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My name is Danielle Phelps. I just turned 26-years-old. I live with mental health issues every day. Every day is a battle, but with mental health education and care, I’ve learned what tools I need to bring to battle so I’m ready for the fight.

I began to show signs of emotional and mental distress at 17. I haphazardly sought care, but I could never stick to a routine or medication plan. I sat in counselors’ offices and griped about commonplace things instead of unpacking the uncomfortable truths that I desperately needed to do to get better. I continued this weak attempt at recovery for years while my mental health slowly declined. In the summer of 2014, at 21, I was gradually getting to the lowest point of my life. I was drinking excessively, working only a few hours a week, and fantasizing about killing myself close to my birthday on August 22nd. On August 17th, my reservations about dying were gone after I downed nearly a bottle of vodka, and I swallowed all of the prescription pills I had, which included Lithium, Seroquel, and even antibiotics as I was just getting over the flu. The next couple days were a blur, but I know I was rushed to the hospital and was required to have dialysis because of the levels of Lithium in my system. I turned 22 in the hospital and vowed to my family and myself that I would get help since I survived.

The hospital staff during the emergency situation were so kind and helpful. To be released, I was required to participate in inpatient care where I was transferred to a different hospital. That experience was slightly valuable, but I feel like the real transformation for me came from the things I learned in group outpatient therapy and individual therapy. Most of my recovery is within my control. Also, my family and partner have been huge pillars of support for me; I would not be alive today without them.

My mental illnesses have not gone away, and they probably never will. I still have to work on myself and learn who I am. I still have unstable moods, deep depression episodes, and negative thoughts. For me, it’s all about understanding my triggers and self and learning positive coping mechanisms to promote healing.

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