Content Warning: psychosis, mental illness, hospitalization, su**dal ideation, bipolar, depression, delusions
Dearest You—Send a message to the one who made you grateful to be alive. Who led you to your true self. Who always makes you smile, even when you’re not talking to them at the moment. Show them proof of their effect.
Eleven years ago, I woke up in a hospital gown on itchy bed sheets, believing I was in Hell. I was experiencing a psychotic break—severely depressed, paranoid, suicidal, and delusional. Convinced I was part of a secretly rich and powerful family, the Antichrist, and the cause of 9/11. I spent a month recovering in the hospital, later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I didn’t know anyone who had a psychosis like mine. I felt like a monster and so alone.
But last year, a dear friend introduced me to X, a fellow bipolar Asian woman who was deeply suicidal and depressed, just like I was. I shared videos of me performing monologues I wrote on my mental illness and delusions, the panel I was part of for “Healing Through Trauma: Filipinx Artists Speak” where I broke down my psychotic breaks through PowerPoint, and the essays I wrote on my recovery and mental health advocacy. How depression is a lie that convinces you that you’re worthless and hated, when it was never true. How no one who has ever loved me abandoned me because of my disorder. How it’s possible to be stable and love who you are and your life despite your haunted past. How much they can look forward to despite this pandemic.
She shortly admitted herself into the hospital and got the help she desperately needed. She’s much happier now and more hopeful, on the road to recovery. I told her how strong and brave she is to be so open with a stranger and to seek guidance from our friend. She told me I saved her life and I cried with so much joy when I read her email.
Reader, who has caused you to adore your life and yourself? Who has made your past pain worth it because it all led to them? Who was the response you desperately needed when you believed you were alone in your suffering? Who gave you hope when you had absolutely none?
When you say someone saved your life, whose name would you utter?
And why don’t they know yet?
When X told me I saved her life, I started to value my own. The world took on a different hue, a slant of brighter light when I found out I could make such a remarkable impact on another. A stranger from across the country, where our initial email exchange led to her first step of recovery and stability.
Can you imagine how much more colorful their life would become if they knew they were your savior? I have become kinder and more deliberate with my words, more gentle as well. There’s a certain power that comes from its realization and greater understanding of your effect and how it ripples. Don’t let them leave without them seeing their own flame. I was so focused and mired in my shadow and dark, that I couldn’t comprehend how bright I’ve become.
Not until X showed me my own light.
And through her gratitude, she saved me in return. I don’t think I would value myself as strongly as I currently do, if she hadn’t uttered those words. There’s more worth found in what we can do for others than could ever be found by ourselves.
Let them believe today.