Embracing Gratitude

Author: Sophia Falco

I delve deep into the dreamland of my imagination. I embrace envisioning light flowing throughout my body, and soothing my mind edging out the darkness that has taken up residency for far too long. The beauty of the natural world speaks to me in colors. When I am in the presence of the blue and amazingly beautiful vast ocean, I feel its strength reminding me that I too am strong. I am rooted in reality once again with the resiliency I had all along like that of a tree who has weathered many storms. I have traversed through a depression that has lasted many moons, and I am ever so grateful that I am coming out the other side. A beacon of light (though at times very faint) deep within my soul has guided me through the sometimes dangerous waters of my mind. Now when I feel moments of ease—I do not take these moments for granted—they are like the feeling of the cool crisp ocean air swirling around my body. A sigh of relief with every beat—my heart. My heart is a gem. My soul has revived.

I am writing here before you today strong despite living with bipolar disorder 1 for nearly a decade now. I am writing here before you today as resilient poet (poetry helps free me from some suffering) and a college graduate who has excelled. I am writing here before you today as an individual very grateful for my therapists, my psychiatrist, the loving support of my family and close friends, and for the companionship with my dog Roxie. I have learned the tools of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and I have implemented them in my life which has been very beneficial.

I have put in the hard work to recover and heal from this depression because it is up to me to want to get better. I have held onto hope though that was difficult in these trying times in my personal life. When I was in a battle with myself. When my thoughts were distorted. When feelings of failure washed over me despite my accomplishments. When I felt like I could barely move my body, and when I would sleep and sleep and sleep almost 12 hours. However, my hope has increased over time with the healing process. (I understand and acknowledge that still the world is in trying times.) I learned to be compassionate towards myself. I realized I do not have to become more successful because success does not equal happiness. To become something else is no longer relevant. I am learning to accept myself as I am and believe that I am indeed enough. I have not let bipolar disorder 1 define me even though I have faced stigma in my life. I know it is not all smooth sailing from here yet I am grateful to be alive in this present moment. I do have hopes, dreams, aspirations—my dream job would to be a creative writing professor—and this is possible. Definitely this not out of reach, but hard work is needed, and I know I have that within me. I would be a strong candidate in the application process.

I have graduated this past June from the University of California, Santa Cruz with the highest honors in the Literature Department and the University honors of magna cum laude. My BA is in intensive literature with a creative writing concentration in poetry. I trust my poet instinct. My poetry chapbook The Immortal Sunflower was published by UnCollected Press in December 2019 was a winner of their Raw Art Review Chapbook Contest. In addition, I have about 30 poems published individually in many journals including some contest finishes. Even though I received harsh criticism from a professor in college in regards to what I believe is one of my best poems “Rocket Ship”, I kept my faith in my work. He strongly believed that the speaker of the poem was too disembodied, however that was the message I was trying to convey. In a sort of validation—not that it had to place in a contest—“Rocket Ship” did by winning third place in the Poetry Matters Project college category.

As you can see I strongly identify as a poet which has given me more confidence in my life. I have allowed my faith in my poetry to permeate into all aspects of life. It is easier said than done, but I have kept my faith in myself when I received the diagnosis of bipolar disorder 1, and up to this point nearly a decade later. (Diagnosed at age 16). I have proven to myself that I can get through the moods that sometimes come along with bipolar disorder 1, and that this too shall pass.




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