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
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