I do not choose to be a common person. It is my right to be uncommon, the right to be myself.

It is my right to develop whatever strengths and talents that have been given to me by a higher power.

I shall no longer be a kept citizen; my pride dulled and without respect for so long, by having the state provide for my every need.

I must take the calculated risks that are necessary to raise my self-esteem and to learn to love myself. When I do this, I will have taken my first step walking down the road to recovery.

I want to dream and build, to fall and know I can get up and continue down my road to recovery. I know there will be hurdles that seem too high and there may be times when I fall so low I don't think it is possible to get up. But, that's when I should call out as loud as I can and reach higher than I have ever reached before for my friends.

I will no longer hang my head in shame or guilt. I will always hold my head high and proud, because I have taken the scary calculated risk necessary to walk the road to recovery.

What made me start to walk? I have the monster of mental illness living inside me. I have, as I am sure you have, if you live with mental illness, have grown very tired of our illness being our master, running our life, telling us how to feel, act and think. We are slaves to our illness.

Well no more, I have started making the attempt to journey down the road to recovery. It will not be easy but I can do it.

All I have to do is decide that I am going to be the master of my illness and it is going to be my slave. It no longer tells me how to act, think or feel. Sure, it's going to rear its ugly head just as any beast will, but I am in control. I am stronger and more talented than it.

I may have some symptoms or slide back a little but I am the master. I have the knowledge and the tools to prevent that ugly illness from taking back total control of my life. I gain even more power over it every day, even if I do not realize it.

I prefer the challenges of life to an existence of fear everyday. I also prefer the thrill of fulfillment to the stale and dull inability to control my own life instead of having the state or someone else care for me.

I will never cower before anyone or bend to the threat of my illness. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud of who I am and to do this unafraid; to think and act as myself, enjoy the benefits of my creations and to face the world boldly and say: This is what I have done.

If you remember only one thing for the rest of your life, let it be this: It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks of you because you are not going to allow someone else to tell you how to act, feel or think. What is more important than anything else is that you are the person you tell yourself and believe yourself to be. Don't let anyone else tell you who you are, you tell yourself who you want to be.

By Mikeal L. Best