My name is Kimmy Henderson and I am an accidental art activist.

The Bipolar Butterfly Project hopes to raise awareness and help end the stigma on mental illness by opening comfortable dialogue with public, interactive art installations.

After 6 years, 4 majors at 2 schools I struggled to find my path. Having been a lifelong doodler, I picked up a paintbrush after becoming a mama and stumbled my way into entrepreneurism when I found my niche of custom designed, hand painted stemware.

With the help of social media I went from selling at local art and wine events to shipping worldwide.

Business was booming (I was even offered the opportunity to sell at a national brand store) before I had my 1st, major manic episode.

I have Bipolar 1 and 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder(s)

Business halted .

I painted a butterfly during that 1st not-yet-diagnosed episode and later realized how well it represents not only the dual sides of Bipolar, but all mental illness. How on one side we try to show our best, most beautiful selves even when we may be crumbling on the other.

When I shared about my Bipolar Butterfly I received such an outpour and response, I decided to paint a whole series.

While painting one day, I heard a segment on NPR about violence and mental health. Many, many awful statistics but the one I could not stop obsessing over was 'the number 2 cause of death for 10-34 year olds is suicide'. SUICIDE.

I had a 10 and 13 year old (now 11 and 14) who are genetically predisposition to struggle with depression and anxiety.

I've decided that I wanted to use the Bipolar Butterfly to make a difference for their generation.

I want to make change for my children and their future friends, coworkers and families who may be touched one way or another by mental illness.

I want to give mental health a visual representation to build community and support as effectively as pink ribbons and rainbows do.

Because it doesn't matter your religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, culture, age, location or economic status; no demographic is untouched by mental illness.

This is a battle we can all fight together and it is simple to combat.

Just talking. Sharing. Opening up.

Everyone should feel completely comfortable addressing mental health and seeking help when needed .

Currently, with the pandemic, political division and civil unrest; already staggering statistics are on the rise and mental health needs spotlighted more than ever.

I hope to spread the Bipolar Butterfly Project beyond Ohio and across the US.

I dream of spreading it world wide .

If the BBP can spare one life from tragedy due to unchecked mental health it is literally priceless .

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