Jamie, who has managed multiple mental health conditions — and HIV — for many years, reflects on the importance of support and self-care.Jamie lives with bipolar disorder, HIV and other conditions

Growing & Learning

Growing up, I knew I was a little different than other kids. When I was a teenager, I started talk therapy, which led me to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, ADHD and anxiety with some obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I didn’t start treatment, however, until I was an adult and could make my own medical decisions.

Being manic and depressed sent me on all types of journeys, which made life [both] difficult and enjoyable. Being impulsive, I made a few bad decisions. In my late twenties, I used drugs recreationally and later found out I was HIV positive because a same-sex partner never disclosed their status.

Treatment Challenges

I take four medications. One for bipolar disorder, one for anxiety and one for depression. That covers my mental health besides ADHD. I can’t take the only thing that works for ADHD, because Adderall is a stimulant. I take a once-daily treatment for managing my HIV.

Some of the difficulties I face are usually when I feel down. I don’t want to take my meds the way I should, which doesn’t help because each condition gets worse even missing one dose.

By talking to my doctors, being completely honest with healthcare professionals and doing research on the latest and best treatments, I am able to determine what I should prioritize. Along with about ten years of experience.

Lifted Up by Others

My biggest support is my three best friends, which I consider to be sisters. They know almost as soon as I do that something with me is off, and will do anything to keep me healthy and happy. Including calls or texts reminding me to take my pills and random show-ups with simple words to keep me motivated: “You are worth a good life” and “You deserve to be happy, Jamie.” Stuff like that. We go on day hikes and road trips. Just them being in my life makes it one hundred times better.

My family is my source of comfort, including my dogs. They support and uplift me. I am so thankful to have such good people in my life.

Words of Encouragement

Take care of yourself, first and always. Find ways to relieve stress, sleep well, exercise and learn to love the person you are. Others will learn to love you, too. I know I sound like a TV ad or something, but I promise it’ll be a big help.

We must bring our own light to the darkness. If we can’t make ourselves happy, then how can we expect others to?

Jamie J.
Pittston, PA
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, anxiety, ADHD, obsessive compulsive tendencies and HIV
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