Life Has Hope | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Life Has Hope

By Antigone Dayton

When I was a kid my father was verbally abusive and I felt worthless. It’s hard when someone you’re taught to trust tells you horrible things about yourself. I knew something was wrong in my brain so I would hit myself in the head. I thought I could make it stop by doing this. It took me a while to realize that I was not the problem.

When I was 12 my parents divorced and my mom left. When I was at my father’s I took the role of a mother. I took care of my sister, but I was self-harming every day. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I already knew I had ADHD. They put me on antidepressants. I didn’t sleep so they tried giving me melatonin. This wasn’t helping. I started yelling at people for looking at me in a way I didn’t like. I tried not to hurt others so I hurt myself instead. I knew I had something more then what I was diagnosed with.

I broke one day and I was sent to a hospital due to a suicide attempt. I was two hours away from home in a hospital where I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I was relieved but scared because I had only heard horrible things about this condition. I believed I’d be a monster for the rest of my life. They told me how I can take care of myself and have a good life. They put me on medication and for the first time in years I got a full night sleep. I attended a therapy program with other kids struggling with mental illness and I realized I wasn’t alone.

My mom was with me the whole time and she learned everything she could. I was also finally free of my father because doctors decided he was bad for my mental health. Everyone I knew had different opinions on my diagnosis. Some people judged, while others were confused. My family stuck by me and helped raise awareness. I got a lot of help but I was still self-harming heavily. I was put on medication to stop my addiction because I couldn’t stop. My depression got very bad every year in about October. I was put in therapy groups to stop me from suicidal thoughts and to stop urges to self-harm. Through this I met my best friend who struggled too, but we both wanted to fight for our lives.

I ended up moving to a residential home. It helped give me hope but I was still struggling. I was starting to hear voices and I was seeing things. This was a week before my 18th birthday. They told me I had to go to the hospital to monitor me on my new medication since I was being taken off one I took for years. I was admitted two days after my birthday. I wasn’t aware that hearing and seeing things can be a symptom of bipolar 1.

I am now doing the best I ever have in my life and I have extremely supportive friends and family. There is hope. It may be hard work, but I promise that it is worth it. I still haven’t self-harmed since I was 15. I used to not be able to handle being in a car or going to school, now I’m in college and have my own car. I also have a job now. Many people have told me I helped them reach out for help. I work every day to make sure people know that it’s okay to get help. I encourage others to tell people how they are feeling so they can get proper care like I did.


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