I am a mother, music lover and Ohio State alum with a degree in psychology. I work at The P.E.E.R. Center (Peers Enriching Each Others’ Recovery), where I provide support for people in recovery from mental illness, substance abuse and trauma. From early morning logistics to nightly dinner times, dance class to baseball, my life revolves around my husband and my two children. I am lucky and blessed to have a wonderful life full of loving family and friends.
In 2003, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after an intense bout of post-partum depression that resulted in hospitalization. By the time I was expecting my second child I realized pregnancy meant I had to be off medication and learn self-management skills for my illness. I have been blessed with awesome psychiatrists who are willing to constantly work with me to find the best balance between self-management and medication.
Mental illness is like any other health challenge in life: while being there, it is neither constantly thought about nor a defining part of who I am. I like reading and I look forward to date night with my husband each week. I seriously enjoy cooking. When I need to relax, you will find me bustling around the kitchen creating something delicious. What’s better than food? Not much except music! I love all kinds of music, the variety and emotion makes it very therapeutic. One of the best parts about having kids is just being silly. In my home, when we get a good groove going it’s dance time! I used to go to concerts all the time, so last month I took my son to his first concert and it was a moment we will always cherish together.
I owe the success of my treatment to so many people. Mental health professionals, family, friends and my coworkers have all helped to weave a web of support for me. I want to share my story so people understand living with a mental illness is just like living with any other chronic health condition. I also urge my peers in the mental health community to come together and support one another.
Life is too short to not dance when you hear the music!