Be the Only One: thoughts on mental illness

Thoughts on Mental Illness, Light, Love and Legacy

Tonight I stand with Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life, and his wife, Kay, and their family in their loss of their son, Matthew, a light. My heart breaks for them. And for the depth of pain Matthew must have felt. And for the world that will not have the benefit of his light (though it lives on so long as we carry it).

I share my perspective below. First, an excerpt from a letter Rick Warren wrote about his son:

“Kay and I often marveled at his courage to keep moving in spite of relentless pain. I’ll never forget how, many years ago, after another approach had failed to give relief, Matthew said “Dad, I know I’m going to heaven. Why can’t I just die and end this pain?” but he kept going for another decade.”

This description haunts me. Matthew’s plea was my plea.

During the darkest years, when no treatment from the outside lifted the veil of separation mental illness was for me, I was desperate for some relief. I only wanted to be with Jesus again, returned to the home I remembered.

Bloody Tears in Spring (c) 1998 Dawn RichersonMy earliest memory is one of being swallowed up by a darkness I knew I did not belong to. As a child I experienced fragmentation of my whole self. Having come through so much on my journey back to sacred wholeness, after a series of devastating blows in my early 30s, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, marked by what I call “blinding light and sudden dark.” I’m working on a book about this period called Love Between the Poles.

I wanted out. Life was unbearable as it was, and I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. The light I knew within seemed to have dimmed. And then, worst of all, I began to believe it was merely an illusion that there had been any light there at all.

Sometimes I believe there was something much deeper that triggered the “mental illness.”

In my own case, I believe I had glimpses of who I was. I knew I was a light, as we all are, meant to shine.

And yet I was afraid. I was afraid to shine too bright, to live too loud, to be too me. I was told I was “too much.” In my case, I became the inverse: “not enough.” I branded my own soul with this stamp for awhile, punishment I subconsciously inflicted on myself when I felt that others did not see me or saw the true, authentic me and dismissed me outright.

It was so painful to experience this non-acknowledgment and the illusion of “reality” that, eventually, I just went with crazy. I write about this in my book Journey to Sacred Wholeness (not yet released but I blog around the topic here in Whole Notes).

It begins with compassion. Love one another, yes. And before even that love that you are Love. You are Light – a reflection of the One Light and a unique expression of that Light.

I am happy I have learned to “be the only one” when that is how I feel. I am fortunate to be here, because there were so many moments along the way when I simply did not know how to “choose now,” so many times when I gave up on life and could no longer feel love rising up in me or see it in another.

From my book Cultivating Essence from the Matrix of Soul (available FREE in sidebar of this site and here):

CHOOSING NOW. Freedom comes in choosing now. When we surrender fear, we cast off the illusion that giving more means we will not have enough. Love remains exponential in its reach. And if you are the only one then you are the only one. Expand to fill the space. Or be the desert rose.

You’ve heard the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” Do not wait for the right time, for the right environment, for the right circumstances to fall into place. Be here now. Be now here. And, if you are nowhere, then be there and know you are loved. And know you are love. And know love. Know there is no thing greater than love. Love is there. Always, there is love.

Feel it rising up within you in this moment. Believe it to be there in the other. Believe it with so firm a conviction that you can make no choice but love. Love one another. Love when there is no cause for love. Be the cause of love. Be the causeway. Give life a reason to believe. Believe there is a reason.

Cultivate you. Water the world.

And, tonight, say a prayer for those great lights who are, even now, experiencing separation and perceive the darkness closing in due to mental illness or emotional pain.

And if, by chance, you have ever felt or feel right now that you are the only one, then, please,

Be the only one.
Expand to fill the space.
Above all else, know you are loved.
You are love.
You are light.
This is real.
You are.
I am.

Peace and Love,


P.S. I am happy to share my experience with your group. Just reach out to me. Download the free e-book in the sidebar and consider the 21-Day Journey to connect to the heart and soul of who you are. Many blessings and much love,


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