You have the power to say,
This is not how my story will end.
What is a mistake I will never make again?
I won’t ever not ask for help again. I went for years not asking for help. Hiding my depression, hiding my pain. I didn’t want people to think I was weak. I didn’t want people to not love me or care about me. I wanted to be strong and competitive in this world. I wanted to prove I could be somebody.
Depression, Bipolar, BPD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective, OCD, Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Trauma, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, Rape – whatever the mental illness or Trauma/Past is though – it doesn’t mean you are weak. It took me far to long to figure that out.
All I knew was that this world was about getting ahead. That is all that was preached to me in school – you have to do this, you have to do that. Learn this, learn that. Get into the best school, earn the highest grades. Take the ACT, the SAT. Apply, apply, apply. I was miserable, but I didn’t want to disappoint anyone.
On top of that, I really didn’t believe I was going to be alive. I really thought I was going to be dead, either by a natural death or by suicide. I didn’t think I was actually going to have to live up to those expectations anyway. So I never asked for help.
Then there was also the little fact that it was brought to people attention that I needed help, and no one seemed to care – so why would I ask for help when no one wanted to help me in the first place when others told them I needed it?
After being miserable for years though, and then seeing what my life has been like with the right medications and proper therapy — I would give so much to go back and get these things earlier in my life. What a difference I think it would have made, how much easier my life would have been.
Even though people don’t always listen when we ask for help. I still will always ask for it. I still will always plead for it. I won’t give up. I will keep asking, I will keep begging, I will keep pleading for the help. If I need help – I will get it – no matter what. Because not asking for help, will just lead to my destruction. I know that now.
Word Press Post A Day – When was the last time you experienced writer’s block? What do you think brought it about — and how did you dig your way out of it?
I just started doing these Post A Day things from Word Press – I thought it might help me expand on my topics – bring in new ideas to relate to mental health…which is what my blog is about. For the most part, I think it has helped a bit. I think most of them I have been able to relate to mental health/illness in some way, even if it has been a bit of a stretch at times. Except Unlikely Pairing – that one, nope, I just couldn’t tie in. I wrote about it anyway, just to write.
I am passionate about mental health though. I have been affected with mental illness my whole life. There is so much stigma associated with mental illness though. You rarely hear about the great people that have mental illness, just the horrible stories related to it. Everyone just gets a bad picture.
I created this blog to show my struggles, but also my triumphs over my disorders – my bipolar, my borderline personality disorder, and my PTSD. All of which I struggle with daily. I also overcome it everyday though.
Each day I get up, I write on here. I write about what mental illness is, or how to cope with it, quotes related to it, how it has affected me, how it might be affecting me that day, what I am going to do in the future to overcome a challenge that I faced because of it, suicide, sexual abuse, past traumas, therapy, etc.
I’m sure I had writers block in high school related to some silly essay my AP English teacher wanted me to write. When it comes down to something that I am interested in though, something I am passionate about – no, I haven’t had it. I am sure it might come eventually, but so far, it hasn’t hit me. I hope it doesn’t because this is a topic that needs to be spoken up for and needs to be heard.
This is my coping skill. It’s keeping me mentally healthy right now. Or as much as it can anyway.
Friendships with someone who has a mental health disorder can be quite tough at times. In fact, my group of friends is quite small. Most of them actually are other people that have a mental illness, because they understand what it is like. But I have friends that do not, and they are great!
I know that sometimes, being a friend or in a relationship with someone with a mental illness can be hard sometimes though. You don’t know what to say when certain topics come up, you don’t know how to react to certain situations, or maybe you don’t know what they are looking for or what help they want.
Being someone with a mental illness, there are a few things that friends do that really help me and I think most people with mental illness would say they look for in a good friend:
1) They listen – My true friends simply listen. They don’t judge me and they just listen. They don’t try to think ahead to what they are going to say next or how to respond while I am talking. They carefully pay attention to what I am saying, then they take the time to form a response if one is even needed. Many times I don’t need a response, I do not need advice, I just need someone to listen.
2) They support me – They validate my feelings and show me that I am not alone. They cannot always be present in person 100% of the time, but they let me know that I can text them or email them, Facebook them or leave a voicemail, and when they get it they will get back to me as soon as they can. They let me know that they care and that they are going to be there for me. They are empathetic.
3) They ask how they can help me – Sometimes, they don’t know what to do. Sometimes I don’t even know what I want them to do. I just ramble on and on. So they ask me what I am wanting. What do I need? This question gets to the bottom of things. Do they need to drive me to a therapy appointment? Do they need help studying for a test because of stress? What type of support is needed. It may seem direct, but there are nice ways of saying it, “What can I do to help you?”, “I want to do my best to support you right now, how can I do that?”, “What are some of the things you need right now?”
