I have bipolar disorder (manic depressive illness) and am very open and transparent about it. It is not a character defect it is a brain illness. Yet, still society looks upon mental illness with condescension and judgment. This is wrong.
While I realize that I may not be able to change the world by writing one blog, I can try to change some of that stigma by sharing some of my own thoughts – from the perspective of someone who has a mental illness.
I have been fascinated with the sea for as long as I can remember. So much so, that at the age of 4, I proclaimed to my dad that I would be a marine biologist when I grew up. I am not sure that he remembered that moment, but my proclamation became a reality by the time I was 21.
The ocean is rich in every way imaginable, but lately; it has been the cyclical tides that have me the most captivated. What a better way to describe the shifting moods of bipolar disorder; the mental illness that I live with daily?
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Losing someone you love is hard. Maybe that’s not a profound statement but it is no less true. If you have not lived through the loss of a loved one, it’s difficult to wrap your mind around just how hard it can be.
Over the past 5 years, I have experienced loss – a lot of it. It started with the death of my dog, Hattie, then my dog, Davis, and then my cat, Riah. Some may say, rightly so, that the death of a pet is different than the death of a person. Nevertheless, it is where my journey with grief began.
I thought I knew depression, because I had experienced it most of my life. In retrospect, I can say that I had “head” knowledge but I did not truly understand what it meant to be in the grip of deep depression.
Ironically, only a few months prior, a woman in my church requested that I come visit her in her home; she was suffering from clinical depression. In retrospect, I realize that what I thought were encouraging words were likely the same empty words that have been spoken to me during my own struggles with depression. “Keep praying.” “Trust the Lord.” “He will bring you through this.” The implication was that if she just had enough faith, God would fix it. I was wrong.
It seems fitting to start this blog on the premise of honesty and transparency. Those things are, after all, what God desires from each of us. We often forget that even though God DESIRES these things from us, the reality is that He does not NEED them. He is the one that already knows us better than we know ourselves. He does not require honesty and transparency to help Him understand us, but He will do powerful things when they are at the forefront of our lives – every part.