After sharing my last post in which my goal was to shed light on the issue of mental illness not being accepted as a medical condition and the ways people pass judgement, I realized I needed to express my gratitude to everyone who reached out with compassion and encouragement. I want to use this opportunity to acknowledge the goodness that was born from a bad situation because this week so many of you showed me that love can often come from the most unexpected places. This is something worth celebrating.
You see, when I first shared my struggle with bipolar disorder I became obsessed with thoughts about all of the possible negative outcomes that MIGHT happen as a result of divulging details about something so personal. Along with that came fear and certainty that I would be judged. I have to tell you though, most of my fears have been washed away in ways I never could have imagined.
One of my biggest concerns was being judged at work. Not because of WHO I work with because they are truly incredible people, but more so because of horror stories I have read describing what has happened to others who have disclosed their diagnosis in their workplace. I carried around anxiety about being scrutinized or no longer being taken seriously.
Can I just tell you that NOT ONE person at work has made me feel ashamed. I experienced an “Aha” moment when I realized that I was actually the one who created some of that stigma in my own mind. Essentially I was the one judging the people around me by assuming the worst, but in reality I really do work with incredible people and without them I never would have made it this far. Reflecting on this I can’t believe I was ever worried about a negative reaction. Unfortunately I allowed fear to take over and ultimately failed to trust that God would work it all out for good by placing these people in my life in the first place.
So I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have shown support by reaching out through messages, stopping by my room and giving me hugs, offering to help with projects, sending love and prayers my way and most of all for not judging me. I remember nervously driving to work the day after I shared my first post, but not one person made me feel uncomfortable or treated me differently and that was awesome.
People I didn’t typically see during my day made it a point to say thank you for speaking up and encouraged me to keep going. That overwhelmed me and made me realize how truly blessed I am to have them in my life.
Then there’s my high school friends I haven’t seen or heard from in decades who contacted me out of the blue. Initially I was very apprehensive about what people who knew me as a teenager would think of me. Why I felt that way I don’t know. But seriously, those messages from old friends and classmates made my day. It never crossed my mind that I would get positive feedback from people I knew 30 years ago. It just goes to show that so many of our fears are completely unfounded and we spend so much precious time worrying about things that end up turning into something we never could have predicted and are truly wonderful.
When I started this journey I never would have imagined that strangers, especially people from different countries, would write encouraging messages and share their stories with me. It’s a perfect example of how we are all truly connected and on this adventure together. No matter who we are or where we’re from we can all help each other and relate to each other on some level which is something we should not take for granted. To me that’s a beautiful lesson.
So many of you have renewed my hope that we really can end the stigma associated with mental illness. And there’s an important lesson in this for all of us who suffer as well — that we are often judging the people around us without even realizing it by not giving others enough credit when we expect the worst or by generalizing. Thank you for opening my eyes and teaching me a valuable lesson.
We no doubt have to take care of each other regardless of the reason for our struggles. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own misery we can’t see outside of ourselves to help those in need who are falling apart right next to us. I’ll be the first to admit I am guilty of being so absorbed in my own struggles that I fail to help those around me.
I want everyone to know that your generosity and love has made a difference. My hope is that others will read this and be encouraged to make an effort to reach out to someone who may need their support — regardless of why or how they got there. Kindness absolutely matters.
Yes, someone pissed me off the other day and I was angry about it but I’m no longer holding on to that negativity because I felt the love from so many of you. That inspires me and for that I will always be grateful. I am truly blessed to have you all — my family, coworkers, and friends whether old or new — in my life. Keep spreading the love and be inspired to live like Jesus who showed us with his life what it really means to love each other.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
1 John 3:11
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.