Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 42

This is the 42nd story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Anonymous battle to recovery hasn’t finished, but thankfully she has surrounded herself with helpful people. This is her story:

Anonymous is from a small conservative town east of LA in California. Reading has always been a pleasure of hers. She is fond of The Bell Jar and Lolita. Anonymous listens to pretty much any type of music. Most of her favorite movies are cult classics. About three years ago she took up wing and blues dancing. For the majority of her life she has planned on attending veterinary school, however lately she has been reconsidering.

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Anonymous was diagnosed on April of 2014 with depression after being hospitalized for psychiatric reasons. She has been in and out of outpatient therapy since early 2013. She had to deal with horrible symptoms, anonymous said, “My depression mainly manifests as a lack of energy and motivation. When it worsens, it affects my concentration, focus, and causes me to isolate.” This has affected her daily life in various ways. She said, “It makes it difficult for me to maintain responsibilities such as school or work. I often stay in bed, sleep for ten or more hours, and skip meals. I am victim to most cognitive distortions, most notably perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, future-tripping, and constantly comparing myself to others.”

She has been suicidal since she was 14 years old and attempted it on September of 2014 by overdose. Thankfully she has never struggled with self-harm. Not only that, but this has affected her relationships with others because anonymous feels ashamed socializing for isolating herself. This makes her feel utterly trapped. She said, “My depression has interfered with my college coursework three times in the past two years and I have virtually no idea when or how I am going to graduate. In addition, I do not foresee myself ever fully recovering from my illness, which gives me a bleak outlook on the rest of my life.”

The turning point for anonymous to help control her mental disorder was to use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), journaling, mindfulness and keeping track of her mood. She said, “I theoretically know exactly how to be mentally healthy, but it can be very difficult to implement the techniques.” Anonymous has surrounded herself with supportive people, her psychiatrist, mother, boyfriend and good friends.

The lesson she has learned from this ordeal is that she spends too much time thinking about the past and the future. Her outlook in life has changed, anonymous said, “When I was younger I assumed that as long as I did everything I was told to, graduate from college and get good grades, go to vet school, get a satisfying job, that life would be fine. Now I am much less focused on completing the young adult checklist.”

This is her advice for others struggling with similar situations:

“I’d just like to say that it’s okay to still be struggling. Other people may experience some of the things you do but everyone’s struggle is different, and no one can know yours except you. Whether it takes five months or five years, I remind myself every day that it is worth it to keep trying.”

Anonymous would also like to share:

“There are so many things I want to share about mental illness, but for brevity I will just mention two:

1) Love, protect, and do not ever judge survivors of suicide attempts. When the brain goes to that dark place it isn’t functioning in a way you can predict. My mom is fully committed to helping and supporting me, but even she sometimes uses language that makes me uncomfortable, whether we’re discussing me or others who struggle similarly.

2) Educate yourself and others about bipolar disorder. I love how much awareness is spreading about major depression, but I find that bipolar disorder is still grossly misunderstood, and those who suffer from it are among the most likely to commit suicide.

With her positive attitude, slowly but surely she will feel better. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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