Mental illness is an integral part of who we are, but it doesn’t define or limit us as human beings. Mental illness is an expression of our special exceptionality. The processes through which our cognitive and emotional systems interact creates a distinctive palette that we can use to paint the fabric of our lives. No two people with mental illness will experience it in quite the same way. My experience of bipolar disorder is unique to me and very different from how other people with this same dis-ease experience it.
Mental illness has caused great pain in my life, but it has also been a source of strength. The way my brain works is an asset that, in spite of sporadic setbacks, enriches my life. It has been a special gift that helps me thrive in complexity, appreciate diverse perspectives, creatively engage with challenges, and envision possibilities that might otherwise remain obscured. By being flexible and responsive, my mental illness has become a strong component of my mental acuity and resilience.
As an alternative to treating mental illness by evaluating and controlling it, we can also seek greater understanding and acceptance of our emotions to heal and thrive. Instead of judging ourselves and changing to meet other people’s standards, we can discover and illuminate all of the greatness within so that we can shine the beautiful, warming light of a healthy mind and heart on the world.