Denise’s Story

By: Denise

Source: Remembrance and Recovery Project by Mental Health America (Mental Health Minnesota)

Write or Bust
I was diagnosed with manic depression at the age of 21, while in my senior year of college. My long struggle with anxiety and depression began at a very young age. I have grown up with a deep-rooted fear and abandonment, due to the fact that I was lost in the salt mines in Germany at the age of five. This caused me to have recurring nightmares for several years. This fear exacerbated at the age of 12 when my parents divorced and my father moved away. I had a strong attachment to my dad. The growing tension in the home and family created great anxieties and depression for me.

There were many contributing factors to my depression while growing up. My depression was not only caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, but also due to being sexually abused at a very young age, being bullied and teased in grade school and at home, because of weight problems, low self-esteem, and my parent’s divorce in my teenage years. But the time I reached high school, I had a serious nervous disorder that led me down the horrendous path of bulimia. It has taken me many years and innumerable counseling sessions before I could overcome a negative self-image.

My career plans and my senior year of college were interrupted when I was struck with a severe manic episode. When a manic episode comes on, there’s no stopping it. The brain is out of control. It’s like being hit by a runaway train. I was shocked to find myself in a psychiatric ward of a major hospital. I was so angry at being locked up. At the time I never thought this could ever happen to me.

I was in my prime and I had big hopes and dreams to travel overseas and become a missionary. I had become a Christian at age 12 and wanted to share my Christian faith through love in action. Life takes funny twists and I had come to a complete detour in the road and had to turn my life around. With hard work and determination, I was able to fulfill my college requirements with only a few months’ delay. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Therapy.

Many times in my life I have faced discrimination and stigma. After what I have experienced personally, I consider myself to be a survivor. I believe in myself and have learned to develop an attitude of gratitude. I use my daily journals for therapy and my writing as an outlet. It’s either ‘write or bust’ fore me. I have a need to express myself. I write poetry, songs, and short stories. I continue to pursue writing.

Recovery to me is about setting goals and pursuing dreams, even if they seem impossible or out of reach. Recovery is having a mindset of hope and perseverance in the direst of circumstances. Recovery is overcoming obstacles in the face of overwhelming odds. It is about never giving up and knowing that my faith in God will carry me through.