My name is Sara. I am 25 years old and live in Brooklyn Center, MN with my amazing husband, Sam. I have quite the story. My mother’s side of the family has a lot of mental illness. My great-grandmother has schizophrenia. She was often not on medication. She ended up in the State Hospital and passed away. My grandmother has bi-polar disorder, depression and anxiety. She didn’t get diagnosed until the age of 60 due to not wanting to be like her mother. My mother has depression.
At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with ADD. This is stable with medication and 6 month office visits with my primary care provider. At the age of 14, I entered into a relationship with a boy, who was 2 years older than me. He went into the Marine Corps and started drinking. He deployed to Afghanistan and came back as a different man. He suffers from severe PTSD, which lead to increased alcohol use and cocaine use. We broke up when I was 18. I suffer from a lot of trauma and PTSD from that relationship. I was a victim of narcissistic abuse. I kept this hidden for 10 years, not telling anyone. I started therapy with a therapist that specializes in trauma, PTSD and abuse. It has been life changing.
At the age of 23, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is stable with medication, therapy and visits with my primary care doctor. Finally, this year, I was diagnosed with Compulsive Picking Disorder. I pick anything raised on my skin. I’ve picked moles and have attempted to pick off skin tags. I primarily pick on my arms, legs, back and face. I bleed a lot and that doesn’t stop me. Many times, I have to sleep with ice packs on my face. After a long picking episode, my skin is covered in open sores. I can’t touch my face without wincing or look in the mirror without crying. I have had infections due to the open sores. My back is completely covered in scars. My legs and arms are starting to scar as well. My face hasn’t been clear in 6 months. For treatment, I am seeing a psychiatrist. I will be entering Rogers Behavioral Health for exposure therapy in October. It has been stable with therapy and increase medication.
I cope with my mental illness by blogging. I have started a blog that has been really therapeutic. I see a therapist and psychiatrist weekly. The most incredible thing is I have joined a mental health group through my work called, “Be the Change.” This allows me to speak to healthcare workers about the mental illness stigma and addiction. I am able to share my story. Also, I have the honor of being part of an advocacy institute program that works with legislators on healthcare policies that need to be implemented into our system.
I have found my calling and purpose in life besides being a nurse. It is to speak for those who can’t or haven’t found their voice. It is to open minds and open eyes one day at a time. I am going to make a difference, someway and somehow. I have a fire burning in my soul and it can’t be contained.