Resilience: Finding Strength When You Hit a ‘New Low’

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It’s important to remember if you keep pushing forward and don’t give up, you can make a better life for yourself.

 

Today I want to talk about some of my low points and coming out the other side.

Being hospitalized due to my undiagnosed bipolar disorder was a low time. But there were many others.

Shortly after getting out of the hospital, my wife Heather and I lost our house. We were essentially homeless. Fortunately, some acquaintances let us live in their basement. It was small and had only one room with a door that Heather and I took. The kids, who were 8 and 6, slept on air mattresses in an alcove under the stairs.

At Christmas, we couldn’t afford a tree, so we decorated a chair and put what presents we could afford on it and under it. This was a very low point.

A year later, I took a class at Portland State University. I was still very sick, but had to do something to move forward.

At school, there would be meetings at lunch-time for different groups. Often there would be food. In the mornings, I would look at the event list and find out which rooms groups were meeting in. And then, as the meeting ended, I would slip in to see if there was any food leftover. If there was, I would eat it for lunch.

Then one day I slipped into a room when everyone left. I was hungry, but there was no food left over, except a half-eaten slice of pizza. I hesitated, then picked it up and ate it—and I realized how far I had fallen.

But I did not get stuck there. I did not give up. And I see that with other folks with a mental illness.

We are amazingly resilient.

This resilience is a strength that helps us persevere and move forward with hope for a better future.

This is Dave Mowry for bp Magazine’s bphope Vlog.

Learn more about bipolar disorder and resilience:

Bipolar and Resilience: Get Going When You Can’t Get Up

Coping, Resilience, and Post-Traumatic Growth

Finding Hope When You Are Faced with Being Homeless 

 

About the author
Dave Mowry is the author of the new book, “No Really, We Want You to Laugh. Mental Illness and Stand-Up Comedy: Transforming Lives.” The book tells the story of Dave and five others whose lives have been impacted by mental illness Dave has bipolar disorder and severe anxiety and suffered in silence for most of his adult life Five years ago Dave took a stand-up comedy class and it transformed him by showing him how to find humor in his darkest experiences. Dave now teaches stand-up comedy to other folks with a mental illness and sees the same transformation happen in them. Dave recently received the Community Champion Award for his work in mental illness in Oregon. He speaks regularly to large and small groups and was interviewed on the Think Out Loud program on Oregon Public Radio after the Robin Williams suicide. Dave was also featured in an article by The Oregonian newspaper in 2011. The article focused on the fact that most people with a mental illness are not dangerous or threatening. Dave worked as a peer support specialist for NAMI from December 2010 to December 2014. During this time he worked with well over 1200 people and this experience informs his writing, teaching, speaking and performing. Dave and stand-up class graduates perform regularly to audiences from 50 to 500 people in Oregon and Southwest Washington shattering stigma one joke at a time. Dave lives just outside Portland, Oregon with his wife Heather, daughter Meghan and grandson Van.
8 Comments
  1. We truly are resilient! Thank you for the reminder that there is hope for a better future.

  2. Your comments lifted my spirits today. Thank you.

  3. Thank you Dave for sharing. I suffer with Bipolar disease too. And so does my eldest son. It has made our relationship difficult at times although we love each other very much! I am very scared atbthe moment because I just bought a home and am worried that the Bipolar is getting in the way of decision making. I have asked for input from a dear friend. Hope everything works out for both of us! ML

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