Stories of Hope: Laura Marchildon
This is part of a series featuring individuals who share their life experiences with mental health issues. Recently, I asked mental health advocate Laura Marchildon to share her story about her history of mental health challenges and some of her current advocacy work. Here’s Laura’s story:
My name is Laura Marchildon and I have Bipolar Disorder.
My mental health journey began in March 2010, just one month after my 41st birthday.
My onset literally happened over night. For 41 years I had the proverbial “normal” life; no signs or symptoms of any mental illness. I had a great childhood, did well in high school, college, and further continuing education. I gave birth and raised two beautiful girls who say I should have received Mother of the Year! I had a great career. Nothing.
Mental illness runs rampant on my father’s side of the family. All it took was a major trigger in the form of an interpersonal conflict to set off my genetic mutation.
At first I was in denial. “I don’t have Bipolar Disorder! I had a little nervous breakdown.” I asked my psychiatrist to wean me off my meds but within days the deep depression, paranoia, and irritability came rushing back and cycled quickly.
I then became very angry as I personally thought I didn’t deserve this! (I will be honest, some days I still think this) I was literally pushed into my disorder! Why should I be punished as I now had to be on long term disability and unable to work in the career that I strived so hard to get in to?
My bipolar depression has always been low; very few brief bouts of hypomania. I am compliant when it comes to my medications but I am also very resistant to medications or have severe adverse effects. My psychiatrist and I are very hopeful that eventually we WILL discover the right “cocktail” for me.
In 2012, I had several sessions of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Unfortunately, it did not alleviate my depression at all and was negatively impacting my memory so the Dr. called off further treatments.
In 2013, I was referred for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). I tried really hard during my sessions and did my homework as I wanted to be a better person but I do have a nasty habit of ruminating. Before I got sick, I could let just about anything slide and I would go with the flow but now…not so much. However, now I have developed my own coping strategies to help me get through irrational thinking.
It wasn’t until I took Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), also in 2013, did I really learn some valuable tools that have saved my life on more than one occasion. Also, during my CBT, was when I had my AH HA moment. My counselor told me, after one session, that in order for me to begin to heal, I had to grieve the loss of the old Laura. She was right! The old Laura was dead and gone. Once I accepted that, I could start working on a new me.
I’ve always been a lifelong learner. Since my diagnosis I’ve really done a lot of research online and through various books that I have collected. Books about bipolar disorder, memoirs, biographies, bipolar disorder self-help books, bipolar workbooks, brain exercises, CBT, DBT, and motivational; you name it I’ve pretty much read it! My advice to you, the more you know about your mental illness the more power and control you will have over it.
I still have bipolar disorder, I’m not cured, I still cycle frequently, but by using those tools I learned three years ago and with the ones I have learned through educating myself, has made my life and my family’s much more pleasant.
Now my biggest challenges are my cognitive impairments. Reading and writing are difficult. I can’t multitask any longer and I require lists to keep order. Notice I said “challenges.” I push myself daily to do anything. I’ve improved so much over the 6.5 years. Now it is just a part of me. It is what it is!
In March of this year, I decided to share my story with others with hopes it will help others. I’m very engaged through my website and other social media platforms. Most of the time it will be educational or uplifting, I will occasionally throw in some related humour, and sometimes I will post a little gray stuff; it is reality for us. I’m also starting up a peer support group in my area. Whatever you read is 100% the new and improving Laura.
Laura Marchildon is a Canadian writer and blogger with lived experience. She is an active advocate who raises awareness on mental health through her website and social media platforms. Laura is also an accomplished book reviewer on the genre of mental health. You can find Laura at her website, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.
Thanks so much to Laura for sharing her inspiring story of hope!
Would you like to share your story of hope? I plan to feature more personal accounts like this from time to time on my blog. If you are interested in sharing your story, please notify me via my contact page. Also, please subscribe to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!