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Mental Illness and Intersectionality

Written by: Tonya J.  Williams, B.A., J.D. 

I am African-American.

I am female.

I am gay.

I live with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Any one of these identities alone could pose challenges in our society. However, living at the intersection of all four has often left me wondering where I fit in.

It has informed questions like who I want to be friends with and who I would date. It has also informed where I have sought work and the nature of my relationships with my family.

Every aspect of my life is impacted by these four identities. At times, I have felt incredibly lonely. At others, I have had all the support I need.

Finding community isn’t always easy. It is however, very important. When one’s identity is multifaceted, it may be difficult to find community. But, there is support out there across identities and communities.

There are those who may understand because they have had a similar set of experiences, though they may not have the same identity. Building relationships around shared experiences is a way to find community where you might not otherwise see it.

Author’s note:  It has taken me years to find a group of people with whom I connected and found support.  Some of them are like me. Others are not. We all need someone to support us.

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