Eric Dugan is a Mental Health Professional, Creative Writer, Spoken Word Artist, and Social Justice Activist passionate about spreading the message of love with the power from words and action in the local community. Eric’s knowledge and beliefs were shaped from his own experiences, as well as his educational background that includes a bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Psychology with a minor in Religious studies and an additional focus in Social Justice.
Website (launching soon): powerfromwords.com
Facebook: Eric Dugan
“My Mind Is Not Ill, It Is My Ace!”
I do not know what it is like to be a Minority in America. I know what it is like to have a stigma of a mental illness diagnoses as this was one of the cards in life I was dealt. I was diagnosed Bipolar after a traumatic experience at the age of 30 that left me almost dead. I was severely mistreated by prison guards who had no idea how to deal with me. After this experience, I was told by medical professionals that I had an illness. Any medical material I read was loaded with negative labels. This type of language, along with other representations of Bipolar creates all kinds of negativity for people challenged with this diagnosis. To be told that your mind is ill can have serious damage to your self-esteem and confidence. There were too many times where I opened up about being Bipolar and received awkward stares or the conversations changed on a dime. People started to look at me as dangerous because they found out I was Bipolar.
I imagine this is what minorities are faced with every day except a striking difference is I can hide being Bipolar if I choose to do so. I do not have to wear this stigma on my sleeve. I can hide behind my white male skin. Minorities do not have this choice!
Throughout my life, I debated with people about whether everyone has the same chance to make it in America. The answer has always been a flat out no! Each of us are dealt a hand at birth much like a player in a card game. Your cards in life are made up of traits such as mental/physical abilities, race, gender, etc. You also receive cards based on your families’ economic status and the environments you are born into. The player will deal with different challenges based on the cards they receive at birth, some more than others. In a card game, the sharks know how to play these difficult hands. The Kings in life are not any different than these sharks at the table. They beat the odds and overcome the challenges they are faced.
The thing is I never told myself I have an illness and never believed I have one. I never succumbed to the negative labels placed on me. I have a unique, amazing mind that needs to be taken care of and if I do so, I can flourish. The thing that this society does not share with you is we all are dealt an Ace in that hand of life. This Ace is our power within us. The piece of us that allows us to do amazing things. The irony is that my Ace is my Bipolar mind; a mind that they call ill. My mind is highly creative, intelligent, open minded, and has powers that others will never experience. My mind is the gift given to me at birth. Because I know my mind is my Ace, I am more able to deal with the struggles that come with my mind. It is up to us to choose to dwell on the negatives that people place on us or to find the Ace within and flourish no matter the odds society gives us!
3 Questions I Asked Eric
- How has your art changed during quarantine?
I took this opportunity to take a break from my own art for the most part to re-energize and to learn. I read a few books, completed the Book Doulas Incubator Program: Birthing Your Book, and took the time for a lot of reflection. I am ready to kick it into gear in 2021!
- What should people know about Eric that they do not know?
I am in the process of creating a podcast that will touch on Religion and Racial Bias, among other things in hopes of bridging the gap of division.
- What’s your favorite way to let people know they are loved?
Show them and then, show them some more!