Senator Toomey, Do Your Job!

#KillTheAHCA #DontKillMe

TW: Suicide

In front of Senator Toomey’s office in Pittsburgh, PA with my fellow advocates, activists, and allies demanding to be heard, demanding health care, and refusing to give up!

Health care is a human right!

Transcribed speech:

This is why I am alive today (holding a plastic bag full of psychiatric medication).

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 17 years old. And I was so ashamed of the illness, I was silenced by stigma, and I felt completely hopeless.

The life I had envisioned before the label seemingly disappeared. Honestly it was hard to imagine even having a future.

When you live with a mental illness, you often have a relationship with suicide.

According to the CDC, each year more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind thousands of friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of their loss. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause of death among young people aged 10–24. And that statistic is increasing!*

But thankfully I’ve always had health insurance and the fact I can see a psychiatrist, a therapist, and afford life-saving medications has given me a future. With treatment and medication that empower me to manage my illness, I live with bipolar disorder, but it is not my life.

I am not just mentally ill. I am a doctor, a professor, a leader in the disability community, and an author who has reached thousands of readers writing about my experiences with bipolar disorder. Because mental illness is a universal issue.

Without health care I would have undeniably lost my life to suicide. But I take care of myself, I take these meds, and I have HOPE that I will have a successful future.

That is, unless I am denied affordable health care because I am a pre-existing condition.

Health care is a human right.

Senator Toomey, kill the AHCA, don’t kill me!

If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800–273-TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.

*National Alliance on Mental Illness

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