Welcome to Bipolar in Focus, I'm Jane Pauley. The complications of bipolar disorder are often exacerbated by issues of accessibility and affordability.
Marley Prunty-Lara took her personal struggles all the way from South Dakota to Congress and joins us today. Thank you for being here.
You are a success story. But at the age of 15 you were very sick for a star student, debater, miss everything in high school and then suddenly you just couldn't function?
You know, I really hit a period where events just sort of culminated and it started when I was struggling to go to class and then I was struggling to get out of bed and I just had to say,
"Mom, I can't do it. I don't know what's wrong."
So who did she take you to in South Dakota?
We went to the hospital and that's -- that's where I received my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. And from that point we started learning.
It was as if I had cancer and we wanted to know what kind and what do you do, what things do you need to know when you have a chronic disease.
When you go to college, just a little illustration of your personality, you planned ahead in an unusual away, explain what you did.
When I got my acceptance letter, I said, "Okay. Now, I need to research on the internet who is going to be the doctor for me
because I needed a doctor that would understand that you can be well and sick at the same time, that you can have bipolar disorder and be high functioning and yet still need those supports."
But the point is I wanted to make sure that when I move there, I would have a doctor.
You took your case to Washington because accessibility was one thing to navigate affordability. Your parents had to get a second mortgage on their home.
Being the learners that you and I think your mother are too, you're kind of an expert now on insurance and the like?
We really had to be, we knew what to do. We had insurance. My mom at the time was managing the HR Department at her office but yet we still couldn't get the coverage we needed.
My parents still had to take out the second mortgage.
So for families who don't even know the system to that point, we got lucky and that's what we realized; that our story could go to Washington
and we could say, "Look, we did everything right. We knew what to do in some sense and yet the system still failed us."
So you went to Washington to tell that story --
---and say, "This is crazy." So, who did you see?
We just start knocking on doors and if we couldn't get an appointment we stopped by anyway and we left a letter with my story. And then we continued to go back.
What keeps you going?
Knowing that there are still more out there for me. No matter how depressed I am, I know that that day once it's over, it's over.
And that tomorrow even though I don't know how -- what it's going to be like when I wake up, I'm still going to have the opportunity to make it whatever I'm going to make it.
So I think even when you go through that depressive episode, it's not going to be forever.
There is going to be an end to it whether that's increasing your medications, doing whatever it is that you do, there is an end.
And when you're manic, there is an end and you'll go back to wherever it is you started, and that's really what keeps me going.
You are amazing and you should have a high platform because you're an excellent role model and I'm going to keep my eye on you.
Thank you Marley.
And thank you for joining Bipolar in Focus.