FINDING THE LIGHT: The Path To Recovery From Mental Illness

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LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE

We all have a light inside of us, a light that engulfs our souls and shines through us by the grace of God. The light in us is what puts a smile on our lips and keeps us going each day. It’s a part of who we are, the special qualities that make us unique. When you become depressed or struggle with mental illness, the light becomes hidden behind a dark cloud. A person who is ill is so blinded by his or her sadness that he or she feels like the light has gone out and forgets who and what it is that makes him or her special.

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When I was depressed, I thought the person I was had died and all that was left was a dark, lonely, and hopeless shell. I thought God had abandoned me. Whatever it was that made me smile, laugh, feel joy, and made me who I am was blanketed by my deep anguish and sadness. There was no more light left in me to shine. Nothing could shine through the pitch black that encompassed my inner being. I thought it was useless to try to look for the light that once was within me. It was gone. I was gone. I was no longer myself.

I couldn’t see beyond my illness. I couldn’t even remember what it felt like to be happy. What did a smile feel like? What special qualities made me who I am? Who was I? I had nothing to look forward to but more days and nights stuck at the bottom of my hole. How could God make me a person and take away everything that made me who I am? How could he turn the light of my being out?

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Blaming God was easy. I had to have someone to blame. He gave me this sickness, didn’t he? He put the light in me and he just as easily took it away. What did I do wrong for him to punish me with total darkness?

What I later learned was that the light within me never went out. It was there the whole time. I just couldn’t see it or feel it. God never allowed it to fade. He kept it shining, because he knew in time I would find it again and it would glow brighter and stronger than before.

In my recovery process God whispered to me, “Let your light shine.”

I turned to him and asked, “How Lord? How do I let it shine when you turned it off?”

“It’s still in you. Look deep and hard and you’ll find it. Let it shine for everyone to see,” God replied.

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So I went on a search for my light. In the hospital I read the Bible, I started journaling, and I participated in therapy. I soon realized that God may not always work miracles, but he gives us tools to help ourselves. So I found those tools. I started therapy, got on medication, and prayed for guidance.

I looked deep inside me. I did some serious soul searching. I found that I was still me. I had never died. I was just hidden behind my illness. I had to look beyond my illness and find my light. How could I let my light shine beyond my illness? I listed the special qualities that made me who I am such as I’m kind hearted, I’m a good listener, I’m a fighter, I’m loving, and I’m a dreamer. So how could I let those qualities shimmer? How could I let my light shine once again?

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First, I worked on changing my negative thoughts, I asked God into my life, I began to fight my illness, and I began to rediscover myself. In time I found not only my light, but a whole new me.

If you feel as if your light has gone out, look beyond your illness and you’ll find it’s still there. Use the tools God has given you to reach recovery and let your light shine. Turn to friends and family for help. Get therapy and, if needed, take your medication. Rediscover yourself, find the positive in your life, and do something kind for yourself or for someone else. In time your light will shine brighter than ever.

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A customer left this painted stone on my register and it inspired this post.

Now that I have reached recovery, my light shines brighter. My light still sometimes gets pushed aside by my illness, but with God’s help and determination, I find it and I let it shine. Because I allow the light to shine within me, I stand within the light of recovery and within God’s light.

COULD MY CHILD INHERIT MY ILLNESS?

Many illnesses can be passed down the bloodline of a family, like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and so on. When we go to a doctor, we often have to fill out questionnaires of illness that members of our family have or had, but there is no questionnaire for mental illness. Some types of mental illness are caused by environment and can’t be passed on, while others can be inherited. An important question you might want to ask your psychiatrist before having a child is, “Can my illness be inherited?” It is something you must consider when you decide to start a family.

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I always thought I would have children someday. I thought about having a couple of children if I found the right man, but when I was diagnosed with depression, I started questioning whether or not I should have children. What if my child inherits my illness? Could I allow my own offspring to suffer like I have? Could I handle a kid who is also suffering with mental illness? Would it be selfish of me to have a child knowing he or she may struggle like I have? The questions swam in my head.

I started seeing a man who wanted children and had plans for a big family, but I had my doubts. I wanted to give him children if we were married, yet I didn’t want to pass my illness on. He thought up all kinds of possible ways we could make sure the child wouldn’t receive the gene that caused mental illness.

