An Open Letter to Community Members

  • Reading Carolyn's SharePost and others, I was inspired to write this blog entry in the spirit of giving positive reinforcement for the courage and strength it takes to wake up every day knowing the SZ never goes away, we can only keep it at bay. The thoughts in my head swirled around at midnight so this could seem to be a free-flow. I hope after reading it you're encouraged to be hopeful.



    Dear Friends,

    The point is not to do things well, but to do things. You fail a number of times before you actually succeed. In this way, there can be no "overnight sensations." If you work your recovery every day, you will find, without realizing exactly when it happened, that you turned a corner. Nigel Bart, founder of ArtBeat, an artists' studio, was quoted in Schizophrenia Digest: "Recovery is a choice, one you make and move forward on."

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    You deserve to recover; it is your right. Maybe you're scared of what recovery entails. It's hard work, yet it's the most rewarding work you'll ever do. There are no accidents. You recover because of the actions you take. One choice that will serve you well is to take the medication every day as prescribed. Without that in place, the possibility of real recovery is elusive.

    Yet popping pills alone isn't the cure-all. They're the gateway to a better life, and you get to dream that life. Expect a better future in a realistic way, as the NAMI Connection peer support guideline suggests. I'm not so foolish as to believe we all have the equal capacity to do what somebody else is able to do. That isn't the point. The goal is optimal mental health. If that means you need a support or service that other people don't, go right ahead and use it to your advantage.

    Get help sooner rather than later. If you get the right treatment, right away, it's possible your symptoms will go away and not return. Be brave. Admit you need help if you feel you have a problem. Even if you have 5, 10 or 20 years of recovery under your belt, each day is a new day that requires renewed vigilance.

    Sometimes it will feel like life hangs in the balance-as if one slip could change things again. In recovery, as in life, there are no guarantees. You do the best you can with what you're given.

    As I brainstormed what to blog about in here, I took inspiration from an entry in Joyful Music, my personal blog []. Skimming along, my eyes focused on the words, "Be kind to your mind." Certainly not to take meds is to hurt yourself. My current JM entry, An Accident of Hope, talked about how a patron complimented me: "You look nice today." He added, "Not that you don't always look nice, because you do."

    I thanked him, and felt good. I was wearing my eyeglasses that I've felt are ugly and his words opened my eyes to things: someone could find me attractive even though I felt otherwise. It's the GIGO syndrome: garbage in, garbage out. We accept a lot of negativity when the order of the day is self-acceptance, a kind and generous regard for ourselves and others. We don't deserve the SZ; it isn't something we chose, and yet it's on our plate. There is no shame in having recovered, and you should not be ashamed for having gotten sick.

  • Another patron told me, "God gives us only what we can carry." I have no doubt this is true. If I can turn my pain into a thing of beauty for others who suffer, I will have done my job. I feel it matters-whether I speak out or remain silent. I will not be silenced.

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    So I'm here to tell you there is hope, even in the darkest winter. You are a person of worth, equal to others in society and it is your right to take your place alongside them. A good friend of mine suggested that maybe the role I was given is to fight stigma. Fear is a powerful motivator that gets us to do or not do certain things.

    In closing, I want to leave you with a quote from one of the greats, Nelson Mandela. I printed it up and taped it to my desk so I could remind myself every day to be proud of how far I've come. It wasn't easy for me, and I understand it isn't easy for you, either. I hope you are inspired by his on-point wise words:

    "Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of god; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of god within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear our presence automatically liberates others."



Published On: January 25, 2009