Dear Audience,

Thank you to each and every one of you who took the time out, not only to read my writing, but also to respond. I have read each and every response and they have all brought me more of the quiet but profound joy and satisfaction that comes to the author who learns he or she has touched someone's life for the better.

I am so very glad and grateful that you have been inspired by my story. Whether you responded as a mental health professional, a fellow sufferer of mental illness or an interested reader all your words are welcome.

My intention in writing this article was to help lift the stigma that continues to surround the topic of mental illness and hurts all those who suffer and the loved ones who suffer along with them.

My intention was also to provide company of sorts to those who suffer today, those who suffered in the past and those who are trying to help loved ones and to provide support and be a friend via the gift of the written word.

Another goal in writing this piece was to expose the often times hurtful, condescending or abusive approach of so-called mental health care professionals and psychiatric institutions. A degree does not make a professional. The products of the brain are useless when dispensed without heart.

Humility, empathy, compassion, understanding, honesty and respect must be at the front lines of any attempt to heal sufferers of mental illness.

Sadly, those of us who suffer from mental illness are often not able to speak out in our defense. This helps to allow abusive attitudes to proliferate. This article is an attempt to help break the wall of silence that can hurt via its passive stance.

Kay Redfield Jamison (the author of "An Unquiet Mind") is mentioned and recommended by one of my readers. I second the recommendation of this memoir. Ms. Jamison has more recently written a book entitled "Touched with Fire" that is more research oriented but fascinating in its enumeration of statistics and other relevant factual information that lead to the conclusion that many of us who are "touched with madness" are artist of different sorts (poets, writers, painters and other such passionate types).

I mention this because perhaps you too, if you relate to my words from personal experience, are an artist at heart. If so, I encourage you to unleash that inner creativity, as you are able with regard to your particular inclinations...

And I encourage you to write as well...speak out and let the world learn about you (and others via the resulting understanding) if you can and are able.

And speak out and let the world know if you feel you have been treated unfairly by any so called professional or care institution. Silence hurts. Words help.

I do wish to add that since the writing of this piece (about a year ago) I am , thank God, continuing to do well and improve and the symptoms of mental illness are becoming even fewer and more far between.

Warm regards to all my readers. And again, thank you for your kind words and blessing. May you be blessed with your own angels and always, with siata dishmaya, help from the One Above Who is especially close to struggling souls and who seeks to help those who aspire to greater heights.

Shani Silverstien