By Nicholas Elbers
Finishing a book is a major milestone for any writer, let alone someone who has struggled with mental illness throughout her life. B.C. Catholic columnist Lisa Rumpel has done just that.
Drawing from her five years of B.C. Catholic columns, Rumpel’s book Arise Shine & Live: On Resilience, Faith, and Bipolar Disorder is a collection of reflections about living life with mental illness and the healing that is possible with time and faith.
Rumpel lives with bipolar disorder and writing is a core part of how she cares for her mental health. “I started writing the book as a healing process to reflect on my life, on the good and on the bad,” she said in an interview.
“I find strength in some of the words I have written,” she said. “There is a calm in the writing process. It helps me be in the present moment. It’s reflective as well. It’s meditative in a way.”
Rumpel also finds that revisiting her writing helps her to better understand herself, sometimes providing lessons that further inspire her writing. In one of her favourite chapters in the book, Rumpel describes her rediscovery of stories she wrote as a child.
“I just found it surprising that I knew [I wanted to be a writer] when I was young.” She saw that despite the hiccough of being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was still able to achieve her dreams.
“I didn’t let it stop me.”
The book pairs meditations on life with small calls to action that Rumpel hopes will help readers with their mental wellness. She was pleasantly surprised to find that she has developed a wealth of mental health knowledge encompassing everything from the importance of time spent outdoors to the value of social interaction for mental health.
By sharing these kinds of insights Rumpel hopes the book will offer readers struggling with mental illness encouragement that things can change and assure them that they aren’t alone.
“I was looking to give the reader hope,” she said. “It was something I was looking for when I was looking for healing and I wanted to be that for someone else.”
“Hope is knowing I’m not alone … that I may have an illness, but that isn’t the end of my life. That through the struggle, through the hospitalization, you can get through it.”
Rumpel roots her understanding of hope in her faith in Christ. “There is always the resurrection,” she said. “If it looks bleak, if you are at the end of your rope, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.”