This is a story of a family. It began with two people who fell in love having little idea of the tragedies that would befall them, and the courage and faith they would need to triumph over every challenge. It is a quiet adventure, a battle against the unseen monsters of mental illness. It is also story of the goodness in people who always seem to appear to help just in time. It is about a little bit of living and a whole lot of love.
My book is complete. I have doted over it for far too long. Like a child leaving the nest, I must let it got for better or worse. I have edited and re-edited, questioned how my words will sound to others. I can only hope that interpretations of my story will be fair and understanding, but I know from experience that in sharing such a profoundly personal part of my life I will have critics. The written word has been misinterpreted since the beginning of time. Two people reading the exact same tract often see its message quite differently. The more controversial the topic, the more likely for misunderstandings will occur. There are few subjects more volatile than mental illness.
My book, A Little Bit of Living, is a three part tragedy in the style of those written by the Greeks. It differs in that my family was not defeated by the events that tested us. Even as we made mistakes, we found ways to deal with whatever hand came our way. We were guided by the wisdom and compassion of family and friends. Always at the center of our journey was our mother, a beautiful and gifted soul, who dedicated her life to our safety and security. In turn, we would become her caretakers whenever bipolar disorder stole away her joy and her loving personality.
We had to learn how to navigate a system that sometimes appears to care little for the needs of those afflicted with mental disorders. We became all too aware of the myths surrounding mental illness and the shame too associated with it. We watched our gregarious mother fighting to maintain her independence while also attempting to hide her illness. Somehow in spite of the missteps and angst we not only survived, but grew stronger.
I have found someone who will help me design a cover for the book and I plan to spend the coming weeks learning how to format and upload my work onto several ebook platforms. My hope is that I won’t suddenly become worried about how people will respond to my writing and will instead soldier forward and get this project finally completed. I no longer imagine that I will become a best selling author, or that I will make vast sums of money selling my work. My only goal now is to help those who struggle with mental illness, whether for themselves or a family member. I hope that after reading my book they will understand that they are not alone.
It is well past time for us to have open and honest discussions about the effects of mental illness on all societies. It is time to take the treatment of this debilitating illness seriously. Mental illness lies at the foundation of so many of our problems, and yet we all but ignore it as though it should still be hidden in attics and basements. It is caused by physical abnormalities in the brain that we still do not fully understand, but unlocking those causes should become a priority for us all.
In the not so long ago humans were superstitious about mental disorders. Individuals unlucky enough to have such afflictions were often deemed to be witches or demons. Our history is filled with stories of unneeded and unwanted suffering for those whose minds all too suddenly ceased to work properly. We have much to learn. We would do well to finally focus our attention and our efforts on unlocking the secrets of sound mental health. My upcoming book is a small step in bringing a human face to the process.
I applaud people like Glenn Close, Oprah Winfree and Prince Harry for striving to make us all aware of the tragic costs of mental illness. I want to join in their campaign in my small way. Be ready to read A Little Bit of Living by the end of this year. I’m going to really make it happen this time.
By the way, I decided on the title for my book when I was cleaning and organizing one of my bookcases. I found an old notebook that had belonged to my mother. She had written some poems and a few thoughts in it. Then she mentioned that she wanted to write her autobiography, and she called it A Little Bit of Living. Somehow, it felt as though she was giving me permission to reveal our journey, and her title seemed exactly right.