Hi everyone, it’s Jillian’s mama, Peggy here! Many of you who have followed Jillian since her Bachelor and Bachelorette days may or may not know that I have had quite a mental health journey. For those who didn’t see, she shared this on national television 12 years ago without my consent…LOL!
To be honest, I have never really been that comfortable talking about my mental health, but I believe I have finally found the right medication that was prescribed to me nearly a year ago and Jillian has finally convinced me to share my journey with you, so here I am!
Even though it sounds cliché, my hope is that by sharing my story if I can help one person on Jillian’s platform, it will make all of this worth it!
My history with mental health
At the age of only 11 years old, was my very first experience with depression. At times my depression was triggered by situational distress and other times it was possibly just the nature of my forms of the disorder. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1990 even though there was most certainly some signs of it prior to my diagnosis.
Later in life, I have always been one to wear many hats; I was a full-time mom, entrepreneur, and business owner, and now that I am looking back on it, I may have burnt myself out by taking on too much at once. Depression affects me in many ways, day to day I would constantly feel extremely fatigued and didn’t have the energy to do what I know I needed to do and that was to exercise and eat healthily. On a few occasions, when I would burn myself out completely and my life turned to complete chaos, it would land me in the hospital.
One of my most difficult memories, when my depression landed me in the hospital, was how it affected Jillian. Jillian was only 10 years old when I was first hospitalized with severe debilitating depression. I remember after arriving home from the hospital late one night, I went into her room to give her a kiss goodnight and she woke up with tears streaming down her face. I remember the overwhelming sense of wanting to make this right for her and didn’t want her to experience any more pain from this! It was extremely important for me to focus on my health for not only myself but for Jillian as well!
Finding the right medication
For anyone else struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD or any other mental disorders, if you have recently been put on a new medication know that there is sometimes a lot of trial and error that comes with this.
About a year ago, I was put onto a new medication by my wonderful doctor and thanks to our determination we have succeeded in finding the right combination of drugs that has literally been a miracle for me. Again, I have to stress this to anyone else struggling, never give up hope! After 30 years of struggling to find a medication that works for my body, I am finally implementing healthy eating and exercise back into my daily routine!
One of the side effects of one of my medications was I quickly gained over 80 lbs (which, of course, made me even more depressed!). Now that I am finally on an even keel, I have managed to lose 75 of those unwanted pounds. Before finding this combination of medications, I knew that I needed to eat healthier and exercise. Still, there were many mornings when I couldn’t even get myself out of bed. How are you supposed to live a healthy lifestyle when you don’t even have the energy or courage to do these things that you know are good for you?!
I am now in my sixties and feel as though I have a new lease on life, but if you asked me even a few years ago, I would have never thought that I was ever going to get better! Honestly, many times I had given up hope for a short time, but thankfully I didn’t ever give up.
My advice to others struggling with mental health
I want everyone reading this to know that mental health disorders are more common than we realize, roughly “1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness” Canadian Mental Health Association. Mental health is no different than any other sickness or pain, just like you would get a cast for a broken leg or arm, you need to take care of your brain in the same fashion. From a holistic point of view, the brain is an organ in your body and just like any other organ; it can fail to function at an optimum level – just like other organs that fail, there are treatments out there!
Here are some of the steps you can take if either you are in a similar situation or someone that you know is! These are some of the things that have helped me on my journey with mental health.
1. Seek out a support system even if that is just one person that you can rely on.
2. Try to take one minute at a time to realize that this won’t last forever.
3. Find a psychiatrist that you feel comfortable with. I have been going to the same psychiatrist for over 16 years.
4. Start a journal about how you are feeling. You will have some good days and some bad days, but being able to reflect on the good days helps me look forward to feeling that way again soon!
5. If you are someone that is struggling with bipolar disorder or depression, one of the most important things you can do is take care of yourself. If you are feeling well enough on any given day, please try to prioritize healthy eating, drinking lots of water, getting some fresh air, and taking care of yourself the best you can!
What has enabled me to accept my diagnosis it that there have been many high profiles and famous people who share the same afflictions as I do. Mental health knows no barriers and affects a wide variety of people, you are not alone!
One of the best things that you can do if someone you know is struggling with mental health is to be patient with them. I am where I am today due to the help of my sister, husband, Jillian, and all of my family and friends!
I have really enjoyed this process of writing out my journey with mental health and wellness. I would love to be a support system for others in similar situations. If you have any questions, please put them below! I am hoping to write a follow-up blog post to answer any questions that you may have!
“It’s not a character flaw, it’s a chemical flaw.”
Disclaimer I know many of you may want to know what medications I am currently taking, but for now, we need to look into the legal implications of sharing this information. Please note that everybody reacts differently to medications; every brain and body is different and what may work for me may not work for you.