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When Mental Illness Reroutes Your Dreams

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Since I was in the fifth grade, I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I even wrote it down in my “School Days” book. Well, I wrote down social worker and teacher, too, but I knew I wanted to be a nurse. I love helping people and I love learning about medical things, so I figured being a nurse would be the best profession I could choose.  

But when I was diagnosed with major depression at age 14, things got harder. For a few years, I was trying to just survive.

Still, I went to college with the exact purpose to become a nurse. But when I went to my first pre-chemistry class, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the anxiety. I went on to complete a degree in liberal arts, and then got a bachelor’s in psychology a few years ago. I tried and tried to become a nurse. When that didn’t work, I tried to become a medical assistant, but that failed as well.  I completed the schooling but couldn’t stay with a job due to bipolar disorder, anxiety and borderline personality disorder. 

I’ve realized over the years I’m just not meant to be a nurse, but I’ve always been ready to help others. After having suffered from mental illness for 19 years, about three years ago, I began to change the “suffering” part to “living well” with (although I still have bad days and suffer on those days). I began seeing  my therapist every week, seeing my psychiatrist regularly, got on a good “cocktail” of meds and began taking them as scheduled. I also began running and participating in races, went on two meditation retreats and began sharing my story. It took a ton of work, but I’m now doing better than I’ve ever been before.  

My main goal has always been to help others, and even though my illnesses didn’t allow me to be a nurse, I’m still helping others. If sharing my story of success helps one other person, then I have done my job. As any person with a mental illness will tell you, getting and staying well is really hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It takes a lot of hard work, patience (which I do not have a lot of), relying on your support system, following a routine and finding out a lot about yourself and working with that. I did all of that and continue to do it, and it was worth all the effort I put into it. It makes me proud I stuck to it. And if I can help anyone else realize they, too, can get well, I like to be called an inspiration.

Originally published: March 25, 2016
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