Personal Story: Hope And Help

My name is Caitlin and I’m 34 years old. I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 19, but I’ve probably been struggling with anxiety for my whole life. I am writing this today after hearing others share their stories of recovery from mental illness and feeling inspired to do the same.

At times, living with depression and anxiety feels overwhelming and life feels hopeless. I have tried 13 different psychiatric medications and currently take four. I’m on my fourth long-term individual therapist. These relationships have been immensely helpful, but having them come and go has been painful. Last fall, things got particularly challenging and I spent three weeks in a day hospitalization program. Having to take time off from my daily responsibilities was something I never had to do before, and I’m still working to accept it.

My negative thoughts are telling me not to submit this because “who cares about my struggles,” “others have it way worse,” but I’m continuing to type this anyway because I want others who are struggling to know you are not alone. I also want to say that yes, I have a mental illness, but that is not all of who I am. I am a daughter, an aunt, a granddaughter, a friend. I am an Occupational Therapist (OT). My role as an OT has been continuously intertwined with my mental illness since I started practicing. How can I help others when I don’t feel well myself? My negative thoughts continuously tell me I am not doing my job “good enough” and that I am letting others down at work.

This year has been one of my most challenging, but I still have hope. I am thankful to have a doctor who is willing to try new things. Currently, I am in my third week of TMS treatment for depression. All of this is still new, but I think things have slightly begun to shift. I notice it’s easier to get up in the morning—some days, the work day seems more manageable, some days that voice that says I’m not good enough is a little quieter. My friends have also said I seem calmer.

My story of recovery is not over, but hopefully with continued treatment things will continue to improve. I am writing this to say mental health is important, mental illnesses are real, and help is available.

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