Health and wellness touch each of us differently. This is one person’s story.

When I was 14 I began withdrawing from friends and family, was self-harming, and bulimic. These symptoms lasted for years, and although at first my parents believed it was simply teenage hormones, they eventually realized it was something far more serious.

At the age of 18, I finally chose to receive help.

This was a choice made by both my family and me, after years of torment, questions, and heartbreak.

At first, I was terrified. Would the mental health specialist listen to me? Would they understand what I was going through? Would they send me away?

After what felt like an agonizing amount of time sitting in the waiting room, I was finally called into the doctor’s office.

I took a seat and immediately broke down.

I spent the next hour telling her everything — all my private struggles, all my shameful secrets, all my dark torments. Suddenly, I felt relieved. It was as if a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

I was transferred to a local hospital that specialized in mental health, and they immediately put me on medication for bipolar disorder.

Achieving that balance doesn’t happen overnight

Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t fully understand what medication was. I knew, however, that I was open to taking them.

I felt that, if it was going to help me, there was no reason to feel guilty or ashamed.

Yet, despite going into everything with an open mind, my first experience with taking my medication following my diagnosis was best described as challenging.

I was constantly tired, emotionally and physically drained, couldn’t remember certain tasks, and gained a lot of weight. Admittedly my first impressions of taking medication for my disorder wasn’t positive.

During this time I was also very much aware of other people’s reactions toward me taking medication for my disorder.

Luckily, while their judgement could have easily dissuaded me from taking them, I’m thankful it never did. In fact it only pushed me to be more open about it and reinforced my opinion of taking medication for my condition.

After years spent on my first medication experiencing a myriad of unpleasant symptoms, I decided to go back to my doctor and try something else.

I was determined not to give up.

Finding the right medication meant finding my new normal

I would go on to try three other medications — a mixture of antidepressants and antipsychotics — before the right one came along. Suddenly, I felt like Goldilocks!

Within weeks of starting the new medication, I began to feel — dare I say it — me again. Long gone were the symptoms of tiredness, nausea, and weight gain.

I finally felt as if I was in control after years of uncertainty.

Months went by, and although I still had low and high points — medication doesn’t cure bipolar disorder — I continued to feel like I was back in the driver’s seat of my own life. I felt like I was finally Liv again after not feeling like myself for so long.

You should never be ashamed of doing what works best for you

I want you to know that there’s no shame in taking medication for a mental health condition.

While it can be a really long process to find the right one for you, when you do find the right one, in my opinion it’s worth it.

My mom always says: Some people need glasses to help them see, while others need hearing aids to help them to hear.

For me, I need medication to help me survive. I’m here to tell you that you should never feel ashamed for taking something that helps you live a “normal,” stable life.

In the end, you need to do what’s best for you. And you should never feel guilty for that!

Tips for finding mental health services If you or a loved one are struggling with your mental well-being, know that you’re not alone. There are a number of resources out there that can help get you started:

Olivia — or Liv for short — is 24, from the United Kingdom, and a mental health blogger. She loves all things gothic, especially Halloween. She’s also a massive tattoo enthusiast, with over 40 so far. Her Instagram account, which may disappear from time to time, can be found here.