For as long as I can remember, I struggled with anxiety and depression. My parents put me in counseling in middle school, but it didn’t help.

In high school I saw a psychiatrist and started an antidepressant.

In college I started a mood stabilizer and anxiety medication. I also saw a hypnotist. It did not work.

After college, I threw away all my medication and moved 4 hours away for a fresh start. I didn’t feel better. In fact, I felt worse.

Less than a year later, I got pregnant with my first child. A few years after she was born, I went back on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. I also went back into therapy. I didn’t feel any better.

Five years later, I got pregnant again and went off the medicine and stopped therapy.

Then after the birth of my second child I felt the worst I’d ever felt. I was so emotionally unstable. I sought help and a psychiatric nurse practitioner diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. I continued therapy and began my journey of various medications including mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and anti anxiety medication.

I abused medications, had suicidal thoughts, and I had 3 in-patient hospitalizations.

Eventually I began suppressing my feelings with alcohol. This is very unsafe to do while taking these medications.

After 6 years, I decided to quit drinking after reading a very influential book. This was the best decision I have ever made. It led me to then clean up my diet. Then I created a healthy nighttime routine, prioritized exercise, and various other forms of self care. I finally began to feel better! But then feelings of anger and resentment began resurfacing and instead of suppressing them I welcomed and acknowledged them.

I began to realize that these feelings were associated with childhood trauma. Something I had been denying for decades because I was too emotionally immature to process it as a child and young adult. It was time to face it now.

I had never allowed myself to even think about the trauma before and, as hard as it was, I finally opened up to my mental healthcare team. I began writing in a journal and continued to dig deeper into the past and discovered other symptoms I never acknowledged such as dissociation and coping mechanisms such as OCD. My psychiatric nurse practitioner decided that PTSD was a more fitting diagnosis than bipolar disorder. I am now weaning off the medication. I am working on healing and letting go of the negative feelings in therapy and with journaling. I’m beginning to feel a sense of peace and positive feelings I haven’t felt before such as a sense of strength and pride. I am finally on the right path.

Key things I have learned on my journey are to prioritize self care and to never surrender. Keep fighting and advocating for your mental health.