A Letter to Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen,

I realize you must be an extremely busy person so you can read this when you have some time on your hands. I was twelve years old when I was diagnosed Bipolar. I was on heavy medication schedules and in one mental hospital or another my entire childhood. By the time I was thirty-one years old, I opted not to have children as my doctors explained to me it would be irresponsible for someone as mentally ill as I was to bring children into the world. I was a recluse and eventually became a full blown agoraphobic. So there I was; childless, poor, alone, overweight and completely lost in a world that was sold to me from a very young age.

August 1st, 2010 I drove my car into a utility pole, convinced my purpose on this earth was completely futile. When I was released from the hospital I sat down on my couch and started opening mail that had piled up during my stay. I opened letter after letter which were notices that my medications were no longer covered by my insurance. I was taking eight different medications at that time. I started crying and went into the bathroom to rinse my face off. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and stood there, just staring at my reflection. I had a bandage on my forehead, mascara streaming down my face and bandages on my arms. It suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t want to be ‘me’ anymore. I felt like a manufactured American, composed of prescriptions and labels. That was the day everything changed for me. I threw my cigarettes in the garbage and started a blog, “Daughter of the American Drug Companies” which detailed my long battle with prescription medication and what it was like to divorce them. Steve Miccio of People, Inc. was one of my readers for two years. He wrote to me one day and I wrote back. We shared over a thousand messages and among those messages I learned the word ‘wellness’ and fell in love for the first time in my life. I left my native Flint, Michigan, a crime infested city I called home for over a decade and moved to New York to live with Steve and continue my recovery. Mary Ellen, you were on my Facebook page the entire time, years before I ever met Steve. He gave me your WRAP book the day I moved in. As far as my WRAP plan ~ I think the most important thing I do is keep a consistent schedule.  My diet is also a huge part of my wellness ~ I don’t eat sugar, caffeine, drink alcohol, or smoke.  I also exercise at least four days a week. Keeping my brain busy is vital so I work on puzzles, paint by numbers and read quite a lot. I’ve lost sixty pounds and continue to lose weight as my recovery progresses. I’m now in DBT Therapy, Talk Therapy and on a fitness plan. I’ve been off Bipolar medications for two years and have discovered through therapy that underlying PTSD was the culprit all along.

I wanted you to know that without people with your vision, people like me would be destined to wander the halls of the great drug companies for the duration of their lives. People would be stuck in a world without words like ‘wellness’ and ‘recovery’ and I can tell you from experience, that world is so utterly dark and hopeless. Thank you Mary Ellen ~ from the bottom of my heart and soul. I took my blog down and am turning it into a book, which is also part of my wellness plan. You will be named among the people I thank for making recovery possible for me.

Hugs to you,

Katie Tate

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