Since the inception of my blog The Bipolar Writer it has been my goal to write the stories of others like myself. I have written my own story in my memoir (also entitled The Bipolar Writer) and sharing my experiences on my blog. Every human experience in having to live with a mental illness is unique to that human being and the suffering from it is also unique. It is why I believe it is imperative that I share other’s stories, so here is the story of one brave mental illness sufferer—Morgan who lives in Australia.
The daily struggle of waking up every day to a mental illness can be a struggle and for Morgan, it is no different. Morgan has always felt that her daily mental illness struggle is a hard one, and had this to say, “My mental illness has always been very affected by what’s going on around me, some days it much worse than others.”
We all have that story of when we went from the unknown to the known with our diagnosis. Surrounded by the people Morgan loved on her twenty-first birthday, it became clear to her that in that moment she could barely acknowledge the event and a feeling of numbness. Only broken by the speech of her godparents and seeing the face of a filmmaking mentor, seemed to register to Morgan that day. “I was very lucky that afterward a very close friend, who suffered from anxiety herself, stayed behind and I decided to tell her how I felt,” she recalls.
Sometimes it takes just one person to listen before you realize you need help.
It was here that Morgan, after talking with her friend who recommended that she seek help, that she made the decision we all face. Two weeks later she was diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety and moderate to severe depression.
We all have a history, a time before our diagnosis where we had little to no understanding of what was going on in our lives, and Morgan remembers many times since she was a child that anxiety was a constant and silent companion. Morgan describes her early experiences as just a part of her personality growing up, a common thought during the early stages of anxiety. Like most things with a mental illness, her anxiety grew over time.
Morgan remembers that her anxiety was always there with her since she was a child, and at times she felt more anxious than other times, but the feeling never left her. Morgan recalls her memories with anxiety in an interesting way, but not uncommon, “I have no memory of not having anxiety, which is not surprising seeing as many people on my mother’s side of the family suffer from it.”
Anxiety is often the silent partner for the sufferer, and you hardly know it’s there until it makes it presence known. Identifying other family members when looking back your history of the causes of anxiety in their own life is common, and it no surprise that Morgan can link anxiety through her experiences with her family.
Death is an important part of our lives, and the inevitable part of life is that you will lose someone close to you, for someone with a mental illness this can be devastating. It was this way in Morgan’s life, and it was important enough that she brought it up in her interview with me, “My anxiety definitely became much worse after the death of my father and the suicide of someone I had grown up with within two months of each other when I was nineteen.”
The feelings associated with death in the mind of someone who is devastated with anxiety, depression, and grief can make a person with mental illness turn to the only thing they truly know when it comes to emotions—deeper feelings into the depths of depression—of feeling lost and alone.
“I experienced my first panic attack after their deaths, and I would go on to experience both moderate and severe ones in the years that followed,” Morgan explains.
For Morgan, depression was a much different beast, but still important. Looking back, Morgan can trace her first feelings of prolonged depressive moods to age ten or eleven, when her family issues started to affect her life. Her father was in early stages of vascular dementia which caused Morgan’s father to get easily frustrated with his family. At the age Morgan was at, having to go through puberty while dealing with depression, made it hard for Morgan’s childhood to be a normal one.
Depression would become a factor along with physical pain that affected her in school work over the course of her young and teenage life.
There are so many triggers in one’s life that can start a depressive episode, and Morgan recalls several in her life. One constant problem in Morgan’s life is that her physical problems have always triggered depression episodes. “During puberty, I began to experience severe stomach pain and nausea on and off, within a year lightheadedness and fatigue became frequent symptoms,” Morgan remembers growing up.
It was the beginning of what would become a trend in Morgan’s life with her physical problems causing depression that, in turn, affected her schooling. With her depression came plummeting school work and effectiveness in school over the years as a teen. It culminated for Morgan in her final year where once again her unknown mental illness issues made things impossible, “Even though I had amazing teachers, my prestigious school could only compromise so much, and halfway through my final year, I was told I wasn’t able to graduate.”
How can anyone, let alone someone who is dealing with the dark places depression can take you to, deal with this kind of heartbreak? Morgan remembers what it felt like, “I can remember thinking about ways to die most days.”
This feeling of wanting to die when faced with such emotional pain is common among those within the mental health community. It is easy to empathize with Morgan because at one point many of us have had to deal with this feeling. Some, like myself, have given into suicidal idealizations. For Morgan, even with her growing mental illness problems, she had to choose and she chose to work on her physical health.
