After submitting my story of my battle with mental health, I had a friend suggest that I do a follow up to show what it means to have a mental health illness that is treated appropriately.
I show mental illness symptoms on the bipolar spectrum. This means that in addition to depression, I can experience mania. I, personally, do not experience full mania but hypomania. I have trouble sleeping, focusing, and excessive daydreaming. I get excess energy out of nowhere.
When medicated and treated properly, just like any physical ailment, you can live an average life. If you would like more information, just check out the Canadian Mental Health Association.
I'm on medication that works for me. I exercise and eat healthy. I check in with my doctor and family health team. I sleep regularly and experience no lingering symptoms. My support system of friends, family and neighbours are always there. I work full time. I have a spouse who loves me for better or worse. I parent two wonderful little tyrants, whom I love dearly.
For me, having a mental illness actually makes me focus on parenting. I find myself very cognizant of the amount of time I spend with them. Every day begins and ends with a hug and the words "I love you soooo much!" The days when I really, really need self care, the kids get to hang out with their dad or favourite auntie.
I've been asked why I had a second child, after having severe post-partum depression with my first. It really is a multitude of factors. I have a sister, and I couldn't imagine my life without her. She's part of the best memories of my childhood, and I wanted my daughter to have that experience as well. I was better prepared the second time. I knew the demons that likely awaited me. We timed the pregnancy so that my husband could be off work for the first two months post-partum. My family physician and I agreed to give me medication that I could safely take while breastfeeding.
Although my symptoms didn't disappear the second time, like they did around a year pos- partum with my daughter, they were dealt with swiftly and effectively with a medication addition to combat the hypomania. (For me, diet and exercise are also key.)
I am incredibly blessed, and very thankful to have survived what my recent counselor called a "remote incident" suicide attempt at the age of 19.
The stigma and stereotypes surrounding mental health need to end. We need to keep talking, sharing and uplifting each other. I could be your neighbour or coworker, or maybe even a family member who has stayed slient out of fear of being ostracized. We are capable of being fully functional members of society. We have careers, relationships, mortgages and families. Sometimes we need a little extra help from our support systems. We require medication and monitoring by qualified health professionals, but we can still play with the hand we've been dealt.
May peace and happiness be yours,
Frame Of Mind is a new series inspired by The Maddie Project that focuses on teens and mental health. The series will aim to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Also on HuffPost:
One in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime Source: Canadian Mental Health Association
Nearly half of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem. Source: CMHA
Latest studies showed more than 1.3 million young Canadians have a mood disorder or addiction. Two-thirds had symptoms before the age of 15. Source: Statistics Canada, Government of Canada
Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15- to 24-year-old Canadians, second only to accidents. In 2012, 261 Canadian kids and teens took their own lives. Source: CMHA, Statistics Canada
LGBTQ youth face about 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers Source: CMHA Ontario
First Nations youth are at a higher risk. The suicide rate among First Nations youth is roughly five to seven times higher than that of the general population. Source: Parliament of Canada study, 2014
People with mental illness and addictions are more likely to die prematurely than those without. Mental illness can cut 10 to 20 years from a person’s life expectancy. Source: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Contending with her bipolar disorder brought Yashi Brown to poetry, and with it, she's trying to end the stigma of mental illness.
If you need help, visit ementalhealth.ca to search for services in your area. Or call the Kids' Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868, it's Canada's only free phone counselling service for youth under 20.
More From Frame Of Mind:
- Our Daughter Fell Through The Cracks Of Our Mental Health System
- Depression Is More Than Being Sad
- Suicide Prevention: I Want Other Families To Know What Ours Didn't
- False Self Syndrome: The Dangers Of Living A Lie To Fit In
- Depression Isn't A Personality Flaw
- Asking For Help Is The Most Important Step
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