My Journey Towards Achieving Good Mental Health

My Journey Towards Achieving Good Mental Health

by Winnie Rosen

My mental illness began to show signs the day I turned 14. Prior to this, I lived a good life. I wasn’t extremely happy but I was content. I had some friends, I did well in school, and my family relationships were ok. But on my 14th birthday, this all changed. It started showing symptoms by making me feel so angry and so empty inside. I started to constantly fight with my parents over literally everything. I felt like I was losing control over my emotions and reality was becoming more and more confusing.

After a few months of this, my parents forced me to go to therapy. I didn’t want to go because I was afraid of being labeled “a problem child.” But my therapist, Anne, was very nice and really listened to me. I looked forward to seeing her each week. Unfortunately though, because my brain was not functioning correctly the therapy was not enough for me to overcome my mental illness. My parents then had me start taking pills. It was another thing that I simply did not want to try. The pills ended up helping a little bit but they had side effects and my emotions were still out of control.

I soon fell into a deep depression. I hated my life and felt that my parents were against me. I even started fantasizing about suicide. I didn’t know how I would start feeling good again. But then that summer I went to a boarding school camp and it gave me the idea to ask my parents to let me go to a boarding school. They quickly agreed. A year later I started studying at the Gunnery (now called the Frederick Gunn School). Some distance did wonders for my relationship with my parents. I enjoyed the school a lot but I still had issues with anxiety, depression, and sometimes even suicidal thoughts. Going there was not enough to make my brain work properly.

After graduating from boarding school, I attended college at Clark University. I majored in psychology because I wanted to become a therapist and help others with depression. The first 2 years of college were pretty good. Some difficulties but not too bad. But then my junior year I started having sleep problems. My insomnia brought on a long manic episode. At the time, I thought that I was just happy. My parents thought I was happy—but I wasn’t. I was manic. And mania always comes with a crash.

Near the end of the school year, I crashed. I fell into a deep depression and had to be hospitalized. It was a terrible experience. The nurses there treated my mental illness like I was choosing to act that way. After I got out of the hospital I started attending IOP. I hated it. I hated having to be looked at as someone with a mental illness. I felt that it was so degrading. I couldn’t wait for that summer to end.

Eventually, I went back to school for my senior year. The first semester, I stopped taking my pills without my doctor’s permission. I became manic again. And once again, I thought I was just happy. But then the second semester I crashed. I felt constantly overwhelmed and suicidal. Luckily, I was able to graduate but after I did, my parents sent me to a behavioral health program instead of letting me go to graduate school.

I hated the behavioral health program. I got in fights with so many people there. And it didn’t do anything to help with my depression. Eventually, I was able to start living on my own again. I was still depressed so I decided to stop taking my pills again. I went manic and crashed once more. While I was in the hospital I got ECT. Luckily, it wasn't as scary as I had expected. But it didn’t work right away.

After I got out of the hospital I began IOP. One of the members had recently started on an antidepressant and was doing so well that I requested to try one. And this time the pill actually worked. My depression and mania went away for the first time in years. I greatly appreciated my newfound mental health. I worked very hard to become the extremely happy person I am today. I even published a book about happiness called “Ruby’s Secret to Happiness”. My life has gone from miserable to wonderful. I wish everyone good luck in their battle to become mentally healthy.

The reason why I wanted to share my story is because when I was depressed I felt that there was no hope. So many people with depression feel that way. I hope my story can teach people that things can get better. I really liked the ADAA website because it has interesting articles and a great mission. The more support people with mental illness can get the better!

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