How This Girl Became A Mental Health Advocate
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Health and Wellness

How This Girl Became A Mental Health Advocate

After she discovered she wasn't alone, she had to speak out.

How This Girl Became A Mental Health Advocate
Interviewee's photo

The post I have this week is a little different. I had the opportunity to interview the lovely mental health advocate Morgan! She's based in the US, likes to sing, and is unapologetically herself.

Morgan lives with bipolar, borderline personality disorder, and social anxiety disorder. This is what she has to say about her mental illnesses.

Trigger Warning: Mentions of self-harm, suicidal ideation

I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder at 18 years old and bipolar disorder as well as borderline personality disorder at 20 years old. I've been experiencing symptoms of social anxiety since birth, bipolar disorder since about 15-16 years old during my sophomore year of high school, and full-blown borderline personality disorder since 18, but I had traits during my childhood.

It started when I was eighteen and I was forced into a retail job that felt like hell to me due to my anxiety. My self-harm reached an all-time high. Every waking moment of my life was filled with dread about the next time I’d have to step into my workplace.

All of it became too much to bear that I almost made an attempt on my own life; not because I wanted to die, but because I knew I needed help and didn’t know how to ask. In the end, I chickened out and walked away. It wasn’t until I broke down in front of my mother because I was terrified of having to talk to my boss.

It was like she finally understood the pain I had been enduring my whole life, and she suggested I see a therapist to learn “coping skills”. A few weeks later, I met my first therapist, but I quickly began to feel unheard and despaired that I would never get any better. I asked to switch to the therapist that my dad saw during his bouts of depression, and my mother agreed.

So I met him, but I quickly realized that he was in way over his head with me. I tried with him because I didn’t want to disappoint my parents, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make him see how much pain I was in. I was depressed, self-harming, and suicidal.

The time came once again where I was being forced to work, and I couldn’t take the pressure. My parents were furious with me because they thought I hadn’t tried hard enough with my therapist, but when I once again broke down, my mother suggested I see a psychiatrist. I eagerly agreed, knowing that medication may very well be the only thing that worked for me.

I started out on antidepressants, and it took a while to find one that worked. We also added anti-anxiety medication to help. At that point in my life, I was still depressed, but my anxiety was a lot lighter. I had a job that I loved and was in a relationship with the girl that I loved.

Then, the rug was pulled out from under me as I spiraled into my first hypomanic episode. I had no idea what was going on with me, so I went to see my psychiatrist. She explained to me that I was bipolar, and we added a mood stabilizer to my medications.

Again, it took some time to find the right one, and there were a couple of times I thought my doctor was trying to poison me, but we did eventually get me stable. That summer, my symptoms worsened, and I ended up at an outpatient facility. I attended group therapies every weekday for a month, and things slowly started to feel better.

However, I knew I still needed to work out the kinks with my hypersensitivity to be a better girlfriend. I found one (1) affordable DBT therapist semi-near me. She helped me gain control over myself, and after a while, she had to move away.

When she did, I felt that I was strong enough to stand on my own feet. I continue to fight for my mental health every day, but the battle is a lot easier now.

When I was diagnosed with social anxiety, I felt relieved. Basically, it was confirming what I had already known for a long time, but I felt like my suffering was finally being recognized and that I was going to be able to get help.

I was a little confused when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder since I hadn’t experienced my first true hypomania until I was about 20. (My psychiatrist and I thought it was just unipolar depression.) I also felt relieved because I had spent time thinking that the depression was my own fault, but having bipolar disorder put things into an entirely different perspective.

I also felt relieved when I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. It lifted some of the guilt of my previous behavior because now I knew what was wrong, and better yet I knew what I needed to do to recover.

Social anxiety is essentially the fear of what people are thinking about me. I worry about embarrassing myself, coming across as stupid, or rude. I felt like I couldn’t bear it if people thought negatively of me.

Bipolar disorder is a deep, dark depression. It's a lack of energy and motivation to do anything, much less take care of myself. Thinking about all my flaws and hating myself. Wanting to die. Self-harming just so I can feel that chemical release.

Then suddenly, like flipping a light switch, I’m on top of the world. I feel like I can do anything. I have an excess of energy that feels like it’s ripping my body apart. My mind races faster than I can keep up with. I don’t sleep. I don’t need it. I constantly have to be occupied.

Borderline personality disorder is always fearing that people are mad at me and walking on eggshells so that they don’t get mad at me. Because when they do, they threaten to leave, and my heart can’t handle that. My feelings are hurt much more easily than other’s, and I irrationally lash out.

I know what I’m doing, but I can’t stop it. I hurt others, and then I hurt because of the damage I did. I always feel like a victim.

Medication has been the biggest part for me in terms of coping. I’m on a combination of Valium, Propranolol, Lamictal, Prozac, and Cymbalta. These help the chemical aspects of my mental illnesses.

For the behavioral aspect, DBT has been a big help to me and is currently helping me to rewire my brain into something calmer. Meditation and breathing exercises are something I’ve recently learned to help me control my anxiety and BPD.

Before I started on medication, I was unable to get a job due to the sheer terror I felt. I kept my head down and never made many friends. My education suffered due to my depression, and I found myself going from an all As student to a Bs and Cs student.

Forcing myself to work through the depression physically burnt me out, and I was often getting physically ill from it. My emotional relationship with my mother was tumultuous, and I never felt like I learned how to have a close, stable relationship.

Having mental illness doesn't mean I can’t hold down a job. It also doesn't make me an abusive or manipulative girlfriend.

I wish people understood that I can’t control it my mental illnesses, I don't have them because I just need to let Jesus into my life, and I am trying my hardest; fighting battles that most people don’t even see.

Society can support people with mental illness by making mental health services more affordable and more accessible. For example, DBT is offered nowhere in my area, and my last outpatient stay costed a fortune. Mental health professionals also need to be trained to be more compassionate and more educated on mental illness.

I’ve been told that borderlines are abusive, manipulative, “nice narcissists”, and not just by ignorant people on the internet. Mental health professionals have said similar things too, and one of my therapists even said that I would scare my girlfriend away. I also think businesses and schools could allow “mental health days” as a valid excuse to stay home, and schools could have curriculum about mental health/illnesses.

I was inspired to become a mental health advocate when I looked up to a few mental health advocates on social media and realized, if I had discovered them during my lowest moments, I might not have felt so alone. So, I decided that if I could help people like myself, it was worth it.

Morgan speaks to a large issue of the lack of awareness surrounding mental health even among mental health professionals. I've definitely seen a bad therapist or two in my life as well which is why it's so important to educate people on how to find a good therapist.

Lack of access is also a huge issue which is partially caused by mental health stigma. The US healthcare system doesn't treat mental disorders with the attention they deserve often times leaving people hundreds of miles away and thousands of dollars shy from the care they deserve.

She also speaks to how nobody is truly alone even when we feel like we are. No matter how broken or alone you may feel, there's someone in the world who has walked in your shoes. I think that's one of the most important things to remember when we're struggling. The pain of isolation can make life almost unbearable and the thought of recovery impossible.

If you want to continue following Morgan's story -- which I highly recommend you do -- you can check her out on Instagram @mindful.morgan!


National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 - available 24/7

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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