One may expect nothing good coming from completely losing one’s mind to madness, and dealing with the aftermath. I often heard the cliches about how I would be a stronger person as a result and I would learn so much through these experiences. However, looking back, those words of encouragement only spoke of the beginning of what I gained resulting from embarking on the recovery process.
I did a little bit of reflecting in my journal this evening about what I have lost and gained over the past fourteen years, since I was diagnosed with bipolar I following a psychotic break.
Here’s a small list of profound losses I experienced within the past fourteen years:
- My physical health and good looks
- My religion, which was a foundation of my life
- My spirituality
- My sense of identity
- My sharp intellect and ability to learn new things went into remission
- At a couple points, I lost my mind completely
- My ability to adequately care for myself and my environment
I still struggle hard with my physical health and my ability to adequately care for myself. However, in the past fourteen years, I’ve regained much about the other items on the list.
So, not only have I gained back most of the above list of losses, I’ve found the following:
- I’ve broken free from the institution of religion
- I’ve broken the generational cycle of madness
- I understand family and friends better
- I’ve learned who I am and what I need to explore about myself
- I’ve embarked on the road to recovery from severe verbal abuse and isolation growing up
- I’ve discovered some things never go away, such as my analytic mind
- I’ve confirmed my passion for writing
- I’ve found wisdom and a new way of seeing the world
- I can explore a rich spiritual identity and experiences
During recovery, there are seasons and there are trends. It was pitch black for many years of my life. I had therapy nearly every week for 9 months after my first episode, often focusing on the reasons why I shouldn’t commit suicide. All seasons of recovery present their challenges. Over time, the light becomes brighter, and during the seasons, this light will fluctuate.
However, just know that the deeper my pain, the deeper my loss, the more constitutive my loss… the deeper character I gain, the more I find, and the more cohesive I become as a result of these experiences. I’ve reached a point where I have become someone that is beyond my wildest dreams or imaginations, compared to fourteen years ago.
I’m at a brightly blossoming point in my road to recovery. I still have a ways to go, but I’m making progress faster than I have ever before. The truth is… those cliche encouragements did help a little bit when I took them in good faith. The darker the valley, the harder it is to climb out and the longer it takes to climb out. I had faith in myself that I could get through when I was unable to call on God for help and no one could be there for me.
One thing is always true: have faith in yourself. No matter how bad it is, you can overcome.
photo credit: Stuck in Customs Aurora Over The Valley via photopin (license)