There is Help Out There If You Want It
We can't just be happy without a little help
I am 26 years old. I wanted to tell my story to help others suffering through mental illness. I would like to give a brief history on myself but concentrate more on things of late. Now, as I am sure you realize, there is a stigma surrounding mental illness.
I had a great upbringing with wonderful loving parents who were always there for me, and friends galore, as well as a dedicated boyfriend. I was diagnosed with ADHD and depression by 9th grade and tried multiple medications before becoming resistant to taking them. Part of this resistance was in me not wanting to need medication just to function and definitely not wanting to be labeled in school. I was never told not to get help from my parents but by society who said it was bad to be different and that I had everything— so why not just be happy.
By 22 I went off to college and ended up with a whirlwind of issues from immobilization due to pain and gaining 70 pounds in one semester to trying medications that ended up making me suicidal. Once I flunked out, I spent the next year-and-a-half in bed unable to function and barely getting up even to take care of myself. I developed kleptomania and ended up with legal problems and was also diagnosed with bipolar depression and OCD. I was prescribed Abilify and it worked wonders for the depression when I would actually take it, but every time I started to feel better I would forget the need for them until I started to feel worse.
I continued this dance with medication while still attending therapy mostly regularly until finally I realized, more recently, that I needed more help than what I was getting. In November of 2012, I was caught stealing for the 5th time and this time it was a felony charge. I knew something had to give.
I went back to my therapist who I’d told none of this to and poured my heart out, begging for help. I knew I had an impulse-control issue and had tried medication in the past to no effect, but this time needed to be different. She increased my Abilify because, in larger doses, although you can end up with permanent twitches, it’s supposed to help with impulse control. I was also put on the mood stabilizer Lamictal, which was also said to help with the impulse issues. At this time I changed my ADHD medication from my long-time friend Adderall to Vyvanse since at 2p.m. I would want to just pass out.
So here I am finally taking my medication regularly, going to support groups, and actually doing well. I feel that if I had hit rock-bottom with kleptomania a year or more ago—it would have been the kick I needed to take my medication and wouldn’t be facing the potential to end up in jail. Unfortunately, my rock-bottom didn’t come soon enough and now, although I am getting better and feeling happy for the first time since I can remember, I may end up at another bottom soon enough.
If you could take something away from my story, I would hope it would be to seek help and that through trial and error, although disheartening, you can end up with that right mixture of medication and therapy that could inevitably change your life for the better. There are people out there just like you who may also feel the heavy hand of society expecting them to just be happy without needing outside help. Had I realized sooner that there was help if I wanted it, and that there were others out there just like me, my story could be very different today.