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December 12, 2018 by Stephanie Long

What I’ve learned so far: adventures on the road to healing

Friend of the Foundation, Stephanie Long, offers her story in solidarity and encouragement to others with lived experience of the mental health care system. This is episode 2 of the series

After high school I got a job at Macy’s. I just wanted something super easy because inside I was fighting this terrible mental battle and didn’t believe I could handle a job that made me think. I worked there for about four years but realized I didn’t want a minimum wage job for the rest of my life, so I needed to figure out what to do next. I thought getting into the medical field would be a great career, not knowing what I wanted to do in the field, so I applied as a receptionist at a doctor’s office to get my foot in the door. After working there for about a year, I hated it and realized I didn’t want to go to school for something in the healthcare field. Also, at this point I was feeling so out of control in my mind. I was fighting with friends and family and cutting them out of my life, so they didn’t have to see me self-destruct. I felt it was time that I should go see a doctor and figure out what was going on in my head.

The first doctor I saw diagnosed me with ADHD, I didn’t feel like this was the right diagnosis, but she’s the expert and knows what medication I should be on, so I decided to trust her. After being on Adderall for a month, all it did was make me not hungry, (which I liked since I thought I was so fat) and give me a ton of energy – not stop the madness in my head. So, I just quit those pills cold turkey and decided there’s nothing anyone can do for me and I’ll just deal with what’s going on in my head.

It took me a year before I went to another psychiatrist and she diagnosed me with depression. She put me on medication that really helped my mood, but made my heart race at a scary rate, and I didn’t like the feeling. Again, I abruptly stopped this medication and stopped seeing her. Some days my mental state was really bad, and some days I was euphoric, like I was floating on air, but this was driving me nuts because even I didn’t know how I’d feel from day to day.

The third year I was at the doctor’s office, I realized I need to go to college. I have always loved writing and thought I should do something for a career that involved writing. I enrolled in the local community college and started taking prerequisite classes. I went to class during my lunch break, since my job was close to the college, and then would rush back to work after. I was so composed on the outside that no one would know the internal hell I was in. I was juggling full-time work and full-time school and screaming silently in my head all the time. I did this for two more years until I got my associates degree. Mentally at this point I was barely holding it together. I think the 55% of me wanting to succeed was the only thing driving me to a better life because the 45% of me was telling me I was ugly, a loser, and incapable of success.

I’m thankful that somehow I had more fight in me than not. After grueling days for two years and receiving my associate’s degree, it was now time to apply to a four year college, and the only one I wanted to attend was the University of Washington. If I didn’t get into that college, there’s no telling how I would react. Time to put pen to paper and write the best essay of my life, because my mental health is banking on it. Find out in my next blog what happened.

I’m open to talking with anyone who is going through a rough time and needs to talk and/or just wants someone who understands what they’re going through to listen. I can be reached at

Read Episode 1

Stephanie Long graduated in 2011 with an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Washington and recently completed her master’s in communication and digital media. Stephanie has over 8 years of experience in all facets of marketing, working mostly for technology companies. In her spare time, she loves to shop online, read, write, and watch movies.



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