(Full Prologue – Sample)
In madness, every passageway, no matter how misguided, climbs toward salvation; in despair, every path, no matter how promising, leads to Hell. Having lived through three major, life-altering manic episodes, each resulting in institutionalization, and countless bouts of depression, I know this statement is true. I also know that madness and depression are part of me, but not all of me, and with work and dedication both can be managed. Being diagnosed with a mental illness felt like the end of my “normal” life, but it was really the beginning of a “different” life, a life that did not bury my sense of self—as it initially seemed—but instead taught me who I really am. In the end, it’s not the clothes we wear, family we come from, or music we listen to that define us; it’s the obstacles we overcome.
This is my second attempt to write this story. It is difficult to write, not only because it contains explicit details about embarrassing events in my life, but also because it forces me to look back on experiences I’ve attempted to suppress and memories I’ve attempted to forget. By returning to those memories, I reenter a dark and confusing cave I left behind several years ago, this time with a light to cast a new perspective on the twisted passageways I’ve traveled. I am afraid to write this book, but if I did not step back into that place of darkness, I would run the risk of forgetting who I was and, as a result, lose perspective on how far I’ve come. I hope that in some way, sharing my story will shed light on the path that I have travelled, and that others like me, and those who love them, will see that our experiences are not so different, and our accomplishments can be made together.
It is sometimes difficult to remember my exact feelings at the time the events of this book occurred. However, I have access to primary resources to help take me back: interviews with close family members and friends who lived through these experiences, as well as my own poetry and journal entries from that time. I utilize this writing to express my journey, as these writings often occurred during or around my manic or depressive episodes and outline my thoughts and experiences at the time they were taken down. Although these excerpts do not necessarily represent who I am now, they represent who I was and, as the cave paintings of Lascaux show us something about the minds that created them, they will show you what was going on in my mind at the time they were created—during stability, depression, or madness.
This ebook was designed to help give hope to those with mental illness and their loved ones, and to educate those seeking to understand it. If you fall into one of those categories, please join me on this journey.