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To our Families

To that end, I am going to live with this disease the way Don lived with his. Openly -- I have a mental illness. Actively -- I will answer ignorance with education. Politically-- I will meet discrimination with change. And in community -- I will support and be supported by others who share this illness with me, so that we can survive it together.

I did get to say those words on Sunday night.  

This morning I made a list of all the things you would be reading about at prozacmonologues if only I were able to read more than three paragraphs at a time.  I am tempted to feel badly, especially for all my older readers, who come here expecting to find out about the relationship between nonsense and the anterior cingulate cortex, or Wyeth's research techniques in its effort to get Abilify approved for augmentation in the treatment of major depressive disorder, or "Akathisia: Stop it or Die," or my discourse on the concept of a failed suicide attempt. 

But down, damn ant! [automatic negative thought] You, dear reader, are not reading about all those things because sedation and supervision in lieu of hospitalization is working just fine.  ["Plan?  What's a plan?  Do I have to stand up?"] So I was able to speak my piece on Sunday night, the candlelight vigil that began Mental Illness Awareness Week.

Everybody thinks I am a wonderful speaker, and they told me so and the local paper quoted me, and that was very nice.  But somebody also needs to say that it was possible, not only because God was willing, but because my spouse has turned her life upside down to take care of me right now.  She is negotiating with her workplace, she is working from home, she is attending Family to Family meetings, she represents my interests, she fights my battles, she keeps my meds, she does the dishes, she walks the dog.  She is exhausted.  And she comes home from Family to Family meetings and tells me that there are other families, too.

Mental illness is a family disease.  And when I say that we survive it together, well, family is a very big word.  Some of us become family, because we choose to be.  I am so grateful for four friends who attended that sexuality talk that didn't turn out to be quite what we thought it would be, but instead has become the germ for the Loony Review, by the Not Ready for Discharge Players!  [A potential addition to next year's program?]  We are family because we choose to be, because to not choose to be wouldn't be insane, it would simply be stupid.

But some of us are family because that's how we started out, when we didn't know what it would cost.  The members who do not have the diagnosis, boy, do they still get to have the disease!  And pay the cost.

Some of us who have the diagnosis don't have the capacity or the wit to say it.  I do.  So today I will say what they would if they could.  Thank you.  We owe you our lives. We wish it didn't have to cost you so much.  Sometimes we lie to you, or are mean to you, or even desert you.  And you aren't always right.  And sometimes you DO make it worse.  But mostly we know that we owe you our lives.  Not all of us survive.  But those of us who do, we survive it together.  Thank you.

Thank you, Helen. 

photos in public domain 


  1. Rest. Wait. Time and love and others’ hands, her selflessness will pass you through this. By bearing others’ burdens the law of Christ is manifest. (Gal. 6:2) That law is love. Let love be. Rest.


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