fighting through Hell as a child to emerge an empowered woman: the grit and resilience of a true mental health superhero, Meagan CopelinRead Now
[TRIGGER WARNING: SH, SA, R*PE, ED]
i have to fight through hell to become the EMPOWERED WOMAN i am today.
BEING BORN WITH GRIT, DETERMINATION AND FIGHT DOESN'T MATTER WHEN YOU'RE BORN TO TEENAGE DRUG ADDICTS
As a young girl, growing up in the city of New Orleans, I was always determined to be the very best and to never give up despite my obstacles. In fact, my aunts and uncles nicknamed me “Maybe Tomorrow” as they saw determination and grit from the moment I was born.
My great-grandmother, Anna Copelin, who we called Mother Anna, holds a special place in my heart. Mother Anna passed away when I was 3 years of age, and although I do not remember much about her, I do know she still guides me and watches over me daily. She has truly been my guardian angel.
My mom and dad were teenagers when I was born. I was primarily raised the first 3 years of my life by Mother Anna and my great grand-father, Daniel Copelin (Granddaddy Copelin), not because they wanted to but because they needed to.
Even born as a premature baby, I had so much fight in me. I was a very small baby, with a big forehead (LOL).
My great grandparents were full of love. The greatest memories I shared with Granddaddy Copelin was us sitting at the kitchen table eating stale ginger snaps and cold hot dog links. For some reason, my granddaddy loved giving us grandkids stale snacks.
I still smile thinking about how my granddaddy enjoyed a snack that I found very unpleasant, but I still enjoyed spending time with my love. He was the first man that I ever loved, and he showed me love as I didn’t grow up with my dad in my life, so my granddaddy and certain uncles were there for me.
My birth mom was in and out of my life and was extremely unstable. I remember when I was around 6 years old, she was involved in an unstable relationship with a man, and he got so mad at her that he hit her in the head with a car jack. She needed over 200 stitches. That was very scary to watch.
I really think I started to experience mental health issues around that time or maybe earlier, starting around the age of 5.
My dad disappeared when I was around 7 years old. I didn’t remember him and never cared to find him. I did start asking about him later but remembered that the other men in my life made sure I was good. (I am happy. I never had daddy issues thank goodness.)
My mom and dad were both crack heads. I mean call it like you see it. They abused drugs heavily. I saw my mom take drugs, snort crack, and sell her body. I was young seeing all of this. WTF.
No child should ever have to live through this hell.
My mental health was spiraling out of control. I was starting to act out and cut myself. I was a child. Why was I seeing this shit?
At the time, I never realized this was a sickness she possessed and for years I did not like her. I hated her. I didn’t want a relationship with her. I even told people she had died.
I was angry so anything I said at that time I meant it. She was fucking up my mental health.
I was depressed, had PTSD, was wetting the damn bed, experiencing an eating disorder, etc.
I was a child. No child should ever have to experience this, no matter what. I WAS MAD at that time.
My mom had lots of men in her life, and I mean LOTS of men. She would meet a man on Wednesday, and we would be living with him on Friday. I watched my mom experience lots of pain from men, from being abused to assaulted.
She was on drugs and gone for days. There were times I didn’t see my mom for days, even weeks. This was traumatizing for myself as well as my brother and sister.
My mental health was spiraling out of control. I was cutting myself and biting my nails down to the skin. I was going through hell.
getting held down, raped and pimped out by your mother when eight seriously fucks with your mental health
At the age of 8 years old, I was raped multiple times by my mom’s boyfriend. I think he was boyfriend number 500 of that year. I loved school and would go right to school after being raped by that ugly old ass monster. He smelled like grease and molded bread. He was a PIMP and would have sex with prostitutes before and after he raped me.
My mom was aware of this but when drugs take over your life, that is typically the focus and not anything else around you. He told me not to tell anyone, and he even told me that he would tell her and that she wouldn’t do anything. The nerve.
And he was right: I told her and nothing was done. These two were really messing with my PTSD. Severe depression was kicking in. Crack and cocaine are truly a hell of a drug.
at age of 12, diagnosed with clinical depression, ptsd, anxiety, eating disorder, ocd, and behavioral and emotional disorder. thanks mom.
School was my safe haven and even though I was bullied daily, I still went with dirty ass clothes and cuts on my body. I should have been playing with barbie dolls and eating dinner at the table with a normal family, but I was facing severe trauma at 8 and 9 years old.
I eventually moved in with an abusive aunt, who would beat me with a broom and make me sleep in my own urine as I was still wetting the bed from severe trauma. I was suffering and going downhill. After two years or so, I had an opportunity to move with another aunt who changed my life.