People can also be major triggers of depression in the life of someone with a mental illness, and often they leave the deepest of emotional scars on our lives. When Morgan’s parents first sent her to group therapy as a young impressionable teen, it was far from the normal. Morgan describes the group therapy that parents put her into as an alternative and “hippy” where other kids that had been through the program would come back to help. The problem? Most of the kids were still dealing with their own problems and still in need of help. It is here that Morgan first met an older boy who changed her—and not for the better.
Morgan recalls this relationship as unstable and one she couldn’t live without at the time.
“I developed a very strong crush on one of the older boys who were there to help, and he quickly realized how he could use my emotional feelings to manipulate me.”
Over the next four years of her teenage life, she stayed in touch with this boy, and she recalls that during this period of her life, her depression mood swings went from occasional to a constant menace. Morgan remembers the negative thoughts that this boy brought to her life, “One of my strongest memories of him now is the text messages telling me how much pain I was causing others by being in their lives, and how I was worthless.” For Morgan, this was a daily occurrence and a recognizable one for many dealing with a mental illness.
This boy confirmed every fear and anxious thought that Morgan ever had about herself, but the connection had always been there for Morgan, and cutting off this person from her life was filled with difficulties. As humans with a mental illness, we often attach ourselves to situations where it only serves to further our negative thoughts. We feel as if we are not good enough for the world, so these relationships, no matter how destructive, can lead to deeper attachments.
Eventually, on her sixteenth birthday, Morgan finally cut off all contact and ended a relationship filled with emotional cuts that stayed with her for many years.
Not all people that come into the lives of someone with a mental illness are negative influences. In her journey, Morgan has found two people at school that became saviors in her life and they are still a positive influence. In her late teen years, Morgan found the strength to fight her ups and downs with depression with filmmaking and found solace in her friend Alice who became her rock after her father’s death. When Morgan finally sought help it became clear that her past was affecting her future, and since has grown with her experiences.
“I’d known since I was twelve that I had some form of depression, after all, most of my symptoms matched the ones I’d heard of in group therapy, but getting my official diagnosis of anxiety was life-changing.”
These days Morgan gets through her daily struggles with the help of important medications like anti-depressants and breathing exercises that she learned in cognitive behavioral therapy to help cope with anxiety. Morgan also credits a strong support system of family and quality friends who not only know what is wrong with her but offer help in her those times of great need, supporting her along her journey.
When Morgan has a panic attack, she has learned to tell herself, “Everything will be okay in the end, if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.”
In Morgan’s life, she has found solace in the things that make her life worth living. Close personal friends that are always there for her. Morgan’s boyfriend of eighteen months has seen the worst of her diagnosis and is still is a constant patient and supportive influence every day. Throughout her life, she has been lucky to have her parents that always encouraged her creativity and dreams. It was Morgan’s mother who fostered her creativity, “My mother passed on her love of art and cafes, and we still share wonderful deep emotional conversations together, which are the main ways I process life.”
Of course, Morgan has her cat, Alistair (a Dragon Age reference perhaps) who is always a wonderful distraction from the rest of the world.
In every journey of a human being going through a mental illness you can find real wisdom in the struggle, and Morgan wants her story to be one of many that will help with the goals she sets out to tell her story here on The Bipolar Writer blog, “One of my biggest goals is to reduce the stigma around taking medication. I chose not to take medication for a long time, and it’s one of my biggest regrets I have in life.”
Morgan also believes that the stigma that comes with having a mental illness keeps teens and young adults from seeking help. Morgan recalls when she first started to realize that she was dealing with depression, she saw daily shirts that said, “Cheer Up Emo Kid” which were quite popular in Australia. These types of stereotypes in Morgan’s mind further the stigma that just smiling should be enough to cure you. No one human being chooses to have a mental illness and it can be scary to even think about getting help, but Morgan believes she can change this by telling her story.
“If I could choose this life, I thought, why the hell would you think I would choose this? It is very important to realize your mental illness is not your fault, but you can do something about it.”
In this mental illness life, there is always someone to talk to, a professional or a friend that you can trust. If Morgan could change one other thing about the stigma that comes with a mental illness it would be this, “It’s important to know that there is help out there, even if you aren’t well enough to seek it out in this moment.”
Many of human beings that will be featured on The Bipolar Writer blog cite their creating content on their blogs as one of the biggest thing that makes life worth living. Morgan calls her blog a place of solace that helps keep her steady,
“My blog keeps me from going insane by giving me a little goal to achieve every day, whether it’s replying to comments, writing a new blog post, or promoting on social media.”
Morgan is a filmmaker and writer who was diagnosed with endometriosis at seventeen and depression and generalized anxiety at twenty-one. She uses her creativity as an essential part of her healing process.
You can find Morgan’s blog at:
Written by J.E. Skye