They dubbed me "Sunshine." When I think of sunshine, I see a beautiful yellow smiling face the kids stick on envelopes. To think my friends saw me as glowing, bright, and sunny. ME! ... who struggled along the path of life ever since 1973 ...
... I was always shy and a bit overweight. In October 1973, I was hostessing a wedding anniversary party for my parents. I so desperately wanted to fit into a size 12 pleated blue gown. Not thinking of any consequences -- nothing could ever happen to a young vibrant 20-year old -- I stopped eating, and only drank coffee and diet sodas. At the time I was working as a secretary in the Foreign Language Department of a local college. It was the days of the Hippies and Yippies. Did someone put a drug (LSD?) into my beverage on the desk? Did one of the learned professors or students transfer thoughts to me to be sick? This world knows too much about paranormal activities. One nationality against the other. One race against another. If someone maliciously had a part to play -- they ruined an entire life. "There but for the grace of God, go I." Holy God will take care of them. What really happened to me I will never know for sure.
Instead of the party, I landed up in the hospital. As I had become a bit delirious, the doctors put me in a psychiatric department and administered shock treatments (as that was the treatment of choice in the "barbaric days" of psychiatry). After three weeks when I was released, I was in a BILLION times worse shape than when I was admitted.
In the hospital, they started me on antipsychotic drugs. Over the years, the side effects of the medications have been unbearable! In 1976, I felt terrific and threw the pills in the trash. I wound up in the hospital again and the shock treatments were given. With the combination of the "cold turkey" withdrawal symptoms (that I only learned could happen through my suffering experiences) and the shock treatments, when I was brought into the bathroom to wash in the tub, I didn't even know how to take a bath! At one point in the hospital, I was even crawling on the floor. For five years or more after the shock treatments, I could hardly think -- no thoughts would formulate in my mind. Everywhere I went, people would say to me, "Gosh, you are so quiet." If only they knew how those words affected me! I understand that if they are not done properly, damage can occur. The treatments are a trauma to the brain. Today, I am sure, the treatments have been perfected since the 1970s.
Years ago, one doctor gave me the label of schizophrenia. Labels can be devastating. For many years, that label dangled from my neck like an albatross. Why should I get out of bed? ... I have schizophrenia. Gosh, Mom, I can't do the dishes ... I have schizophrenia. Another doctor said my case resembles manic depression. Still another doctor said I have schizoid affective disorder. I felt like a failure and I felt inhuman. I didn't know much then about these illnesses. I have since learned about manic depression, schizophrenia and chemical imbalances. They are all illnesses just like diabetes and certainly should not be looked down upon or be ashamed. Today my doctor and my social worker are baffled with my case and are at a loss where a label is concerned. Three doctors said I have nothing ... that is, after Holy God repaired me from the damage.
In 1978, after several years of pure torture, I had a decision to make. Shall I lie here in bed for the rest of my life, or should I TRY to get better? At that point, I thought it virtually impossible to improve even minimally. Yet, there was a glimmer of sunshine in my heart. I could hardly think; therefore, I could hardly talk. I happened upon a picture of a parrot. "That's what I dream of being: a parrot who could chatter all day long at will" I remember thinking. I decided to paint a parrot picture. I shopped for acrylic paints and, indeed, I painted my parrot. I decided to also paint one of Jesus praying in the Garden. On my bedroom wall, the parrot was hung on the left and a photograph of me on the right and Jesus at the center top.
I went to see a religious psychotherapist who started me on the road to recovery. He had me read positive thinking books and asked me to put my thoughts down in written form. Writing always came very hard for me, but now the words started to flow. I took up a pen-pal hobby and taught myself to compose. I met several cherished friends. By doing this writing, I was (unknowingly) retraining my brain from the trauma it had undergone. Professional people have told me that I have a gift with words. ME ... who could never do anything before! I began writing poetry and several of my poems were printed in area newspapers. I also took up hobbies such as crocheting. I joined a Crochet Club. Women who had been crocheting for 30 years started asking my advice on the patterns. ME ... who could never do anything before! A homemade pattern of mine was published in a national magazine ... ME ... who could never do anything before ... or so I thought.
Along my road to recovery, I met a social worker (Peggy) who has become like a sister to me. She needed someone to do her typing. She knew it was my lifelong dream to be my own boss in a secretarial service. I had graduated from a secretarial school before the crash diet. I did her typing and in return, my friend gave me my own office (rent-free) for ten years. For many reasons, I had to give up that Heaven-sent office and now work from home. I have had many well-pleased clients. Due to the computer age at present, my work has ceased. Or did Holy God stop it so you could be reading this today as I work on my God-given creative talents?
Over the years I learned to smile at all times. No matter how bad it gets, it always gets better. The pictures I had painted to this day remain on my wall. I looked at these pictures every single day. I have a personality today that I never thought possible in the 1970s. God has answered my prayers with much greater substance than I ever prayed for to begin with.
What kept me going through all the hard days? ... my love for God. As a little girl, I was taught the purpose of life is to know, to love, and to serve God. Through the people who have come into my life, I have learned to know, love and serve Him in the best way I can.
For the many years of my affliction, you can say that I sat back and watched the world go by. Let me assure you that watching the world go by isn't a bad way of life. I watched and I watched. I didn't jump into anything. I learned what I want and what I don't want. What I do want is to follow the Lord's Statutes. I want to continuously know, love, and serve Our Creator. One of my religious books I treasure states that our crosses are picked out for us and by carrying our cross, we will find our cross is carrying us. How true! If it were not for my affliction, my life would be empty now. My knowledge and my love for Our King would only be a fraction of what it is now. My illness has polished my love. For some reason, known to God, I was made to walk in the shoes of a mental patient, perhaps to see how they suffer ... and, oh, they do.
Although the doctors of the 1970s tried to help me, they hurt me, and then the medical profession of the 1980s and 1990s put me back together again. I've used my bag of tools to become the best person I can be; I made my stumbling block into a stepping stone: all because I found the golden key ... love for God, for my fellow man ... and for me.
I want to say that the motivator, "What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve" is 100 percent ture ... if it aligns with Holy God's Will ... just ask Sunshine.
And I want to repeat the statement again and again, "No matter how bad it gets, it always gets better." Just ask Sunshine. She'll tell you all about THE PARROT MIRACLE.
When trials come our way ... we have the choice of either becoming BITTER or BETTER. Holy God helps those who turn to Him. He guides our every baby step if we give Him our lives.
TO GOD BE ALL THE GLORY FOR WITH HIM ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.
In humble Faith, Hope, and Charity,
Diane-Lynn Broda (DianeASDF)
Elizabeth, New Jersey (USA)