Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 82

This is the 82nd story of the “Mental Illness Recovery Series”. Felix did not want to live anymore, and relied on self-harm as a coping mechanism, but after receiving treatment he was able to move forward. This is his story:

Felix is from Massachusetts and likes to knit and also write poetry and fanfiction. His goal is to study literature and psychology in college. He is autistic, has depression and an eating problem. He said, “I am over the worst of my depression, and in the process of recovering from self-harm. I still have my food problems though.” Felix was diagnosed with depression, he said, “My therapist thought I had depression for a while, but he’s a social worker so the diagnosis wasn’t official until I ended up in a partial hospitalization program after attempting suicide and getting kicked out of Camp Aranu’tiq for writing concerning poetry.” He also received group therapy, where he learned coping skills and how to think more positively. Felix was prescribed Zoloft.

He had to struggle with numerous symptoms. Felix was constantly tired and irritable. He hated himself and thought that he was annoying everyone around. He said, “Life didn’t seem worthwhile. I had trouble concentrating, and procrastinated often, which made me hate myself more, and so I spiraled.” Not only that, but he became more dysphoric (trans boy), and so he began to skip meals because he wanted to lose his curves to look less feminine. He said, “I was convinced this would cure my depression, because not eating made me more energetic when I was suffering from low energy. It didn’t work, making me more irritable and I felt like a freak because I couldn’t even eat like a normal person.”

Felix life became affected. He was having trouble concentrating and so his grades began to slowly go down to C. He also started becoming more tired and stressed due to the lack of eating. He said, “I also was just negative the majority of the time, and so I missed out on a lot of opportunities I would have liked because I felt too tired or depressed to partake in them.” Felix began self-harming by scratching which that led to cutting with scissors. Felix tried to kill himself using mouthwash on June 8th, after considering it on and off for about four months.

He had a difficult time with his relationships. He said, “I would confide in my friends about the self-harming and meal skipping, and they would try to get me to stop. And I would, for a while, but then I’d be back at it again and I felt like I was disappointing them.” The relationship with his parents also suffered because of his irritability. Which led them to yell at each other a lot. Because of this Felix felt angry and desperate, he thought there was no way out of his cycle of self-hatred.

The turning point was after he got kicked out of camp for writing unsafe poetry. His parents got him a psychological evaluation at Newton Wellesley Hospital and I got sent to Westwood Lodge’s partial hospitalization program, where he learned how to properly deal with depression. The strategies he used maintain control using the technique he learned called “reframe my thinking”. This worked by stopping himself in the middle of beating himself up or romanticizing self-­harm by changing the thought into a more positive one. He said, “If I start thinking that I’m selfish for having tried to kill myself, I reframe my thinking by telling myself that suicidal thoughts were just a struggle I had and it didn’t make me a bad person, and I am not selfish now because I know that hurting myself hurts others and I have a support system.”

His friends helped him by just being there for Felix when he needed someone to listen, or simply being a friend and hanging out with him. His parents helped by putting him into treatment and being more empathetic at home. The lesson Felix learned from this ordeal is people do care and situations, like getting kicked out of camp, can turn into experiences for growth. He said, “I also learned that the negative thought patterns that I thought were unchangeable aspects of my personality weren’t, and they were just symptoms of depression.” Not only that, but his outlook in life has changed, Felix said, “My depression made my outlook on life a whole lot darker, but it also helped me because before I suffered from depression and self-­harm, I would judge people for self­harming because I thought it was for attention, and I can’t do that anymore because I know it isn’t for attention. It was a coping mechanism. A bad one, sure, but it was one. I will prevent myself from going back by taking my medication and using my new coping skills, as well as telling someone if I start to get bad again. I will also continue to avoid self-­harming and try to eat regular meals.”

This is Felix advice to help those struggling with mental disorders:

“Being found out or forced into treatment is not the end of the world. It sucks and feels unfair, but going along with it will usually be more beneficial in the long run. And, trust me, there is a long run. Killing yourself always leaves someone behind, and if you live, the people around you will not trust you anymore. Depression sucks, but with medication and/or therapy, it doesn’t have to ruin your entire life.

Try not to judge people who relapse into self-­harm two or three or four times before quitting. I was one of those people, and I always felt guilty afterwards, which led me to want to do it to get rid of the guilt, and so on. It’s hard enough without other people’s judgement.”

Felix is strong for accepting the wrong, and changing it into a positive situation. 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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