By Lisa Marie
How I faced my mental illness, found love, motherhood and studies I enjoy
The dark days of my illness started in high school. I was full of confused thoughts and insecurities, feeling that something was wrong with me but not knowing what. My mom would say how smart and lovely I was and that nothing was wrong with me. I rebelled against her denial about my condition and I acted out to try to get her attention so she would finally listen to me. I played practical jokes all the time; I fought with my sisters and called them nasty names. I insulted my mother—I was not very nice; but I could not fully control my behaviour. On the other hand, I was always depressed and I avoided people. I tried to kill myself with an overdose of Advil I found in the cupboard. When my mom found me and saved me, I told her I was just sick and I didn’t know why.
I went on to university and I became a hermit, just sitting in class staring at the teacher, making disorganized notes and not bothering to socialize. I failed the first year and I was asked to leave. I was heartbroken that my dream of becoming an engineer was crashing and burning. I tried again and again to complete my engineering degree. Finally, I gave up and pursued fashion design. My illness had not yet been diagnosed and I showed up dishevelled to class. The fashionable classmates avoided me, barely talking to me despite my pleasant attitude.
I found a job as a cook, which I loved. I could focus on one thing without needing to socialize; and I could produce food very fast. It was good, honest work. Most of the employees laughed at me, but my boss was a great man and he protected me. My illness made me misinterpret this as romantic love, and I got myself in trouble with the law for harassment. This was at the lowest point in my illness. I just wanted a boyfriend to give me the kind of love which I had never felt before in my life.
Later on, I did find love, which resulted in my giving birth to our first child. However, despite great determination, I was not ready to overcome the obstacles in my way. My husband and I ended up in divorce and he took custody of our child. It was a most devastating blow for me. I was in tears for months. I can't forget the mistakes I made that led to my losing my child. I will never make those kinds of mistakes again.
This experience led me to accept the reality of what I couldn’t change on my own and I decided to seek treatment for my mental illness. Things improved greatly from there on.
I was started on medication that allowed me to live calmly for a couple years—long enough to find love again and to figure out the kind of mother I really wanted to be. I am now taking Abilify and it has changed my life for the better. I receive additional support from a psychiatrist, social worker, my mom, my sisters, my husband, my in-laws and my friends.
I succeeded in taking myself off the streets and out of a shelter and moving into my own apartment in
Montreal; and I began attending a
prestigious university in the heart of
to study computer science part time. Montreal
I hope to be a great mother to my second son, and to make up for the trauma my first son went through. I would like to get him back with me one day. I am not sure about my personal life right now, whether the man I’m with is with me because he loves me, or he just feels obligated to protect me. But I am happy that I am healthy and I can at least take good care of myself now. I’m working on that personal journey to discovering the riches of lifelong love, now that I have faced and have successfully treated my mental health issues.