Ten years ago this week I was in a psychiatric ward because of a severe bout of mania. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, given tons of meds, and released after seven days. I returned home in a stupor, still manic, still paranoid, still hallucinating. After several weeks I snapped out of it. I woke up one morning and met reality like it was a friend who had returned from a long journey to a foreign land. Then that reality grabbed me by the hand and drug me into a months-long depression and one of the most difficult seasons of my life.
A lot has changed over the past ten years. One thing I am sure of is I am a stronger, braver, healthier person now than I was before I ever struggled with bipolar disorder. My illness and recovery have shaped me into more of me, into more of who I was created to be. Someone recently told me it was my choice to make something good out of my illness and to emerge on the other side of it in a better place. But I don't think I had a choice. It was my only option.
"And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about." --Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore