I wanted to participate in this campaign from the moment I read about it, but I wasn’t sure how open to be about my diagnosis. I considered divulging that I have depression, but that’s only half my battle, so in the end I decided to be completely honest. I think this is important to help battle stigma. When you think of psychosis, what picture do you form in your head? I know what that picture looks like, but it is a misleading representation. There are many people who have dealt with psychosis who are functioning well and succeeding (for example, Elyn Saks… google her!).
To briefly explain my experiences, my struggles began in high school when I dealt with depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It was tough but I made it through the four years and I decided to move to Ontario for university. During my first year, I began experiencing symptoms that were new to me. I didn’t quite understand what was happening, so I didn’t tell anyone. Gradually my symptoms worsened to the point that I could not finish the school year. I had to return to NB with only two weeks left in the term. Coming home and being with my family helped, but the next couple years were marked with recurrent psychotic and depressive episodes.
I’m not going to go into any more detail about my experiences while ill. I want to concentrate on my slow, but successful road to recovery. I’m so grateful to have a wonderful support system, which has been very important in my recovery. My family is extremely supportive and I have a tremendous psychiatrist. One important factor in recovering was physical health. I had never realized how much mental and physical health are connected. Eating healthy and exercising helped immensely.
There were many small (and sometimes large) setbacks in my road to recovery. I felt hopeless at times, but I made it through and I now feel hopeful. I am able to hold two part time jobs as well as attend university full time. I am now living independently and am in a healthy relationship.
My life has certainly been a roller coaster ride, and I’m only 23 so there’s many more highs and lows to come, but I know I can handle it. I am resilient and I am strong. My mental health is a part of me, but it does not define me.