4) They are educated about mental illness – They know what is going on with me. They do not assume I am faking it, that it is all drama, or that I am “crazy.” They do not stigmatize mental illness. They take the time to learn about what is going on with me by either listening to me tell them about it or by doing their own research (or both!). This helps so much in the friendship.
5) They support me healthy coping skills – My good friends do not tell me I just need to have a drink or smoke pot or have sex to feel better. My good friends tell me I need to do something nice for myself, get a massage, read a good book, exercise, talk to them or my therapist, etc. My good friends understand that going out and partying late at night and drinking alcohol will interfere with my psych meds and mess up my sleep schedule thus possibly throwing my mental illness into disarray. My good friends encourage me to go out with them for alternative activities like a movie or a comedy show.
6) They take care of themselves – I don’t want my friend to feel like I am a burden on them. I want them to have their own lives and I don’t want to be clinging onto them. Knowing that they take care of themselves first and put up boundaries protects them and me. If they get overwhelmed by me, then it puts their mental health in jeopardy and most likely I will also be losing a friend. It is so important when you are friends with someone with a mental illness – or anyone for that matter – you take care of yourself first. Because if you cant take care of yourself, how can you take care of anyone else?
This is a wonderful poem that I was given when I was inpatient. Then I was given it again while in therapy. There is so much power in this poem and I feel like it represent my struggle with mental illness so much. I feel like I have gone back and forth between the chapters of it multiple times in my life and I am sure I will continue to throughout my life.
A POETIC INTERLUDE: AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERSby Portia NelsonI
I walk, down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost…. I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again
I can’t believe I am in the same place but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.’
I still fall in…. it’s a habit, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
I had no idea what was going on with me. I was 10 and sad. But I wasn’t just sad. I was really sad.
I was 11 and I wanted to die. I planned on how to die. Our school was taking a trip to Six Flags and I wrote out my suicide note, and I put it in my backpack and I was going to kill myself at the park. My mom found it though, she asked me if she needed to keep me home. I said I was fine and went to catch my bus. It was never talked about again.
I was 13 and still really sad. Suicide still ran rampant in my head. My art teacher found out. He found out about my home life. I trusted him. I thought he would help me. He said he was going to. But he took advantage of me. He made me do things to him. He did things to me. He verbally abused me. He sexually abused me. He hurt me. I believed all his lies. He molested me and hurt me and fucked me up so bad. I wanted to die more than ever before.
I was 14 and moved to a new city. Life was worse than ever before. A new school and no friends. My school counselor found out about what my teacher did. Chaos broke out. I didn’t want to deal with it. I began cutting. I did not tell the police everything. He was never charged. My depression became more severe. I became sick from stress. I missed more than half the school year and stayed home because I was “sick.”
I was 15 and 16 and 17 and high school happened. My depression trapped me. I faked my smiles and I wore my mask. I immersed myself in school work. I tried to pretend like I was happy and make myself believe I was. Deep down I was choking, I could barely breathe. Every day I planned my death. I didn’t even believe I would make it to graduation. Surely I would do something before then.
Graduation came and went. I was 18. College was a new start. Surely life could start over now. I was raped. My mental health went down hill. For the first time in my life I was put into counseling. I couldn’t talk though. I didn’t know how to express myself. I isolated more than ever. I cried more than ever.
Therapy continued and I made no progress, but I just kept going. I kept my emotions in for so long that I just avoided everything. I turned 21 and my life went upside down. My arm was paralyzed. I lost control. Again. The molestation. The rape. My arm. I had lost control again. I needed to die now. My depression consumed me. The year was 2009.
Trigger Warning – the next paragraph mentions a suicide attempt
I had many suicide attempts. My worst was in May 2012 though. I had strategically overdosed on Tylenol. After being given the antidote (Mucomyst) and Reglan, both of which I had reactions to, I was transported to the ICU where I spent 4 days before being sent to the psychiatric hospital. This was not my first time in the ICU but it was the worst attempt I had. And it was also somewhat of a wake up call. It was my last attempt, but not my last visit to the psych hospital.
Between January 2011, my first psychiatric hospitalization, and October 2012 – I had 15 psychiatric hospitalizations and ended up with three diagnosis (bipolar, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder). On that last hospitalization I was committed for 6 months to the state hospital. I was terrified, but at the same time, I was so frustrated and sick of life, I really didn’t care what happened to me. I was so sure that I would kill myself no matter what anyone did and that I had no future, that it didn’t matter to me. The state hospital was the best thing that happened to me though.