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I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t allow a child to suffer with a deep sadness that ate at her or his insides, feel so hopeless that he or she wants to die, suffer with an internal pain that nothing could relieve, or feel alone at the bottom of a dark hole. I also considered my ability to handle a sick child while struggling with my own illness. Could I handle the stress of being a mom to a kid who was suffering? Would I be able to help him or her through the darkest days of his or her life? I talked over these and other questions with my therapist and I decided motherhood was not for me.

My mom has felt some regret for my illness because her own mother had mental illness. She thought it was her fault I was sick. I never once blamed her or even considered it being inherited from my grandmother. It took my mom some soul searching to accept that no one was to blame for my illness. While my mom struggled with her guilt, I put myself in her shoes. What if I were the mother with a child who was deeply depressed? I probably would also struggle with guilt.

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So if you have mental illness, find out if your illness can be inherited. If it can, then ask yourself, “Do I want to pass my illness on to my child? Can I handle a child with a similar illness? Can I live with myself if my child suffers?” Discuss it with your therapist, and if you say yes to these questions, then by all means have children, but if you say no, then maybe children are not for you. This is something you cannot jump into. You have to consider it carefully.

There are also other reasons that may make being a parent difficult, like handling the stress of parenthood, postpartum depression, the status of your own illness, and your limitations due to your illness. These are all things you must think over carefully and discuss with your therapist and partner. Not everyone is strong enough to be a parent, and for those who are, I applaud you.

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I found a husband who doesn’t care if we have children or not. All he cares about is having me in his life. Sometimes I wonder what kind of mother would I have been, but I enjoy the freedom of not having children. My nieces and nephews have given me the joy a child can give you. They are the children I’ll never have, and our dog is our baby. I’m happy with my decision. My family is my husband and our dog. They keep me standing within the light.

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP

  We are all human. We make mistakes. Sometimes we get mad at ourselves over a mistake that we should have known better. It happens. We get mad at ourselves and then we let it go, but when you have mental illness you can’t just let it go. Those endless thoughts go on a rampage. They turn evil and they start ripping you apart. In the end you drive yourself into an anxiety attack, a break down, or into depression. Like they say, there is no worse critic then yourself, and this is so true. No one can beat you up internally as bad as you do to yourself.

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   I recently made a purchase on Ebay that didn’t turn out to be what I thought it was. I misread the description and ended up spending a lot of money on something I can’t use. My stomach plummeted when I realized my mistake and my shoulders tensed. My thoughts went wild. I thought: I’m such a screw up. I am so stupid: I should have known better. I can’t believe I made such a dumb mistake, I’m an idiot. I can’t do anything right. I wasted our money; I’m such a brainless wonder. My thoughts went on and on.

  I watched a movie with a friend, but my mind kept obsessing on my mistake. Internally I beat myself up, over and over again. I felt my stomach twist and my anxiety build. My shoulders tightened and began to ache. I struggled to sit still. I couldn’t just let it go. I felt like my mistake defined me and my ability to make logical decisions. I hated myself for a simple human error. To me it was more than a mistake. It was a definition of my lack of intelligence. I was stupid. I should have known better and made a better decision.

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   I told my husband, “I’m sorry; I screwed everything up and wasted our money. I’m a stupid loser.”

   My husband looked me in the eyes. “I don’t ever want to hear you call yourself stupid and it was just a mistake. We all make mistakes. Contact the seller and see if you can return it. Everyone makes mistakes.”

   I still felt sick to my stomach. “It was a stupid mistake. I should have been smarter. I shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions or buy things. I screw everything up.”

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   Lou put his arm around me. “You only made a simple mistake. You’re human. We all make mistakes and you don’t screw everything up. Let it go. Stop putting yourself down or you’ll get sick. Focus on something positive.”

   When I sat down to think about it, I realized Lou was right. I made an error just like every human on this earth does from time to time. My mistake doesn’t define me or is not a sign of my lack of intelligence. Beating myself up over it was only making me sick, on edge; and sad. It wasn’t solving anything. The only person I was hurting was myself. So I contacted the seller about my mistake and he refunded my money. I decided to just let my mistake roll off my shoulders.

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   Instead of beating myself up, I decided to list all the things I have done in my life. Like publishing stories, making the honor roll in high school, making the National Honor Society is high school, keeping a job for 22 years, keeping track of our checking; and so on. I looked at my list and asked myself, “Is this a sign of someone who is stupid? Does a dumb person accomplish so much?” My answer was, “No, this is what a smart person accomplishes.”

