by Cheryl in New Jersey
Hmm...Where to begin? Well, I was fourteen when the misery struck. Being a freshman in high school was rather easy for me. I was vice president of my class, participated in various groups such as SADD and student council, and also succeeded at a varsity level in tennis and softball. But then, like night and day almost, as if something inside of me snapped, I fell into an extremely deep depression. I didn't eat, I couldn't sleep, hygiene became a thing of the past. all I did for months was lay on my bedroom floor and stare at the wall.
Since my father had committed suicide from clinical depression ten years before my episode, my mother quickly sought professional help once she realized I had spiraled. From there things only got worse. I had to be home schooled, and could no longer participate as much as I would have liked in the things that I used to enjoy. Of course, at that point, pleasure came few and far between, if at all.
Naturally, my psychiatrist got real intense with medications due to the depression. Nothing seemed to be working. At age sixteen, still severely depressed, my doctor had me institutionalized for the first time and began (ECT) electro convulsion therapy treatments. This alleviated the depression some, but still left me suicidal. I then pursued a doctor at Johns Hopkins and he diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder. Now, here I am, 24 years old, tried to go to Rutgers, but couldn't cut it because of the depression.
I've tried to hold jobs, but it's kind of hard to predict my moods when I don't even know what to expect. Relationships? Forget it. But I take my medicine religiously, I check into in patient hospitals when it gets to be too much to handle, I manage my illness from day to day. And you know what? I'm happy being me. If it weren't for my illness I wouldn't have had the creativity to have written Mindful Justice, which is my first novel. It's a murder mystery with underlying messages concerning mental illness. And I also would not have my songwriting contract.
I am a member of Habitat for Humanity as well as NAMI. If you look at things in your life as a negative then they are going to bring you down and play out as a negative, but to every lemon there is lemonade. My illness has opened my eyes so much and I believe I was put on this earth to educate people about mental illness and erase stigma and give people the strength to know that it's ok.
I've been dealing with this for 10 years now -- non-supportive friends and family members, boyfriends who run away, shock treatments to my brain, 20 anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, you name it. I'll be the first one to tell you it sucks. When you are in mental anguish and you just want it to be over no matter what lengths you have to go to -- you want out. But don't sell yourself short.