From: Bozeman, MT
I ever understood mental illness, I saw its impacts. I grew up in a
family full of mental disorders. Before I was born, my grandmother
committed suicide. My grandfather is a recovering alcoholic. My
brother and father both suffer from bipolar disorder, and my mother
struggles with depression. As a fifth-grader, I attended the funeral
of the 8th-grade boy who once lived next door — the friendly boy
whom I had always watched smiling and laughing with his buddies had
shot himself in the head.
even though I was forced to bear witness as others struggled with
mental disorders, it was still difficult to recognize that the same
problems existed within myself.
one point or another, everyone has a rough day. The stresses of life
have a way of creeping into our thoughts and setting up shop.
Sometimes, though, it is more than just one bad day. At the beginning
of my senior year of high school, I went weeks without having a
“good” day. I continued to tell myself that this perpetual
gloominess was nothing more than a stressful start to the busy school
year. However, when I found myself breaking down on my way to work,
regularly staying up until 2 am worrying about unresolvable issues,
and spending each morning looking in the mirror to see how I could
hide the evidence of the previous night’s tears, I knew I was
experiencing something beyond ordinary stress.
I reached out to my friends. I have never been so scared in my life.
Recognizing you have an illness is easy in comparison to admitting it
to others. But luckily, my friends were nothing but helpful. Through
their non-judgemental support, I was able to gain the confidence to
reach out to my parents, asking them for help in finding a therapist.
A few weeks later, I was sitting in a waiting room.
first session I had with my therapist made everything make sense. I
was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and, as I believe she put it,
“an inclination towards obsessive tendencies.”
was amazing how simultaneously relieving and nauseating it was to
have a label for my struggles. I had difficulty making peace with the
fact that I had an issue, and that it could not be ignored any
longer. At the same time, however, having a name for my problems
allowed me to take the necessary steps to manage them. I started
regularly journaling, tried an array of medications to help mitigate
my mind, and stopped being afraid of letting my friends see my pain.
Still, not every day is perfect, but confronting my demons has made
the good days so much more frequent.