Many years ago, believing that people with mental health challenges should be better accepted, I thought that a way to do that was to be open about my bipolar disorder. To tell it as it is. How else could it be known that there should be no shame connected to such illnesses? Could my speaking and writing about it—as the real person I was and am—one day make a difference?

I spoke at many venues and wrote articles. Also a book, A Firm Place to Stand, which helped readers see that a good Christian could have mental illness and turn weakness into strength. I talked openly about my life and what God had done for me—how he had come close and helped me withstand my emotional pain. I came to know him as One who would help me live a good life, despite the illness that was a part of me.

My faith could not have been as strong if it hadn’t been for those emotional struggles that repeatedly moved me to reach out to him.

I was inspired by the teacher in me to share my faith and help those who struggled like me. Many believed and learned to turn to God in their times of trouble.

Jesus has been my example for living with a focus on helping people like myself. I’ve always liked helping people, but knowing Jesus built this desire even further.

I could relate to Jesus on many levels—especially his suffering. In my own life I came to understand what it was like to suffer for doing good. Stigma taught me the pain that rejection could bring. I came to see and feel the rejection Christ experienced as though it was part of my own. We became like a fellowship. In my pain, God drew me close.

Life is no easier today. I still feel the pain of rejection once in a while, especially when I’m reminded of the stigma—stigma that is still affecting me. But I know that Jesus understands and is in it with me.

Will it ever be possible for others to understand? Will it ever be possible for Christians to follow Christ’s example and help us find healing? We need acceptance and kindness. We need to be heard. It is my hope and my passion to try and make that happen.

Didn’t Jesus once say that all things are possible with God? (Matthew 19:26)