Our plane has taken off from Salt Lake City, and I am now aboard on the last leg of my Santa Barbara vacation. It’s about 3 hours left of being up in the air,where a bunch of strangers are packed like sardines, albeit in a very orderly fashion. It is interesting to wonder who these travelers are that are seated in this flying vehicle. Were they out on business? Did she fly home to see her family? What about that guy sitting across the aisle? Are they on their way to this particular destination? Questions are endless, but in general, most people only acknowledge others with a polite greeting and silence throughout the rest of the flight time. I suppose there are things about ourselves that are visible upon immediate glance, e.g. gender, race, etc. But some things, like one’s mental health, isn’t usually so clear.
I thought about that ad from ‘BringChange2Mind.org where among the crowd would be people wearing shirts labeled with a disorder or as knowing someone with a mental illness (like ‘a friend of…’) If people were to wear shirts like that, how many of us in this airplane would be wearing them?
It’s really easy to think that I would be all alone in wearing a shirt like that, and to speculate that I would not be able to share my experience with mental illness with others because others simply would have no connection to it. However, last week in class, someone mentioned that she’s bipolar, which means that out of a class of fifteen students, at least three students have bipolar disorder. Even in such a small group, I am not alone.
So, as I look around these rows of people sleeping, reading their Kindle or drinking their beverage, I am pretty sure that many of us would actually be able to share stories if we knew a little more about each other.