June 19, 2022
This Father’s Day I want to celebrate your role in my life. Especially how you helped me through my bipolar diagnosis and functional recovery.
Three years before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you shared some wisdom with me that helped shape my future response to every setback. That powerful statement has remained inside of my head and helped me adjust to my new life with bipolar disorder and rebuild a full life, healthy relationships, and successful career. I still see your face and hear your voice firmly and lovingly speaking these words almost two decades later. However, that day wasn’t the first time your guidance and protection saved me.
I remember creek walking while we were camping one summer when I was in grade school. A water snake slithered beneath the large rock I was standing on in the center of the stream. I immediately froze in fear. I made the other children I was playing with run to find you somewhere on the campground, and you came to my rescue! You gave me the courage to step off the rock to another. The snake didn’t resurface or attack me.
Another day when I was visiting my cousin, I bent down to pick up a ball that had rolled under the bushes. A twig went into my eye near the pink part at the inner corner. My
aunt and uncle wanted to remove it, but I was too afraid. I wanted your gentle hand to remove this splinter from inside my eye. You drove the twenty-five minutes from our house to theirs and pulled that stick out of my eye in moments. I felt no pain and had no complications. I felt so silly for making you come to my rescue. I was grateful.
I also remember spending the night at Baba’s house with my sister. Maybe it was the first time sleeping away from home, perhaps not. I couldn’t sleep. I was afraid of that old house, the noises it made, and the many staircases leading up to the third floor and even down to the dark cellar. It was late and you were probably already asleep or trying to have a child free evening with mom. Baba called you at my persistence, and you saved me from the frightening darkness way back then too.
Fast forward to 2003 when I was 24-years old. We were riding in the car, you were driving and I was in the back seat. I had just ended my relationship and you were helping me move into my own apartment. You looked at me in the rear view mirror and said,
“Dayna, this isn’t all his fault.
You have a role to play here too.
Look in the mirror.”
That advice was like you rescuing me one more time.
Your pearl of wisdom reminded me that I am in control and I have responsibility for how events turn out in my life.
It helped me tremendously after my bipolar diagnosis in 2006 and two years later in 2008 when I started to take my functional recovery and medications seriously. I understood that I had a role in my wellness, and worked to figure out what my role was and how to do it well.
The concept of personal responsibility helped me avoid the blame game. The fact was I had bipolar disorder and there were thousands, if not millions, of bipolar patients living richly rewarding lives despite their mental illnesses. They took care of themselves and
worked hard to manage their symptoms and challenges. I could be one of them too. You helped me see that.
Thank you for always being there to save me—oftentimes from myself.
You provided safety, strength, and protection. I could always count on you, and I know I still can even though I am now in my early forties. Thank you for being a good role model and a loving father. I know now how exceptionally rare that is in this world.
You are one of my greatest blessings in life.
I love you, papa bear. xoxo
Read more about the role of personal responsibility in mental health wellness in this Psychology Today article, Personal Responsibility and Mental Health, written by Loretta Breuning, Ph.D. She describes how mental health isn’t hard-wired, it is a set of learned skills.
I recognize the privilege of having a father who taught me some of these skills early in life. Anyone can learn them at any point and benefit from the significant difference they make in our lives.
Danya J. Bio
Dayna was 27 years old when she first experienced a two year spiral of mixed manic and depressive episodes including six inpatient hospitalizations, a suicide attempt, and the threat of a three year commitment if she did not become medically compliant.
Today, Dayna maintains a close relationship with her psychiatrist and is thriving in her career and home life with the help of prescribed medications.
Dayna lives in the Washington, DC metro area with her partner of 19 years. Together they share their home with two cats, Latte and Donut, and Butters their corgi. They love to travel the world and have spent time exploring three continents and over two dozen countries.
Find Dayna’s book, Shine Bright, Seeking Daylight in the Darkness, on Amazon.
Dayna writes about her bipolar journey and story on her website, www.DaylightandDarkness.com. Connect with Dayna on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaylightandDarknessDayna and Instagram: https://instagram.com/Day.lightandDarkness