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I continued to read Napoleon Hill’s book, I was inspired to achieve the impossible. He wrote that desire is the starting point. What was my desire? What was it that I wanted to achieve? I wanted to be free of the mental and emotional turmoil that seemed embedded deeply in my inner world — this thing called “mental illness.” Ultimately my desire was to get better and to help others know they can too.

I thought about that last day in Alaska Psychiatric Institute when the nurse told me that I would be in and out of API the rest of my life. And I remembered the decision I made that day: “I’m going to prove you wrong. I’m going to get better. When I get better, I am going to help other people know that they can too. I will never come back.” That is what I considered my starting point, my desire. But I realized that I had to get better first before I could help anyone else. I asked myself, “How can I do this? How do I get better?” To turn my desire into reality, I would have to follow it up with definite purpose and persistence, just as Hill identified in his book.

When I returned the following week, I told the therapist that I wanted to go to work. She vehemently negated the idea. “You can’t go to work ever,she said. She told me that my life as I knew it was over. “You need to get food stamps,” she continued. “You need to get housing assistance. You need to get aid for families with dependent children.” Her final disparaging remark was that I would lose my children if I didn’t follow her advice. She asked, “Is that what you want?”

I persisted, “No! I do not want to lose my children. I want to get better. I want to go to work. I believe that working will help me get better.”

“Absolutely not!” she exclaimed. “If you don’t accept your situation, that is exactly what will happen. You will lose your children.”

I firmly reiterated my position. “You are trying to force me to go against what my own conscience is telling me I need to do to get better. You want me to give up and just give in to you! I can’t do that!” I stormed out of her office and never went back.

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, I stopped rocking and sobbing. I leaned my back against the wall and stretched out my legs. I had not taken any medication at bedtime and with no Cogentin in my system, my hands were really shaking, and my insides were quaking. I had to go to work in a few hours and it did not matter whether I slept or not.

I found myself wishing the wall would swallow me up or maybe I could sink into the floor and not get out. Anything is better than this, I thought. Finally, I realized the wall was not going to swallow me up and I was not going to sink into the floor. I told myself I was as far back and as far down as I could go and then said, The only thing I can do is rise up and go forward.

A story in Think and Grow Rich told of a man who determined that he had to burn his bridges so that he could not retreat if he was going to get what he wanted. Working and moving to our own apartment was my way to start burning my bridges so that I could not retreat either. It was scary, but necessary to make my way. Right, wrong, or indifferent, I would not retreat!

Georgi handed me a poem by Bill Morris entitled, “A True Measure.” She encouraged me to read it every day, assuring me that his words would help change my life.

“To begin again after failure;
to take that first step of many…
that is the true measure of a person.
To start anew after failing…
to reach and reach again…
grasping at fleeting hope.
It is the person who will
not lie dormant or turn away but
again and again will not accept the
plight of defeat…
this is the person who will survive.”

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