Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 46

This is the 46th story of the Mental Illnesss Recovery Series. Alyssa had a traumatic childhood, but she did not let her past define who she is. This is her story:

Alyssa is from a small town in Alabama and she loves music! Alyssa enjoys yoga and dancing. She also tries to meditate as much as possible. Her goal is to finish a bachelors degree in college. Alyssa said, “I plan on being a psychologist and opening up my own office.” She used to struggle with bipolar disorder, at the current moment Alyssa has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Alyssa believes her disorders stem from her PTSD. She had a traumatic childhood where her father sexually abused her. Part of Alyssa treatments was to receive medication that never addressed her underlying problem. It simply covered up her symptoms. She was also hospitalized before, but that did not help her because she was abused there. Alyssa also said, “I’ve had years and years of having a weekly counselor and it never seemed to help, but looking back I think it did or maybe it was just time that helped heal, I’m not sure.”

She had to deal with terrible symptoms such as, losing her ability to focus due to her ADHD. Her MDD made her feel empty, lonely, hopeless and suicidal. Alyssa also lost her appetite and lacked sleep. Her anxiety attacks had her hyperventilating which led Alyssa to throw up sometimes. She said, “My PTSD give me vivid horrifying nightmares every night and extreme paranoia in any situation.” When Alyssa had bipolar disorder the main symptom was instant mood switches, she could be crying out of sadness one second then crying out of laughter the next.

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The combination of all of these disorders affect her greatly. She ran to drug abuse and self-injury for outlets. There were days she couldn’t get out of bed. It’s hard for Alyssa to keep up with her hygiene and she pushes everyone she loves away. She said, “I would always tell myself no one would care if I were to die, which I now know from experience that to be untrue.” Alyssa also said, “I attempted suicide twice. Once when I was 12 and again at 16. 12 was with alcohol and 16 was with aspirin. Barely made it out alive both times.”

Not only has this affected her daily life, but it has also affected her relationship with others. Alyssa does not trust men, no matter how nice they are or how long she has known them. She said, “I have this overprotective feeling towards children now because I’ve learned how easy it is for people to take advantage of them. I’m sex repulsed at the moment, but I used to be almost a sex addict when I was younger. I used to do anything for attention from men because I was subconsciously trying to fill the void for a normal father figure in my life.” Not only that, but it was hard for Alyssa to maintain friendships because people did not understand the reasoning behind her behavior. This made her feel very lonely.

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The turning point for Alyssa was when she realized her dreams weren’t really dreams, but in fact scenes from her childhood that her brain released during sleep. This helped her answer a lot of questions about what exactly her father did to her. She said, “Once I figured that out I could come to peace with it and then it made me stronger.” Alyssa also said, “I am now hopeful and having a much more positive outlook on everything which I believe will get me far in life despite my current disorders.” For her anxiety she uses simple breathing techniques and for her depression she reaches out to someone who will help. When she has terrible dreams, she reminds herself the past is the past. She controls her ADHD with medication and to maintain control over her disorders she takes hot baths, meditates, volunteers and does yoga.

Thankfully Alyssa received helped from her mother, she said, “She didn’t always know the right things to say, but she did always showed that she cared by asking if I wanted something to eat or even a hug at times.” The lesson she learned from this ordeal is that you can chose to not let a bad situation define you. Alyssa said, “It changed me for sure, but in the best kind of way. As corny as it sounds I’m a lot more proactive in traumatic situations, I’m emotionally stronger, and most of all I have undying empathy for those who go through any of what I’ve gone through.” This is her advice for others struggling through similar situations:

“Reach out and DO NOT give up. It’s so beyond hard I know, but NOTHING would be the same if you did not exist. I remember one time I was put on hold for 2 hours on a suicide hotline until I finally hung up and that’s going to happen sometimes. When your best friend isn’t going to answer the phone that’s when you have to physically get up and go walk around the world until you find someone and they might not care even then, but reaching out like that makes you realize more than you’d think, it really calms the emotions and sometimes forces you to think logically which is what we all need in a crisis. Anyways just remember you are here for a damn reason and you gotta find that out before you go out.

Pets are very helpful too. I highly suggest for anyone with a disorder to get a pet cause remember they don’t judge or discriminate.”

I am glad Alyssa had been able to move forward and become a great person. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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