Even as a young child, Alyx Kesselring can remember feeling depressed. And with grades that fluctuated from A’s down to D’s, it’s easy to look at her school record and see when she was in the midst of a depressive episode. Yet, it wasn’t until she was an adult and experienced a major, three-month long manic episode that she received the proper diagnosis of Bipolar 1. As she describes her time in mania, “I flew high and fast, but felt hate with the world and everyone in it and it showed in my behavior . . . The inside of my head was a bad neighborhood.”
Fortunately, with the correct diagnosis, Alyx was able to move into recovery through a multi-faceted approach to her illness that included medication, intensive outpatient treatment, ongoing therapy, and self-care. The end result of this plan? Alyx has moved to a place of acceptance of her illness. “For me acceptance is a daily decision. Acceptance is not a destination for me. It’s something I have to actively choose.”
In 2019, she chose to become an In Our Own Voice presenter for NAMI Cook County North Suburban. In state training, she learned to tell her story in an honest and engaging fashion that enables her audience to see her not as “Alyx, the mentally ill person” but as “Alyx, a great person who happens to have a mental illness.” Among the things she celebrates as successes are those times when she can educate others about mental illness.
Thanks to Alyx for making a difference!