Struggle. Persevere. Hope. Challenge. Devastation. Depression. Mania. Psychosis. Belief. Move forward. Let go of the past. Focus on the small steps that move you forward on your path.
A year ago I was ask to share my story at a NAMI candlelight vigil service. Prior to that I had publicly acknowledged my struggle with bipolar disorder, but had never spoke about it in a public forum.
In the past I had spoken frequently in my profession and also for the U.S. Olympic team. But speaking about my personal challenges was an entirely new ballgame. It really challenged me to dig down and put into words a little bit about my journey.
The best part I found was how healing it could be. A few months later I was asked to join the local NAMI Board of Directors. At our first meeting they ask me to work on Community Outreach and Awareness.
Since then I have been blessed to share my story with over a thousand people. In one year I went from working in a retail store vacuuming floors and selling shoes to becoming a Director with NAMI.
In the next few weeks I will be teaching a group of college students Mental Healh First Aid. It is an opportunity to share my knowledge with a group of young people.
If you would have ask me a year ago if I could have made it this far in recovery I would have said, “I have dreams but I don’t know how to make them a reality.” Now I can tell you I know how to recover and I believe it is possible for many people who live with mental illness.
But I want you to know it takes a tremendous amount of hard work to put yourself on the recovery journey. There were days when my depression symptoms would send me to my bed for countless hours. There were medication changes and countless doctor visits to strive for symptom resolution. And….there were doubts. Doubts from people who loved me that I could do more. But a resolve inside of me that took control and refused to give up trying.
The odds were against me. The challenges steep. But I found a way to overcome all of those things.
So my message to anyone looking for hope to hang on for just one more day I would say this, “Whatever you do, do not give up trying! Believe things will get better. And when the doubts come, put them in the back of your mind and fight.”
“Never give up. Never give in. Never. Never. Never.” -Winston Churchill