•In last week’s edition of “A personal view of mental health,” it stated this week’s edition would contain a question and answer session with Dr. Darrell Brimhall. However, in light of my week I decided to run this piece first.

I think it comes with the job of being a journalist; I love exploring old houses—ones down a lane, off a country road. They are usually abandoned and looking somewhat melancholy yet beautiful. I have driven down these lanes to the once stately homes to find tall weeds and broken windows and only remnants of the past. The dreamer in me quickly takes over, and I close my eyes to imagine what the home must have once been—a sanctuary to the farmer who worked the fields nearby. The birthplace of children that would grow there along with the crops. Once inside the homes, the feelings come full circle. I am intrigued by these old homes' stories because I relate to them personally—the once beautiful features, now in complete disrepair. Exquisite crown molding is still attached to the crumbling walls. Brick chimneys of previous owners covered partially in stucco. I am left shaking my head and thinking, "How did it get this bad?”

There is one particular feature I relate to entirely out of all the craftsmanship—the stained glass windows. Exquisitely colored glass mosaics carefully pieced together, inarguably labors of love. It is how beautifully broken intrigues me. When whole, the windows are masterpieces, but even broken, stunning. On one of my adventures recently, I stared up at a window made of stained glass. There was minimal left intact and barely hanging together. Many pieces had already broken and lay shattered on the floor below. And the breaks left the window jagged. It made me feel sad no one recognized its beauty and true worth and preserved it. It then struck me why I connected so deeply.

That broken stained glass was me. My diagnosis of Bi-Polar 2 disorder in January rocked my world, and my "glass pieces" left were barely holding together while many pieces of my life were shattered on the floor. And as I sat hopelessly at the doctor's office, I thought, "How did it get this bad?”
As I watched the sunlight spill through the pieces left in that old window, I first cringed as I considered the amount of time and care poured into shaping and designing each piece of glass, with purpose as it comes together. I can feel the pride the stained glass window maker must have felt when the hard work was displayed, setting off the home perfectly. I turned my attention back to the window to again see the sun shining brightly through, and I noticed the Repetitive god rays through the broken glass just the same as if it were whole. As I let my eyes fall to the colors that danced on the floor, the imperfections that had made me sad initially were gone, and tears came to my eyes. My perspective changed, and I shared the vision of the craftsmen's heart. Peace followed perspective as realizing this window's deterioration was neither the window's fault nor the creator's fault. Yet broken couldn't change the fact the window was crafted in love and still magnificent.

Although broken, I chose to go public with my situation immediately and share it with others through a series called "A personal view of Mental Health." I was terrified of the judgment I would receive by putting it out there, but I was more terrified that someone out there felt broken and alone with no idea how to address their mental health. Fortunately, I felt safe and supported in this journey and have openly shared my diagnosis with all those around me.

Within weeks of my diagnosis, my behaviors were being scrutinized. My medication dosage and effectiveness were being questioned, and even my personal life was being dissected. I had officially received the "crazy" diagnosis from a portion of the people around me. I was heartbroken. Regardless, I have seen the light at the end of this very long tunnel more and more with every passing day, and for the last two weeks, I have felt better than I ever have. I can't describe it, but it is almost best described as clarity. So, to find out the speculations were flying simultaneously was like a punch to the gut. It felt like a huge setback. How could I feel so much better while having others discuss my "behaviors and medications." It felt a lot like another piece of my stained glass fell and left a little more broken.

It would be easy to stop there in the story and focus on the negative aspects since starting the series, but then I would be leaving out all the other beautifully broken people in this world who have reached out and said, "Thank you, it is so nice to know I am not alone." I want every person who reads this to know this world can be cruel, and it can be challenging, and no matter how defeated you feel or the scars you bear, you have to remember, you were created perfect in every conceivable way. And the right people and supporters in your life will see your light shine through your soul and although broken, you will take their breath away because we are all beautifully broken. Most importantly, don't ever give up. There is hope. I say that from personal experience now. My medication is working, and regardless of any setbacks that come my way, my health is not something I am giving up on. You can't either. You have to get help instead.

Don't ever forget your worth. Don't forget you were created perfectly. Don't forget you are beautiful.