   If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself up and obsess over it. Tell yourself you are only human and like every other human you’re not perfect. Stop those nasty thoughts before they tear you apart. Fight them with positives. Get mad at yourself for a few minutes and then let it go. Sometimes it’s not easy to let go, but do it for your own wellbeing. You’ll feel better when you do.

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   I’m working on handling my mistakes better. Learning to stop beating up on myself will allow my soul to dance within the light.

YOU CAN DENY IT ALL YOU WANT

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  Today I have a guess blog post. My guess blogger is Bejon W. Frank. I hope you enjoy her post and leave a comment to let her know what you think or a like.

   Thoughts from a mind that is full of menacing voices can be damaging to your soul. There is the monster that tells you that you are stupid, you can’t do this or that, or worse yet that damn voice asks that one questions which stops you in your tracks, “who do you think you are that you would even deserve to breathe in this world?” Then the dark laughter vibrates through your entire being.

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You can deny it all you want, but these thoughts can bring you to your knees. You find yourself in a fetal position in your bed, tears pouring out your eyes, nose leaking snot, with the top sheet covering your head, as if that would somehow shield you from those demon thoughts that refuse to just shut the hell up.

In desperation you silently scream out, “God help me. Why did you make such an unworthy slug like me? Are you laughing at this joke of a person?” You finally fall into a deep, restless sleep. It’s an uneasy reprieve from reality.

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Hours later you wake up. There is lightness in the atmosphere that you can feel even if it doesn’t make sense. Lying in bed, afraid to break this fragile feeling of sparkling energy, you test the emotions covering you like a soft, warm blanket. Stretching your legs out, the movement doesn’t break the spell. Still in fear of losing this moment you close your eyes. Try to go back to sleep.

   That is when you hear the voice. But there is a difference. This is a deep rich tone, but not one that seems to come from the dark damp caverns of doubt, fear, and insecurities. The voice reaches into your soul, lifts you up, and allows you to believe in yourself. Do you dare? “Are you God you ask?”

The beautiful baritone voice ignores that question by simply stating, “I will not let you fall. You have the potential to be whatever you want to be, I will be by your side, as will your guardians and guides.”

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Your breath catches in your chest, eyes open. Throwing back the covers, you sit up and look around. Does the room look a little brighter? You wait to hear the monster voice—it is silent. Your heart beats a bit faster and somehow you know you have connected with the Source of Life. You realize you are not alone and drowning in misery.

Miracles happen throughout your day, all the little ones that you have previously missed. You now hear the birds sing, notice the trees outside your windows with leaves waving in the gentle breeze. The thoughts that once were mudded with negativity are now shining with possibilities.

Yes, you can deny it all you want. But when you receive unexpected money in the mail, your physical and mental pains have miraculously stopped hurting, your inner voices give you positive input about, well, about everything, you know there is magic in this world, that there is hope. All you need to do is dream. From those dreams comes reality.

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       Bejon W. Frank is an award-winning writer. She majored in Humanities at Northern Arizona University. At that time she was inducted to the Golden Key International Honor Society. She is a member of Pennwriters – Area 1. Bejon has won several writing contests with her fictional short stories. She won an award at the 2017 Pennwriters Conference for her non-fiction article. Currently, she is working on her first novel. She lived the majority of her life in Arizona but now resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, Chris, and their rescue dog, Jake, a Beagle/Lab mix who thinks he is a lap dog.

DEDICATION TO UNCLE RICH

  When you get married, you are inducted into your spouse’s family, like it or not. Some people dread the family they marry into. Some of the lucky ones love their spouses’ families and are happy to be a part of them. I am one of the lucky ones. I married into a wonderful family. They have filled some holes in my life made by distances in my own extended family. They gave me acceptance, kindness, love, and so much more.

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   I never met my husband’s parents, but I met his Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich, two people my husband loved like they were his own parents. They became my aunt and uncle and much more. When Lou and I started dating, I talked to Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich on the phone. They lived in Georgia, so I didn’t meet them until the day of our rehearsal. Uncle Rich was a grooms man in our wedding. They arrived at the church for our rehearsal and Lou introduced me. They took me into their arms and welcomed me into the family.

   The first time we flew to Georgia to spend a week with Aunt Fay and Uncle Rich I was both excited and nervous. I feared that after spending a week with me they might not like me. I feared they would think Lou made a mistake by marrying a person with mental illness, yet I was excited to get to know them. They opened their arms to me as soon as we got off the plane. They hugged me and welcomed me like I was a long distance family member they hadn’t seen in a while.

