This week is National Mental Health Awareness Week and in honor of the 1 in 5 Americans that suffer with a diagnosable mental illness I would just like to say “You are not alone”.
Seven years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder and today I am proud to say I am a survivor.
I would like to begin first by telling you all how grateful I am for all of the wonderful, loving people in my life that have helped me overcome my illness, and are still helping me to this day. If it were not for the unending love of my parents, my church family and some truly awesome friends, I might have become a casualty of this disease.
When I was first diagnosed bipolar at age twenty-five it seemed like an insurmountable obstacle to overcome. It has been the giant monster in my closet ever since. No one ever questions the severity of cancer, diabetes, or physical handicaps but for some reason when it comes to my personal illness others have used it as a weapon against me.
I am telling my story to help others who may be suffering from depression or other disorders that might color your entire perspective on life. I know that the simple fact that I mention my story makes me vulnerable to attack by those who may not understand what mental illness means.
To all those who may have experienced periods of extreme sadness or hopelessness, I say
Life goes on. You are valuable, you are important. Help is available.
Since I began my treatment for this disorder I have gone into remission and been able to maintain a healthy outlook and live a happy life. At one time I thought I had to be strong enough to handle everything on my own, and it was overwhelming. It was not until I discovered that my strength is perfected in weakness that I was able to find joy in my life.
I have come to realize that true strength is knowing when to ask for help, and being humble enough to accept help when it is offered. G0d has a plan and his plan is perfect, even if it does not seem so at the time. We are all human, and we are all weak.
As 2 Cor1nthians 12:9 says:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Chr1st’s power may rest on me.”