From the moment I stepped into a psychiatric hospital during Christmas 2008 I knew I had a very long journey ahead of me. I had no idea the additional challenges that would unfold. I couldn’t have imagined how much my life could have been turned upside down.
Untreated and under treated serious mental illness is devastating. The statistics you may read about where people are either homeless, jobless, incarcerated or some combination of all. I was one of those statistics.
My condition was so bad at one time that I didn’t leave my house for weeks. I suffered tremendously with all the painful emotions of depression and psychosis. But for good measure I had to get fired, file for bankruptcy, have my home foreclosed on and try to pick up the pieces. The shattered pieces of a once full and successful life.
One day I especially remember was going to the mailbox and getting a Medicare card in the mail. While I was grateful for healthcare benefits I was devastated that I had become disabled. Unable to work. Barely able to put my clothes on and take a shower. I was hanging on to life because I had three dogs who I dearly loved and I couldn’t fathom leaving them. The dogs saved my life.
And so as you may imagine, as I sit her reflecting on 11 years of having been officially disabled, I get to think about what it’s like to have fully recovered. What it took to get to this point. How on earth did I pull this off?
I can’t even begin to describe how I feel in this moment. Overwhelmed with gratitude? Humbled? Proud?
For those who don’t have an appreciation for how hard it is to return to work 100% after having been on disability for so long, it is pretty rare. It’s my greatest accomplishment and I’m an Olympian.
So here’s to the New Year and all of the opportunities it will bring. I can’t wait to watch how life unfolds.
#leapoffaith #hopeneverfails #ibeatbipolar
P.S. Be the first to book me in 2020 for my keynote talk “Conquering an Invisible Disability”
Happy New Year!!