Personal Stories

There Is Hope: Sarah's Story

I had always had anxiety. As far back as I could remember, I was always afraid of something happening. My mother was always screaming about something, and my father was drinking a bottle of R&R Whisky a night. I witnessed many fights, some physical, and lived with constant fear of being yelled at. By the time I was 9 we had moved from Oregon to Alaska, and My mother had been diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder. My father, who was still drinking daily, became sick, and I ended up finding him passed out in the bathroom one night, he was rushed to the hospital, calling my name, and in less than 24 hours, he was dead.

When we returned to Oregon, I was bullied at school daily, called ugly, fat, and soon a game had started in my class. The boy would approach me, ask me out, and then laugh at my confused face.

By the time I entered middle school I was suicidal, depressed, and had massive anxiety. I went to my school counselor for help, and instead she made me feel so afraid and alone that I left school.

I spent the next four years in my house. Not moving, hardly sleeping, and wanting very much to die.

I attempted suicide twice, and was about to attempt it again when it happened .  It was like the moment of clarity you hear about on TV, that one moment where nothing hurts, where all you can see or think about is the life you have lived. I saw my family, my friends, and I realized that I would hurt them, really hurt them, if i went through with my plan.

I put the knife down, I didn’t pick it up again.

I began to seek treatment, started going to high school again, and began fighting against my depression and anxiety.

When I was 17 I began having panic attacks, I went to the emergency room three times before they realized what was happening to me.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and put on medications.

When I was 18 my teachers drove me to NAMI of Clackamas County Oregon, where I was greeted with acceptance and kindness. I began volunteering with them, working on their website, and soon started attending support groups.

I then took the training to become a Connections Recovery Support group facilitator, and began to co-facilitate a group, I also took up a position on NAMI on Campus, and started taking on a active role in raising awareness for mental illness.

I was still having panic attacks daily, and had started to act recklessly and manic. I started to become enraged at the smallest things, and soon it became apparent that I was not getting the help I needed.

I went to a new therapist, who finally diagnosed me with Bi-polar disorder, PTSD, and Panic disorder. I met with a doctor, and tried various medications, that gave me many side effects, weight gain, shaking, fogginess, dizziness, etc. Still I stuck with it.

I am now on three medications, they seem to be working so far.

I took a class with NAMI to become a presenter for Parents and teachers as allies, and have spoken at DHS, role played for CIT training for the police department, manned fair booths, spoken at colleges and schools, and have taken a comedy class called Stand up for mental health.

I am now 21 years old, and have decided to dedicate the rest of my life to helping people with mental illnesses.

I am a peer support specialist with the state of Oregon as of December 2013.

I will always struggle with my depression, mania and anxiety, but I have committed to over coming it. I believe i can, that there is hope.

I am sharing my story with you all today because I want to let people know, weather your a family member, friend, or peer. There is hope, recovery is possible. You have had the courage to live with your illness this long, I know you have the strength to over come it!