English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. *...

English: Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Additional noise reduction performed by Diliff. Original image by Luc Viatour. Français : L’éclipse totale de soleil en 1999 faite en France. * Réduction du bruit réalisée par Diliff. Image d’origine Luc Viatour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is very frightening to fall into the abyss of bipolar depression. It is like the eclipse of the sun, plunging us into darkness and chaos. Suddenly nothing seems certain. Our dreams and hopes for the future are shattered. We wonder if we will ever be the same again. We may be so lost that we end up in hospitals and institutions, receiving frightening treatments and medicated to the hilt. We feel like freaks, isolated from society and often rejected and misunderstood by our family and friends. We may even attempt suicide as a way to end our pain. How then can we find hope? How do we make sense of what has happened to us? Hope and faith in something are the cornerstones for recovery. The way we gain that is by observing the cycles of death and rebirth in nature, joining a support group and meeting others who have overcome similar challenges, and developing a faith in something bigger than ourselves, such as a Higher Power. We may find that we can help others through our own experiences. We realize we have more compassion for others who have suffered the same trials we have. Can we go back to where we were before? No, we still have an illness. But we can learn to take care of ourselves by taking medication, getting therapy to learn to better handle our illness, and most importantly, by not isolating ourselves. We can learn to see ourselves and our sufferings as a spiritual process, one of death and rebirth, grieve our losses and move on. We can recognize that everybody has challenges to overcome, some less obvious than others. We gain a greater appreciation  and admiration of the strength of those who have overcome obstacles in their paths and realize that we have the same strengths. We need no longer  beat up on ourselves, mental illness is not a moral failing. And we can see life as more of a journey than a destination, in the final analysis it is how we cope with our challenges that matters, not our achievements. We can turn our losses into gains.

Ask yourself: What have I learned from my experiences? Have I learned to take better care of myself? Have I learned to ask for help when I need it?