   I had a tremor that seemed to be getting worse and problems remembering the simplest things. Uncle Rich noticed my tremor right away. He was a psychologist and worked with many who suffered with mental illness. He began to ask me questions as if were one of his patients. He asked about my illness, my medications, dosages, and diagnosis. I answered his questions and then showed him the medications I was on.

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   He looked at me. “You’re having side effects from being on your medications for such a long time. You need to talk to your psychiatrist and get your medication adjusted or changed.”

   Uncle Rich was right. I told my psychiatrist and got on new medication. The tremors stopped and I regained my memory. Uncle Rich did more than just diagnosis my tremors he took interest in me as a person. He wanted to know about my family, my job, my writing, and much more. He cared about me and accepted me for who I am. When we returned home, he called me and told us him and Aunt Fay were reimbursing us for our plane tickets.

   Even though we lived miles apart from Uncle Rich and Aunt Fay, we kept in contact with them by phone and visited them when we could. Uncle Rich always answered the phone. He asked how Lou and I were doing and what was happening in our lives. If we told him our washer died and we were saving for another one, he’d ask, “How much does one cost?” A few days later we would get a check in the mail for the amount. When we offered to pay him back, he would tell us it was a gift. When we visited Uncle Rich and Aunt Fay, they spoiled us. We saved money for the trip, but they would only let us pay for souvenirs.

   Uncle Rich was a kind, intelligent, strong, and loving man. I adored him. He showed more interest in me and my life than my own uncles. He became not just my husband’s uncle, but also my uncle. He helped us out when he could in many different ways. He gave without asking for anything in return. He filled holes in my soul which my own uncles couldn’t fill. He accepted me despite my illness and follies. He loved me like I had always been his niece.

   When I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder, Uncle Rich sent me a relaxation tape he made for his clients. At night when I couldn’t calm my worries, I listened to Uncle Rich’s voice guide me into relaxation. As I gained control over my worries I needed the tape less and less. Now I pull it out to just hear his voice.

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   Uncle Rich passed away September 8, leaving Lou and I deeply saddened. I have fallen into a mild depression from my grief. We have lost a wonderful man and our lives will never be the same without him. He will always remain in our hearts and souls. He made an everlasting impression on our lives. He helped us in so many ways we could have never thanked him enough.

   Uncle Rich was a blessing from God, and now he is in heaven looking down over us. He made a big impact in my life and helped me with my mental illness. Thank you, God, for allowing me to have him in my life for a short ten years.

   My depression will pass, but Uncle Rich’s mark on my life will never fade. Writing this, as well as practicing other coping techniques, will help me through my grief. In time I will once again stand in the light.

FINDING LOVE WHILE REACHING RECOVERY

   This week my husband and I are spending time with family so I’m posting one of my old, but favorite post. Enjoy!

  After several failed relationships, I gave up on true love. The last one was the hardest. He handled my mental illness badly and was abusive. When I had an emotional episode he physically held me down. He caused my illness to worsen. My other ex-boyfriends were not abusive, but also couldn’t understand or deal with my illness. I gave up on love. I figured no man could ever cope with my illness or understand it. I believed I would spend my life alone.

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   When I broke up with my abusive ex, I gave up on men for three years. I lost faith in ever finding the right man. A friend from work began pressuring me to meet a man named Lou who was renting a room from her. I was still struggling with bouts of depression and finding peace with the abusive relationship I was last in, so I resisted.

   My therapist was excited about the idea of me dating again. “Go on one date and if it doesn’t work, then you’ll never have to see him again,” she said. A friend also encouraged me to give him a try. So I told my friend at work I would meet Lou. My friend gave me his phone number and told me she would make us a dinner for our first date.

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   I talked to Lou on the phone for hours and he showed up to my work the day before our date. He had a long beard and I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I promised myself one date and that would be it. I went on that date and he had shaved the beard off. He was handsome. During our first date he promised me he would take care of me, treat me like a woman, and he would never turn his back on me. I was skeptical, but I agreed to a second date.

   Before I knew it, we were seeing each other regularly. When we started to get serious, I decided to tell him about my mental illness. I was prepared for him to turn his back on me, but he didn’t. He told me he would do what he needed to help me continue to reach recovery. So we started couple therapy. He dedicated himself to help me through whatever I had to face.

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   As we continued to become more serious, the bouts of depression began to disappear. One day I left work crying and I went to Lou’s place. Lou held me for hours until I calmed down. It was then I knew Lou could handle my illness and I would never be alone again. Within six months Lou proposed and a year and half afterwards we were married. With Lou’s help I reached recovery.

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   Almost 13 years later and 10 years of marriage, Lou continues to be at my side, pulling me out of rough times, reminding me to be positive and supporting me no matter what. Lou taught me I could be loved and understood despite my illness. Lou continues to keep his promises he made to me on our first date and he continues to help me dance within the light.

LIFE STORY

  Humans are talented. Most of us have many creative talents. Some can sew, some can paint, some can knit, some can quilt, and some can write. These talents can be used to help relieve symptoms of mental illness. You can also use your talents to help spread the word about mental illness, and, in the case of writing, you can tell the world your story, you can encourage others, inspire others, and teach others.

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   I find it helpful to show how telling your story can reach others and also heal your inner pain. If you are not a writer, find other ways to share your stories, like drawing, but it’s important to show the world what mental illness is about: We are humans who happen to have an illness of the mind.

   This weekend was my writers’ group picnic. We were given words to create a short story, an essay, or a poem. Below is what I wrote.

   My life story is concealed in the words I place upon paper. I unfold my deepest secrets in a memoir of my life. I reveal the pain that to this day tears at my insides. With each word I erase my inner anguish and soak in the release of the past. My soul finally begins to mend, and the remaining sores begin to heal.

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   I write about the crumble of my inner being. I hang my soul out for others to see. Some memories come in spurts and fragments. I take those spurts and fragments of my past and staple them together. With each memory, I burn bridges I once feared to cross. With words flowing from my pen, I flip my past into a story of strength, love, acceptance, and determination to overcome life’s struggles.

   I have shredded my buried pain and turned it into doodles of courage and strength. I write to reveal, touch, and encourage. I share my story, I open my life up on paper to reach out and touch others, to teach others, and to give my readers strength. To the world I give a message within the words I place on paper, a true story of my life I share with all.

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   If you have the talent to write, consider writing about your experiences with mental illness in a memoir, a story, an essay, or a blog. Don’t write just to inspire others, but also write to release your buried pain and inner anguish. Write to heal your wounded soul and release it from the burdens it has been carrying for years.

   You don’t have to write a memoir. You can even write a fictional story about mental illness. You’ve been through the illness so you’re more than qualified to use what you know to create fictional characters who suffer. It’s not easy to write your own story, but you can use your real story to help create a novel or short story. Many writers are taught, “Write what you know.” So use what you know to write a fictional piece of work.

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   So no matter how you do it, fiction, memoir, essay, or in a blog post reach out to the world and educate them about mental illness, inspire others to reach for recovery and encourage others to ask for help. Burn those bridges that you have been too afraid to pass, allow those wounds to close,, and shout your story out to the world.

   If you can’t write then use your other talents to spread the word that we are like everyone else; we just suffer with an illness. Use your talents to help others who struggle and educate those who don’t understand.

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   I’m writing a memoir about my downfall into mental illness. Through the process of writing this I have cried, I have gotten angry, and most importantly I have released pain that has harbored in my soul for years. I find writing my memoir healing, and since I have been able to mend past pain, I find myself enjoying the light even more.

REACH FOR YOUR DREAMS

 We all have dreams.  Sometimes our dreams take us on different paths in our lives and sometimes it takes time to reach our dreams. It’s up to us to make our dreams come true. Too often obstacles get in the way of making our dreams come true. Obstacles like mental illness. Mental illness can be debilitating and you lose sight of your dreams. You can feel that your dreams are just a hopeless cause so you give up on them.

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   In high school I strived for high grades. I had to prove I wasn’t stupid because I had a learning disability. I dreamed of going to college and becoming a journalist. When I graduated from school I started at Jamestown Community College. While at college, I fell to the bottom of my dark hole. I couldn’t keep my food down, I couldn’t sleep, I was injuring, and I became suicidal. I tried hard to keep going to classes, but my depression increased. It made it almost impossible to continue going to college. So I took time off and started working at a grocery store.

   I felt like a failure. My mental illness got in the way of my dream. I was too sick to finish college and become a journalist. There was no way I could ever become well enough to go back to college and get my degree. My sadness seemed endless, but I vowed I was only taking a year off from college. So how would I ever get well enough to finish college?

