My Journey to a Life Worth Living: K.C. Jones's Recovery Story

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This two-part article was written exclusively for PsyWeb.com by K.C. Jones. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, anxiety and an eating disorder, K.C. shares her story of recovery.

My journey with mental illness started when I was about 11 years old.

With the rush of hormones and the fighting that was going on in my family at the time, I started experiencing extreme depression. I would restrict my food in order to feel more in control and was able to hide my suicidal thoughts and behaviors throughout the rest of my teen years.

Moving Away for College: A Truly Trying Time

When I was 19, I began attending Berry College in Rome, Ga. During my first year, I started to experience rapid mood swings. I would go from being the life of the party to wanting to kill myself several times during the day.

That first summer home became the start of my recovery as it was the time when I could no longer hide my illness. I had gotten mono at the end of that school year, which left me with no energy and extremely depressed.

My mother, who also struggles with depression, was able to recognize the signs and got me to see her psychiatrist. I was initially diagnosed as having depression, and then later I was diagnosed as having bipolar.

For the next three years, I struggled with taking my medication, seeing a doctor I didn’t like, and seeking help from incompetent therapists. I was inpatient and outpatient at a hospital that really wasn’t very good.

By the end of my time at Berry, I was so depressed that I could no longer sing or play the piano anymore without crying and had to change my major to English. My previous major was vocal performance - I had been singing and playing instruments since I was 7 years old.

I started hearing voices telling me to cut myself, and then one day I had a breakdown - I called the leader of one of my social clubs and told her to be happy for me because I was going to kill myself. Of course, she replied that that did not make her happy and she promptly called my therapist, who promptly called my parents. My parents came up and took me home. That was the end of Berry College.

Returning Home: The Start of My Recovery

After trying to become more stable at my parents’ house, I started attending Georgia State University and moved into a duplex with several other college kids.

The anxiety and depression stayed with me, though, and I decided to take a break from school and attend Skyland Trail, a mental health recovery center in Atlanta. I was there for eight months. It was a wonderful place with every kind of therapy imaginable, but it was the art therapy that helped me the most.

I wasn't quite ready to take learning about coping skills seriously, but I enjoyed expressing my emotions through art. Skyland Trail was also the place that got me to start playing piano and singing again – a major accomplishment for my recovery, and my self-confidence grew as I performed at special events.

During my second month at Skyland, I spent two weeks at an eating disorders unit on Ridgeview Institute. There, I learned that one does need to eat some fat in order to be healthy and I learned how to follow a meal plan. I really made an effort to eat more healthily and normally. Skyland Trail and Ridgeview helped me enormously.

Skyland Trail was also the first place where I experienced competent and caring therapists. After my eight months at Skyland Trail, I started seeing a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. She used to work at Skyland Trail, which is only reason why I would trust her in the beginning. I still see her and have been seeing her off and on for about eight years. She is absolutely wonderful.

Click here to read Part II.

 
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