Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 19

This is an anonymous story number 19 of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. She has had a difficult life, full of abuse and instability, but she has been able turn it around with hard work. This is her story:

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Anonymous is from Atlanta, GA and she loves to play the piano and guitar. She aspires to become a veterinary technician. She has been diagnosed by a mental health professional with borderline personality disorder (BPD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). All of her mental illnesses has been caused by an unstable and abusive household.

She has been to treatment and has received dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Anonymous has dealt with debilitating symptoms such as, self-harming, panic attacks and loss of interests in activities. Sadly she has self-harmed and was actively suicidal. Even her eating habits have changed drastically, she has binged and starved herself. She avoids certain places in order to not trigger flashbacks. She constantly has intrusive memories that makes her feel uneasy.

This has completely affected her daily life. Anonymous was not able to function at all. She slept a lot in order to avoid bad thoughts. She said, “I thought I was a failure for dropping out of school twice. I also believed I was fat and ugly. I thought I didn’t deserve anyone to love me. That I was damaged goods. I also was very afraid of men and would imagine them hurting me as I’d pass by someone on the street.”

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This affected her relationship with others. Anonymous lost all of her friends. No one wanted to be around her, making her feel hopeless. This is how she felt, “I felt done with the world. I felt so horrible, as if my whole life was falling in around me. I kept telling myself I peaked in high school and the rest of my life will be a waste. I felt scared most of the time of what I would do to myself when things went wrong.”

Anonymous was forced into treatment, and that didn’t help her much. But thankfully her turning point was on September 21st, 2014. That is when she realized she needed more help, so she admitted herself into a psychiatric hospital after telling her parents she needed to go back for treatment. She was put in an intensive unit for four months. She was taught how to be confident and accept what has happened to her. She now transforms her struggles into poetry as an outlet. Anonymous is still copping with her PTSD, but thankfully she has been able to control the other mental illnesses.

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Even though she has progressed a lot in her recovery, she still has a difficult time with intrusive thinking. Anonymous said, “Sometimes I’ll get random painful thoughts such as, “You shouldn’t eat today.” Or “You’re the only reason your parents stayed together. You ruined their lives.” So that sucks. I continue to see a therapist once a week to do trauma cognitive behavioral therapy. Its hard work. It’s kind of like a Band-Aid every week. You have to keep ripping it off until it doesn’t stick as much to you. I have to keep telling my story in order for it not to harm me anymore.”

The strategies she used to beat her illnesses is to stick with DBT and CBT therapy. She surrounded herself with helpful people. Anonymous had great resident advisors that taught her a lot. She learned that people can love her without wanting anything in return and that she is worthy of love and connection. After realizing she can do anything she sets her mind to, anonymous took baby steps and has now been able to become independent.

This experience has changed her outlook in life, she said:

“It taught me that there are horrible people in this world who will only hurt you and discriminate against you; but there are also so many wonderful people who just want to love you. I used to look at life and see all of the bad people and was so afraid and angry and now I see all the people who have helped me and they outnumber the people who have hurt me.”

This is her advice for others struggling with similar situations:

“Get help immediately. Don’t wait for it to get worse and your whole life crashes around you. I waited too late in the game and it really hurt me in the long run. If you feel depressed or if something traumatic has happened to you, go to therapy and soon.”

Anonymous is strong for accepting help and surrounding herself with others who love her. It was not easy, but with determination she has been able to control her illnesses. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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