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What You Make Of It

“Honesty is such a lonely word, Everyone is so untrue, Honesty is hardly ever heard, And mostly what I need from you” Billy Joel 

Life is what you make of it. In every life, there will tribulation and testing. Some will crumble under the crushing weight while others will become strong. 

puzzle pieces photoThings are not equal in this world and economics plays a great part in that.

“There is a stigma attached to mental illness, unlike any physical sickness. It is usually not visible. It is hidden from those around us, neighbors, coworkers, acquaintances and even friends. It’s the dirty little secret that the rest of the family doesn’t like to talk about. If you’re poor, they will call you “crazy” and most likely you will wind up in a state institution or worse, a prison. If you’re middle class, you suffer from a “chemical imbalance,” and you will most likely get adequate treatment. If you are rich, you will be called “eccentric” and you will get the finest treatment. Whatever you call it, most people would like to brush it under the mat.” These words come from the introduction to my memoirs “More Than The Madness.”

I have lived for thirty years now with my bipolar and I have personal experience of the world of mental illness. I have been in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital which is a state institution. I have also been in one of the finer hospitals where they had a swimming pool, a gym, an arts and crafts room and food like a five-star restaurant. I have been in others that would be in between these two poles. All in all, there are nuances to each one, each having benefits and detriments.

I have come to this conclusion that in recovery from mental illness it depends on the person wanting to recover. What is recovery? To me, it was returning to college to get my degree and to find a job to support myself. To another, it might be as simple as staying out of psychiatric hospitals. To another, it might be not committing suicide.  It all depends upon the severity of one’s illness.

I am one hundred percent certain that if I didn’t get any support from loved ones that I would not have done as well as I have. There was a time where I could not handle the tedious rigors of life. Without assistance, I would have been swallowed up and consumed by the oblivion. In particular, my mother showed me great love by being my advocate. She made sure I took my medicine and visited me all the time in the hospital.

And so life goes on and presently my wife is suffering from dementia, which is a tremendous challenge to us both. Now I find the roles have reversed and that I am the caregiver. Yesterday I was very sick but still, I had to do my bare minimum. I had to bathe my wife and make sure she got something to eat. If I didn’t do it nobody would and so I pushed myself.

I want to talk about art for a moment. There are many talented artists out there that have never had a modicum of success. The reason being is that to succeed as an artist today one has to fight for their own work. Either that or be back by some organization that has a massive pull with the public, like a record company or a publisher. It is in the struggle to excel as an artist that the craft is truly refined. The artist is made from the turmoil. It takes a lot to be resilient. To be rejected and carry on. Commercial success is the goal, as the dream is to make a living out of doing what one loves.

The race is not to the swift nor the prize to the strong. We are all going to face obstacles the thing is how will those determents affect you? More important in the fight the character of the person is forged.

I would like to present to you my book of memoirs “More Than The Madness”

Also, there is my poetic adventure “Polishing The Fragments” where I delved into living life with mental illness and taking care of my wife with dementia.

What You Make Of It

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). What You Make Of It. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 21, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Jul 2018
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