(September 26, 2007)

I was delighted today to receive an email from one of our Living Room members which she had sent to a bunch of her friends. I’ll share a portion of it here:

“When I told a friend about my support group for mood disorders and what a blessing it was, she asked (‘and don’t be offended,’ she added) ‘Isn’t it depressing to be around a bunch of crazy people?’ I said, ‘No way, it’s a safe place to support each other in our common brokenness and to realize you’re not the only one to feel this way. In this setting I’ve learned that it’s an invisible disease but not any different than diabetes is and to dispel the stigma and shame that’s associated with mental illness. I’m learning that my condition is not a curse but could be a blessing. In my lows I get a sense of what emotional pain people can go through (especially my dad). When I’m manic I get so much accomplished and feel so inspired and creative.’

“Interesting to know that our facilitator marja bergen wrote on the same subject on her blog that I read the day before: learning to empathize with people who are in the dark about the subject and to try to understand where they’re coming from. Not to be easily offended as we’re trying to get them to understand us. Basically having grace towards them, as others have extended grace to us.

“I encouraged my friend to google bipolar to find out more and to check out marja’s blog. I think that marja’s desire to dispel the stigma of our disease is rubbing off on me. In my small way I’m trying to educate others that I come across and it’s amazing how when you share your vulnerabilities people often open up about themselves and about the people that are close to them that suffer from mental illness.”

I am grateful to this person for sharing this with her friends, and now with my blogging pals. You have encouraged me.