That aunt saw that I needed help and sent me to see a licensed psychiatrist. At the age of 12, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, PTSD, anxiety, an eating disorder, a behavioral and emotional disorder, and OCD. I was provided a prescription for mental health medication as well.
learning to forgive, not for her, but for me.
For years, I did not like my mom and didn’t see her again until I was 20 years old. I had to really learn forgiveness and it was hard. I sought counseling and joined a church to help me learn how to forgive my mom. I finally forgave her about 7 years ago. I am now 40.
I realized that forgiving her was not about her but about me. And about freeing me. To move on and succeed in life, I had to learn the power of forgiveness. That was truly a process for me. I had to be open and understanding. I had to place myself in her shoes in order to understand her struggles.
I didn’t have to have a relationship with her to forgive her. It felt good to rid that baggage that was holding me back for years. The act that hurt me will always be with me as I have that right, but forgiveness has lessened its grip on me. Forgiveness has allowed me to led with understanding in my personal life, as well as show empathy and compassion for my parents, as well as others around me.
How can you improve your child's mental health? your child deserves it.
One of the best things you can do to keep your child mentally healthy is to take care of your own mental health. As a parent, it is important that you protect your child and never allow them to be placed in situations that may harm them and scar them for life. A child needs to be a child and do things that children do, such as playing with dolls and car toys.
Children are innocent.
Parents should also have a basic understanding and answers to questions such as what mental illnesses are, who can get them, what causes them if that is known, how diagnoses are made, and what treatments are available. Do your homework.
Your child deserves it.
i was put on this earth for a reason. speaking up about stigma is my gift. It is my calling.
When I share my story with others, I always say that I am happy I have been through the things I have been through. My reason is because I believe GOD knew I could handle this. I am not my parents and never inherited any of their traits or habits. I was placed on this earth to help young girls and women all over the world share their story. Speaking up regarding the stigma of mental health is my gift. I was meant to do this.
If you're thinking about hurting yourself, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Dr. Meagan T. Copelin is the Supporting US Chair of Accelerating Mental Wellness, a social-justice campaign to co-create stigma free workplaces built on a foundation of empathy with needed mental health supports and programs.
a call for social justice and STigma-Free Workplaces: WE get fired because of our mental illnesses BUT only we deal with STIGMA'S POISONous WRATH AND true depths of ENSUING SUFFERINGRead Now
resilience built up in childhood. check. higher education underway. check. then, a series of weird events started happening.
I had a very good childhood with loving parents and friends. I was bullied a little at school. But that gave me some resilience and taught me self dependence at a very early age.
I was a straight A student and excelled at my studies. I got my Bachelors and then pursued a Masters in Computer Science from the best college in India.
Being an INFJ, I was always a self-starter and figured out solutions to problems myself.
Then, a series of weird events started to happen to me.
In my last semester of graduate school, other students started noticing a change in my behavior. A calm, introverted kid was now fighting with everyone, verbally, not physically. I was much more irritable and got angry at the slightest of things.
I was unaware at that time of exactly what was happening.
i soldiered on, landing my first professional job. But, quickly burnout after being expected to work long hours, becoming nonfunctional for months.
I started my internship at a game development company in 2014 where I was expected to work long hours. I was not performing at optimal levels and after 6 months, I experienced my first severe burnout.
I came home severely depressed.
My parents supported me. I was nonfunctional for months.
My neighbors started noticing I was not getting out of the house. They did their best to try and talk to me.
With that said, being in episodes spoiled my relationships with almost everyone. Yet, still I couldn't really figure out what exactly was happening to me until I had a lightbulb moment.
My Lightbulb Moment. I realized I needed treatment to survive. And, I got THAT AND MORE: a bipolar 2 diagnosis and A LITHUM Prescription. check.
I was lost in the darkness, struggling to figure out what was wrong with me.
Grasping at straws, I went online and started reading and joined online forums. I read the DSM. I did research. I read blogs.
That all led me to finally going to see a psychiatrist. After asking me questions during a one-hour consultation, he diagnosed me with Bipolar 2 and put me on Lithium.
After three months of Lithium, I got a little stability and decided to give work another go.
back to work ONLY TO HAVE my hard-fought stability snatched away. CEO discovers MY bipolar disorder. I'm fired.
I got a job as a Junior System Admin two blocks from my house and worked there for almost 2 years. It was a mid-sized company with 150 employees. I had very good relationships with everyone and helped everyone with their computer issues.
Then, the CEO finds out about my bipolar disorder and fires me two weeks later.
Even to this day, I still get calls from the IT department asking for help with IT problems. I still offer give solutions.
I Enter a stigma-free workplace at last. My stability, balance and SENSE OF worthiness RETURN.
