It doesn’t take much to get this mortal second-guessing herself. One harsh message on the comment board will do it. An African-American woman was offended that I used Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sentiments as a launching pad for my own dream–that mental illness would lose its stigma. As I read her remarks, I thought to myself, “She’s right. I’m self-indulgent to express this dream given all the suffering in Iraq, Darfur, and a million other places on the globe.”
Then the doorbell rang.
On my porch stood a florist holding a dozen white roses. I was confused…Valentine’s Day was a month away. My birthday was two weeks after that. And I hadn’t slept with Eric the night before.
The card (which is next to my computer now) read: “My Dear Therese, Your dream is also my dream. Thank you for celebrating our dream. Love, Ann”
My guardian angel, Ann. You’ve got to love her. God hand-picked for me a retired (bipolar) woman because, given all my self-doubts and wrong turns, she doesn’t have time to both hold a real (earthly) job and be my guardian angel.
Ann hadn’t even read the message board. (Angels don’t need to.) She didn’t know that I had banished (for the fifteenth time that day) my mission to educate people on mental health because, as my reader said, “There are much bigger issues in the world today to consider.” My guardian friend was merely grateful that I had articulated her frustrations and dreams as well.
There’s a lesson in this (of course): Everyone is entitled to a dream–even a “whiny, bitter, self-serving, complaining white woman–” but especially those suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses. Because, even in the face of Iraq and Darfur, our pain is valid too.