Thank you CBC and the producers, creators and host of CAMPUS.
You have shared my story, and given me an avenue for my battle to be heard on your incredible and very important show, and I am so unbelievably grateful. If there is one thing I have always been obsessed about since being diagnosed with a severe mental illness when I was 17 (bipolar-one disorder), it has not just been about coming to terms and growing to accept that I carry such an illness, it has been this... How do I not accept STIGMA and how can I do absolutely anything and everything to eliminate it? The only solution I could ever come to ponder after years of thought was simply by being open and honest about my own illness, and my own struggle, and walking with pride with a disability that is sadly so common. But even more sad is that far too often such an illness is bottled up and left hidden, and even denied by so many people who also carry in such a disability.
I've grown to become a man that simply wants to show people that anyone who suffers from a mental illness is no different than anyone else. Sick or not, we are all human, and we are all important. I've wanted for years to reach people with my story, to show others who can relate, that they too, do not have to carry shame, and they do not have to keep their lifelong challenge a secret. Not everyone has to be like me and be an open book. But, everyone should, at least, try their hardest to be strong enough to know when they are weak and be open enough to seek help and to seek guidance when they need it most.
Being bipolar has been my greatest obstacle in life, and it is one that I know I will always be climbing. But it has given me a goal, a drive, a motivation, a gift, and a purpose. It honestly gives me my strongest heartbeat, and when the illness tells me to not love life anymore, that very illness gives me a reason to, simply put, live it! When I want to give up on me, I think of why I'm telling my story, putting myself in front of direct prejudice and ignorance, and I remind myself that I am doing this not only for me, or for my mom whose own mental illness undeniably shortened her very life, or for my dad, who is my hero; the man who took care of my mom and myself when we were sick. I do this for every person that shares in this truth, that society encourages us to keep as a conversation at the dinner table, but not the office water fountain. I tell my story to inspire and to show people that, I have a mental illness. "My name is Blake Horsley, and I am bipolar." But today I am in control, and though, in my past, I lost that very ability, I do not regret anything I've ever done or anything I've ever been through. I am a survivor, and because of this I am proud, and anyone living with any type of illness, and I emphasize living, is the same, and should be nothing but proud as well.
Stigma is a joke, but it is a joke that honestly hurts and honestly hinders. But honesty is something that is admired, and I would rather listen to truth, than any ignorance, that I am starting to realize, is finally going away. Thank you for listening to a part of my story. Now let's listen to others, and let's have an honest conversation.