Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 44

This is the 44th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Charlie’s life was full of misery and pain, he believed he would not live past 18, but thankfully upon realizing the life he was living was not worth it, he turned his life around. This is his story:

Photo from: Charlie
Photo from: Charlie

Charlie is from Sacramento, CA and he is an artist and poet. His current goal is to recover a much as he possibly can. He said, “I hope in 5 years to be married to my beautiful, wonderful girlfriend.” Charlie has been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety NOS, and depersonalization (DP) / derealization disorder (DR). His mental disorders have been caused by past traumas. Charlie said, “My BPD + PTSD was caused by trauma from rape and repeated sexual assault. DP and DR disorder was caused by drug use as well as trauma which occurred during the drug use.” He witnessed his brother get gunned down, jumped, and robbed by 5 other men. Not only that, but his house was robbed and he saw his brother OD.

The treatment Charlie received included cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), four months of rehab and three months in a psychiatric treatment center. The symptoms he dealt with were debilitating, he said, “The symptoms I felt; from BPD was black and white thinking, internal and external rage, constant and ongoing emptiness, severe depression, mood swings, severe self-injury, stormy, short relationships, and drug use with heroin and cocaine as my drugs of choice.” His PTSD gave him flash backs and the anxiety made him scared to go out in public. Charlie’s DP and DR disorder consistently made him feel like he was out of his body. He said, “Feeling as if I am the only person who is real in the world, my own voice not sounding like mine, being unable to feel sensations (touch, sound, taste, etc), in a dream-like state, it feels like literal hell.”

This affected his daily life because he could not function. It was difficult for him to work every day. Charlie ended up skipping school and failing all his classes. He said, “I found myself lying in bed for days on end doing nothing but drugs, drinking, and self-injuring myself.” Charlie hated himself and everything around him. He felt that there was no hope and that he would be dead very soon. At the age of 18 years old he attempted suicide twice, the first time at 15 he tried overdosing on various pills and alcohol. Charlie said, “I started self-harming at the age of 11, habitually and rituality continued for 7 years.” His relationships with others was extremely difficult. His romantic relationships lasted a max of 2 months, his friendships withered away quickly and his family did not know how to handle him.

Image from:
Image from:

This made him feel alone, abandoned, hopeless, empty, desperate, and overall angry towards himself. Charlie said, “I thought I was useless, that my existence on this earth did nothing but upset everything and everyone around me. I felt like a hurricane.” The turning point for Charlie was at the age of 18 when he hit rock bottom. At this time he was a heavy drug user and self-harmed everyday, destroying his body. After his Charlie and his brother survived an overdose on heroin and cocaine, he realized the life he was living was not worth it. He said, “After the overdose, I took a very good look at my life and did everything I could in my power to pick myself back up and start a new life for myself. I am still in the process of regaining everything I had lost through years and years of misery and mistakes.” He realized he had to help himself first, before others can.

The lesson he learned from this ordeal was to love himself. Charlie said, “You really, really have to try. It’s the most difficult thing I have ever done, but it will be worth it in the end.” He sees the world very differently now. He said, “Reality hit me and there is no way I could un-see it. I’ve seen so much pain, misery, violence, and hurt to ever see the world through rose collared glasses.” Charlie does not know what he can do to prevent himself from falling again, but he wishes he never picked up drugs at the age of 14.

This is his advice for others struggling with similar situations:

“Please don’t ever give up. No matter how hard it may be, no matter how empty, terrible or destructive you may feel, please remember that you have so much more to offer to this world than you may think. Every day is a treacherous battle, and you must win. You must.”

I am glad Charlie has been able to put his life back on track, even though it was not easy for him. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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