Treating mental illness is like beginning a journey to “fix the feelings [you don’t] understand.”
Or at least, that’s how one woman describes it in the video above. She suffered her first panic attack when she was 17, but the feelings of depression and anxiety were like a constant weight she had to drag around with her wherever she went. But the worst part was, she felt like she couldn’t tell anyone about what she was going through.
“I was afraid of telling my friends that sometimes I felt like I was dying, physically and emotionally,” she says.
Like many others before her, she visited a doctor to have those negative feelings treated, which is where her “journey” truly begins. She was started on Valium, which is commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. Then, she was put on Lexapro, then Xanax, then Mirtazapine, Ativan, Lamictal, Wellbutrin, Trazodone and Suboxone. The medications weren’t always used necessarily to treat her disorders, either. Sometimes one medication wouldn’t be covered by her insurance, so she would switch to another medication with a similar purpose. Sometimes the side effects would force her to stop using one for the other. But the cocktail of pills she was taking daily just to feel normal became, well, excessive.
“I tried to fix everything externally to fix an internal problem. I switched jobs, colleges, therapists, I took more Ativan,” she says.
Eventually, doctors were able to diagnose her: She had bipolar disorder. But the diagnosis didn’t come with a cure, and so, she basically had to find a way to deal with it.
“In seven years time—seven psychiatrists, four psychologists, countless therapists, two misdiagnoses and over 20 medications—I was finally figuring my mental illness out,” she says. “I cannot hold myself accountable for what happens with my depression and anxiety but I can hold myself accountable for the strength of trying.”
Watch her tell her powerful story using nothing but the pills she was ever prescribed. It’s also worth knowing that today, she’s down to only three.
There are the blues and then there’s depression. Feeling down in the dumps is one thing, but when it impacts every aspect of one’s life and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel, well, that’s a whole other beast. Depression is a serious disorder and an ever-growing epidemic; at this moment, some three million Canadians are suffering from depression. It can happen to anyone, anywhere – even those who seem to have it all. Yes, celebs get depressed, too. Every one of these 14 stars has battled with mental illness, and not one dealt with it in the same way. Not only are you not alone, but you’re in good company.
It’s time we started talking openly about our mental health. Join the conversation on Bell Let’s Talk Day, January 31, and help end the stigma around mental illness. For every text message sent and mobile or long-distance call made by Bell Canada and Bell Aliant customers, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health initiatives. The same goes for anyone sending a tweet using #BellLetsTalk, watching the Bell Let’s Talk Day video on Instagram or Facebook, or using the Bell Let’s Talk Facebook frame or Snapchat filter. But talking about it is just the first step: Visit letstalk.bell.ca for more ways you can effect change and build awareness around mental health.