My Mental Health Journey

Thanks for being interested in my story – it’s a difficult one for me to write.

(Last updated: August 16 2017)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve struggled with my mental health. It started when I was 9, when under immense emotional stress, that I first experienced the symptoms of depression. Also, that is when I first attempted suicide.

I suffered in silence for many years, thinking that my thoughts, feelings, and emotions were common amongst others my age. To my surprise, they weren’t! It was difficult for me to reach out for help, often being told to ‘deal on my own’ with my circumstances. I spent most of my tween to teen years at school, alone, or exploring the depths of the internet.

When I first sought for professional help, it was my desperate last final push. I was 15, consistently self-harming, and suffering from extreme suicidal ideation. Thinking back, it’s difficult to recall even a single day or moment when I wasn’t suicidal. I had difficulty verbalizing my story without becoming emotional, so I wrote a page letter that ended up making my doctor cry. I was immediately diagnosed with depression, prescribed SSRIs, and referred to a psychiatrist.

Turns out, the SSRIs pushed me into a hypomanic episode, and my psychiatrist officially diagnosed me with Bipolar 2. This diagnosis has remained true and unchanged since then.

The final years of high-school were a struggle. I was heavily medicated and often wasn’t able to attend classes. Luckily, I built a positive rapport with most of my teachers in the years before, and received lots of support and accommodations. I distinctly remember my school counsellor asking if I wanted to drop out, when my situation was especially difficult. This was the same counsellor that took me to the emergency at the hospital when I was especially suicidal. I was deep within my hypomanic episode and was discharged for being ‘too happy’.

After I started at university, I quickly realized that my limited support system of my psychiatrist and 3 close friends was not sufficient, and desperately began to slide. I was forced by my psychiatrist to go to emergency, and was hospitalized for the first time in November 2015. My stay was about 6 weeks. I was naïve to think that being hospitalized meant that I was ‘cured’. I quickly went off my medications, and started struggling again.

In October 2016, I was hospitalized for a second time. My friends called the police and they came to my home to escort me to the hospital. My stay was about a month. This stay was much more productive and healing. I started discussing many of the unresolved challenges from my childhood and teen years with my parents, and started touching on many of the underlying layers of trauma I didn’t realize I carried.

It was around that time that I began dating N, who has been a strong pillar of support in my life since then.

When I was discharged in December, I moved in with N. Since February 2017, I’ve been off medications, and working towards a life of balance, fruitfulness, meaning, and abundance. It’s baffles me when I think about my life just a mere few months ago. I’ve made life-changing progress, and it humbles me that you’re reading about it. My journey has been very individual and singular, without much support from others. I’m hoping that from sharing progress, it’ll connect me with others, and possibly be of encouragement to others as well!

This blog has been a platform that I’ve used to share my healing, discovery, and empowerment. If I was given the choice whether to have a mental illness or not, I’d choose to have one. It’s shaped my life and story in the most enriching way. Before, I was disempowered by my journey. Now, I have learned to become empowered and work with it in ways that would have made 9-year-old Christina inexplicably proud.

Thanks for reading!

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