by Tammy Ozolins
This is what the doctor told me during my first hospitalization. I thought it was like a cut and all I had to do was put a band aid on it and I would be good to go.
I told the doctor I have things to do, so let’s just get this fixed.
I truly did not accept my mental illness at this point. I took my medicine. But once I started to feel better, I stopped. Why? Because I thought I knew what was best for me.
Boy, was I wrong!
I truly did not accept my illness until the second hospitalization and this is when I decided to see the illness as a blessing and below is a summary of why.
My life was spiraling out of control, even though it felt good that I had some answers for some of the things I did. Like one day I went shopping and spent $1,000 dollars in one hour.
I bought all these clothes and stuff and the most exciting thing was the seven different colored toothbrushes I bought for the week. I used to tell my friends in high school, “Let’s just go to Florida.” I meant it even though they laughed it off.
When I was manic I would stay up for days, vacuuming at 3 AM in the morning even though I had to work at 6 AM that same day. Those were some days/nights let me tell you.
You might wondering about that blessing part
Well, even though I was not diagnosed until my late twenties, I was able to graduate high school. Even through all the ups and downs.
I was able to graduate college with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree-even after years of cutting and attempted suicide. I took it even further and I was able to earn a Post Master’s Degree.
I have been able to hold down a full-time job in the education field now for 12 years. In the year 2015-16, I was even named “Teacher of the Year” for my school. It was such an honor. Many of my co-workers know I live with this disorder.
Another blessing is it actually has brought me closer to my parents than ever.
Growing up, my parents and I did not have the best relationship. My mother and I fought a lot. My father and I never really spoke. However, when I was hospitalized and was told my diagnoses, I remember my father picked me up from the hospital that day and we talked for hours about our relationship.
We became even closer after my second hospitalization.
They are my rock and I can always count on them
I have been living in another state now for 12 years in which I own my own home and I still share my ups and downs with them. But now they know how to help me. They are educated on dealing with mental illness.
Faith has always been important to me but when I was going through my hard times, I wondered why would God do this to me. Make me suffer like this.
After accepting my illness, I started to attend NAMI support groups and started to feel comfortable telling strangers my story. After being involved with the support group, I now have become a facilitator for a NAMI support group and I am an “In Your Own Voice” presenter for NAMI as well.
I go to various health facilities and share my story of recovery with other patients. I was a keynote speaker for a conference in November titled “Being a Normal Person while living with a Mental Illness.” I spoke to a crowd of about 200-300 people in Fredericksburg.
I know it’s God’s wisdom and strength and will that has allowed me to share my story of compassion, hope, and recovery to people. I know I was chosen and meant to share my story.
I still have ups and downs, but I am so thankful to be in recovery and able to continue to keep succeeding in life. These are only a few of the blessings this illness has given me. I will continue to make more. I will keep fighting the stigma of mental illness and be blessed doing so.