The story of my mental illness journey started 5-6 years ago when I was a freshman in high school. From the immense amount of pressure I put on myself, to troubles with friends, I found myself suffering from crippling anxiety at only 15. I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
From there, I was put on an antidepressant and symptoms seemed to subside. Looking back, I know I was also depressed. I missed countless days of school and eventually became afraid of going in fear of having an anxiety attack. Along with the anxiety came agoraphobia (fearing places where you could potentially have an anxiety/panic attack), OCD tendencies, phobias of the oddest things, paranoia, and depression. I let the anxiety control and debilitate me. I worried about how much I worried.
I attended psychotherapy biweekly and took my meds as directed but I’m still blurry about freshman and sophomore year. I don’t know when things started to turn around. I was up and down. I kept busy with friends and a boyfriend and was trying to live a “normal” high school life. Junior year I went through a breakup and the anxiety began to get worse, but that was expected. I rebounded from that pretty well and enjoyed the summer entering my senior year. I still had some issues with my anxiety going into senior year but for the most part, things were great. I had a new boyfriend, was applying for college, taking dual credit college classes, and felt like I was in control of my happiness for once in a long time.
January of 2014 is when my life took a crazy turn, a complete 180. I was working on scholarships and a project for school. I could not settle down. I was superwoman. I wouldn’t listen to anyone, was talking a mile a minute, and doing impulsive things. I didn’t sleep for days. I was manic. My family didn’t know what was going on but knew something was up. A mini intervention was held at school, and I eventually ended up going to see my psychiatrist and therapist. They advised I go to the hospital to get treatment because I was in a manic episode. I was on cloud nine, so I was extremely defensive and very confused by what was going on. I thought everyone was crazy and overreacting. So, I thought if I went then someone who didn’t know me would obviously tell them they were wrong.
After some medication adjustments, I started to come to my senses. I watched a video in a group at the hospital and realized I wasn’t superwoman, I was Delaney, and I was bipolar. I was scared. I thought my life was over and that I wouldn’t get better. By the end of my week stay, I was exhausted from the new medication. I was told this would hopefully subside and to give it a month.
I went home with my new diagnosis and began to cope with food and sleep. The meds weren’t a right fit for me. I couldn’t drive my car, fell asleep in class, and ate all the time. In March, I became very depressed and went back to my psychiatrist. He recommended another admission to the hospital and started me on another concoction of meds. I thought this was my only option. I thought meds and therapy were the only way out. I hated the hospital. I just wanted out. So I put on a happy face, convinced myself the meds were working and finally got discharged.
A couple of months went by, and I found myself unhappy with the meds, they never were quite right. I was wondering if I would ever stop gaining weight. I went back to my therapist and psychiatrist begging for answers and help. I was trying everything they said. Still depressed. I went to a youth day program which was an intensive outpatient program. I seemed to gain control of things once again, enjoyed my summer for the most part, and headed off to college in August.
I took on a lot very fast. Everything had changed. I dealt with things to the best of my ability until October but was calling my mom every day begging to see her. I was unhappy. But what was even worse was the anxiety. It was even worse than it was when I was first diagnosed with GAD. I woke up every morning with a sharp pain in my chest. The anxiety meds weren’t helping, and I was taking them 4-5 times a day as directed. I ended up with bad thoughts and knew I needed to get help, so I went to the hospital again, for the third time in one year.
This stay was the worst. A social worker told me my doctor said I liked coming to the hospital. He told me this wasn’t true. I believed him; it didn’t seem like something he would say to this day. The nurses and staff didn’t take me seriously. They said I seemed happy. I was at a very low point. But that’s the thing about depression and bipolar disorder.; you get so good at putting on a happy face and faking it.
I lied to my therapist, my doctor, my boyfriend, and my family. I felt like I was a burden. So when I was vulnerable and being honest for this to happen was exactly what I expected. I started another concoction of meds and ended up withdrawing from school and moving home. I thought this would help. I got two jobs that I loved and thought things were on the up and up. I made plans to attend a school closer to home and wanted to start in the summer.
I didn’t realize how bad things were getting. I wasn’t enjoying anything. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I didn’t want to go to work when I loved my jobs. I pretended everything was okay and was still hopeful the meds were the right fit. I isolated pretty much all of the time I could. I wasn’t eating right and was very hopeless. I was desperate. I didn’t want to live this life anymore. I wanted a way out.
One February morning, I woke up early and had horrible vivid nightmares. I crawled into bed with my mom and bawled my eyes out. I was thinking the worst things one could possibly think of. I begged God to help me and went up to my room and prayed for probably an hour. I fell asleep and woke back up and knew there was going to be a way to get better other than another week-long stay in the hospital.
I started doing some research on the internet and found some long-term rehabilitation facilities. I knew this would be a great start into getting the treatment I needed. I saw my therapist that day and told her what I thought. She agreed it would be good for me. My psychiatrist made time to see me and decided to admit me to the hospital yet again. I agreed only if I could get the help I needed for a long term facility. He said I could go to a different hospital this time and a social worker there would set up a place for me to go.
He switched my meds, yet again, and I honestly noticed a difference this time. A switch went off, and things were getting better but I still knew I needed more help. After some trouble of figuring out where I would go next, my family and I finally decided on a facility in Arizona. I spent the next 30 days here. The day I discharged from the hospital my mom and I went straight to the airport. I got on a plane and landed in Arizona at midnight. I was up 30 hours by the time they got my admission paperwork done.
I ended up meeting some amazing people. I still am in contact with many of the patients I met to this day. The holistic treatment philosophy was what I needed. It opened my eyes beyond meds and psychotherapy. I’m so glad I went. It was worth it. I am now off of all of my meds, they still were never the right concoction for me… I do acupuncture twice a week, and massages when I can. I got a puppy. I see my therapist once a week. My anxiety comes and goes but I can’t remember the last time I had an anxiety attack. It was probably at Sierra Tucson which was 6 months ago. That in itself is crazy to me.
I don’t have very many friends and I’m not in a relationship anymore but I do have an amazing family and am blessed. I know I have support 24/7. I am focusing on me and me only. (And my puppy, too) I am hopeful I will make new friends as I continue my freshman year. I am back at college at IUPUI in Indianapolis. It feels good to be back. I know that I am not alone, even though I feel like I am alone a lot of the time. I don’t always understand my place in the world but remain hopeful that I will find my purpose soon. I take things day by day, step by step sometimes.
Through sharing my story I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to know that just because you may feel hopeless now, doesn’t mean you will forever. I want you to know that you create your own happiness and can overcome what feels impossible right now. The first step is acceptance and acknowledging. Once I accepted my mental illness I became able to face it head on. I was in denial for so long. Now I can advocate for myself and help others. This alone gives me a purpose in life.
Your story isn’t over yet;