“I thank God for unanswered prayers.” Gosh I have always hated that song – but in all actuality, it is true!
“Failure” is in quotations because it is a relative term.
I went to graduate school at UC Davis. Straight A’s. Fulbright scholar. Highest honors at Berkeley as an undergraduate. Departmental citation for excellence in research… but I always wanted to be a non-academic writer and if I hadn’t gotten sick this dream would have never been realized and I’d still be in the rat-race dreaming of being a writer without actually doing it.
My academic career:
…it all disintegrated over the course of two years as I lost touch with reality. Since there is no mental health education in this country, I did not know what was happening to me as I became progressively worse. And since I lacked insight into what was happening to me, in other words, since I had not the faintest idea that I was becoming ill, there was no reasonable way that anyone could intervene meaningfully.
My calling happens to be writing and sharing my story, studying literature and making connections between life, literature, faith, health and wellness, and helping others like me. It is a joy to be more open than most. But know this: in my 20’s I thought I knew myself and my calling to be a professor – I am resilient because I am able to adjust my calling along with my abilities and I live into roles that I can fill successfully, such as tutoring and teaching, and avoid the stress and competition of academia.
There is still a lot of stigma, job discrimination and misunderstanding around the topic of serious mental illness. If I wasn’t called to share, no one would know any of this about me. And just imagine how many people there are like me who don’t feel that call toward health advocacy?
Always remember this: that from our suffering comes great growth and you’re not alone. And that your life narrative is always there for you to reframe for yourself.
You’re not alone, it won’t always be this bad. One in five Americans lives with a mental health condition. And many of us even thrive with one, as seen on the website below: