These simple words from Stephen Fry are , to me , amazingly profound . It really is very hard to be a friend to someone with depression or mental illness. No matter what you think your own credentials are, or what you know or have seen.
I was diagnosed bipolar in 1998. Stephen Fry is also bipolar so I count myself in the best of company. Over the years I have lost friends and I have struggled to understand their perspective. A lot of people do not nobly stand beside you as easily when your illness is invisible. It truly does seem easier for people to stay by a cancer sufferer, or someone with any kind of physical illness. Mental illness is just as life threatening. It devastates sufferers and their families, it mutilates an individual's measure of the world. It isolates and imprisons with more efficacy than any prison wall. It is not possible for a sufferer to educate other people about their illness so that they will tick all the right boxes and provide great support. All that helps is talking, sharing information, being honest and facing stigma. No-one should be ashamed or guilty because of how well or badly they handle their own or another's mental health. But to keep trying, is a great and very wonderful thing.
I have never posted or spoken about my own bipolar diagnosis publicly. Some of my friends know. Most, in fact, do not. I decided to write this today in a statement of my own liberation. For many many years I thought I would just keep it secret for fear of stigma ( and I have had plenty of reason to fear that). I had decided I did not want to be the mum my son's friends whispered about one day .... but I realise I am better than that. I am an incredibly vulnerable person, but hiding vulnerability makes one weak. Living in it, gives you strength. I have decided to live publicly with my bipolar-ness and make my life a living proof of someone's best effort to manage mental illness. I have lost a very great deal during and as a direct result of the 16 years of my diagnosis. Jobs, homes, relationships and most of all, friends.
I have bipolar friends as well as friends diagnosed with depression. I witness their struggles too. We all know there are no easy answers and we do not hold out begging plates for understanding. But I know we do reach out, even though others may not always understand the methods of our madness.
Inside every sane person, there is a mad person trying to get out, and inside every mad person there is a sane one trying to get out. There is no "you" and "us" really, the line of division is not thin, it is a mirage of perspective.
Today, I wish you courage
No sooner had this appeared in Facebook world, than people came out in support. A wonderful man, Steven Stead, even shared this post, and wrote the following:-
" Miranda de Barra is a truly beautiful soul and a very courageous woman. I'm one of the friends she speaks about having lost, in this very candid posting. She never lost me. I just didn't know how to relate or to react to her in her heightened state, because I was never sure what was 'real' and what wasn't. So I withdrew. But never to very far off. Certainly not far away enough not to care that she has found peace and liberty in expression, or to constantly rejoice in her triumphs, and her magnificent, wicked sense of humour. Well done, my friend "
My heart burst when I read that. And after I had wiped a tear or two away, I felt very happy and started singing and dancing around the kitchen.
" WHEN THE JAPANESE MEND BROKEN OBJECTS, THEY AGGRANDIZE THE DAMAGE BY FILLING THE CRACKS WITH GOLD. THEY BELIEVE THAT WHEN SOMETHING HAS SUFFERED DAMAGE AND HAS A HISTORY IT BECOMES MORE BEAUTIFUL " Billie Mobayed
I am happily damaged and broken. I now see the gold I have been using to fill in the cracks. I have an incredible history. I am so proud of who I am and what I have achieved.
Please do stay with me, and enjoy my Beautifully Broken world. I am so excited to share it with you.