Meet H

*Initials are used in the story to protect the individuals privacy. Story may contain triggers and sensitive topics*

Meet 'H'.

She is a beautiful mother, friend, daughter and coworker. She lives day to day with Bipolar II disorder, Major Depression and Anxiety Disorder. From anyone looking in, it’s not obvious that she struggles.

'H' received her first diagnosis at age 14 and was then re-diagnosed twice since then. She works with a team consisting of her family doctor, psychiatrist and a counselor to help manage medications and her mental health. The reality of mental illness is this: it takes a team. Not just one doctor, one visit. It’s a long journey to find the right balance. The process can feel overwhelming, intruding and very repetitive. 'H' doesn’t feel medications are a good option for her at this time, and there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with that. Did you catch that? Just because someone is dealing with mental health disorders does not mean medications are always the right choice. For 'H', the side effects outweighed any benefit they had. During high school, the medications she was on were causing her to have lapses of time where she couldn’t remember. Being medication free (I refuse to say “unmedicated” because it brings up that stigma of not being ‘in control’) wasn’t for lack of trying on her part. After about 20 different types, and I am sure multiple dosage changes on each one, she made the brave choice to be medication free.

To help keep herself as in balance as she can, 'H' has made it a point to meditate, exercise and eat well (organic and whole foods only) each day, along with journaling about past experiences. The control over this part of her life has helped her cope even on the her bad days. Her depression is her biggest battle each day. She can get angry and frustrated easily, which is hard to handle on it’s own, let alone while managing a career and children. Getting out of bed each morning is a struggle, and breakdowns are almost a daily occurrence.

Berry-CatharticConfusion.jpg

A glimpse into a typical “bad” day for 'H' looks like this (TRIGGER WARNING: CONTAINS SENSITIVE TOPICS): Mornings tend to be a complete rushed chaos when getting up each morning is a struggle. Once at work, she will be in the bathroom every hour or so just to find a moment to cry alone in a bathroom stall. Back at home, she still has to find the energy to make dinner for her and her kids- bad days usually mean something super simple. While the kids are eating she finds her spot on the couch and meditates, or if that isn’t effective she goes for a run. If she finds herself still struggling she just tries to make it through until the kids go to bed so she can cry. She has gone days without eating or sleeping, and at its worst, she will find a release in self -harm.

It’s not easy read what bad days can be like for those of us like 'H'. Hell, it was hard to type up without crying. Every day is a struggle. It’s hard enough to find time to take care of yourself, let alone when you are responsible for the well-being of other human beings as well. 'H'’s advice to anyone struggling is to remember:

You are okay. You are always okay. There are resources out there. Try everything and anything to make you happier- even if it is not someone else’s happy.”

Erin BerryComment