Chato Stewart likes to turn cartwheels. For someone who weighs 350-plus pounds, that’s quite a feat. But for Stewart, kicking up his heels means something more – it’s a reminder of how he’s learned to cope with the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. He explains on his blog, “Mental Health Humor”: “Hey, if I can at [the] age of 41 and weighing in at 353 pounds still do a cartwheel, then there is no reason for me not to be able to balance my negative emotions, too.”
That’s not the only way Stewart copes with his illness – he draws about it, too. With characters like bi-polar bears (think icebergs and igloos), OCD dogs and M&Ms with dyslexia, his cartoons – which he features on his blog — poke fun at everything from agoraphobia to Zoloft. “I always found some safety in humor,” Stewart says. “Growing up I learned it could be a real nice way to defend and to bounce off some of the negativity I was always receiving from being the oddball-type child.”
Now, he uses that humor as a tool to help others. “We’re told this is a serious illness and we shouldn’t be looking for humor,” he says. “We’re drained of any kind of humor. We can’t laugh at it – it balks the system. What I’m trying to do … is just making it OK to laugh.”
That’s why Sharecare recently named Stewart one of its Top 10 Influencers for Depression. Check out our infographic to learn more about him and the other influencers. For a video of Chato doing his famous cartwheel, visit his blog at PsychCentral.com.
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