Appointments, medications, and the ability to speak openly

Depression is difficult. Mania was devastating. As a young twenty-something in 2015 I had a lot going on. At the time I had a post-secondary education and a full time job. My life consisted of work, volunteering, and professional networking. My partner and I were settling into our new home in the Sherman Hub and everything seemed fine. Throughout the years I had struggled with what I now know was depression. At the time it was easier to blame myself for not being able to keep up with my own expectations than it was to ask for help.

Suddenly, that all stopped. I woke up one day a different person, with zero regard for consequences. My mind had been hijacked. In the span of 3 months I found myself jobless, homeless, single and ended up being hospitalized. Nobody in my life knew the warning signs.

I was experiencing my first manic episode which lasted approximately 4 months (followed by the worst depression I had ever experienced). After being apprehended by police under a Form 1 and hospitalized in 2015, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. With this diagnosis came an overhaul of my priorities. My lifestyle now includes regular doctor’s appointments, weekly meetings with a social worker, copious amounts of medication, exercise and diet goals, along with a full time job and a social life. I am a proactive person and had I known I had an illness I would have wanted to get ahead of it before it turned my life upside down.

Being apprehended by police was traumatic; several events that occurred whilst I was in the care of the hospital were traumatic. I can’t say there are many positive aspects of having Bipolar Disorder, but the best part about being sick is telling people that I am sick. It’s empowering to watch a person’s preconceived notions of me fade away as they open up about their own relation to mental health. That’s when I get to relate and share all of the wonderful mental health resources I know of in Hamilton.

For those who are experiencing Bipolar, Anxiety, or Depression I have organized a free peer support group with the help of 541 Eatery & Exchange. This group meets the last Wednesday of each month from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM in a public space that allows us to talk openly and comfortably about our illness.

“A diagnosis is burden enough without being burdened by secrecy and shame.” – Jane Pauley