I am 39 years old, married, mother of 3 boys, and have Bipolar II and Anxiety Disorder. I have a Bachelors Degree in Nursing and have been in practice for 17 years. I was midiagnosed with Major Depression at age 17, when I tried for the first time to commit suicide to get away from an abusive boyfriend, my horrible self esteem, and the wacked out thoughts in my head. This would be #1 of 3 attempts. So how was I midiagnosed?  First of all, finding a decent psychiatrist was next to impossible. And no one caught my hypomanic episodes because I don’t have euphoria with them. I am irritable, agitated, and prone to anger outbursts, much like some people’s depressive episodes. And no one noticed the extreme anxiety I have felt my whole life, until it got worse in the postpartum period after the birth of my first child, at age 33. Finally, FINALLY at age 36, I found the world’s greatest psychiatrist and got the correct diagnosis. I require med changes every three months still. I think many of us with this disorder do. I don’t hide the fact I have bipolar. Many people I come in contact with are shocked that I have it. “But you seem normal. But you’re successful in your career. But you don’t live on the street”. All of those statements are ridiculous. This is why we have to break the stigma.

Mental illness does not preclude us from intelligence. It does not mean we can’t be successful in our lives. But we need resources to do so. More funding for public mental health clinics. Medicines that are less expensive or more medication assistance programs. More mental health insurance benefits. Help for our veterans. Help for the homeless mentally ill population. More inpatient psychiatric beds. Mental illness needs to be brought up from the bottom of the funding barrel. If we had more resources, there would be less utilization of ER beds, less admissions for overdoses and substance abuse effects, less violent crime, less homelessness. It would be less expensive and better for society if mental illness mattered more. We deserve it because we are your fellow mothers, fathers, children, doctors, nurses, lawyers, engineers, actors, HUMANS MATTER!

One response to “Catherine”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Love this! Thank you for sharing. My brother was diagnosed a year ago with bipolar and has been hospitalized twice now. Our family is really tight-knit and supportive of him, but ever since his diagnosis, I have begun to notice how intolerant our society is towards the mentally ill.

    I am confident now that I have many coworkers who struggle with mental illness, but few will talk about it (though most will discuss their “normal” illnesses).

    Because of my brother’s diagnosis, I have learned that I can no longer make assumptions about why people may behave or say hurtful things that they do, but at the same time, I struggle significantly with the fact that mental illness is not a priority for our communities, and that law enforcement and especially the medical mental health community fails to understand the people they are supposed to protect, serve and treat.

    It has to change.

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