Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 76

This is the 76th story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Molly’s mental illnesses affected her life and relationships immensely, but with after realizing she needed to change, she took the first steps toward her recovery. This is her story:

Molly is from Australia and is into opera and theatre, cabaret, and fantasy books. She is also a writer, and is learning Welsh. She belly dances, and is part of a youth theatre company. Her future goal is to have a degree in computer science, and have a career that involves computer work that allows her to travel. Molly was diagnosed with major depression when she was 14, and has generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). She said, “Looking back, I can tell I was experiencing symptoms frequently enough to be called depression when I was 11.”  At first Molly told her mother about her suspicions of mental illness, so she was taken to the GP and received a referral to see a psychologist/therapist. She said, “We started Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT worked for quite a while, I got the all clear, but I relapsed about a year later and ended up being medicated. Still on the anti-anxiety meds, and using CBT to cope with my depression.”

Molly felt all kinds of different symptoms, she said, “The depression was extreme periods of glumness, unwillingness to do things, distancing myself from my day-to- day life and interactions. I would lose interest in things, then in getting up to binge-eat then starve.” Not only that, but Molly became really antisocial (not asocial) and amoral. She couldn’t complete simple tasks and felt that she was right, that her experiences did not hurt her or anyone else around her. She also experienced symptoms from her anxiety disorder. Molly said, “I felt lightheadedness, inability to answer questions or ask them in class, inability to use public bathrooms or eat in public/around others, panic attacks without definitive triggers, freaking out about being apart from my mum or my dog. Freaking out if I was with them, too, and constantly fearing I would hurt someone I love. I would panic about clothes and cancel outings just because I was so anxious about being seen in an outfit and having people know I chose it for myself.”

She also felt irrational rage and needed to lash out. Molly said, “I got really aggressive and curt with people. I would yell, cuss, and be incredibly impatient. I thought I was justified in how I treated others.” Because of this she lost some friends and nearly left some of her extracurricular activities, and started failing her classes. She said, “When my depression relapsed, I missed a month of school and a full set of assignments, lowering my grade considerably since I missed half the exam content.”

It got bad to the point that Molly considered suicided several times. She did try to end her life once, but stopped due to a panic attack that was triggered by the fear that her body would be overlooked once she passes away, and thankfully she couldn’t pierce her skin because she could not find a sharp knife. Molly also, self-harmed. She said, “I also unconsciously would scratch myself when my anxiety was really bad. I would just start scratching my arms, legs, etc. when I was really upset. I still have a few little scars hanging around from digging out chunks. I never noticed until after my anxiety cooled and I could feel the motion. It wasn’t intentional, and I managed to start checking it and stopping, once I realized how bad a habit it was getting.”

Molly’s relationships became affected because it took her two years to let her friends know, “Hey, I’m depressed, I have crippling anxiety, just so you know.” A lot of people really struggled to understand her behavior before she mentioned anything. Once Molly opened up to others, most people came back and her friendships grew solid again. She said, “The hardest part about talking to people about my mental health was establishing that I, personally, don’t mind what others talk about around me, and if it bugs my anxiety/depression I’ll move off – trying to get them not to sensor themselves around me was a bit tricky.” Molly also said, “My family were fine. My sister didn’t really understand it, but she accepted it and all that comes with it. My mum was fantastic – she’s been depressed before too. She was coming out of eighteen years of it, so she was really helpful.” Before she opened up, she couldn’t understand why other people weren’t trying to help her. She said, “I couldn’t understand that they didn’t know I needed and wanted help. My behaviors damaged a lot of my relationships, but once I was out with it, it was so much better.”

The turning point for Molly was two years after being diagnosed. During CBT she realized that she couldn’t have a better life, relationships and everything if she didn’t want to be better. She said, “I came to understand I need to work for it – seeing a therapist weekly or bi-monthly or however frequently, was not an instant miracle cure was. I had to put work into it, and run some hard yards before I could get better. This understanding made it so much easier.” The strategies she used to help maintain control of her mental illnesses was using self-help resources, she also looked online for other people’s experiences, started yoga and going to the gym. But most of all, her mother helped her the most. She said, “Mum was a champ and made sure I was okay, let me take mental health days when I needed them, took me to my therapy, shared her experiences with me, and joined the gym with me.”

The lesson that she learned from this ordeal was that she needed to want to help herself to be able to do so, and that she shouldn’t be ashamed of her mental health. This experienced has changed Molly, she said, “I am much kinder and more relaxed now. I am less judgmental, and more open to sharing and honesty then I was before. I’m far less proud, envious, and cruel. I find much more pleasure in the simple things in life these days.”

This is her advice for others struggling with similar situations:

“Never be scared to reach out for help. Never be ashamed of needing help, or having a condition. Don’t let your pride get in the way of seeking help. Sometimes there will be people in your life that you cannot avoid, or separate from, and they will not be good for your mental health – don’t endure in silence. Tell them what causes you trouble and ask that they avoid those behaviors, opinions, etc. around you. If they don’t, then it’s time to take the extra step and force a separation. Sadly, that will happen. You cannot change if you do not want to change. The same goes for others.”

She would also like to share this:

“Hope this has helped some people understand themselves, or the people around them with mental health illnesses. Remember to put your health before anything else. Remember that you might feel content and safe in the bubble your mental health has created for you, but just because you feel that way, doesn’t mean that you are actually well.”

Molly is a strong young lady, who has endured so much. Thankfully she has come a long way, and I am sure she will go further in life. Help me make a difference by sharing your story. If you or anyone you know needs a safe place to vent out and recieve advice feel free to become a member of the Mental Illness Recovery Series Group on Facebook.

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