LDS blogger battles bipolar disorder by traveling the country, befriending strangers
“She was determined to turn this trial into a positive and to help others through her suffering and to prove that if she can do it, as hard as it is, anyone can do it," Lisa Thompson said. "Anyone can get out of bed and count their blessings.”
Along the way, Josie Thompson kept a blog and created videos documenting her journey. As she traveled, and in the time since, she has received messages from strangers who commented that she was able to convey what they’ve long felt about dealing with trials but were unable to articulate.
Thompson wound up recording more than 500 answers from a wide range of people throughout the country. She is in the process of writing a book about her experiences.
Continuing the fight
Thompson still has aspirations of finishing school and getting married one day. She recognizes her challenges are ever-present and won’t go away in this life, even though she is better able to control what she can and work around what she can’t.
“These storms are going to storm into our lives with or without our consent,” she said. “We can certainly introduce them ourselves when we make bad choices, but even when we are doing everything we can to walk the straight and narrow path, these storms will still come.
“I’m still stuck in the middle of this. I’m still struggling every day, but with each new day I have a little bit more strength because I keep going,” she said. “I am learning and obtaining wonderful lessons that I would have never (otherwise) been blessed with. ... I’ve got to learn to still do everything I can to learn to be happy and still cope with this.”
Elder Holland's conference talk addressed perspective when dealing with mental illness.
"Also let us remember that through any illness or difficult challenge, there is still much in life to be hopeful about and grateful for," he said. "We are infinitely more than our limitations or our afflictions!"
Thompson's mother has seen her daughter cling to the Atonement during this process.
“I have seen her grow in her testimony and turn to the Savior and literally grasp hold of the Atonement and the Savior,” Lisa Thompson said. “There are times when she feels like that’s all that’s going to get her through and she has become a different person through all of this.”
Through her learning and doing, Thompson hopes to help others recognize the power of the Atonement so their burdens might be eased.
“I want to be the girl that brings light to others through my own darkness,” she said. “I want to help people. ... Hard things happen and you might have them for the rest of your life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live a life and that you can’t somehow adapt to those situations.”
Ryan McDonald is studying communication at the University of Utah, where he works as the sports editor of the campus newspaper, The Daily Utah Chronicle.
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