Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 48

This is the 48th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Anonymous is still struggling with her mental disorders, but with the help of her mother and husband she has been able to come a long way. This is her story:

Anonymous is from Minnesota and she enjoys artistic hobbies such as drawing, painting, sewing, embroidery, jewelry making, and knitting. She also loves reading most books, especially science fiction of the snarky British variety. Anonymous is a typical crazy cat lady and absolutely adores her two fur babies. She is fond of watching TV shows such as Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Warehouse 13. She is fascinated by things that are conventionally considered a little creepy or macabre and her favorite books are Dracula and Frankenstein. Anonymous is aiming to become successful, she said, “I hope to have my first home with my husband within the next year or so. I am also hoping to be back in school and studying to become a forensic pathology assistant.” She would love to have enough money to cover her bills with a little left over.

Anonymous was recently diagnosed by her therapist with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), trichotillomania, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), although she suspects she has had these mental disorders for most of her life. At the current moment she is receiving therapy and establishing coping techniques. It is hard for anonymous to pinpoint what caused her disorders, she said, “I am genetically predisposed towards anxiety and depression. I have multiple family members to have attempted / considered suicide. I have also been through significant traumas in my life which include deaths of loved ones and witnessing / being party to the suicide attempts of close friends and relatives. I also grew up in a verbally abusive household and my father was an alcoholic.”

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Anonymous has dealt with various symptoms. Her GAD makes her shaky and sweaty, with an increased heartbeat. She becomes confused and is unable to verbally articulate sentences. Her trichotillomania provokes anonymous to pull hairs from her pubic area with tweezers often causing scars or scabs. She said, “I do this to help myself relax and deal with my emotions from the day. I am also highly perfectionistic, so I literally worry about making the area look “perfect.” I obsess over pulling out any irregular looking hairs or smoothing out any bumps/ blemishes.” Her PTSD has affected her sleep, constantly giving her nightmares. She has become sensitive to noise and is startled very easily. Anonymous said, “If I am not paying attention and someone gets physically close to me without me noticing I tend to become very startled and can lash out. I am very suspicious of people when I am in public. I always want to know where people are and what they are doing. Everyone is a possible threat to me.” Because of this anonymous can be dissociated and extremely fatigued.

This has affected her daily life, she said, “I am often tired and struggle to deal with the stress and demands of daily life. Because of this I can tend to over caffeinate, which in turn can induce greater anxiety. I often have feelings of shame and worthlessness. I often think that my efforts are not “good enough” or sufficient and tend to be very hard on myself.” Not only that, but during her teen years anonymous became suicidal, thankfully she never devised a plan, but she did day dream a lot about it. She did not self-harm, but she did have some destructive tendencies such as, depriving herself of a meal or the warmth that her body needed. Since then she has been able to let go of those tendencies and is no longer suicidal.

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Her relationships with others became affected, she said, “I was very cold and numb to everyone.” Thankfully she is close to her mother and husband. They both have been supportive to her by providing love and affection. The turning point for anonymous was realizing she wasn’t alone with her struggles. She said, “Finding similarities with other people has been a huge deal, through art, through faith, through fandoms, I have founds some of the “others” like myself.”  Not only that, but her therapist has also been a great helper.

The strategies she uses to maintain control is work on her mental disorders and learn coping techniques. Anonymous said, “I am growing as a human every day. I am learning to better cope through these issues by learning better self-care, grounding techniques, and coping skills. Quiet time with my husband or fur babies is also a huge coping mechanism for me.” She also receives help along the way and allows herself to take a break. The lesson she learned from this ordeal is that she needs to be kind to herself, she said, “Others, no matter how good their intentions, will let me down. I have to get better for myself and not for anyone else.” This experience has changed her outlook in life, she said, “Sometimes I feel my life has been shaped by the traumas I have experienced. Each time I have experienced something traumatic it has sent shockwaves through my life, changing me. I am content with my changes. I have evolved, adapted, grown in strength. By learning what an earthquake can destroy I have learnt to build stronger foundations.”

This is her suggestions for others struggling through similar situations:

“Be kind to yourself, body and mind. They are truly the only possessions you have in this world and they will carry you through it. They will break and they will scar, but feel the strength of your heart hammering inside your chest and know that it hasn’t failed you yet.”

It makes me happy anonymous has been able to come a long way. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

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