(November 5, 2007)

I need to explain something that has been of utmost importance in my life.

At the age of 42, after spending most of my life up to that point not believing in God, I decided to give him a try. I was going through a particularly horrendous time with psychosis and thought to myself “What if there IS something to this belief in God that people have? What if God is real? Could he help me? I can’t keep hanging on by myself. I’m tired of the struggle and can’t do it anymore.”

I began researching God in the public library, not ready yet for church. Though I had been brought up in a Christian home, it was as though I knew nothing about God. I had to start from the bottom – this time with an open heart, a heart ready to receive. I found a book by Marjorie Holmes called “Are You There, God?” It sounded like it was written especially for me. I gradually became eager to read the Bible and to spend time alone with God in prayer. Spending this quiet time gave me peace. It comforted me during difficult times. Gradually I also came to understand what Jesus had done for me on the cross and I became a Christian.

Believing in God meant that I could put my trust in him. No need to hang on in fear, using my own inadequate willpower. I had for so long tried to stay strong in an effort to survive, in an effort to keep my sanity. Having God meant I could relax my grip, knowing I was no longer alone. God loved me and would take care of me. My life – still very difficult – improved because my faith helped me cope.

Faith gave me a reason for living. It gave my life meaning. It was soon after my conversion that I took up the cause to try to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. I started writing articles and my book Riding the Roller Coaster. Being open about my disorder and writing about it was healing. It was a big step toward recovery.

Today my battles against stigma have taken on much greater proportions. I have another book, A Firm Place to Stand: Finding Meaning in a Life with Bipolar Disorder, ready for publication. And I’ve founded Living Room a faith-based support ministry. I’m speaking out more than ever before. This is not always an easy thing to do. Many times I feel overwhelmed and alone in the battle. But then I know I need to remember that it’s not my work. It’s God’s work I’m doing. It’s his plans I’m carrying out – plans to make the world a better place. I’m only a foot-soldier.

I trust God to keep me well and strong. God has provided me with a psychiatrist who understands medications well and knows what works best for me. God has brought people into my life who support me with a Christ-like love. He has given me a purpose to live for. He has given me people to care for. My life is in his hands.

And – by following God – good has come out of bad.