Then, I got a job at a chain of salons as an IT Manager. It had 3 branches for which I was managing the entire IT and digital marketing.
This time, however, my boss was very supportive and helped me in every way to become productive. But due to COVID, he had to shut down two of the branches and laid off people.
But he has always stayed in touch, even to this day.
"To me stigma-free workplaces are built on foundations of people understanding the need for inclusivity and empathy.
My third and current job was found via LinkedIn. I applied to a Denver-based company and the Founder interviewed me for an IT Manager position but gave me the Project Manager position.
I got a few episodes during this job but my company supported me when they knew I had bipolar disorder.
Medications Taken to date to see me through this journey. Did I have to go through all this?
I had seen a severe form of illness but I could manage it and most people couldn't tell (or were not telling me) that I have such a severe condition. I had taken almost every medication over the years, which is generally prescribed for bipolar.
I can't help but wonder if my journey would have not been as arduous if not been for stigma in the workplace; and if perhaps I would have found the perfect cocktail for treating my bipolar sooner. You see it is not easy or particularly fun to have to try all these different medications as you cycle up and down and as society pushes us up and down with stigma.
My most irritable symptoms were hand tremors and throbbing headaches. I still have these.
How do I COPE? BY FIGHTING BACK. AND BY GIVING BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY.
Cancer doesn't just go away, nor does bipolar disorder. You have to find methods in order to survive. I learnt coping mechanisms for my illness at a very early stage. I could tell when my moods were swinging and took immediate action. Other coping mechanisms included:
But, the best coping mechanism for me has been and still is helping people. That naturally lifts your depression. I have been helping people for many many years with their IT stuff and with my mental health advocacy work.
LIKE AIR POLLUTION, STIGMA IN OUR WORKPLACES IS POISONING US CAUSING BOTH PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL SUFFERING. LIKE A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT, WE ARE FILING A SOCIAL ACTION LAWSUIT. WE ARE TIRED OF BEING FIRED.
Most recently, I have become the Chair in India for Accelerating Social Good's social-justice campaign, Accelerating Mental Wellness, to co-create stigma free workplaces built on a foundation of empathy with needed mental health programs and supports in place.
Why? Because it is unjust for people like me to get fired simply because I have bipolar disorder.
I see this as analogous to a class action lawsuit in America. Like a social action lawsuit in a way.
People are poisoned by stigma. In a class action lawsuit, I understand people are literally poisoned by pollution so they come together and file a lawsuit to get reimbursed for medical bills and for their suffering, the punitive damages.
But we are not filing a class action lawsuit. We are not taking this to court.
We are taking it to the people. We are taking it to to you. We are asking you to lean in and listen to the human case, our stories.
How is this any different for those of us with bipolar or other mental illnesses (read serious brain disorders) who are being fired?
Is stigma in the workplace not poisoning us to?
Are we not also feeling physical pain? Trust me, having to go on med and after med to try to regain your footing after being fired does cause much physical as well as emotional pain.
We too are suffering. Where is our justice? Who is standing up for what is right? Who is advocating for change?
I am. Accelerating Social Good is: Founder and CEO and Founder, Kerry Martin, supported by Meagan Copelin, chairing in the United States, COO Erin Macauley chairing in Australia, and Natasha Tracy chairing in Canada. They are leading mental health advocates and they all have lived experience too. They also have their own stigma stories, some harder to read than mine.
But it's not just us. There are many others who agree stigma in our workplaces is discriminatory, unjust. And, not just for those with a serious brain disorder such as bipolar but unjust for every single human regardless of your physical or mental health condition, visible or invisible, and regardless of the color of your skin or your sexual preference. It's unjust period.
Please visit our Wall of Solidarity, made up of everyday people like you and me. People who have stepped up to join us in our campaign. We call them our stigma-fighter superheroes as by uploading their selfies to our wall they are helping us take another brick out of the wall of stigma and sending a clear message that we want the wall taken down. Finally.
These are not just concerned citizens, but global diversity, inclusion and equity leaders, best-selling authors, mental health advocates, podcasters, nonprofit leaders, and those that suffer from mental health conditions.
I hope that others will join us in our grassroots campaign to eradicate stigma in our workplaces and put an end to the discrimination. And, to finally provide urgently needed mental health programs and supports in our workplaces for all who are suffering.
We are all humans worthy of support, not worthy of being poisoned by stigma. No one should get fired because they have a mental illness. This discriminatory practice must be stopped.
Hitesh Gupta, India Chair, Accelerating Mental Wellness, A Global Workplace Cause-Advocacy Initiative Sponsored by Accelerating Social Good with contributions by Kerry Martin, Chief Purpose Officer and US Chair.