Heather: My Story

The Inner Storm
Winds of change swirling at neck break speed
Levees containing my only hope bursting at their seam
Waters of well intentioned help drowning me
The wells containing energy becoming sucked dry
I need help and I need it now, and for help I cry
Tornadoes flaring up churning fear
It sure seems the end is near

This poem I wrote describes much of my inner turmoil when I first had my nervous breakdown. I knew there was help available, yet with my stubbornness there was a disconnect between myself and those who wanted to help. I had just graduated from college, looking for work within my field. I did have a job, though it was by no means a job I enjoyed at all and with the stress from college, I just didn’t know what to do. I self-medicated with alcohol and had even experimented with marijuana. My family insisted I see a therapist, which I hesitantly did. After my first hospitalization that summer (1999), I started seeing a psychiatrist and continued with the therapy. The psychiatrist described getting information from me was like extracting a tooth – challenging.

During one of my hospitalizations, I decided to open up a Bible, which was lying around there, and stumbled upon a verse that did give me a spark of hope through this turmoil I was going through:

Isaiah 43:2
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

After a year or so of therapy, plenty of psychiatric appointments with all sorts of medications changes, and a couple more hospitalizations, my psychiatrist felt I needed to be in the state hospital. My family got a second opinion for which I am very thankful. I started going to the county health department for more intensive therapy.
After going through the intensive therapy, I began to get back to my “old self.” My sense of humor came back as did my ambition and dreams for the future. During this time, I learned such coping skills as writing – including poetry – regular exercise (like hiking, skiing, canoeing, etc.), keeping a strong faith in God, as well as finding fun and enjoyable hobbies to keep myself busy and surrounding myself with positive people.

Fast forward a few years to the present day. I now am happily married, where together we own our own home, have two wonderful, lovable and spoiled cats, working full time at a job I enjoy and am no longer on disability. I owe it all to a very supportive family, a strong faith in God and, of course, my wonderful friends who stuck with me through thick and thin. I learned to see it as, “Yes, I have an illness, however it does not define me, just as diabetes or cancer or MS do not define those who have those illnesses.” I am now on minimal medication, living a very active lifestyle, and finally realizing that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Stay focused on the big picture; even when the small bits and pieces seem dark and gloomy, the bigger picture puts it all in perspective.