I’m Living Proof: You’re Not Alone

Dear Brianna,

You’re 19, and just starting to realize something is wrong with your mental health; Actually, it’s more like a rude awakening.

Family and friends are treating you differently. Your mental health is impacting their lives and taking a toll on your relationships. You’re not able to see it yet since you’re lost in your own world. You feel unloved and unwanted, and this has left you stuck in fear.

The isolation drives you into an even deeper depression and you go down a dark path of abuse and drugs.

This time in your life is full of shame and fear. You’re ashamed of how your mental illness has impacted friends and family. You believed you were a monster, incapable of being loved or being able to love. I’m here today to tell you: you’re wrong.

After removing yourself from the abuse, you begin to take notice of what you need to do to move on and live your life the way you have always dreamed of.

Finally, at 31, you are becoming self-aware and more loving towards yourself. You’re looking at your mental health as an important aspect of your life and you’re accepting what you could not accept before.

I appreciate your wellness strategy of sticking to your medication regiment and that you changed your stance on mental health medications. When you were 19 and after you were isolated from your friends and family, you fell silent and became submissive. About a year later and after your mental health worsened even more, you were losing your grip on reality. You became manic and out of control. You were suicidal, in and out of hospitals and refusing medication. You were embarrassed, angry, confused, and depressed. You knew you were being treated differently by loved ones and they refused to acknowledge it or your mental health issues. You became retaliatory, stubborn and in no way near accepting that what you needed was serious help. It took you a long time to accept that you needed to be on medication.

I will admit, you only came to this realization that you needed medication about 2 years ago. After your rock bottom phase, you pulled yourself from the dirt and became sober. You were still refusing medication because you wanted to be healed without taking drugs. Things had been going well for a little while: you were taking a holistic approach to your mental health and found the lifestyle changes were helping. You even started volunteering at a local animal shelter. Despite this, your underlining illness of bipolar was not being managed. It was just suppressed.

After a few years of repressing your unresolved issues, having bad relationships, and dealing with poor self-worth, you had a terrifying manic episode. So, this time around, you did something different. You accepted the medication you were given at the hospital. You faced your mental health condition head-on and accepted that mental health recovery does not end at the hospital and needed to continue afterwards. You stuck to it, and even though it took a few tries to get the medication right, you will find balance.

It might seem far-off for you at 19, but at 31, we start becoming self-aware and more loving towards ourselves. It’s at this age that we make our mental health a priority and accept what we could not accept before.

Young Brianna, your greatest strength is your ability to fight injustice and not give up. You have been a protector for your family since you were young and even though you shouldn’t have been expected to do that, this has become a source of strength for you that carries you through the hard times.

I’m so proud of you and how you embody our personal motto: “we can do better.” Moments of empowerment and your internal drive to not give up helps get you to where you are today. It gives us the power to protect ourselves and our mental health.

Younger self, I want you to know that you are on your way to living in wellness. You will love yourself, respect yourself, and forgive yourself. You are worth it, and you belong here. It might seem impossible to love yourself right now, but you are worth it.

The biggest lesson you have learned with living with depression and bipolar disorder is that you need to love and respect yourself and not be ashamed of your illness. You know that you did not have a lot of love growing up and you were treated as the black sheep of the family, but you come to find that you are so much more than your current and past situations.

Without this knowledge you grew up thinking you were not deserving of love, and that made you not love yourself. You have treated your body and mind so poorly over the years and at times have not done right by yourself. Loving yourself is so important because it allows you to know what makes you happy. You are learning to love yourself, and you are rediscovering the person you knew when you were younger.

After being pessimistic about your life, you are now filled with hope for the future; a future where you can envision yourself being happy, healthy, and successful. You know now that it is possible to overcome stigma, not worry about other’s opinions and do what makes you happy. For the first time in years, you feel that your mental health condition does not control you. You feel free.

You at 31