This is my journey from hopeless, despair, and fantasies of death, to joy, happiness and peace.
At nine years of age, I didn’t know why I felt so sad at certain times of the year. At age fifteen I went into a severe depression. It lasted six months. I could only lie in bed. I couldn’t brush my hair or teeth or care for myself. After six months of anguish, I went into six months of mania. I would talk fast, think fast, and thoughts that I had previously felt were crazy and outlandish, now seemed completely real and sensible. I had paranoid delusions. I felt sure the radio was speaking exclusively to me and that airplanes were spying on me. This pattern of six months of depression, followed by about five months of mania (with one month of transition) lasted for many years. I began partying, drinking, and living a dangerous lifestyle.
I would fantasize about rolling my car in the ditch. I wanted to die so bad. I spent a lot of time in mental wards and was collected by the police many times for erratic, and peculiar activities. Once I walked into the middle of the highway in busy traffic and stopped passing vehicles with a wave of my hand. I thought I was the queen and could do anything I wanted. I got into a massive car accident because voices in my head told me how to drive my car. These thoughts were intrusive and always trying to destroy my life, even though I couldn’t see it at the time.
Over the years I dreamed of having my own apartment, but knew I could never have one because of the limitations of my illness. One day something happened that precipitated a huge shift in my life. I was invited to church. My life took a positive turn, and the depression ceased. I know it was because of prayer. Unfortunately, the mania/schizophrenia episodes continued. My mental health nurse decided to enroll me as a community client at the Libbie Young Center and I began to learn about my illness. I was able to meet others who had been through similar experiences.
Several years later I had a further two major manic breakdowns. Finally, after years of believing my medication was poison, I decided to trust my doctor and begin treatment. My mental health nurse strongly suggested I apply to live at the Libbie Young Centre in Lloydminster, Alberta. I took her advice and moved to Lloyd and started in the Life Skills program. I learned how to organize my life and care for myself. The medication stabilized my mind. I felt the best I had ever felt in my whole adult life. Eventually, I moved into my own suite, and my dream of having a place of my own came true. However, this was better than I imagined, because nowhere in Lloydminster could I have received the support, the safety, the life skills, the therapeutic and relaxing activities that I was able to partake of at the LYC.
For eight years I have been depression free. My lifestyle is no longer unhealthy and destructive. The mania and schizophrenia are managed and under control. Although life isn’t perfect and I still struggle with my mental health at times, it is significantly better than it used to be. Because of the support I have received from psychiatrists, from the LYC, family, friends, my mental health nurses, and because of my faith, I have experienced six years of stability. I am so grateful for the life I have and for the peace I feel in my heart. Instead of wishing every minute of the day to die, I now wake up and I am happy to be alive. At one time in my life, I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, but now it feels like I live in the full light of day, with hope, and with a future.
Thank you to everyone at the Libbie Young Centre and to all of the mental health professionals that have helped me so much over the years!