By Liz, from San Diego, CA
Where My Story Begins
I’ve been struggling with mental health issues since I was young. Back then, I knew that it wasn’t normal to be so upset by everyday things on a regular basis, but I didn’t acknowledge it until I was 24 years old–around 16 years ago, when I started going to therapy. About 13 years ago, I also started taking medication.
Making the decision to go on medication was hard. I came from a family that was against Western medicine. Everyone in my family had always kind of self-medicated, but simply handling things on my own wasn’t something I could do.
At one point, I sunk into a pretty deep depression. None of the tools I had in my toolbox up until that point were getting me out of it: yoga, running, talk therapy. Nothing. I was just sinking in deeper and deeper.
I thought that medication could help me. Over the years, I must have tried anywhere from seven to ten different medications. By late 2020, I had been on the same one for about five years. However, it felt like they were starting to lose their efficacy, but it was difficult to deal with that problem since I hadn’t seen a real psychiatrist for a while.
At that time in 2020, everything was also changing because of the pandemic. I realized I needed to find something that was going to help me meet my mental health needs in this new life I was leading.
Staring with Prairie
I first learned about Prairie on social media, and what drew me in was the genetic test. I’ve always felt like psychiatry is a big guessing game in so many ways. It was really appealing to me to have actual biological information to determine what medications were going to work better for me.
When I got the genetic test, it showed that the medication that I was on was in the “yellow” category, which meant “proceed with caution.” Practically speaking, it worked, but there were ones out there that were probably better for me based on my genes. Dr. Ravi, my psychiatrist, has been very careful about my situation; though I’m still on the same medication I was before, we’ve talked about possible changes, and he’s been monitoring my situation for safety. I expect we’ll be able to change up the medication soon.
Amy, my Care Coordinator, has also been a huge support. She’s been really attentive to me and what I’m going through, remembering to text me exactly when I need it. Just having someone support you like that in your life is huge. There’s something about support that feels different when it’s not just coming from your family and friends. It can be so much more powerful.
I could have very easily gotten stuck in a dark place because of the sadness and challenges of 2020. Joining Prairie and having the support of my Prairie care team has really helped me keep my head above water and not get buried.
Though I don’t want to be on medication forever, I can’t deny the effect it has had on my life. I certainly wouldn’t be a present mom, friend, and partner without the help of medication. I needed that chemical assistance in order to take what I was learning in counseling and really apply it to create new behaviors and new habits.
What my mental health journey has always been about is changing the dialogue about mental health in my family. I don’t want my kids to have to spend their young adult lives trying to sort through their mental health challenges. I’m always thinking of “How can I help them heal?” and “How can I make sure that what they need is available for them?” I can do that by making sure I’m there for them. Taking care of myself helps me do that.
Why I’m Sharing My Story
I believe that healing is contagious. As I’ve become somewhat active in Al-Anon meetings over the last five years (a support group for friends and families of alcoholics and drug addicts), I’ve seen firsthand the power that sharing your story can have on other people, helping them to figure out how to heal.
I believe that I have to pay it forward. I have to share my story and help others heal because other people have shared their stories to help me heal. I hope my story helps others and we can continue this cycle of healing.
Here are some of our other testimonials