Love Overcomes Shame


CEE Mental Health Banner
Public messages to create societal awareness of mental illness were no where to be found three decades ago when I awoke on the locked mental wing of a local hospital. Today they appear frequently in popular media and in surprising places including the greeting card aisle at CVS. Nestled among the cards at CVS are pamphlets identifying five ways anyone can be a source of help and hope to someone living with mental illness. A diagnosis of bipolar 1 disorder quickly followed my 1991 hospital admission. I was very fortunate. I had the love of a devoted spouse who quickly learned and then told me what I needed to do to get better. Thirty years ago, Jeff assured me that serious mental illness is not 100% curable, but is eminently treatable. This message gave me hope. A few close individuals followed Jeff’s lead, educating themselves about mental illness and thus overcoming their fear. In fact, they doubled up on their love of Jeff, our young children and needy me. Love saved me/us. Love makes all the difference. Love conquers the shame of mental illness that can lead families to keep an ill loved one hidden away. Sadly, in spite of the efforts of CVS and programs like Mental Health Awareness In Action (CEE’s mental health social action program) many mentally ill people remain unloved and at worst closeted. Psychotherapy, stress reduction, abstaining from substance abuse, healthy living and taking prescribed medications improve chances for recovery from severe mental illness. But, recovery is hard going and management is a day-to-day endeavor. Knowing that you’re loved makes all the difference. Let’s all LOVE! With love health can be maintained. With love hope can prevail. With love there is life! L’chaim Heidi Nimmo November 2019