May is Mental Health Awareness Month. And as someone who fought the debilitating symptoms of bipolar disorder for more than a decade, I’ve done a guest post for Deborah Bryan at “The Monster in your Closet.” Deb does a powerful and moving series called “For this I am Thankful,” that features bloggers sharing their personal gratitude narratives.
During the 1990s I was hospitalized more than 25 times for psychiatric reasons. In a post called “The Far Side of Sanity and Back Again: An Evolution in Thank You” I share one my earliest inpatient experiences and my eventual feelings of gratitude, not only for medicines’ ability to ultimately manage my symptoms, but also for the illness itself–its teaching me more about myself and deepening my compassion for others who are suffering. Below is an excerpt from that post:
Sometimes gratitude takes time to develop. Sometimes it’s a process.
For me, being thankful is something I’ve matured into. In me, the feeling has aged, like cheese, fine wine, a decent sourdough—pungent, rich and layered with flavor.
In fact, I fought mental illness for years before I felt anything remotely resembling gratitude—for either the illness itself or my eventual recovery. Mostly I hated it.
Actually, I lost my mind gradually, but by my late twenties, I was caught up completely in the throes of it—hospitalized twice in as many months. And as my 28th birthday approached, I gave up all pretense of sanity and simply let go. I’d white-knuckled reality for a number of months if not years, until finally my fingers slipped, and I was lost to free fall . . . .
To read more, click here.
I hope you will leave a comment both below and over at Deb’s site. Feel free to simply copy and paste your comment from one site to the other, so readers can dialog about these issues on both blogs. It’s only through this kind of sharing and discussion that we can lessen the stigma associated with mental illness. Feel free to ask me questions. I am happy to answer as best I can, even if I have to do so in additional posts.