Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 16

This is the 16th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Chris is a resilient young lady. She has been through hell and back. This is her story:

Photo from: Chris
Photo from: Chris

Chris/Maeve is from Boston. MA. She enjoys Lord of the Rings, video games and iced coffee. She would like to become and industrial designer or engineer, a career were her art can be part of everyday life. Chris’s identity issues is due to her depression, anxiety and problem with people. Her severe insomnia is caused by her ADD. Chris believes her depression began because of bullying and losing her mother.

Chris received 4 to 5 years of therapy before she received medication for her condition. She takes Clonidine for her anxiety and sleep, and Adderall for her ADD. Her mental illnesses took a toll on her life. Chris started to have panic attacks and not knowing what was happening to her, she got scared provoking more panic attacks. Chris felt exhausted all the time, constantly fighting to get out of her bed. She had continuous headaches and back pain not only that, she could not sleep and when she did, nightmares would take over.

Chris was not able to focus in class, lowering her grades. She almost failed the 7th grade. She also became friends with a girl and their friendship became toxic. Chris began self-harming, was irritable all the time and her eating habit changed drastically. She would eat enough for two days and starve for three. Chris repeated this pattern.

Sadly, Chris used a hoodie string in the 8th grade around her neck, but thankfully no damage was done, she only has a scar. She has written three suicide notes in the past years that she has ripped it up. Since her relationship with her father and sister wasn’t healthy, she allowed her toxic friend to take over her life. Chris said, “I was submissive enough to let my bad friend take over my life. I had no close friends beyond her at one point. Teachers couldn’t get through to me and I couldn’t form close relationships in the last 5 years.”

Chris managed to leave the toxic friendship and started walking home from school to exercise. She convinced her father to let her take medication and found the strength to get better. Chris said, “I found the strength in myself I didn’t know I had. I still struggle but it’s getting better.”

In order to control her mental disorder Chris used different strategies. Whenever she felt like panicking, she would ask herself questions, for example she’d ask herself if there was a reason behind her feelings, can she identify it and was there anything she can do to help herself. These are additional tips she used to help control her mental illness:

“I used a method called a 5-1 senses. You choose a sense (sight, smell etc), and identify/describe a number of things picked up with that sense. For example, identify 5 things you can hear and describe the sounds. 4 things you can smell, 3 things you can taste. That kind of thing. It’s grounding, calming, and helps with disassociation.

The last things I have for recovery are general tips to help with the urges to self-harm.

1) Rub ice cubes on the area you would self-harm on. The feeling bites but doesn’t harm you, which helps.

2) Grab a sharpie and draw on the place you want to self-harm (no, ink poisoning isn’t a thing and as long as it doesn’t get into open wounds it’s ok). This will discourage you from hurting yourself (bc you don’t want ink inside you) and plus you get to draw a picture.

3) Make a playlist of your favorite music, funny videos, and cute dog videos and train yourself to start the playlist when you feel yourself slipping.

4) Load something like a knock off minecraft (lunacraft works as an app) and build. It makes you use your brain and keeps your hands busy, and it’s something to do. Build a world and don’t stop until you feel better.”

Image from:
Image from:

This ordeal has strengthen and taught Chris many lessons. She created a helpful group with her friends, to go to in time of need. Chris also has her therapist to go to. She now avoids toxic people and has learned to help others from self-harming.

I am glad Chris has been able to recover and find meaning in her life. Her tips on how to prevent self-harm are excellent. It is not easy to recover, when it’s all you know, but with help from others and determination anything is possible. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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