I was asked this question on Quora, in the form of “for those diagnosed mental illness, if you could erase the illness and the experiences you’ve had with it from your life would you choose to do so?
I replied, “No, I would not change the abusive childhood– my broken nose, concussions, lies, sexual abuse– and the results of anorexia, dissociative personality disorder, alcoholism and PTSD/
I do not know if my bipolar disorder is related to the abuse, but I wouldn’t change that either, nor my homosexuality.
I am a writer– it all is useful. I lead a depression and bipolar support group. I am very creative– I’ve started businesses, public-private partnerships and non-profit organizations. 12 step recovery groups have given me life-long friends, and friends wherever I travel.
Someone once remarked that I established rapport with people faster than anyone they’ve ever met. That comes from knowing that everyone suffers, that everyone is a little lonely. If you know that, the world opens its heart to you.
I now head up an agency working for economic justice. If I hadn’t been treated unfairly, would I work hard to establish justice for the poor?
Suffering is part of life. I was hit by a car, destroying the cartilage in my neck, twenty-six years ago. Since then, I have lived with chronic pain. It has made me a mystic, ever closer to God. And closer to many, many people. I live slightly above the poverty level.
Love matters more than worldly success and money.
I did not put this in the Quora answer but the following is also true:
I was deserted by a spouse who trashed my reputation, lied about me to friends and employees, emptied the bank account, took nearly the entire business after the she told the clients that I was insane. I was thrown entirely in the arms of God– there was no one else.
He brought me through all of this– and I still don’t know how. I made all new friends, better than before. I found new support groups, traveled alone, rediscovered classical music and reading good literature and with His help, found a whole new life.
All of these things have made me whole. And stronger. And more compassionate.
This is my credo.