Creating Change Through Communication
Bridges of Hope provides a platform for individuals to share their mental health journey. The stories shared are those of bravery and resilience. Contact us to learn more about how you can get involved in sharing your story!
If you or anyone you know are struggling, call here 24/7 at 1-844-437-3247.
Mental illness has always been present in my life. In short, my childhood was not an easy one. Many issues that I was faced with as a little girl still linger in my life today. The first time I sought therapy was when I was 8 years old. I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder before I even hit puberty. In 2012, my OCD manifested itself in my eating and exercise routine. This, the death of my grandfather, and the bullying I faced, all contributed to the development of an eating disorder. In 2013, I was hospitalized for 2 months due to the extreme starvation and malnourishment, compulsive exercise, and laxative abuse, that almost took my life. My doctors told me that I was lucky to be alive, as I was at a high risk of having a heart attack, my kidneys and liver were failing, and my body was essentially shutting down. I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, and I completed a long and hard recovery journey that lasted nearly 3 years.
Throughout my teenage years, I experienced periods of high and low moods. It wasn’t until my most recent hospitalization at the beginning of April 2019, that I was diagnosed with co-occurring bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. From January to March of 2019, I experienced the most severe manic episode of my life. I engaged in reckless sexual behaviour, compulsive lying, and impulsive spending (incurring nearly $6,000 in debt). I experienced delusions of grandeur and persecution, depersonalization (feelings of being outside of my own body), derealization (feeling like my external world was always lacking something), and the overwhelming feeling of being on top of the world. During my manic episode, I felt as though I could walk out into traffic and not be hit by oncoming cars. Mania made me feel invincible. However, near the end of March, I crashed into a severe state of depression. I engaged heavily in self-harm (which has been ongoing since 2012), I isolated myself from my loved ones, lost all of my motivation to succeed in school, and I came up with an intricate plan on how I was going to end my life. Fortunately, something inside of me told me to drive myself to the hospital instead of driving to the location I was planning on taking my own life. I finally got the answers I was looking for as I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and BPD. The hospital provided me with stability, security, and safety. I was discharged on April 16, and this is the day my new life began. The life where I place everything in the hands of God, comply with my treatment team, go forward with a new treatment plan, be honest with my therapist about things I’ve kept secretive about my childhood, apologize to those caught in the wave of my mental instability, and become a voice for those struggling with mental illness.
Currently, my daily life consists of counselling appointments, group therapy sessions, part-time work, medication, volunteering, church, and LSAT studying. My life is filled with triggers, breakdowns, and tears. However, it’s also filled with healing, smiles, laughter, friendship, and connection. My goal for this summer is to unleash the best possible version of myself. After my most recent hospitalization, I told myself that I could either continue falling, or I could pick myself up with the little bit of strength I had left. I sought help. I found a part-time job that not only incorporates my love for music and film, but can take my mind off the craziness of life. I found my way back to God. I’m pushing towards the daunting task of taking the LSAT in September. Although some of this was not in my initial plan for this summer, it’s where I need to be, and I’m cherishing every moment and day that I’m blessed with. I’m excited to be entering into my third year at the University of Waterloo in September, where I’m completing a double major in Honours Sociology and Legal Studies and a minor in Psychology. After this, the next step for me will be to pursue law school and potentially complete a Masters degree in Criminology.
Mental illness has almost killed me several times. The key word here is “almost”. I’ve learned that no matter how many times it can knock me down, I’ll always get back up. I’ve realized that I’m resilient. The idea that I’ve survived all of the worst days of my life so far, has been something I’ve always relied on to keep me going. Also, knowing that some of the best days of my life are yet to come, keeps me hopeful for the future. I want to be a mother one day. I want to be a lawyer one day. I want to stay alive so that I can make a difference in other people’s lives. I want to be well for other people, just as much as I want to be well for myself. I know that every emotion and feeling is only temporary. I can get through this, and so can you. I’m living proof that no matter how many times I’m beat to the ground, that it’s possible to rise.
If you would like to hear more about my mental health journey, you can watch my videos on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/c/MackenzieLeclaire