MLK Day.jpgSome of you may recognize my dream, but I like to repost it every now and then to keep it alive and give it legs.

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.:

I have a dream that one day I won’t hold my breath every time I tell a person that I suffer from bipolar disorder, that I won’t feel shameful in confessing my mental illness.

I have a dream that people won’t feel the need to applaud me for my courage on writing and speaking publicly about my disease, because the diagnosis of depression and bipolar disorder would be understood no differently than that of diabetes, arthritis, or dementia.

I have a dream that the research into genetics of mood disorders will continue to pinpoint specific genes that may predispose individuals and families to depression and bipolar disorder (like the gene G72/G30, located on chromosome 13q), just as specific genes associated with schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder have been located and identified.

I have a dream that brain-imaging technology will continue to advance in discovering what, exactly, is going on inside the brain, that a neurological perspective coupled with a biochemical approach to mental illness will develop targeted treatments: new medication and better response to particular medications–that we can cut out that painful trial-and-error process.

I have a dream depressives won’t have to risk their jobs in divulging their condition, that employers will respond more empathetically to the country’s 7.8 million working depressives, that the general public will be more educated on mental illness so that it doesn’t cost this country more than $44 billion each year (like it does now).

I have a dream that families, friends, and co-workers will show kindness to depressives, not reproach them for not being stronger, for not having enough will power and discipline and incentive to get well, for not snapping out of it, for not being grateful enough, for not seeing the cup half full, for not controlling their emotions.

I have a dream that tabloids like “In Touch Weekly” won’t lump allegations of Britney Spears’ taking antidepressants into the same category as her 24-hour marriage, all-night clubbing, and pantyless photos–that our world might be more sophisticated and informed than that.

I have a dream that people will no longer use the following terms to describe persons with mental illness: fruity, loony, wacky, nutty, cuckoo, loopy, crazy, wacko, gonzo, nutso, batty, bonkers, ditzy, bananas, and crazy.

I have a dream that spiritual leaders might preach compassion to persons with mental illness, not indict them for not praying hard enough, or in the right way, or often enough, and that judgmental new-age thinkers who blame all illness on blocked energy (in chakras one through seven) might be enlightened to understand that fish oil, mindfulness meditation, and acupuncture can’t cure everything.

I have a dream that health insurance companies will stop serving Satan, and read a medical report every now and then, where they would learn that depression is a legitimate, organic brain disease, and that those who suffer from it aren’t a bunch of weak, pathetic people who can’t cope with life’s hard knocks.

I dream that one day depression won’t destroy so many marriages and families, that better and faster treatment will work in favor of every form of intimacy.

I have a dream that suicide won’t take more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, or AIDS, that together we can do better to reduce the 30,000 suicides that happen annually in the United States, and that communities will lovingly embrace those friends and families of persons who ran out of hope, instead of simply ignoring the tragedy or attaching fault where none should be.

I have a dream that one day depression, bipolar disorder, and all kinds of mental illness will lose their stigma, that I won’t have to whisper the word “Zoloft” to the pharmacist at Rite Aid, that people will be able to have loud conversations in coffee shops about how they treat their depression (in addition to the excellent dialogue we have here on “Beyond Blue”).

Mostly, I dream about a day when I can wake up and think about coffee first thing in the morning, rather than my mood–is it a serene one, a panicked one, or somewhere in between?–and fretting about whether or not I’m heading toward the black hole of despair. I dream that I’ll never ever have to go back to that harrowing and lonely place of a year ago. That no one else should have to either. But if they do (or if I do), that they not give up hope. Because eventually their tomorrow will be better than their today. And they will be able to dream again too.

Originally published on Beyond Blue at

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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17 Responses
  1. Ammah ( mother )

    May all your dreams come true & for all those suffering from depression & mental illness. May all the estrangement come to a better understanding & love.

  2. Viki

    Thank you for this! It’s nice to know others see those things the same way as I do (esp insurance companies!).


  3. Helene

    Your dream is also my dream. I appreciate your forthrightness. Today is not a great day for me but reading your blog just made it a bit better.

    Thank You Much,


  4. This is great Therese – so beautifully said…

    Respectfully John – I am guessing that Thereses’ intense morning routines wouldn’t easily include this video.

    It’s a great song, and if situational depression was what she is dealing with, then it might very well help. But, the level of depression and anxiety that she is referring to in this awesome article makes the sentiment of this tune irrelevant. Actually, I’d love to watch this with her in person, so that we could have a good laugh. Again – no offense and it is a sweet tune.

    What she is talking about is the ability to get through an hour with out crisis. Without an overwhelming doom overhead about the most basic daily tasks ahead. What she is talking about is having faith that she can handle an appropriate breakfast conversation with her kids, let alone the tasks ahead that include driving, dropping off, talking to other adults.

    Yeah – in this dream that she’s talking about it wouldn’t still be so dah gone complicated being able to talk about these things out loud – it still isn’t. Shame and misunderstanding still rules the day. It makes me sad.

    I continue to be thankful for connecting with you years ago – and you remain in my prayers. ~ Kate

  5. Quite right Katherine. It’s also worth noting that Felix Powell who composed the music to ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in your Old Kit Bag and Smile Smile Smile’ committed suicide. Great tune by Pharrell though. Much better than ‘Don’t Worry be Happy’.

  6. Tammy T

    Very well said. In my family of 4 people, including myself, mental illness was (is) a wrecking ball that slammed through leaving utter devastation. My mother, a brilliant artist, suffered incredible depression her entire life….and refused medication or any therapy. She self medicated with alcohol, a liter or two of red wine daily. And nicotene, a couple of packs a day. My brother is a life long alcoholic, depressed, and will be dead by the time he is 55. My father is also brilliant, a mathmatician (actuary) from the days when the only tool you used was a slide rule (no calculators). He passed all 10 of the actuarial exams in the top 1%. He is also wildly Bi Polar, and will stay up for days at a time and then plummet into the blackest reaches of hell for days….I flirt with mild bi polar disease, and have tried Zoloft, 50MG QD, but it didnt really help much. I have a tendency towards ODC and occasional mild mania…..but at 50 now I recognize the signs and exercise and music get me thru. My adult son, who is my roomie, inherited the brilliance and the OCD and moderate bi polar illness. He tried Celexa and another med, neither did much, he finds medical marijuana a better fit for him. It really seems to work. Im not talking about something you buy off the street, he is a legal patient and the strains high in CBD work well. Its the THC that get you “high”, the CBD strains help for medical uses. In fact, it has been discovered that most humans have extremely low natural endocannobidiod levels! Realize, MMJ is FAR safer that big Pharm wants you to realize….they have massive profit margins on their meds and hand out scripts like crazy….

  7. Dear Therese,

    I am sorry to hear about what has happened. I too share my BP to help others. I am out there posting my life’s experience and trying to help others. I don’t see how a blogger can be blamed for a suicide. Love and hugs and keep up the good work. I am right there with you.