This is a part of the speech I gave at Prestera’s Peer Support Graduation on February 17th, 2012. Excuse my overuse of commas…because I LOVE THEM! =)
“What I wish to share you with this morning is that I am a really normal person…who happens to be mentally ill. I suffer from Bipolar II disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder. But more than this, I want to share my story to help others on their paths to recovery, by utilizing my knowledge and experience with the hope that they will experience a few less bumps in the road on their path to recovery.
I travel down the road of knowledge and understanding of mental illness primarily on my own as those who do not suffer from the symptoms of mental illness often have difficulty understanding that mental illness is not static; a prescription and session with a therapist is not the end of the recovery process; it is the first step on a staircase of a million stairs. Therefore, I have become an avid amateur researcher, devouring biographies, manuals, news articles, and medical publications in the hope that the more I understand mental illness, the better I can live with it and not against it.
This desire for knowledge led me to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland in January 2010. Within 4 days of being invited by leading mood disorder researchers Dr. Carlos Zarate and Dr. Nancy Diaz-Granados to participate in Protocol NCT00088699, a drug trial studying the rapid anti-depressant effects of the anesthetic Ketamine, I was on a lone 5 and a half hours drive to Bethesda. I spent 4 months at the NIH, having 2 MRIs, 2 PET scans, 1 Magneto encephalography, or MEG test, 9 sleep studies, more than 20 blood draws, and, most importantly, a positive reaction the Ketamine. I am proud of myself not only for completing the trial, but more so for believing that every step I take towards the advancement of the treatment of mental illness is one less obstacle for the next generation to overcome.”
Mental illness has put me on a loney road to recovery; my hope is that I don’t leave others to travel it alone as I have had to do.