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   It was my determination that drove me towards recovery from my mental illness. I had a dream and I refused to allow my illness to stop me from making it come true. I struggled to fight my illness and in a year I returned to college part time. With my learning disability and illness, I needed a lighter schedule. It took me four years to complete a two year college, but I did it. I received my degree and made my dream come true. I continued to work at the grocery store and write.

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   Since I was little, I lived in my fantasies. I told stories to my younger sister and by high school I started writing my day dreams down. When some teachers told me I was a talented writer, I began to dream of having my own novel published. I had short stories and newspaper stories published, but books are a bigger challenge. I attempted to write novel length manuscripts, but I found myself giving up. I didn’t believe I could do it. I told my family they would have to just accept I could not write anything but short pieces.

   For a time I stopped writing. I lost faith in myself and in my dream. I struggled with my self-esteem. My self-doubt and negativity overrode my dream to publish a book. Instead of fighting for my dream, I gave up on it and on myself. I sank deep into the depth of my hole and found it impossible to see beyond it.

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   I kept making excuses why I couldn’t write a book. I’m learning disabled and I can’t edit very well. I don’t have what it takes to write long pieces. I was meant to write short stories. I can’t come up with enough ideas to fill a novel and I kept making excuses.

   In therapy I started working on my self-esteem. In the process I found a new confidence in my writing. I decided to turn a column I wrote about growing up around the family garage into a memoir. I decided to push past my self-doubt and fight for my dream. Now I am almost done writing the first draft of my manuscript. I’m going to fight to make my dream come true.

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   Don’t let your illness get in the way of your dreams. Find a way to make them come true. Look at your mental illness as an obstacle you have to work around. You and only you can make your dreams come true. Don’t let anything stand in your way.

   Don’t be disappointed if your dream doesn’t happen exactly the way you planned. I didn’t become a journalist, yet I’m still writing. It’s taken me years to write a book, but I’m doing it. I didn’t go to a four year college, yet I have an associate’s degree. My dreams took different paths, but yet I made and am making them come true.

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   I write a blog post weekly and I’m striving to finish my memoir. I’m not going to let anything get in the way of my dreams. There will be no challenge I can’t find a way around. I’m determined to make my dreams come true, no matter what, and this helps me stand in the light.

FOCUS ON TODAY

  We rush about life pushing for better and happier futures. We wonder where our lives will be in a year or in a few years. People who suffer with anxiety worry about the future constantly. It haunts them. It can ruin their day and eat at their insides. It can suffocate them. They forget to live for today. They are too busy worrying about the worst scenarios for tomorrow and so on. It becomes impossible to see the good in the present.

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   I often worry about the next day, the next month, or even further ahead. Lou and I don’t have children. Most of my nieces and nephews live far away. My younger sister lives in North Carolina and my brother in Tennessee. My older sister and parents live the closet to me. I worry what will happen when Lou and I get old and need extra help. Who will help us if everyone is far away and we have no children? Who will help me out when Lou passes? Will I be alone in a group home or nursing home?

   I fear without Lou I will be unable to live on my own. If that’s the case, who will take me in and help me out? Will I end up all alone? My older sister is overworked in their family barn. My one nephew who lives close by works long hours. These worries causes anxiety attacks and fear that rips at my soul. My husband tells me not to think about the future because only God knows what will happen. I can’t help, but wonder about what is ahead of me, yet it only heightens my anguish.

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   A day or two before Lou and I get paid, I start up with that worrying thing. What if we don’t have enough money to pay our bills? What if we can’t afford groceries this week? What if we don’t have enough money to make it through the week? What will we do? Lou always tells me things will work out and in the end they do.

   I often forget to live for today. I try to predict my own future and what I predict is never good. My mind races ahead of me. I forget to focus on the present and this causes inner pain, fear, and sleeplessness. Even when my friend lost her husband, I found myself putting myself in her shoes. I started thinking about what if Lou dies. How would I deal with it? I could see myself being admitted into a mental health ward or being carried away from his casket. I decided I couldn’t live without him and I would just give up living.

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   Lou said, “Don’t worry about the future. Who knows what will happen? Worry about today, not tomorrow.”

   He’s right as usual. When I mulled over his words, I realized part of handling my anxiety is to stop worrying about what hasn’t come. I need to focus on one day at a time. Imagining the future only causes me more anxiety, sadness, and sleeplessness. I need to focus on today and let God handle the future.

