Emily “Emmy” Murillo was about 4 years old when she started having trouble regulating her moods. She was diagnosed with ADHD and various drugs were tried, but they made her worse. Emmy spent years in therapy and trying to find the right medications.
When she was 9, Emmy had her first manic episode.
“She was in the bathtub and she was screaming that the walls were closing in on her and someone was telling her that she should die,” recalled her mother. Erin Popolo, who brought her to the hospital. She returned home after she was stabilized and her medications were adjusted.
“She had a lot of trouble sleeping,” said Erin. “It was a lot of trial and error with medications to find the right types and dosage.”
From 9 to 17 years old, Emmy was hospitalized seven times and was placed in a residential program for 9 months.
“She just felt everything to the extreme – there was no in between,” said Erin. “She needed to learn a lot about coping skills.”
Emmy also struggled with bullies in school.
“She was bullied a lot in school so she hated it,” said Erin. “She didn’t have many friends her age. She connected with adults and little kids, peopler who didn’t point out that she was different than her peers.”
Emmy’s first suicide attempt was in December 2019, when her parents made her return a puppy she had purchased online and brought home without permission.
“Having to return the dog devastated her,” recalled Erin.
Emmy was placed at Carrier Clinic for 10 days and then transferred to an intensive out-patient program, which Erin said really helped her. However, the bullying at school was worse.
“She came home and said ‘I don’t know how to deal with this. I think I need to go back to the hospital to deal with this,” said Erin. “I was super proud of her for advocating for herself and for what she needed for her safety.”
Emmy checked into the hospital and then Covid-19 caused shutdowns throughout the state.
“The one thing Emmy could count on was that I was going to show up, but visitors weren’t allowed,” said Erin.