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Dani's Story

Richmond, Virginia USA

"I tried committing suicide three times. Where did it all start?


My childhood was broken by the physical, mental, and emotional abuse of my manic mother. I would literally sleep with one eye open. I was deathly afraid of her, deathly afraid. There were countless incidents of abuse, but one in particular sticks with me...


My mother was barely ever home; she would leave us for weeks at a time without any food, maybe an old box of pizza, if we were lucky. I was in the kitchen cleaning and putting away the dishes when she came up behind me and asked me whom I wanted to live with? I should mention that my parents had already been divorced for some time. As I stood in front of her silent, she softly says, 'Be honest, you can tell the truth.' 


I hesitantly told her that I wanted to live with my dad. She grabbed me by the neck, causing a glass to fall out of my hand and break onto the tile floor. Her sharp, artificial nails dug into my neck as she began choking me and banged my head repeatedly against the kitchen counter while yelling in my face. Events like these were common.


Growing up, I was always filled with creative energy that screamed to be unleashed. I wrote poetry, created short screenplays, built my own majestic mansion dollhouse with a pair of broken scissors, cardboard boxes, colorful fabric scraps, nearly dried out markers, and thumbtacks. I believed that I was a real human superhero. I wanted to be a world-class figure skater, a fashion designer, and then a traveling artist the next. Motivation came and it went.


I struggled with binging and purging; food became my friend and my enemy at the same time. I self-harmed- the scars are still visible in between my legs. I was the life of the party and lost in my own isolation simultaneously. I was a varsity cheerleader all throughout high school, so I created this bubbly and outgoing persona.


I stole jewelry from a local store, even though I had the money in my pocket. I dropped out of college, due to a manic episode. Flashbacks of rape and molestation haunted my mind. Without much thought, I packed my things and moved to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I lived for five months before returning home. Sleep was non-existent for days at a time, who needs sleep?


I heard things no one else could hear, the sounds getting louder and louder. I felt the physical pain of my first ever panic attack, I felt the panic alone could kill me. 'I think something is wrong with me. I need help!' The crying. The rage. The anxiety. The panic. The impulsivity. The depression. The paranoia. The otherworldly highs and the debilitating lows. The pain, I was so tired of the pain. Enough was enough.


At 27 years old, I sought psychiatric help for the first time in my entire life. I was initially misdiagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. After further evaluation, I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and PTSD.


At 29 years old, I am thriving and surviving. I am now working towards my Masters in Nutrition and Integrative Health, with a concentration in Human Clinical Nutrition. I am happily married to my wife, the love of my life, and living with our two rescue pups. I am staying on top of my medications, maintaining healthy friendships, and honoring my feelings.


I am thankful for the ups, downs, and everything in between. Some days are more challenging than others and that’s okay. I am happy.


So when did it all start? I don’t really know the exact moment. I’ve been like this since I could remember. I’ve danced through manic highs and survived the dark days of depression."

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