   Today I have a wonderful and loving husband. Today I have a good job with customers I enjoy seeing. Today I have a dog who greets me with excitement. Today I have wonderful friends who care about me. Today I am happy and strong. Today is all that matters. I must live for today and focus on the good and face the bad one day at a time. I have to leave what the future holds for me in God’s hands. Only he knows what is to come. I must have faith he’ll work everything out for me when the time becomes necessary.

Live-for-Today

   My advice to you is stop looking, worrying, and fearing tomorrow. Take each day as it is and focus on the good within it and face the bad as it comes. Let go of your worries for the future and focus on today. Today is the day you’re going to take the first steps to recovery, toady is the day you will take control of your life, today is the day you will find happiness, and today is your day. Focus on it and live for it. Let God take care of tomorrow and the days ahead. Focus on living for now. Life is too short. Don’t rush; just live for the moment.

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   I’m working on putting my worries about the future behind me. I’m taking the time to look at the day I’m in and focusing on it as it is. It’s not easy to do. Each time I start to think about what will happen, I remind myself of the moment I am in. Since I’m willing to work on focusing on the present, I bathe in the light.

HAPPY PILLS

   Antidepressants are very important to a person suffering with mental illness, but many
think they are a joke. How many times have you heard someone call them happy pills?
Have you heard comments like these?
     “Uh oh, someone’s in a bad mood. Did you forget to take your happy pills?”
     “Hey, you’re acting silly; can I take some of your happy pills?”
     “I gotta take my happy pills to make me as funny as you.”
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     Antidepressants are more than just pills that make a person elated. They work by
balancing chemicals in your brain that affect your moods. They help you think better,
help control your moods, help with your appetite, and help with sleep. You can find this
information and more at WebMD http://www.webmd.com/depression/features/
antidepressant-effects#1. They are very vital to a person’s climb to the top of the hole.
They help a person with mental illness stabilize his or her moods so he or she can
function and reach recovery. Antidepressants can be as vital as water to a struggling
person.
    
    Without my medication, I would be a wreck. Off my medication I would drop down to
the bottom of the hole. One time when I was going through a medication change, I fell
deep into depression: I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t keep food down, and I felt like my world
was crashing down on me. I lost my will to live. Once I found an antidepressant that
worked for me, my mood lifted, I could eat and I could sleep through the night.
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    That so-called happy pill was and is my lifeline. It keeps me going each and every day.
It helps keep my anxiety attacks under control, it helps calm me so I can sleep through
the night, and it helps keep my moods from falling into pure darkness. It helps me stand
tall and take control over my illness.
     Before I got on antidepressants, my mental illness seemed to control me. My
wandering thoughts and anxiety made me tense at night. I’d roll around in bed, but I
couldn’t relax enough to sleep. My emotions flooded me like a waterfall. I cried easily, I
felt a deep sadness suffocating my soul, and I went into emotional episodes. I felt like I
was out of control. Once I got on medication, the pills helped me regain control over my
illness so I could work on my thought process and behavior. They helped me feel like I
could rise up out of the hole.
 
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    Antidepressants and other medications that help with mental illness are not just pills
that suddenly make you happy. They control your moods so you can go through therapy
and work on yourself and the bad habits you got caught up in like negative thinking,
blocking the positive, and out of control behavior.
 
    See, medication doesn’t automatically make you happy. It helps stabilize you so you
can also work on yourself. While sick you develop bad thought patterns and behaviors
—things that medication alone cannot fix, but without medication you can’t find the
strength to see the light ahead of you. It takes medication and therapy to find happiness.
Antidepressants are a major factor in finding the right path to recovery and staying in
recovery.
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     The next time you tease someone about taking a happy pill, think. Think about how
much they mean to a person struggling with mental illness. Remind yourself they are
pills that are as important as heart medicine. They don’t automatically make a person
smile and jump for joy, but they help a sick person find the strength to climb out of the
hole. They are the rope thrown down into the darkness to make the climb up easier.
     If you have mental illness, don’t expect medication to automatically cure you. You
don’t just pop one in your mouth and suddenly you’re flying high. You also have to go to
therapy and do some work. It’s not an automatic happy. View them as a big step towards
recovery and a chance to find happiness.
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     I take my antidepressants daily.  These so-called happy pills, along with coping
techniques, help me live a normal life and stand within the light