Let’s Talk About Our Mental Health.
By Katy Egan
Introducing Katy Egan
Hi! Katherine Egan here, but you can just call me Katy. I’m originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, but spent my formative years growing up in the northeast suburbs of Chicago. I love to stay active; going for walks, playing tennis, even a little horseback riding here and there. I also love art! I love to read and write, play instruments, and going to the Chicago Art Museum is one of my favorite pastimes. While I love all those things, I’d say the one thing I’m most passionate about is mental health.
My relationship with mental health has been a lifelong one. I’ve struggled my entire life with my own mental health, from dealing with anxieties formed throughout a childhood plagued with an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, to dealing with all the vast changes in my life post diagnosis. I had always felt a certain amount of stress to be “okay” and after so long of not being able to control my own health, as I grew older I found a more unhealthy way of maintaining control and appearing as if I had everything figured out.
By the time I was a first year in high school I had developed an eating disorder. Little did I know that this unfortunate development would open my eyes to the spectrum that is mental health. I was placed in an intensive, out-patient program for other teenagers struggling with similar issues. For the first time I was learning how other people with eating disorders felt; I was learning about how those dealing with mood disorders or substance abuse felt. The group setting was something that initially I worried about because, naturally, I’m not a very talkative person, but I found myself opening up more than ever because I had found others that could empathize with me and I learned to empathize with them. I learned more about the world, about people, from my time in that program than I think any school classroom. Unfortunately, while the program gave me the tools to help combat my eating disorder, it didn’t prepare me for the next eight years of my life.
Throughout the rest of high school and college I powered through everything. I did all of my assignments and I did them well, not because I particularly wanted to be at school, but I was, and failure didn’t seem like an option to me so I pushed on. That being said, I didn’t realize at the time that taking a step back to manage stress and anxiety was not failure at all, but probably the smartest thing I could’ve done for myself.
I kept pushing and pushing, and telling myself that once I was out of school that everything would get better. I would find a job and I wouldn’t be dealing with the same stressors, but, if you caught the trend of this article I think you can tell where this is going. I graduated college and got a job to pay some bills and I was still miserable. Then COVID hit! I was out of a job completely. I had more free time than ever to write and be creative. I wasn’t working a job that I didn’t like, and yet, my mental health declined dramatically until one day I had to call my family doctor, because I knew I couldn’t keep living the way I was. I explained to him that after years of ignoring the anxiety and the stress it had finally overwhelmed me. He ran his own assessment and concluded that without a doubt I had a bipolar disorder and ADD, two things I never even considered to be applicable to me. But!–This is where things look up!
I finally found the answer to so many of my problems. Once I began treatment, for a disorder that has affected me since childhood, I became a new person. Now, I’m motivated to do things that make me happy and healthy. I want to write, not because I’m manic, but because it makes me feel fulfilled; getting to write about mental health and the stigma surrounding it is the best type of bonus. I want to show others that they’re not alone. I want to let everyone know that I get how hard it is to be human these days, but that you don’t have to carry that burden all on your own. The world is crazy, but you certainly aren’t. I know that the more we share our own experiences, the more we’ll find that there’s so much more to being human than meets the eye.