Life Lessons from a Mentally Ill MomThis is my 22nd Mother’s Day. Or my first, depending on how you look at it.

You can read my experiences with being a birthmom here and here. Part 3 is rather happier: This is the first Mother’s Day following my ridiculously blissful reunion with my wonderful son and his equally wonderful parents.

It’s hard to say much, mostly because the memories of those few days in December are so intensely personal and the emotions still so raw. I’m not quite ready to let the world in on them. What I will say is that, as magical as it all was, and as healing as it all was, it wasn’t a cure-all. Right now, I’m on my third antidepressant combo in two months, trying to get out of the most recent episode, just so you know that even really joyous events don’t instantly cure longstanding mental illnesses and trauma.

I wanted to mention that because May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. I saw a headline the other day stating that most Americans think the stigma of mental illness is fading. I’d say it’s a safe bet those are the people who don’t suffer from it or know anyone who does. My mental health has, directly or indirectly, cost me every job I’ve ever had, and affects even my part-time, work-mostly-from-home gig now. Trust me — there’s still plenty of stigma to go around.

I have tried to be wide-open about the two most difficult issues in my life because I believe wholeheartedly in education. Reporters really are educators, even if they don’t see themselves that way: They go learn about something and then spread the word. Every life has a story, one of my favorite reporters once told me. And every life has at least one story worth sharing. All the best learning comes outside classrooms and textbooks.

So I’ve tried to tell my story — or two thirds of it, anyway — on behalf of the people who are too afraid or ashamed to tell theirs. I hope it helps; I have no idea if it does. If you need someone to share yours with, my inbox is open 24/7 at the address below.

Hug your mom today, if you can, and remember what she always told you about not judging a book by its cover. You never know what’s really going on in people’s minds, hearts and souls. Act accordingly.