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Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 7

This is the 7th story for the Mental Illness Recovery Series. I want to thank Kat for sharing her story with us. Her story is a difficult one, but I believe she is strong and will one day overcome it. This is her story:

Kat is from California and she loves art and printmaking history, graphic design, makeup and clothing. Kat’s future goal is to have built an independent skill set and income, as well as a strong mental foundation. She still suffers from major depressive disorder (MDD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder and dermatillomania, also known as skin-picking disorder.

Image from: www.seattletimes.com
Image from: www.seattletimes.com

Her mental disorders stem from genetic history, verbal and emotional abuse, physical abuse she witnessed in her household, and from being a passenger in two nearly fatal DUIs accidents at the ages of 8 and 9. Kat was diagnosed by a professional only for the MDD and PTSD. Her generalized anxiety disorder was made without a formal diagnosis and she took cognitive behavioral therapy for a limited time.

Kat had to deal with terrible symptoms. She had severe panic attacks three to four times per week. She constantly felt paranoid and insecure. This affected impacted her life tremendously to the point that she frequently used pot in order to attend her classes in college. Kat said, “I am sober now, but I have frequent self-sabotaging and self-disparaging thoughts paired with lack of work ethic and limited motivation.” She also said, “I have an inability for employment outside of an entrepreneurial, self-scheduled environment.”  When her MDD strikes, she sleeps 14+ hours sleep per day.

Kat began to self-harm at the age of 13 and only occurs during extreme cases of anxiety and/or depression. Her dermatillomania still remains active as a source of instant soothing. Her relationships with other has been affected, she disconnected with others who did not know how to empathize and loved ones who insisted that she overcome here symptoms. This made Kat feel terrible because she feared to fulfill the roles her parents assumed she should achieve.

Image from: www.toyotacarlsbad.com
Image from: www.toyotacarlsbad.com

The turning point for Kat to overcome her mental illnesses is that she does not want her present family to see her the way her biological family did. The strategies she uses to cope with her illnesses is using fear as a motivator along with antidepressants and a clear mindset. She said, “I try (and usually fail) to harness anxiety as motivation to improve. I also try to slow my somewhat manic expectations and calm my depressive feelings using benefits of ASMR.” Kat also embraces her sexuality in a positive way and pushes her physical limits.

Kat has learned that there is no substitute for hard work. She does not feel any stronger yet, but she hopes that these experiences will create a well-rounded woman. Kat believes her illness won’t ever fully leave, but she will keep fighting until there are more benefits than stressors. This is her advice for those still struggling:

“The sensitivity we inherit through mental illness is a superpower! It’s different for everyone- think of Superman, who has more limits than anyone! One can easily take him down if they know his vulnerabilities, but he’s worked hard enough so that his strength overpowers even his more obvious weaknesses.”

Image from: www.onsecrethunt.com
Image from: www.onsecrethunt.com

Kat’s recovery has been a difficult one, and she is still battling it today. The part of her story that hit me hard, was when her family insisted that she should get over her symptoms. You can’t “just get over” it. I have personally been told that as well, and that does not help. That actually makes you feel worse. So please, if you are ever dealing with anyone that is suffering from any mental illness, no matter how small you may think it is, don’t ever tell the to “just get over it”. Instead ask them how you can help. What are your thoughts on her story? Any advice for her and others struggling with similar situations? Comment on the bottom of the page.

P.S. Would you like to share your recovery story? If so email me at mlgaston1@gmail.com

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Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 6

The Inevitable Future