My name is Mackenzie and this is my story.
Mental health has been a very prominent topic since I was 4 years old after my parents divorced. I remember seeing behavioral health specialists, social workers, psychologists, and the like throughout my entire childhood. Fast forward to my teens, I began showing symptoms of depression and anxiety for which I continued intermittent therapy and taking psychotropic medications, and when I was 12, I remember having my first hallucination – I never talked about those.
When I started nursing school, I started processing my trauma
Between the ages of 17-19, I entered a triple threat abusive relationship that resulted in the birth of my daughter; she was the reason I got the strength to leave for our safety. I spent my time after focusing on raising my daughter, going to college, maintaining my townhome, and dating my now husband. When I started nursing school, I started processing my trauma, which I think was triggered by the stress of school. I was hit with all of these extreme thoughts and feelings and unhealthy coping mechanisms and the intensity of these were tremendous to the point where I had to force myself to seek professional help and academic accommodations.
My Bipolar II changed to Bipolar I with psychotic features
From 2015 to 2016, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, PTSD, Panic Disorder, and Borderline Personality Disorder, for which I took medications. At one point in nursing school, I was so unstable that I tried committing s*icide by c*tting. I did end up graduating nursing school and very quickly started my first job. Things weren’t going great with that job and I ended up being fired, which seemed to flick a switch in my head. I was hit with the worse mixed bipolar episode I ever had: I was deeply depressed, hallucinating, couldn’t sleep, didn’t show emotion or cry, drinking multiple times a week, and incredibly suicidal. My psychiatrist involuntarily hospitalized me and after that hospital stay, my Bipolar II changed to Bipolar I with psychotic features. New medications and a new therapist (whom I still see today) were at the forefront of my life at that time.
I already felt like I was a crazy person that people didn’t like
Throughout all of these major life events, I was still having hallucinations and other symptoms that correlating with schizophrenia, but still I kept those to myself because I didn’t want to complicate everything I had to be involved with. I didn’t want to add to the stress – I already felt like I was a crazy person that people didn’t like. But after my son was born in 2018 that I decided to start advocating for myself and others experiencing mental illness because it was an important thing to me at that point; I needed to be stable and happy in order to take care of my newborn son and daughter, to work, and go back to college for my bachelor’s degree. After much research, I made an appointment with a new psychiatrist and laid out all of my symptoms on the table. From here, the diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disoder Bipolar type was given to me.
Since then, I’ve embraced my disorder as the catalyst for my advocacy
Since then, I’ve embraced my disorder as the catalyst for my advocacy, especially in the medical field. As a registered nurse, I pride myself in education and the normalization of healthcare professionals managing and accepting their mental health conditions. This work also trickles down to the general community I’m involved in online: I post about lived experience as well as general nursing informative topics that give people, patients an idea of the standard of care they should be receiving.