More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Gratitude: My Journey from Psychosis to Health
by Meg LeDuc, bpHope
January 22, 2018

My medication non-compliance led to a devastating psychotic break in 2015. But through family intervention and a return to compliance, I am now healthy, employed, and advocating for others. Here?s what I?ve learned.

In 2013, fed up with weight gain as a side effect, I decided to stop taking a key medication to treat my bipolar disorder.

I notified my psychiatrist, and she tried to find me a replacement. But nothing worked. Soon, I was having nightmares and insomnia. I was strung out and stressed, showing up late to work and turning in articles past deadline. After being written-up, I quit my job as a staff writer for a daily newspaper, convinced my boss was preparing to fire me.

My psychiatrist and parents urged me to get back on the medication. But I fought it. I was unable to perceive my need for the medication.

As time went by, I began to become manic and to develop strange ideas. These notions accelerated over time.

By fall 2015, I was convinced I was being recruited by the CIA and was supposed to go to Ohio to a CIA safe house. Once I reached that CIA safe house, I would be transported to a CIA training facility. I was sure I had received a message on my phone directing me to take off driving. I didn?t know where I was going, but I would make it.

My mother called me around the Michigan/Ohio border.

?Meggie, where are you??

I told her.

?Why are you going to Ohio?? she asked gently.

I started to cry. ?Mom, I think I?m having a break with reality.?

?I think you are, too,? my mother responded. ?Please come home.?

She talked me through that night. The next day, she got me to the hospital. Gradually, medications restored me to myself. Finally, I got back on the medication that I had gone off of in 2013. I returned to myself.

In that winter following my hospitalization, I was on my feet, fighting. I was holding down a position as a freelance reporter, contributing four articles per week to a Detroit-area newspaper.

But I also was anxious and depressed, going to bed early and sleeping late. I feared everyone on my beat knew.

One day, I found myself unable to cover a city council meeting. I wanted to go to bed and pull the covers over my head.

?Meggie, you can do this,? my mother told me. Then she grabbed my camera bag and set it down in front of me. ?You will feel better about yourself.?

My mother drove me to the council meeting that night. She sat in a nearby library while I covered the meeting. The next day, my story was successfully published.

My parents have always been there for me, and it is this family support that has allowed me to journey up from the depths of psychosis.

What can we do to build lives of stability, health and wholeness for ourselves? I am on a journey, and I want to share with you what I am learning.

In spring of 2016, I began volunteering for a nonprofit, writing and designing the monthly print newsletter. Nine months later, after designing the 2016 annual report, the board voted to hire me as its communications coordinator. It has been ten months since my hiring, and I am a valued team member.

A regular work routine stabilizes me, and the mission of my nonprofit gives me a sense of purpose. We all need to connect to a purpose larger than ourselves. Keeping a regular schedule, through work or volunteerism, is grounding. Setting an alarm?even on the weekends?is stabilizing.

In the summer of 2017, I began serving as a support group leader for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I also launched a blog - Catching the Dawn - to tell my story. I found that advocating for other people with mental health conditions helped me be more comfortable in my own skin. With self-acceptance has come some critical self-forgiveness.

I now know this is the right medication for me. I exercise moderately to control my weight. I have more than learned my lesson about medication compliance. My very safety and sanity depends on taking all medications exactly as prescribed. Medication compliance, for all of us with mental health conditions, is foundational.

I will return to gratitude. I have screwed up so many times, hurt so many people, hurt myself. But God has overlooked that. I have found grace. I choose to treat my loved ones with respect and kindness, because without them, I would be lost. We can show appreciation every day for the loving people in our lives.

I am not yet where I want to be. But every day, I am making gains. God gave me a mind adapted to writing. With mind restored, I will use the gift of writing to advocate and to educate.

The future is bright, I believe, for you as well as me. Wherever you are in your journey, don?t give up hope.
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