-profiled celebrities – such as Carrie Fisher, Linda Hamilton, Russell Brand, Howie Mandal, and Robert Downey Jr., to name a few – have already come out about their struggles with bipolar disorder, spreading knowledge and awareness of the disorder.
    Overall, Noone feels the whole mental health community is on the brink of a civil rights movement, in which people with mental illness are about to come out of the shadows and spread their stories for the world to hear. It is through this effort, he says, that things will inevitably start to change.
    “We’re going to try to tell the success stories,” Noone said. “The stories people need to hear. The truth.”