Independent Political Strategist, Meadow Johnson Consulting
Living with anxiety, depression, ADHD and panic disorder

Meadow first struggled with mental health issues in adolescence, spiraling downward for decades. She spent years experimenting to figure out how to best manage her mental health and wellbeing. Today, she is a successful political consultant and has enriching relationships with family and friends. “My life is personally and professionally rewarding. The good days far outnumber the hard ones.”

Meadow’s Story

When were you first aware of your condition? And how long did it take you to get help?

I knew something wasn’t right in middle school.  After years of avoiding help and maladaptive coping, I had a breakdown in which I didn’t eat or sleep for nearly a week. It took me months to come out of that episode, with the help of a therapist, psychiatrist, individual and group therapy, medication, and the support of friends and family. It took about a year to get a good foundation of my medical and therapeutic needs, and another year to change my habits and establish boundaries in my life.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy on a regular basis?

Having a routine that is focused on my mental and physical health is an important key to my success. I ensure that I have time to get nine hours of sleep and have two hours in the morning to prepare myself for the day.  I start each day with an entry into my gratitude journal.   I meditate and attempt mindfulness in all that I do. I eat well-balanced, nourishing foods and make it a point to eat all three meals.  I walk.  I use the experts around me, attending classes, taking yoga, and working with my medical team and therapists. I carefully manage my exposure to digital media and things that are distracting or triggering.  I practice techniques I have learned through CBT and DBT. I meet with my therapist regularly. I work very hard to treat myself with compassion, eliminate negative self-talk, and to forgive myself.

What advice do you have for someone suffering from a similar condition?

Seek out and accept help. This is beyond anything that you can will your way out of. Put that same energy into treating yourself with kindness and love each day. Remember that caring for your mental health is not a ‘one and done’ type of thing. Take care of yourself every day. And when you find that you haven’t, don’t judge yourself, just find something you can do to care for yourself then.

What is your advice to those worried about a loved one with mental illness?

Listen. Really listen. The reality is that each experience with mental health conditions is unique. Do not try to ‘fix’ someone. Just be there for them.