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Stories of Recovery, Voices of Hope

As part of our Countdown to Recovery year-end campaign, we asked you to submit stories of your experiences to help let others know that there is hope, that recovery is an attainable goal for many. Throughout the upcoming months we will publish new stories in each e-Advocate to help inspire courage in individuals and families impacted by mental illness.

Today, Tomorrow and Forever…

By Chelsea Strangeway

Most people wouldn’t guess by looking at me that I live with a severe mental illness, when in fact, I live with bipolar disorder. A lot of people don’t understand the struggles I have gone through, and still sometimes go through on a daily basis with my illness.

Every day is a little battle I have to conquer; I have to decide on how I want to live my life. I try to stand tall and make each and everyday the best I possibly can, but some days I just can’t seem to do that, and it makes me feel hopeless. I just have to keep reminding myself, that yes, I will live with this illness for the rest of my life, but today I’m going to live above it.

It’s easy to give up on yourself when living with a mental illness because of the stigma, the rejection, and the pain that comes along with not knowing what tomorrow is going to be like. I want to raise awareness and share my story so that people with mental illnesses, and people without, know that it’s okay to give yourself a chance in life.

I believe that to be successful in life while living with a mental illness you must try to accept the fact that you are ill, and it’s something you will have to live with for the rest of your life.  Although I live and sometimes still struggle with my illness, I try to remember to say a quote everyday, one I wrote for myself after I was diagnosed. “I am a strong and beautiful woman, and with my strength I can overcome all obstacles life has to offer me.” This quote has brought light to my eyes on gloomy days, when I thought there would be no hope, when I thought that just maybe death would be better than life. I realize then that this is true; I can overcome this obstacle, even if it takes a little bit of time.

Often times it’s hard to share a story, because of the stigma that comes along with mental illness. But I find it lifting to be able to share my story, regardless of what other people might say, because I want people living with a mental illness, or people who have mental illnesses in their families to know that, it is okay to talk about them openly, not everyone will reject you, most often then not, people will see how courageous you are for sharing your story.

Today, tomorrow, and forever, I will have a mental illness. I will not though, let my mental illness be who I am; I will show it who’s boss and take over my life, even on my toughest days I have to stand tall and fight the battle at hand. I may do this for the rest of my life, but my life is well worth it!