Changing Seasons, Changing Mood
May 5th, 2019
Even though Bailie noticed early on that what she was feeling wasn’t the norm for most people her age, she didn’t initially have the support she needed to get to the root of the issue.
NAME — Bailie Fite
AGE — 22
OCCUPATION — Elementary Education major at Lipscomb University, Party Hostess at Chuck E Cheese, Afterschool Childcare Provider at Lipscomb Academy
HOMETOWN — Nashville, TN
FUN FACT — Bailie has been to Moldova
How would you define yourself?
“To quote Shakespeare: ‘Though she is little, she is fierce.’”
What is your experience with mental illness?
“My dad didn’t believe in mental illness, but I figured out that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) my junior year of high school. I decided to Google it after dealing with a bunch of suicidal thoughts, terrible days of feeling the lowest of low, and not being able to make myself do anything.
I had my first panic attack my senior year. I told my dad about it but was told to ‘get over it’ because it ‘wasn’t real.’ My mom, a psychologist, got me some medication. My dad, however, threw it away and said he wouldn’t pay to ‘medicate a liar.’ Sophomore year of college, I got my primary care physician involved and was officially diagnosed with anxiety. They were able to point out in my brain where I was being affected. I have panic attacks quite often. It’s not fun. The beauty of your story is that it’s going to continue to evolve and your site can evolve with it. Your goal should be to make it feel right for right now. Later will take care of itself. It always does.”
Have you ever gone to counseling? If so, what was your experience like and what would you tell others about counseling?
“Yes, but it was only for a semester and overall not helpful, probably because of how short it was. Counseling is amazing and wonderful if you do it right, but you have to understand that you have a choice in everything involved in it: you can ask for a new counselor and keep looking until you find one you click with. It’s very much like finding a primary care doctor. If it doesn’t feel right, you can try something else.”
Why are you passionate about mental health awareness?
“When I was younger my mom tried to diagnose my brother and me early, and she’s been wonderful about it all. She’s the reason we realized early on that we had ADHD. She used to practice for work by giving tests to us so she could perform them right with her students. There often times was clash, though, since my dad didn’t believe in mental health until he later got diagnosed. Now he’s on board with its importance.”
What was it like growing up with a mental illness and having a mom as a psychologist?
“There’s a lot of stigma around it that doesn’t need to be there. That stops many people from getting the help they deserve – and even makes them feel like they don’t deserve help. A friend once told me that she didn’t think she’d make it to the age of 20. My response was a shocked ‘Why?!’ People think counseling is a soft option that doesn’t work, which is just ridiculous. I’ve seen too many people suffer with what I’ve gone through except they suffer by themselves.”
What do you want to change about mental health and awareness of it?
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is people’s belief that if you have a mental illness then that means you’re weak. I’ve seen that a lot in the way Lipscomb handles it. I’ve even heard people who think that those suffering with mental illness deserve it because we let ourselves get that way, but that’s the dumbest thing ever.”
Even though you struggle with mental illness, that doesn't define you. What would you want others to know about yourself?
“Even though my mental illness affects me, it doesn’t have to affect my relationships. You might think I’m ignoring you or am too clingy, but that’s the mental illness side of things. It’s more a representation of my illness than what our relationship actually is.”
What do you want others to know about mental illness?
“Everyone needs to hear this: you are not weak because of what you suffer or what you’ve been through. People with mental illness are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met. The thought of someone with mental illness as being weak is a lie that your illness tells you. It’s a lie from Satan, and he’s just trying to drag you down into that pit.”
What’s the biggest advice you want someone to takeaway from your experience?
“It gets better, but it might not if you try to go it on your own. If you stay by yourself, you’ll be letting it control you and your life. You have to make an effort to work with others and do the things you need to do.”
My name is Bailie, and I am not defined by my struggle with mental health.
You're Not Alone
Seasonal affective disorder impacts up to 9% of the population. Women are 4 times more likely to be affected than men.