(Photo: Pixabay)

(Photo: Pixabay)

Mental Health Awareness Month

COLUMN: With my faith keeping me strong, I am grateful to be alive

Seventeen years after starting my journey to health, each day offers a new chance to grow

I am wanted. This warms me to the core with gratitude.

“I wanted you in your Mother’s womb,” it came to me like a whisper as I prayed in a church in Phoenix, Arizona on a retreat.

How did I go from being wanted to wanting to escape from pain and wanting to end my life at 17? I thought it was my only option. The negative thoughts felt more like shouts.

“You are not enough. Why are you here? It would be better if you were dead.”

I am grateful for that knock on the door and my mom’s question.

“Are you okay?”

“I am not okay.”

I am grateful for her hands that helped me off the floor. I slumped into her arms, my tear-stained face, pale. She handed me my purple and white snowflake pyjamas.

“Dad and I are going to take you to the hospital,” she said.

That hospital stay was the beginning of my journey to health. When I had run out of hope, I was not left alone.

I am grateful I escaped an untimely death. Seventeen more years have brought much needed healing and resilience. The love and belonging I have received – and continue to receive – from my family and friends help me to thrive.

I am grateful to bipolar disorder for re-organizing and repurposing my life. Now, instead of shrinking from pain, I reach out for help.

I am grateful for my faith and relationship with Jesus. My faith in Jesus has strengthened through all the ups and downs of a mental illness. His love for me shows up in the support and caring of my boyfriend, family, and friends.

In the morning, I look at each new day as a chance to begin again, to grow, to become. Writing about my struggles is part of the lifeblood that keeps me striving. My mental health is better when I take the time to write. Reflecting on and expressing my interior life is healing. What helps you?

The most amazing thing to come from blogging, writing, and podcasting about having bipolar disorder is that it connects me to other storytellers who also know pain and triumph. And it is so good to know you are not alone.

“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.” (Tecumseh, Shawnee Leader)

This Thanksgiving, I am grateful to be here even in all this uncertainty. I want to be alive and I still struggle. And the most important thing we need to thrive is love.

“Some scars will be carried for a lifetime,” wrote Eric Greitens in Resilience Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life. “But not everyone who’s been beaten will be broken. And usually, no matter how harsh the hardship, there is a possibility of light on the other side.”

What will you be grateful for this season?

Lisa Rumpel is a writer, speaker and mental health advocate. You can check out her podcast, The Resilient Catholic: Shining light on your journey to flourish with Mental Health, available on popular streaming services.


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