I connected with Chad Harp (@chadharpauthor on Twitter this year. After reading one of his tweets about his book, Happiness, I became very curious about it and his story. He was kind enough to send me a copy of Happiness for me to read and review. Enjoy!
At first glance, Happiness appears to be slightly unconventional. Its cover is unique, it lacks information about the author, and the words on each page are handwritten by the author himself.
Despite it only taking roughly fifteen minutes to read, I found Happiness to be a very powerful book that is raw and honest. It helps shed a light on what living with mental illness is like. It also inspires hope that, no matter how dark our reality might be, there is always a chance for recovery.
In his book, Chad tells us,
“I stopped being a person. I became my pain.”
I can relate to those words exactly. When a person experiences so much pain, it’s hard to remain in control to prevent themselves from becoming that pain. These two seemingly small sentences pack a whole lot of meaning that I completely and wholeheartedly understand.
He also mentioned,
“Those who examined my misbehavior did so with the misguided belief that I acted with a rational mind.”
This is a very common occurrence that we need to continue addressing in our efforts to raise awareness of mental illness. Many people with mental illness experience symptoms that cause them to act impulsively or irrationally beyond their control. For example, when I have lashed out in anger or spent money I didn’t have, the people I knew were under the assumption that I was purposefully acting irresponsible. That was not the case.
Chad tells us about his struggle to find a physician that would listen to him and take his opinion into account in regard to a possible diagnosis. Through his perseverance and dedication to advocacy of self, he was able to take a step forward in his road to recovery. This should serve as a reminder to us all that we must never stop advocating for ourselves.
One thing that stood out to me was the author’s mention of forgiveness. He says,
“In order to live, the first thing that I had to do was to forgive myself.”
Chad tells us that he was a monster for all of the things that he did before he was prescribed a medication that worked. His sentiment of forgiveness in relation to his recovery is rather powerful. He knew that he had to forgive himself for his past behaviors in order for him to be able to move forward.
I really appreciate the level of honesty that Chad infused into Happiness. He reminds us that recovery is possible no matter how bleak things may seem, and that self-advocacy and forgiveness are extremely important aspects of our recovery.
All we have to do is choose to live.
I recommend reading Happiness if you have a mental illness or know someone who is living with a mental illness. If you have a mental illness, you will likely be able to relate to at least some aspect of Chad’s experience with his own illness. If you don’t have a mental illness, this will give you a small glimpse of what it’s like to live with a usually debilitating illness.