Tears were shed more than once. The feeling of someone thanking you for putting into words what they have always wanted to express but had no opportunity to do so...so very humbling.
I have been asked to speak at future events regarding mental health and sexual assault. I sincerely hope that I can continue to bring not only awareness to others, but a voice for those that don't really have one.
The experience was rather eye opening and all in all it was fantastic. Unfortunately, at one point (after I was done speaking and in the audience) it became political and ugly. It lasted only a moment, but the bitter taste was left in my mouth. I have already written a letter to the representative and how fun that she is the one that represents our county. ugh.
Anyways, we had 3 minutes and 30 seconds (or less! I am used to 10) to speak so I tried to do so succinctly and to the point. So, in case you were wondering what I had to say... Here it is!
Good Morning, Everyone. My name is Madison and I am a writer for numerous fertility and mental health publications.
I'm diagnosed as having bipolar, severe depression, and ptsd. While these are my diagnosis, they in no way define me…the actual person.
My battle to be mentally healthy began 20 years ago, I was 15 and the previous year had been brutally sexually assaulted. While to everyone around me, I appeared the same. I was in no way the same. Prior to this, I was a vivacious teenager in honors classes, involved in multiple activities and always surrounded by friends. Afterwards, I began to withdraw. I became increasingly angry & developed an eating disorder.
The rape triggered repressed memories of being sexually abused as a child by the son of a babysitter....the flashbacks coming so frequently and nightmares haunting my sleep, I became petrified to close my eyes.
At the end of my rope, and with my own mind becoming my worst enemy. I attempted suicide. I suffered a grand mal seizure & cardiac arrest. My parents were warned that my chance of survival was less than 50% and if I did, I would probably have severe brain trauma. I ended up with frontal lobe brain damage and was released from the ICU ten days later
This is when my maze through the mind field of the mental health system began.
From 15-19 I was hospitalized on 13 occasions. New doctor, new diagnosis... which meant new medications. at one point, released from a hospital prescribed to 14 separate ones. The side effects reeking such havoc, I rarely took them properly.
As time went on I attended college, got married and held down jobs. I rarely mentioned my illness based on the stigma I faced. Sadly enough, often times, the worst I faced was from those in the medical field.
Whenever I would see new doctors for something so simple as strep throat, the moment I would mention my past health problems, the tone of the discussion would immediately change. I was rarely taken seriously and the air reeked of their judgment. On one such visit, I purposely abstained from mentioning a medication which caused a severe interaction.
A doctor's office should be a safe haven.
After years of trying to handle my illness on my own, my facade started to crumble. I was barely able to perform simple day to day task. This illness allows you to believe lies versus the truth and it once again led me to the conclusion suicide was an option. When death beckoned this time...before all logical thoughts had been erased. I sought help.
I checked myself in to the hospital and instead of being transferred to the treatment facility in an ambulance, I was put in the back of a police car like I committed a crime.
This hospital stay started out as all the previous had, heavily drugged up, vomiting and barely coherent. Then, after 3 days, a new doctor took over. She took the time to listen to me and to push me in a direction of wellness and success. In addition to my bipolar and depression, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I began a 2 year program that was one of the most hellish, grueling and rewarding experiences of my life.
I survived this ordeal because of my family support and a husband that stood by me to see me well. They fought insurance when they tried to end my treatment prematurely. This time, with the right doctors, medication and treatment plan...I was left with the one thing that had always evaded me...HOPE!
linking up with thursday thoughts