Free–Helping Us Heal

Last Updated: 7 Jul 2020

Twenty years ago I lived a gloriously hippie-fied summer/fall in what was then quaint Telluride, Colorado.  The social center of town was the post office.  Directly across from the post office was the town’s “Free Box”. Actually it was a wall of cubby holes, into which folks discarded items and/or picked out things they wanted.  All free. It was great to score a down coat when winter was coming, and good to give some extra carabineers for rock climbing. 


The point is that people gave and got, shared. 


With illness, mental or physical, it’s good to know that people, organizations, groups, man-on-the-street, and inanimate objects, are all around us, and can help us for free, and help us be free.


My husband spent time in Telluride also (we never met), and we frequently reminisce about the Free Box and the beauty of its innumerable concepts. Some are:

 §         Giving to others

 §         Absence of judgment

 §         Gratitude

 §         Acceptance of need and that of others

 §         Opportunity to be social

 §         Get advice or other assistance

 §         Find listeners; learn to listen

 §         Make friends


It goes on, and in my opinion, the list above reflects some of the elements needed in our healing. And it costs nothing, money-wise.  My husband and I still have things we pulled from the free box years ago, and use them (what can I say—we like fleece). 


Today, we take things we don’t need to the thrift store that funds our local battered women’s shelter.  Other times, we just set things on the sidewalk, sticking on a note that reads, “Free!”.  Stuff is gone within a few hours.  I feel healthier and more fulfilled when I give, and am grateful for receiving.


What are your thoughts about “free”?  How can it help us heal?


About the author
Beth Brownsberger Mader was diagnosed in 2004, at age 38, with bipolar II disorder and C-PTSD, after living with symptoms and misdiagnoses for over 30 years. In 2007, she suffered a traumatic brain injury, compounding bipolar recovery challenges that she continues to work on today. Since these diagnoses, Beth has written extensively about bipolar, its connection to PTSD, physical illness, disability, and ways to develop coping skills and maintain hope. She also writes about bipolar/brain disorders and family, marriage, relationships, loss, and grief. Beth finds the outdoors to be her connection to her deepest healing skills, where the metaphors for life, love, compassion, and empathy are revealed, and how her bipolar and other challenges are faced head-on with perseverance and determination. Beth served as a contributing editor/featured columnist for bp Magazine from 2007 until 2016, and as a bphope blogger from 2011 until 2016. She returned to blogging for bphope in 2019. Beth continues to work on her unpublished memoir, Savender. She holds a BA from Colorado College and an MFA from the University of Denver. Beth lives in Colorado with her husband, Blake, and her service dog, Butter. Check out Beth’s blog at bessiebandaidrinkiewater.

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