My mental illness was at its worst when I was 28 years old. I’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, and delusional disorder. At first, diagnoses and the labels that came with them were traumatic for me; but I now understand the breadth of my disorder. I’ve learned that even though my illness makes me uncomfortable at times (even as an adult), I must process it. These times are opportunities to grow.
Some symptoms of my illness are: waking early in the morning (around 3 am), feeling panic, getting headaches, and feeling overcome with physical stagnation
that can feel emotionally and physically disabling.
To treat my mental health I try to avoid caffeine; I meditate, use affirmations and relaxation, and I exercise. I’ve been prescribed medication with my treatment plan and have had inpatient hospital care. Medication alone only played one part in my treatment of the short and long-term battle with my illness.
I had to monitor different treatment strategies over and over - some of them lasting weeks to months, and others lasting up to three years. I watched for side effects, tried different dosing, tapered on and off medications. With different meds the side effects I experienced were lost focus, sleepiness, weight gain… The many trials at medication took a toll on me economically and physically, but eventually I found a good fit. Which was a relief because I need to function well and safely. I need to manage my symptoms.
Medication may not be my preferred option of treatment… I used to think that being “better” and “recovered” meant no longer taking or requiring medications. I now understand that mental health is bigger than that. A wise woman told me, “You may still need this medication, Jade. So what if you still take or need to take some medication?” People are more than their medications, after all.
I had a bump in my career in the worst of my mental health. I’m happy to say that I’m now recovering and furthering my education. I adopted a rescue dog - a beagle. I enjoyed a road trip with best friends. I’ve collected new friends along the way.
My experiences are difficult to share, and I don’t think I will ever be fearless or want to be. I’m so grateful to be where I am in my journey through recovery. I don’t think it is surprising that emotional and mental illnesses are misunderstood when they can be so multifaceted, complex and often individual. There’s a lot to unravel and understand. These experiences run deep.
I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes:
“Darling, survival isn’t something you do,
Survival is something you are made from”