There is a diagnosis that has a constant need to write as a symptom … mental illness.

Mental illness is something that happens to someone. It is an unwelcome companion. I am a victim of depression. The word “victim” carries a heavy weight. I struggle with the meaning of the words  “victim” and “depression” as I consider who I really am.

Sharing the horrors and the fears that lurk in my thoughts might be seen as something courageous. In truth, it makes me feel vulnerable. When I share my experiences, especially the darkness, when I “come out” so to speak, people perceive me differently. That can be a frightening thing. But for me it is a necessary step in my recovery.

One of the devastating effects of depression is a gradual and increasing loss of a sense of one’s own worth or value. We as human beings depend on being creative.  Creativity is displayed through everything from keeping a house clean, meeting a work deadline to creating master works of art. When I feel no desire to work or to engage in activities that I used to enjoy, something inside me starts to die. Energy that once flowed so easily just simply disappears.  Mental illness is a poison, making me lethargic and unproductive. If I don’t confront this disease head on it will become more and more overwhelming. When my ability to be creative becomes a battle I feel more worthless.

I refuse to relinquish myself to this horrible disease. I am committed to expressing myself through my own personal creativity. I have returned to my favorite hobby of photography. As you know, I have once again returned to writing. Being creative, printing stunning photos, writing my poetry, editing my book manuscript, publishing blog posts, these things are concrete examples of my own self worth.

Sharing my secrets sometimes takes me back to the top of those stairs. However, it is also proving to be cathartic. I can’t tell you that I am completely healed. I can’t tell you that I still don’t second guess my safety. I have a long, hard and sometimes rocky road ahead. I have come to accept that.  I might never be 100% recovered. I may always be on the path to recovery. But that’s okay. I have learned what works for me. Opening up, allowing myself to be vulnerable causes me to confront sights, sounds and fears as I mentally travel back to those dark places. But I know in the long run, it will be worth it. I am finally revealing the truths of all the years of dysfunction, neglect, physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse. It is the beginning of the end of living with pain and shame. I WILL wrestle control away from this disease.

I am not alone in my recovery. You are not alone. Mental disease is no more to be ashamed of than diabetes, cancer or any other malfunction of the body. We are not alone. We have lots of company, whether they admit it or not.

I truly believe recovery is possible. I’m ready to reclaim my life.

My story isn’t over …

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