Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

On MLK, Jr. Day: I, Too, Have a Dream

MLK Day.jpgSome of you may recognize my dream, but I like to repost it every now and then to keep it alive and give it legs.

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I have a dream that one day I won’t hold my breath every time I tell a person that I suffer from bipolar disorder, that I won’t feel shameful in confessing my mental illness.

I have a dream that people won’t feel the need to applaud me for my courage on writing and speaking publicly about my disease, because the diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder would be understood no differently than that of diabetes, arthritis, or dementia.


I have a dream that the research into genetics of mood disorders will continue to pinpoint specific genes that may predispose individuals and families to depression and bipolar disorder (like the gene G72/G30, located on chromosome 13q), just as specific genes associated with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder have been located and identified.

I have a dream that brain-imaging technology will continue to advance in discovering what, exactly, is going on inside the brain, that a neurological perspective coupled with a biochemical approach to mental illness will develop targeted treatments: new medication and better response to particular medications–that we can cut out that painful trial-and-error process.

I have a dream depressives won’t have to risk their jobs in divulging their condition, that employers will respond more empathetically to the country’s 7.8 million working depressives, that the general public will be more educated on mental illness so that it doesn’t cost this country more than $44 billion each year (like it does now).


I have a dream that families, friends, and co-workers will show kindness to depressives, not reproach them for not being stronger, for not having enough will power and discipline and incentive to get well, for not snapping out of it, for not being grateful enough, for not seeing the cup half full, for not controlling their emotions.

I have a dream that tabloids like “In Touch Weekly” won’t lump allegations of Britney Spears’ taking antidepressants into the same category as her 24-hour marriage, all-night clubbing, and pantyless photos–that our world might be more sophisticated and informed than that.

I have a dream that people will no longer use the following terms to describe persons with mental illness: fruity, loony, wacky, nutty, cuckoo, loopy, crazy, wacko, gonzo, nutso, batty, bonkers, ditzy, bananas, and crazy.


I have a dream that spiritual leaders might preach compassion to persons with mental illness, not indict them for not praying hard enough, or in the right way, or often enough, and that judgmental new-age thinkers who blame all illness on blocked energy (in chakras one through seven) might be enlightened to understand that fish oil, mindfulness meditation, and acupuncture can’t cure everything.

I have a dream that health insurance companies will stop serving Satan, and read a medical report every now and then, where they would learn that depression is a legitimate, organic brain disease, and that those who suffer from it aren’t a bunch of weak, pathetic people who can’t cope with life’s hard knocks.

I dream that one day depression won’t destroy so many marriages and families, that better and faster treatment will work in favor of every form of intimacy.


I have a dream that suicide won’t take more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, or AIDS, that together we can do better to reduce the 30,000 suicides that happen annually in the United States, and that communities will lovingly embrace those friends and families of persons who ran out of hope, instead of simply ignoring the tragedy or attaching fault where none should be.

I have a dream that one day depression, bipolar disorder, and all kinds of mental illness will lose their stigma, that I won’t have to whisper the word “Zoloft” to the pharmacist at Rite Aid, that people will be able to have loud conversations in coffee shops about how they treat their depression (in addition to the excellent dialogue we have here on “Beyond Blue”).


Mostly, I dream about a day when I can wake up and think about coffee first thing in the morning, rather than my mood–is it a serene one, a panicked one, or somewhere in between?–and fretting about whether or not I’m heading toward the black hole of despair. I dream that I’ll never ever have to go back to that harrowing and lonely place of a year ago. That no one else should have to either. But if they do (or if I do), that they not give up hope. Because eventually their tomorrow will be better than their today. And they will be able to dream again too.

  • Patty Taylor

    Amen! I have thought these same things for many years and couldn’t have said this nearly as well myself.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Nancy

    Love this post!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Terri

    Sometimes I struggle with verbalizing how I feel. Thank you for doing that! Well said…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jean

    You go, girl!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mike Yuda

    Thanks! I have a similar dream!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Frank

    As the sibling of a bipolar suicide, my brother, Marty, I feel that things have changed – or perhaps I have changed. I wrote a note to my boss and a co-worker just yesterday and mentioned that painful experience. I suppose I’m more confident today and don’t really care what others might think – but in the same breath, I can agree with you totally that it will be good when there is no stigma or misapprehension about bipolar disorder. As I’ve told several people, my brother’s illness took his life as surely as a heart attack or cancer. We don’t blame those deaths on the victim. I pray that treatment and therapies will reach the point that they are reliable and consistent and I dream of the day that no more lives will be lost to this illness. And I pray for you, Therese. You are a blessing.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joan

    And a loud AMEN to the dream!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ann

    Your dream is a great one. I pray with you that your dream will come a reality in the future. KEEP HOPE ALIVE,GOD IS STILL LISTENING. BE BLESSED

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Diana

    And I dream with you Therese. Thank you for so clearly putting my thoughts into words which is so appreciated.
    Prayers, Blessings, and Hugs!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Jan

    This is a beautifully written statement! Thank you! I am going to share it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Amy F

    My new manifesto!!!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bob

    Well said. Bravery comes in many different ways and packages. We should all attempt to be tolerant of our brothers and sisters going through this journey called life.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Rita

    Therese, I have a bi-polar question for you, if I may: I recently read a blog that said depressive episodes in bi-polar could be masked. Could the same be true for manic episodes? I’ve been treated with ssri’s unsuccessfully for 35 years (and even ECT!) My bi-polar son read that carbamazepine, which I take for epilepsy, is often used to treat manic episodes. Could it have been masking manic episodes all these years? My son has a Soc. Psych. degree and says Bi-Polar is 85% hereditable. What are your thoughts?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment liti

    Amen and love you,Liti

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment sarah

    Thank you. Beautifully written. So much hit it right on the head. I plan on reading this to my representatives when I visit them. In addition to all you covered, I also have a dream to have people living with mental illness be the ones to make decisions on what we need. Nothing about us, without us.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Claire

    Thank you for this. Thank you so much. I love your dreams, and I hope and pray for them also. You inspire me so much, both to fight to stay out of the darkness, and to fight to help other people who are still trapped in it. I hope you keep on writing, yours is the only blog in the blog universe that I follow, and it keeps me going.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Tom

    Me 222222222222222222222222222222222222222222

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Fred Frese

    Shannon: Fantastic! Thank you for taking the time to articulate your dreams. All the BeST,Fred Frese

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Richard

    First time I’ve read your Posts for some time now…

    The past number of months have been a pure Nightmare for me.

    Thank you for a beautifully written commentary.

    The Best,
    Richard Laurie

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Barbara

    beautiful dream – one to share often

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment A

    Awesome and excellent post!!

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