COLUMBIA — It takes one look in her kids’ eyes for Tara Bailey to know what’s right: Her kids will always come before her mental health.
Born in Moberly, Mo., Bailey then grew up in Macon, Mo. For most of her life, Bailey, now 40, described her moods as generally low and often filled with feelings of emptiness.
“I really didn’t know why I was always sad some days and happy other days,” Bailey said.
After getting married in Macon, Bailey moved to Hawaii, where she gave birth to her second son, Anthony, who is now 16. After living in Hawaii, Bailey moved to Colorado where her husband told her he wanted a divorce. The news was a lot to handle for Bailey, as she was admitted to the hospital for psychiatric treatment thereafter. She then sought the advice of therapists, who told her she was severely depressed.
In 1997, Bailey moved to Columbia with her sons Anthony and Jevon, 18. After finalizing her divorce in 1998, Bailey lost the support of her husband and was left alone in not only raising her two children, but also in trying to help her mental stability.
Thoughts of suicide came to Bailey, but she ultimately sought the support of therapists at MU. In 2009 she was finally told she didn’t have depression but bipolar disorder, a condition in which there are alternating periods of very good moods or irritable moods and depression.
Currently, Bailey works full-time as a secretary with the MU psychology department and lives with her son Anthony. However, the cost of medication for treatment can put her at odds for where to use her money.
“I have to make a decision,” Bailey said. “Do I keep my lights on, my gas for my heat and food in my house? Or do I get my medication? And I look at my son and I look at my empty pill bottles, and my son is going to win over every time.”