Taking the time to listen to my daughter empowered her to be an active part of her treatment team. She learned that she could say ‘hey, I don’t like the way I feel on this medication, can we try something else’? She learned that by explaining to her family and to her psychiatrist what she was experiencing we could all better support her in our common goal of wellness and stability.
I “came out” of the bipolar closet and publicly told my story. After 18 years of fear and shame, this was a distinct game changer. Letting go of stigma has helped me realize the magnitude of my fear since being diagnosed in 1997. After forgiving myself for managing my diagnoses of Bipolar I, my dignity has been fortified with a sense of pride, not self-loathing.
When experiencing suicidal thoughts for the first time I can recall feeling an overwhelming sense of shame, guilt and weakness. I was ashamed of myself for not bearing the strength to end such thoughts, and I felt guilty for the fact that, despite how loved and lucky I was in comparison to many, it clearly still was not enough for me.
There’s always more work to be done, more stories to share and mysteries to solve. I’m not willing to lose this weird, wonderful world to my genetic encoding and environmental influences. One brain in one-hundred works like this. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. To the contrary—wouldn’t those odds be considered unique?
In reality, it is BECAUSE of the really difficult, unimaginably painful times that the good times feel heavenly. The words that come to mind are healing . . . forgiveness . . . appreciation . . . living . . . recovery . . . growth . . . strength . . . acceptance . . . love.
If I can do my part in controlling stress and depression triggers, keeping them at a distance, or out of my life completely, by drawing a solid line between what I deem to be benign and what will definitely jeopardize my health – I’m going to do just that. It’s called survival.
BC2M has changed the minds of many in terms of mental health awareness. BC2M has changed my life. For that I thank everyone involved with BC2M. Your kindness and friendship have helped me regain some of the three self’s. I look forward to the next 5 years and what we individually and collectively will accomplish. It makes my life worth living.
I have such gratitude for the work with my former therapist. After 18 years together, I feel like there’s a computer chip in the back of my head that holds her advice and wisdom. When I’m unsure about a challenge or risk of relapse, her advice echoes through my mind. She knew me better than anyone in this world, but now we start again – that’s scary and I’m not sure if it’s going to be luck or hard work that keeps me on track. Maybe both.
Despite the fact that schizophrenia hides the truth from me just for sport, if my personal experience has taught me anything, it is this: we are all connected. Profoundly connected. We don’t have to live life alone. Ever. Desperation will tell us otherwise, but someone is always there. Volunteers, an EMT, or a trusted friend—someone will listen, someone will come. You are a gift that deserves to be cherished. Your light keeps others safe in the dark. Shine brightly, survivor. Shine brightly.