In the years before my diagnosis, I couldn’t recognize the early indications of my illness for what they really were. In fact, I had created an erroneous belief system that what I was experiencing was simply part of life. I attributed my mood to what I believed were my own shortcomings. I believed that I was lazy or bored, disinterested or tired or any other suggestion that disguised my depression for what it really was. The reality was that a gathering melancholy had already made real advances into every aspect of my life. Like many others before me, the only way I came to see my illness clearly for the first time was when I had a severe depressive crash which threw me down into a spiral of despair that I could no longer ignore. I found myself sobbing and weeping at home or sitting in my bathtub alone and trying to understand what was happening to me. I felt so isolated and alone; I just couldn’t make sense of the overwhelming sense of sadness that had now come to dominate my entire being.
I would subsequently lose my job, my income and my way in life. I would perceive the worthlessness of my hard earned education, and my hope for a successful career seemed like a distant dream. The only things I had to look forward to were increasingly debilitating attacks of depression and paralyzing bouts of anxiety. I felt humiliated in the presence of family and friends who didn’t know why I couldn’t just feel better, or pick myself up by sheer will.
Before long, I would come to see my illness as a thief who delighted in stealing every good thing in my life. I decided that this thief would no longer steal my joy and happiness. I am indebted to the friends and family who gradually understood my illness and became some of my best supporters. I am grateful to the mental health professionals who helped me chart a new course forward. And I am especially thankful for DBSA Greater Houston – people I consider my closest allies in overcoming our shared illness.
This wonderful organization has made an immeasurable difference in my life. Without sharing my story and hearing the similar stories of others, I would never have seen how I had become trapped between the recurring impact of my illness and the self-defeating resignation I felt about my own future. It was only after attending DBSA Greater Houston sponsored support groups that I could manage the symptoms of my illness and that I could perceive a life beyond my own doubts and fears.
DBSA Greater Houston has not only helped me recover from my disease but has helped me achieve a better life and more importantly has allowed me to become a better person. My own recovery would not have been possible without the compassionate peers I found right here in this organization. Without DBSA Greater Houston, I might have gone on living a desperate life defined and limited by the cruelty of my disorder. Instead, this organization has given me a richer life full of hope and possibility and not limited by the once despair and desperation that I had come to define myself as a person.
The DBSA Greater Houston support group model allows for life-changing connections with people in desperate need of recovery. There are people in our community who don’t yet know that we exist, and who don’t know that their lives can be better in the company of peers who have been there and who understand the impact of depression or bipolar disorder on one’s life. Our story is our best gift, our greatest accomplishment, and our ongoing mission. And I am honored and glad to share my story with you.