Denver, CO USA
"When I was 15, I was diagnosed with major depression. I was eventually hospitalized and began taking medication.
The life was sucked out of me and I felt completely empty inside. Everything turned grey and didn't have meaning to me anymore. The thought of going to school gave me so much anxiety that I would become physically sick. My life seemed hopeless and I thought about suicide all day. I didn't understand why this was happening to me and I felt very alone.
At 18-years-old, I had my first manic episode. I was super charged with all the energy in the world. I didn't even need to eat or sleep. I was confident for the first time in a long time and everyone liked me. My thoughts raced, I had amazing ideas and I let everyone know. My fun on-cloud-nine became very scary and I reached out to my parents for help. I was hospitalized again and finally diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder.
On Friday, June 15th, 2018, I was diagnosed with PTSD-related to the physical and mental abuse that I received from my father as a child. The flash backs, irritability, and anger have flared up in the last few years. The diagnosis did not come as a surprise and is now at the forefront of my treatment. My life has been a roller coaster, but my determination, resilience, and courage has given me the strength to fight this endless battle.
I am now 34-years-old and I have been on psychiatric medication for 19 years, in-and-out of therapy, and hospitalized 15 times. I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my loving, supportive family and my faith in God. I didn’t choose this life, but ultimately I get to choose how to live it. I refuse to take a back seat to my mental health, but instead I would rather take it head on and be proactive about my treatment.
To the 1 in 5 Americans suffering from mental illness today, I feel your pain and you are not alone in this fight. Dig deep to find the strength and courage to continue living this beautiful life you were given.
It’s our duty to speak out and help break the stigma to pave the way for generations to come. To those suffering in silence, no one can see the pain you endure. I encourage you to put the guilt and shame aside. Reach out to get the support and treatment you deserve. Be patient, resilient, and, most of all, never lose hope.
Mental illness does not discriminate and is as real as the air we breathe. And, it’s about time society treats it that way."