Miranda’s mom, Peggy, thought her daughter was dealing with normal teenage angst. She was at times unapproachable. She fought with her siblings and her girlfriends. She’d cry or get angry for no apparent reason.
If it was raining, somehow Miranda managed to make her mom feel responsible. But her grades were good and there were no major problems, so Peggy assumed Miranda would outgrow her issues.
When it was time for college, Miranda enrolled at Buffalo State College. But after one semester, she couldn’t handle the stress and she dropped out. Peggy tried to encourage Miranda to get a job, but was unsuccessful. It was getting more and more difficult to reach Miranda. She had begun using self-mutilation techniques. She was showing signs of anorexia.
“I had no self-esteem,” says Miranda. “I felt ugly and I hated myself. I didn’t know it, of course, but it was all due to my illness. It was a very difficult time, and it upsets me to look back.”
Finally, her parents decided to seek the help of a psychiatrist. Miranda was diagnosed as having major depression and she was put on Prozac. From there, it was a sequence of different doctors, different drugs, participation at mental health clinics and total frustration for Miranda and her family. Then someone suggested to Peggy that she give Horizon a call. “That’s when positive things began to happen for Miranda,” says Peggy. “Finally, at age 20, Miranda was properly diagnosed and treated.”
The diagnosis at Horizon was bipolar disorder. A treatment plan, involving counseling, was set up for Miranda. Her physical state was thoroughly examined. At first, Miranda would not cooperate, and refused to participate in the treatment and counseling program, though she kept in touch with her doctors.
“I had two great counselors at Horizon when I first started,” says Miranda. “But both left and I never bonded with my third counselor, so I got discouraged and wouldn’t participate. That was a big mistake.”
Eventually, Miranda came back to Horizon, continued to see the same doctor she had been working with all along, and once again participated in both individual and group counseling sessions. She also enrolled in Horizon’s vocational program to learn the skills that would prepare her for the job market.
“I have always found everyone at Horizon to be extremely supportive and very patient with me,” says Miranda. “They are very responsive to my needs, very positive-focused and very encouraging. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Horizon.”
Miranda’s mom agrees, saying she also found the staff at Horizon to be very accommodating, very easy to talk to and most reassuring. “They helped me to realize that Miranda’s illness is treatable and that it wasn’t my fault. Without Horizon, Miranda and I would never have the relationship we have now!”
Miranda has learned many things that have tremendously helped her to cope with her illness. She’s more proactive now, rather than reactive, so she’s more aware when the symptoms are creeping up on her and she can deal with them head on. She’s become involved in nutritional groups because she wants to fight her anorexia and improve her physical condition.
But most important, says Miranda, is that she’s learned to maintain a more level grounding. To be hopeful and look forward to things, but not to be overly hopeful or set herself up for disappointment or failure.
“I didn’t even realize how much I’ve learned at Horizon until I find myself using the techniques they taught me,” says Miranda. “Now I don’t define myself as mentally ill, it’s just one part of who I am.”
Today, at 30, Miranda has a very positive outlook for her future. She’s taking her medicine, she’s continuing her counseling at Horizon and she’s looking forward to a job in the florist industry. Perhaps one of the most significant improvements is Miranda’s relationship with her mother. Over the years, as Miranda dealt with her illness, her feelings for her mother fluctuated; she was often very unapproachable and would not allow her mother to show her any affection. Today, they are very close and have a very communicative, open and affectionate relationship, which is very important to both of them.
And, because of all she’s been through, Miranda also wants to volunteer and help others in similar situations to hers. “I know firsthand what they are feeling and what they are going through. If someone else can benefit from my experiences, I would be happy to help them.”
Path To Recovery
The Path To Recovery includes true stories of consumers who overcame many obstacles with the help of Horizon Health Services to turn their lives around. Last names have been omitted for privacy.