I didn’t go to school to study behavioral health, mental illness, or addiction. I’ve lived the past twenty years as someone who suffers from multiple mental health disorders, constantly misdiagnosed, and continually suffering to figure out what is “wrong with me”. It was not until a little over a year ago that I was officially and properly diagnosed with the following mental illnesses: bipolar spectrum, depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Also up until the last year and half, I hadn’t found a psychologist that actually fit with me, so basically I had lived almost my entire life with untreated mental illness. In conjunction with having multiple mental illnesses that were not being properly diagnosed or treated, I began to explore my own forms of “self-medicating”, which lead to me becoming an addict. Although I am no longer an “active addict”, I will always carry the title of addict for the rest of my life; just as I will always be someone who suffers from mental illness. However, neither of those things are what define me. They are merely a part of me.
Hi, my name is Nicole Danielle Naishtut, I was born on September 6, 1986. I’m a 30 year old female addict in recovery, who suffers from multiple mental illnesses, and this is my story.
It wasn’t always this easy….in fact there was a point in my life where I truly believed things would never get better. But now I live everyday knowing what works for me and that there is a way to heal and overcome what once seemed impossible. I will say that finally being properly diagnosed really helped me to understand that honestly there is nothing “wrong with me”. Just because I have chemical imbalances in my brain, doesn’t mean I’m any less capable than someone who doesn’t suffer from mental illness or addiction. In fact, being properly diagnosed shed even more light on why I made some of the dreadful choices I have made in the past and only helped me to make my recovery plan/process/routine, that much stronger. I can’t really get into my addiction just yet because although I was always an addict (technically), I didn’t begin becoming an “active addict” until about ten years ago. I promise that I will explain all of it in due time. But for right now I want to focus more on the mental health side of things because that is really the whole basis for almost everything in my life.
I’m not going to sit here and get all technical and use medical jargon to explain what I’ve been through because honestly, I want to take something that’s incredibly complicated by nature and simplify it as much as possible. Mainly because I believe our society has the tendency to over complicate things, thus making them seem bigger or worse than what they are. Don’t get me wrong, mental illness is no joke and something that can be incredibly difficult, but if anyone thinks that those who suffer from mental illness don’t already know that, then they are sadly mistaken. I also don’t want to sit here and tell you that I have the answer, the way, the solution for you; not only would that be unfair to you, but it would also be a lie. Just because we may share the same diagnosis, doesn’t mean the answer is the same; it may be similar but never the same. And anyone that ever tells you otherwise, wasn’t and isn’t really listening to begin with. What I do want is to be relatable to you, I want you to read these words and realize that someone else out there understands what you are going through and that you are not alone. Because at the end of the day the darkness is very real, but I promise if you can endure it for a little while longer, there will be a light at the end of it all.
Listen, I’m not perfect by any means and I still have a very long way to go to feel right; but I’ve also come really far as well. I don’t have it all figured out, but I’ve learned to listen to myself; listen to that inner voice (when “it” is trying to be helpful and not self sabotaging, which is actually less and less now that I’m properly treating my mental illnesses), and I am truly proud of the person I have become today. I’ve also had to learn to be okay with not figuring everything out all at once. And most importantly, I’ve learned that at the end of the day it really is all about choice. Whether or not I’m going to get up today and face the world, whether or not I’m going to continue to try, whether or not I’m going to let go of the past and give myself a fair chance at moving on, and whether or not I want to remain in the darkness, or continuing moving towards the light. I’m not saying there aren’t still days where I don’t want to say “screw this, I’m tired of trying or I’m just tired period”; however, I remind myself that I must continue to endure the darkness, in order to finally see the light.
There isn’t one specific way to go about any of this, it’s a lot of trial and error; and unfortunately sometimes there’s a whole lot of error before any real progress/change can be made. But if you take one thing away from reading this, it is to believe that there is a way. You are not a failure, mistake, or any of the other horrible names we’ve called ourselves; and you are most certainly not alone. It will take time, a whole lot of time….but YOU can overcome this.