Mental illness often runs in families.  Our parent or grandparent or other relative may have had or does have a mental illness.  Some of our family members may have been diagnosed and may be getting the treatment they need to recover while others may not.

When dealing with our family, whether they have a mental illness or not, they may hinder more than help our progress because of our deep emotional ties to them and theirs to us.  While they may love us, they may not know how or be unable to help us.

         Today, I will evaluate my support system.  I will call someone who is outside of my family; someone who can offer objective, unconditional support to me and I will know peace.

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.”  ~ Richard Carlson
 

          Often our symptoms are triggered by stress.  Although, the bigger stressors aren’t usually the ones that get us.  We may actually feel better in times of crisis.  It is the little stressors that seem to befuddle us; our day-to-day activities somehow become more overwhelming than a huge crisis might be.

          Crises are often short-lived.  Anyone can do almost anything for one day.  Daily responsibilities, on the other hand, are life-long.  And when we focus on the “life-long” part, we may feel like giving up.  Yet, there is another way – to stay in today.

          Today, I will fulfill my responsibilities to myself first and next, to those around me to the best of my ability.  I will focus on my tomorrows when they become my todays and I will know peace.

I cry out for order and find it only in art. ~ Helen Hayes

                The correlation between creative and passionately driven individuals and mental illness appears to be high.  We are in impressive company:

Isaac Newton, most famous mathematician of the 17th Century, is suspected to have had Bipolar Disorder which was an unknown illness during his lifetime.

Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, had bipolar disorder.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of U.S., suffered from major depression.

Vincent Van Gogh, famous painter and artist, is thought to have experienced bipolar symptoms.

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Britain, (who, along with Roosevelt and Stalin, led the world to the defeat of Hitler in WWII) had major depression.

Virginia Woolf, the British novelist, experienced the mood swings of bipolar disorder her entire life. “She wrote to make sense out of her mental chaos and gain control of madness; and was greatly admired for her creative insight into human nature.”

The list goes on and on:

Leo Tolstoy, author

Charles Dickens, English author

John Keats, poet

Michelangelo, artist

Bette Midler, entertainer

Charles Schultz, cartoonist

Dick Clark, entertainer

Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky, composer

Charlie Pride, singer

Sylvia Plath, poet and novelist

Janet Jackson, singer

Patty Duke, actress

Roseanne Barr, comedian

Marlon Brando, actor

Ernest Hemingway, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist

Tennessee Williams, American playwright

Today, I will write down two aspects of my life that have been positively affected by my mental illness; perhaps, someone I have met that I otherwise wouldn’t have or a creative talent I possess.  I will acknowledge the silver lining in the cloud of my mental illness and know that I am not unique in its negative or positive aspects.