When I think about the course of my life and my experience in this world, I believe that nothing has affected me more profoundly than bipolar disorder. And when I first began to experience recovery, when I first had a bit of clarity as the medications began to soothe the fires and therapy strengthened my resolve, I realized the greater truth that I was not the only one traveling this road. More time passed and I again felt stability and joy and purpose, states I never believed I could achieve again. It is because of my gratitude for these things that I seek out all ways to give back, all ways to help others who are also suffering.
I do not know if or when a cure will be found for this illness. But I do know this: the medicine I take would not have been possible without research. The therapies that have helped me grow and thrive, they work so well because they have been tested over and over again. A whole system exists to discover what we do not know and to perfect and build upon what we do know.
I participate in research because the only way I can make sense of this life is to spend the rest of it giving back the goodness and kindness and opportunity that has been given to me. I participate because I know that if others had not participated before me, I may not have the life I have now. I participate because I believe that we all have the power to affect change in this world and this is one place where I can step up and use my experience for the betterment of our society. I participate because the more researchers know about the wide range of ways this illness is experienced, the more able they are to develop treatments that are successful for more people.
Finally, I participate because witnessing research of this magnitude and thoughtfulness gives me so much hope. A few months ago I drove past the Depression Center, home to the Prechter Research Team, early in the morning, just as the sun was rising … the Rachel Upjohn Building, standing so firmly, its grand windows shining with the sun’s reflection, but also graciously letting in all that brilliant light to the rooms inside. How well nature demonstrated the very mission of all the research and treatment programs of the center. The researchers there are dedicated to letting in the light and discovering what has been hidden in shadow. They exist to help individuals living with mood disorders feel warmth and sun and stability again in their lives. This is why I participate: because this kind of healing is so much larger than any one of us. The results will come from our unity of effort and spirit.