Mental Health Champions: Why & How Amanda Young of the Sunshine and Rainbows Podcast Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness
Establish a routine: for someone with bipolar, routines are essential to my wellbeing and keeping my manic/depressive episodes fewer. When my routine gets thrown off or I’m unable to control my surroundings within reason, I without a doubt am at risk of slipping into a depressive state.
As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Amanda Young.
Amanda Young is a Mental Health Advocate, Author and Podcast Host whose personal mission is to help eliminate the stigma of brain illnesses by educating people on what depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress and bipolar actually are. She starts important conversations on her social media platforms and podcast by encouraging others to speak up and seek help. Amanda is a firm believer that her brain health conditions and her unique voice are her superpowers. The ability to feel in extremes gives her empathy not everyone has — allowing her to continue helping others find their voice.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Of course!! My name is Amanda Young and I’m a 29-year-old woman who grew up in Texas, but now lives in the sunny state of Florida!
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
Yes! Mental health and wellness is incredibly important to me, because the moment I started listening to my own body it saved my life. My hope is that by sharing my diagnosis story through my platform I can spread acceptance and understanding to others that might be battling inside their own minds like I was. The more we talk about mental
illness, the less stigmatized and lonely it becomes.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
To be honest, my own bravery in advocating for my spiraling health. I was struggling mentally and felt completely out of control in my life, not to mention I felt like I wasn’t being heard by the doctors I saw… It was so discouraging, and I felt the most alone I ever had. After finally getting my correct Bipolar 2 diagnosis, I knew immediately that I never wanted someone else to feel the way I did. Mental health is health, so we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about the way our brains work. I promised that I would always use my voice to speak out and up for others that needed it most within the mental health community.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I have always had the serial entrepreneur mindset, hence all the activities I’m constantly juggling. For me, starting this brand was purely because of the support and encouragement given to me by friends, family and my growing community. I distinctly remember a sweet friend telling me “Amanda, you have a voice. Use it wisely and people will listen.”
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Since being so vocal about mental health advocacy and acceptance, I have found such an incredible community that’s opened their arms to my bold and colorful nature. The bipolar community is one that’s full of some of the strongest, bravest and most resilient individuals I’ve met. I was recently honored to have my story featured on The International Bipolar Foundation’s website and collaborated with The National Alliance on Mental Illness during an Instagram live to celebrate World Bipolar Day. By using my voice, it’s opened doors I never dreamed were possible.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Wow, isn’t that the truth. In my late twenties I learned the importance of an inner circle; friends who do more than support and love you, but challenge and hold you accountable. I am so fortunate to have a few fierce individuals in my life who are truly my rock when I need them most; they lift me up when I’m struggling and encourage me to keep dreaming. I also couldn’t do any of this without the constant support from my husband. We’ve been together for
almost a decade and he’s seen, loved and accepted every single version of me while I grew to who I am today. I truly wish everyone in the world can find their Kev like I did.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
That. That is what consistently blows my mind when talking to people about mental health… As someone who is living with Bipolar Disorder, I am constantly met with “oh wow, you’re not what I expected a Bipolar person would be” or “but I’ve never seen you snap” and my favorite “oh, but you’re always going to take your meds, right?” I think alot of the misconceptions, stigmas and stereotypes are harshly perpetuated by the media today. When I first got my diagnosis, my mind instantly went to Brittney 2009 era or even Kanye in the news recently. We have to remember that mental health disorders and illnesses are spectrums — just as social stereotypes are harmful, so are ones pertaining to mental health.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
I don’t think we can have the conversation around mental health without bringing up intersectionality and inclusivity. It’s a privilege to have access, resources and education in order to begin a treatment plan, let alone proper insurance and funds to pay for pricey medications. I currently have 5 different disorders that require a cocktail of medication costing over $300 a month WITH insurance covering most of that… and we’re not even talking about my therapy bill (which is essential to my health) or a gym membership to keep me active.
There needs to be more education in highschool and college about the signs of mental health disorders and when someone might be struggling within their own mind. We should be having conversations with our kids and families about mental health and be encouraging, understanding and loving just like we would be if someone broke their arm. While you might not see any outward signs of a disorder, the mind could be a battlefield silently.
What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Establish a routine: for someone with bipolar, routines are essential to my wellbeing and keeping my manic/depressive episodes fewer. When my routine gets thrown off or I’m unable to control my surroundings within reason, I without a doubt am at risk of slipping into a depressive state.
- Go to sleep on the same day you woke up: again, a huge thing with being bipolar is sleep regulation. If I wake up on monday morning, I need to go to bed again monday night before 12a. By keeping my sleep patterns regular, I’m able to let my brain and body fall into a natural routine — it is a key thing for my health.
- Give myself grace: with having bipolar disorder, even though I can try my hardest to stay in a stable state, there are moments I can swing into a manic phase or depressive episode. During the moments when I can feel either creeping closer, I remember to give myself and my body grace. Clearly, my body is trying to tell me something, so I try to listen. If I spend too much in a manic phase, I keep my receipts and am not ashamed to return things once it’s passed. If I’ve lost touch with friends during a depressive episode, I humbly reach back out to establish contact and explain why I was so distant. By giving myself grace, I’ve learned to love my mind and body for how strong it is by consistently protecting me.
- Schedule self care: routines are my thing — you’ve caught that, right? When I feel like a depressive phase is coming close, I’ll help future me by writing little love notes to my mind. I’ll also write in my planner reminders to brush my teeth, take a shower, eat lunch etc to make sure I’m still taking care of myself.
- Speak it outloud: finally, I share what’s going on inside my brain. While it might be scary to open up about an intrusive thought, the moment I speak it outloud the fear loses its grip on me. By sharing with trusted friends, loved ones and family, I’m able to help myself by learning I’m not alone and have people who love me.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
So your girl is a HUGE true crime podcast fan and fantasy romance book reader.. While those might seem counterintuitive to mental health, they help calm my mind and bring me to a place where there’s zero expectations other than existing and consuming the content someone is passionate about.
Books within the mental health and self help sphere that changed my life are: Untamed by Glennon Doyle, I Am Here by Ashley LeMieux and Built to Belong by Natalie Frank.
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Your voice matters and deserves to be heard. Speak up and out about the things you’re passionate about and you will see the fruits of your labor. The world needs champions in all areas — we’re all just waiting for you to step into your true potential.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me everywhere online at @that_manda_girl and my website thatmandagirl.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Mental Health Champions: Why & How Amanda Young of the Sunshine and Rainbows Podcast Is Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.