My name is Merry as in “happy.” Which I am! I am a homesteader who raises bunnies, goats, and multiple types of birds; I make the best sourdough bread that you’ve ever tasted; I love working for NAMI-Santa Clara County—a place that gives me so much support and acceptance.
At the age of 16, I was “diagnosed” with multiple conditions: Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features, Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD, Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A therapist helped me discover something that was not addressed before: trauma! I was raised in an absent and emotionally neglectful household.
My moods fluctuated. I always felt tired and I did not feel like myself. My capacity for handling change worsened. But emotionally, nothing was addressed in my family, and life continued as before. By the time I was 32, I weighed a mere 76 pounds and was admitted into an eating disorders residential treatment center. It was at this facility, away from home, where I decided to become clean after almost 15 years of using substances.
I finished my treatment at the facility and moved back home. Then the unexpected happened. I lost my best friend and brother, Danny. His loss in my life caused me to spiral into a depression and it was recommended that I try Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). One of the requirements of the TMS clinic I attended was to see a therapist prior to treatment. In the first session I attended, I learned about NAMI-SCC. The therapist suggested I take NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer course so I might gain understanding and find both acceptance and community with people who would understand me.
Attending NAMI’s Peer-to-Peer course changed my life. I gained education and friendships, I learned basic coping strategies, and, most importantly, for the first time in my life, I learned how to advocate for myself and eventually for others.
Two years later, I worked for NAMI-SCC as a mentor, a presenter in their outreach programs, as well as in other capacities. I started to tell my wellness story to the community. At this time, my partner encouraged me to get reassessed for my diagnosis. My reassessment results were shocking. I did not have Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic Features, Borderline Personality Disorder, ADHD, or Major Depressive Disorder. I have high functioning Autism with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. With therapy, healthy coping skills, and a medication regimen of one SNRI and NAMI-SCC by my side, I started to feel like myself for the first time since I was 16. It was a relief to reduce unnecessary medications and take only what I needed.
Because of the revelations I have had in the last few years, I have become passionate about educating others at NAMI on childhood trauma. I want to create a healthy family and a stable, involved, and loving environment that I was denied growing up.
But still with lots of goats and chickens and bunnies on a farm!