This is the 59th Story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Allison has had difficulty maintaining a calm mind, but by being open with those helping her, she has been able to gain control. This is her story:
Allison is from New York and she played goalie in lacrosse. She loves alternative music, her favorite bands are Twenty One Pilots, Vampire Weekend, La Dispute, and Neutral Milk Hotel. Allison is addicted to coffee and chocolate and on the weekend she enjoys going to New York City and visiting thrift shops to combat her agoraphobia. She sees herself successful, Allison said, “My academic goal is to attend college. Professionally, I aim to become a psychiatrist and help people like me. In five years, hopefully I’d have graduated from college and moved on to medical school.”
Allison has been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and Schizophrenia. In addition, she suffers from severe anxiety, asocial tendencies and self-harming. When she is stressed her mental disorders get worse, but she doesn’t know the causes of it. Allison is on several medications to not only to control her schizophrenia, but control the horrid side effects from the antipsychotics. She is still in therapy on a weekly basis, and has been hospitalized eight times in the past four years.
She had to deal with terrible symptoms, Allison said, “Hearing voices (three of them, who I call the Sirens, like in ancient mythology), paranoia, bouts of dissociation, agitation, anxiety, loss of hope, and disorganized thinking, etc.” Her life was affected because of this, Allison could not complete daily tasks and she would hurt her friends and family. Allison had passive suicide ideations, she had picked out a method and typed a suicide note. She has self-harmed and till this day she tills fantasizes about it. Her relationships with other became affected. She said, “My friends started to stay away from me because I was sad, angry and frustrated. My family tried their best to help me in any way possible, but their efforts were no use. I ruined every positive relationship I had when I was at my worst.”
Allison felt like a cornered animal, she said, “The Sirens were telling me that “they are coming for you” and that “they will take you away.” I honest to god thought I was going to be committed and I would never lead a normal life. And in a way, I didn’t want to live my life the way it was being lived – in fear, in hopelessness, in isolation.” The turning point for Allison was to work with a new therapist. She said, “I, unfortunately, will never overcome my schizophrenia. But I started working with a new therapist who has literally saved my life, I started rebuilding all my decimated relationships, and the thing that keeps me going is that I am finally graduating high school, and I will never have to go to the god-awful school ever again.”
Allison uses the skills she learned in DBT therapy while she was hospitalized to gain control. She has also learned to be more open and honest with those who help her, although this is difficult due to her extreme paranoia. Her family helped standing by her side, and her friends were understanding once she started socializing again. Both her therapist and psychiatrist are working together to ensure Allison does not have to be hospitalized again.
She prevents herself from self-harming by getting rid of her stash of tools. She said, “But there is no way I can 100 percent prevent myself from falling into psychosis and dissociation and whatever else again. I’m bound to fall again, but next time, I know I’ll have a support system in place.” This is her advice for those struggling in similar situations:
“So, here’s the thing – everyone on this planet who says, “It gets better!” is a f**king liar. It doesn’t get better, but you do. You learn how to be better, by using new skills and having a safety net in place. And although your disorder doesn’t get better (mine will be with me for the rest of my life), you get better at handling everything. So keep your head up, because you will learn to get better.”
Allison will have to live with her mental disorder for the rest of her life, but thankfully she has a support system in order and has surrounded herself with people who care about her well-being. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know are struggling with mental Illness feel free to join the Mental Illness Recovery Series Facebook Group, to find support.