Mental Illness is not a Choice 

As I’ve aged and tried to accept my heart disease/failure, mental illness has became more prevalent in my life and has taken on an active roll.

I never wanted to be the person who had to take crazy pills. The reasons are deep rooted and I don’t feel comfortable explaining, but it was a very big part of my life. Trying to manage anxiety on my own for years was very draining. After another ICD Shock in 2013, I finally went on anti anxiety meds and boy, did they help! I went from being obsessed with fear to being zen. It worked great for many years until May 2017.

May 2017 was a very bad month for me. Most of it is a fog now but the truly gut wrenching parts have stayed with me, but for now I’m only going to share this one part.

I was sitting in the waiting room to see the pain doctor about my relentless hand pain when I received the call my employer was terminating me. I had to immediately leave the waiting room to sob in the hallway. I knew it was a likely possibility, I thought I was prepared to handle it, but I wasn’t. Here I was barely able to dress myself and now my entire life felt like it was crumbling. My work was the only thing I had that made me feel important, smart and valued. Without it, I was back to being no one. An unemployed 25 year old who couldn’t afford her bills, couldn’t button her pants and had to have someone cut her food for her. Having only one working hand in conjunction with a weakening heart made for a terrible recipe. I was officially depressed and at what I assumed was rock bottom. I wanted to die. Literally, not being dramatic, I wanted to die. I was ready, because I just knew my life was over. Oh wait, yes, I was being dramatic. VERY DRAMATIC.

My parents and Dillon made me start therapy and I even saw a few psychiatrists, but it was actually the pain doctor that prescribed me an antidepressant that also helped chronic pain. It took most of the summer but I finally started to get better. My hand pain diminished along with the daily crying. I grew mentally stronger and I’m finally in a place where I have more good days than bad – mentally.

I am not a mentally weak person, but I worry people think that. I always worry what other people think and it’s stupid. I mean it really is, but it’s just where my mind wonders. I think I’ve handled the cards I’ve been dealt pretty well. Over the last 11 years, since I was diagnosed, this was the first time I was in a deep depression. Thankfully I was smart enough to get help, with the assistance of those closest to me.

Through my own experience, I’d like to share the top 5 things I’ve learned when dealing with anxiety/depression:

1. It’s okay to not be okay.

2. Therapists are for talking, psychiatrists are for pills.

3. It can take months for the doctors to find you the right medicine combination. So when you start to finally feel better, that doesn’t mean stop your meds!

4. Call a family member if you’re having a panic attack, not 911. 911 sends police, not an ambulance to help you.

5. Anxiety/Depression can manifest itself into many physical symptoms, it’s not a myth, it really happens.

So if you’re experiencing mental illness, do not feel ashamed of it. Just like any other illness, it’s not a choice, but it is your choice in how you deal with it. Choose to get help; there are better days ahead and you don’t want to miss them.


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