Jessica: Concerns about Her Mental Health

Knowing that mental illness can have a genetic connection, Jessica wondered about her own mental health. She has developed a pattern of being observant about her responses to life challenges and seeking help to manage stress.

I need to be cautious myself about what is my behavior like right now. What is that coming from? I think having learned that when I was 15 and knowing that my mom had gone through that at a young age at 17, I decided that when I was 19 or so, I got kind of blue from college. I was seeing somebody and I think I started using Prozac for a depressive episode. I was like, oh, my gosh! Was I going to see a bigger problem? Was this going to turn into something like this?

When Jessica realized that she did not like being on Prozac because it suppressed all her feelings, she stopped taking it. As she moved on with her career and family, she became observant about how her behavior changed with greater stress and responsibility. When her husband was away from home serving in the military, she was alone with a two-year old and a two-month old.

I could feel myself being low energy and not motivated to do anything and very sad. I remember calling my mom and her being very supportive, saying, “You need to see somebody. I notice that you’re not very happy lately. I don’t want you to be in a situation where you feel unsafe and you are alone with your children.” I agreed with her.

Jessica sought help and found a medication to reduce her anxiety and improve her day to day functioning. She also developed an awareness of her children’s behavior and took immediate action in response to challenges at school experienced by her son.

When Jessica’s brother-in-law (her husband’s brother) was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she was critical of the lack of empathy, compassion, and support she observed in his life. She was direct with family members about what she thought her brother-in-law needed. She realized she may have been “insensitive” because her mother lived with bipolar disorder so successfully. She could see that her responses may have led to friction between family members. Now she understands that people living with mental illness experience different levels of severity and responses to treatment.

Jessica believes that her experiences with her mother have contributed to her perceptiveness as she teaches clients in her work setting about ways to be healthy. She wants to encourage people with disabilities to confront obstacles that interfere with their learning. She is wary about putting labels on others, because there are so many variations in people’s personalities. However, Jessica is aware that she sometimes pushes people too far, because she has seen her mother live so successfully with a disability. Her solution is to check in with people in order to pay attention to what is going in their life. She aims to address their anxiety, stress, or whatever is bothering them by talking with them in order to show support.

More of the Story: Life Adjustments