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All things bright and beautiful!

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Featured Article By
Augusta Cox, Outreach Specialist
NAMI Oklahoma

“All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small.  All things wise and wonderful, the lord God made them all.”  One of my favorite hymns from the Episcopal hymnal that I sung from 6 days a week as a child.  It was even played at my wedding.  My thirties felt more like the trials of Job than anything remotely bright or beautiful.  Unlike Job, who continued to praise God through his ordeal, I was left wondering why God had given me Schizophrenia.   Was there even a God at all, or did I just get Schizophrenia from random genetic selection—my lucky day.  Six years later, and almost 40, I can honestly say that Schizophrenia has been a gift from God.  A gift that has grown out of a root of suffering.  Please let me share with you some of my joy that I have experienced through coming to terms with my mental illness.

I have much greater control of my emotions.  I have modern medication to thank for that.  Living with untreated mental illness is emotionally painful, and riding the rollercoaster of mood swings is physically exhausting.  I’ve also experienced the depths of depression–to the point that I wouldn’t bathe.  I barely left the house.  All I wanted to do was eat, sleep, drink wine, and watch Law and Order.  Having worked through my depression, I have an appreciation for happiness that I did not have before struggling with depression.  I am thankful for little things that make me happy each day.  I also have a much greater desire to take care of my health and well-being because I don’t want to go back to the emotional pain of profound depression.  Managing my emotions has helped me in my relationships with my family, friends, and my significant other.  I no longer dump my emotional baggage on those closest to me.

I have a new purpose and meaning for my life.  Learning to live with Schizophrenia has been the most difficult task I have ever undertaken.  It was more difficult than my Bachelors and Masters degrees combined.  It has taken me six years to get there.  Today, I want to help others along their journey to living successfully with mental illness.  I want to continue my education and develop my voice as a writer with mental illness.  Schizophrenia is a scary word.  Through my writing, I want to change the perception that people with mental illness are crazy.  In reality, those with mental illness can be creative, purpose driven, and compassionate people who have a unique perspective to offer the world.  I want to help others with mental illness find purpose and meaning in their life.

I have grown as a person through coming to terms with my mental illness.  I recognize that am human, and I have failings, foibles, and shortcomings.  I love myself even with my limitations.  I have also learned to accept shortcomings in others.  C.S. Lewis talks about loving your neighbor as yourself.  He writes that you learn to love others in spite of their human flaws because you love yourself even with your own shortcomings.  Having the perfect body, with the perfect clothes, in the perfect house, with the perfect man, and the perfect life are all goals that I am no longer burdened with—thank God!

The beginning of the gospel of John talks about God as light.  A light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  Light without darkness is meaningless; therefore, living life in the light of God is impossible if you’ve never experienced darkness.  The life I was living before Schizophrenia was not God’s plan for my life.  I was living in darkness, and I did not even realize it.  Today, having experienced true darkness, I am thankful for the light.  I have hopes and dreams for my future helping others live successfully with mental illness.  I have a different impression of my favorite hymn.  All things bright and things perfect, but all things bright and beautiful.  Today, I believe that I am one of God’s bright and beautiful creations, and I want to help others with mental illness to recognize their own unique beauty and find God’s bright light for their lives as well.

 

Originally published on April 8, 2015. 

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