In my late twenties, after my first stay in a psychiatric ward of a hospital, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (bipolar with psychotic features). Later, in another psychiatric facility, a psychiatrist would make notes that he believed my diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder. Years later, another psychiatrist, after having treated me for six years, would say, I wasn’t mentally ill. Two years after that, a psychiatrist would diagnose me with paranoid schizophrenia, and that diagnosis would stick.
It’s been a bumpy road. I’ve had my challenges. I could be angry and bitter at God or the universe, but I’m not. I’m happy. Life isn’t perfect, but it is interesting, it is both beautiful and terrible.
I make reading the news a part of my daily routine. The tragedies across the world, starving children, catastrophic storms, wars, along with the high and gruesome crime rate in the United States, makes me think life is ugly, terrifying, grim, but then I will see a video on Facebook or Twitter that some remarkable person made a dream come true for a child with cancer, or that someone who lost a leg in the Boston Bombing or in Iraq just climbed a mountain, ran a marathon, or learned to ski, that is when I am certain that life is beautiful.
Goodness triumphs over evil, but you have to tend to it like a garden. You have to water the inspirational, the loving, the kind, and you have to make it grow in your life and the life of others. You have to give of the best parts of yourself. You have to share the best parts of others. It must be like an avalanche of the wonderful to combat the darkness. Combating the darkness is something we can all do…I’m turning on the light for people with schizophrenia. What light can you turn on? Which room can you brighten by your stories, courage, or heart? You have a switch there, and I dare you to flip it. Come on. I’ll be the first to be warmed by the light of your individual sun.