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Yesterday, while I was grieving the loss of my poetry mentor, and a great man, and friend, I wrote an essay about my recent experience with coming out of the closet.

I remembered that my friend and mentor cautioned all of us to be kind, be compassionate, because you never know when your final day will arrive.

Well, I have written many articles about the stigma associated with schizophrenia and the misunderstandings I have encountered, but I haven’t written about the acceptance or the love.

As I walked out of a poetry reading last night, I saw a poet I know on the street. She had read some of my articles. She told me I was courageous and brave.

That isn’t the half of it though. People have written to me telling me thank you, because they have experienced depression and anxiety for years and have been unable to talk about it. My opening up has allowed others to open up.

People have told me that my illness doesn’t matter, that is doesn’t change anything, that they still see me the same way. Nothing has changed.

People have told me that they love me more now that they know more about the daily battles I have to go through.

People have continued to open their hearts and homes to me.

I haven’t said it yet, but I want to say it now, people have been great.

I am lucky. I am blessed. I am welcomed. I am loved. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am a whole person walking along with others.

I have come out of the shadows, and I have found this space to be warm and comforting.

There is light, so much light.

It will take time to soak it all in.