On Halloween of October 2012 I went to the state hospital via the backseat of a Sherriff’s car. It was a two hour drive and it took me to a life changing experience. I had the best psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses, rec therapist, music therapist, group therapists, psych techs, dietician, and other support staff possible. They were all determined to get me and others back on the right track. I left the hospital in April 2013 more stable than I had been in a long time. On the correct combo of meds and with coping skills that I actually felt comfortable using.
Today, in 2014, I still struggle. I have been hospitalized since being out of the state hospital. But in no way am I in and out like I was two years ago. I take my medication and I acknowledge that I need it. I accept that I have a mental illness and I try to educate myself about them. I attend therapy and participate in it actively. I am working through my PTSD which has been a huge factor in my hatred of myself and life. I am always working on improving and finding new coping skills. I continue to attend my support groups.
I know I can continue to fight. I know I don’t have to let it consume me anymore. I don’t have to let it win. It still knocks me down sometimes. I just have to make sure I keep getting back up.
Yesterday I broke down. My anxiety consumed me. I tried to use my copings skills – I went out, went to Michaels – bought some more canvas and paint to come home and paint. I couldn’t handle it though. “Hurt yourself.” “Cut yourself” “Hit yourself” “Break a bone” My brain kept wanting to find a way out of this feeling of extreme dread and torture that was going on.
The minute I got home I knew I couldn’t do what my brain was saying. I had done that before. I did that for two years and all it did was get me put in the hospital, in the ICU, the ER, and the psych hospital. I couldn’t go back to that. I cant go back to that. I am trying to stay in recovery. I am trying to get my life back and stay on track.
I called 211. It connected me to the local crisis line. It is easier than dialing the suicide hotline, all I have to remember is 211 rather than a bunch of numbers, plus the suicide crisis line would connect me to 211 anyway, since it just connects you to your local crisis line. For those of you who don’t know what 211 is – it is a free and confidential informational and referral line available in most cities/counties in the United States. They can connect you with resources to find help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more – and in my area also provide the crisis/suicide line.
Anyway, I spent 33 minutes talking to a wonderful volunteer. Probably 15 minutes crying my eyes out. Eventually we came up with a plan, had some laughs, and I am feeling better. Thank goodness I got my mind set straight because I do not want to end up back in the hospital!
I was assured I could call back as many times as I needed, 24 hours a day, and they could help me.
Today was a rough day, and I suspect it is going to be a rough week. Honestly, I think it is going to be a rough few months. I don’t think my meds are working right, or not well enough anyway – perhaps a dosage adjustment. I don’t think my doctor is getting my anxiety under control at all – at least not quick enough. I know that I can’t give up though. I know not to go back to my old habit – which was just not thinking and just doing. I know I cant be impulsive anymore. Not that it is that easy, impulse is impulse, but I can still keep working on it.
If you are in a crisis reach out for help:
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
In the UK? Call the Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
Homosexuality. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. Asexual.
These are not a mental illness. In 1973 The American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from it’s list of diagnoses in the DSM. All major mental health professionals agree with this, that it is not a mental health condition.
However, there are greater levels of mental health problems within this group of individuals. It is not due to their beliefs though. In large part, it is thought to be due to the discrimination and stigma that they face on a daily basis.
When a young person is faced with “coming out” to their parents or peers, and rejected by either, their risk for depression and suicide is quite high. Anxiety and self harm becomes and issue as well. Substance abuse might begin to occur. Abuse – physically and emotionally at home can occur. All of these factors can lead to a decline in mental health and serious mental illness later on in life.
It is important that mental health issues of that are LGBTQ are addressed if they need to be. No, not everyone in this group has them. But when they do occur, they should not be afraid to seek help. And there should be adequate resources to help them.
We should stand behind them to help them get the support they need. All too many times people tell them they need to change, to seek help from church, to pray, even to get “conversion therapy.” I am not here to debate beliefs on this blog and will not do so. I am simply here to discuss that those that are so defeated by the stigma and discrimination due to their own beliefs feel the need to escape life by suicide or self injury or substance abuse – need help. Professional help through counseling, therapy, psychiatry. Friendship and understanding.
I had friends come out in middle school, I had friends come out in high school, I had a lot of friends that were out in college. I am 26 so I knew people that were coming out when we were 12,13 back in 2000 or so. It was hard for them. They were not treated that great. But then, once they came out, a few others did too, and it wasn’t such a big deal. Honestly, in my generation, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was a long time ago. But it still is a really big deal at the same time. So, if you know someone battling stress, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts related specifically to this issue – here are some resources.
Some resources are:
GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html