“From Victim to Victory” 03.18.22

I wrote a book. I illustrated my illness in what I hope is comforting, helpful, and honest. I unabashedly poured my soul into those pages. I have always been a storyteller, and this is the story of a journey that will never end, and will follow me wherever I go. It is a piece of who I am, like it or not. I don’t like it. I hear voices and have conversations with intruders inside my head. I have delusions and can usually recognize them for what they are-pretend. Every time I take my dog outside, there is a tree that I swear is a man, but it’s just a tree. Every time. Just a tree. I experience mania rarely, I am not often depressed, and live a stable, almost “normal” life in a sleepy little town. I am frequently paranoid, but even so, I know I probably have nothing to fear. If I feel sick or something is physically worrying me, I call my mom. She is a nurse, and I am a hypochondriac. I disturb her slumber in the dead of night in order for her to reassure me that there is nothing wrong. I have stopped this ritual, as for years she has the same response. There is nothing wrong.

I want the world to know that living with a psychiatric illness is not a death sentence. There is no cure, but it is not a cause for embarrassment and doesn’t have to be kept secret. I used to feel like I could pose like a “normal” person and fit into the crowd, hiding my secret and feeling powerful because I knew something others didn’t. I guess it didn’t work, and that’s alright because “different” is far better than “normal.”

Repeatedly, some people living with mental illness feel like victims. When I shared my story publicly, I meant to share the fact that no one is truly alone in their struggles. The message was positive. Not a bit of that story was implying that I am a victim. I am the survivor of a disease which nearly pulled me under. I fought to reach the surface and was successful. This book means that I struggle but there is not a victim inside me. I rose above and will keep rising until I have reached the sun and carried it back to those who need the light.

–SJB

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