Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 86

Madeline is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and is pursuing a BFA in acting at Wright State University. She enjoys acting, drawing, painting, and crafting. She also loves music, she said, “My taste is all across the board but I especially love listening to pop-punk/alternative and indie music.” Madeline watches a lot of TV/movies because she doesn’t have any friends in Tennessee. She said, “When I’m home, I’m all alone, so I often go to the movie theatre by myself to see films.  I don’t read as much as I wish I do, I have Attention deficit disorder (ADD) and so it’s very hard for me to concentrate and my mind wonders frequently, but I love stories which is why I watch as many films as I do.”

Five years from now Madeline sees herself as happy, she said, “Cliché I know, but plain and simple I would really like to have some balance in my life, wake up happy, and not spend all my time sleeping to get away.” She’d also like to be emotionally stable enough to find herself in a relationship.

She was diagnosed with ADD, Bi-polar depression, general anxiety, with a history of binge eating disorder and self-harm/suicidal thoughts/tendencies. She said, “I’ve had severe body image issues that resulted in a sort of body dysmorphia type condition. She also suffered from insomnia and abused alcohol for some time. 18 years passed till she told anyone about her mental state. She became fearful that she wouldn’t make it to her 18th birthday. She said:

“After a huge argument with my mother where she angrily asked if I had any plan to do anything with my life, I broke down and very slowly and hesitantly asked her for help and told her what had been going on for basically my whole life to some degree. She got me in to see my general doctor, but when what she had to offer me didn’t work I saw a psychiatrist and a therapist.”

Not only that, but she stopped seeing them because they weren’t the right fit. She also said, “I had so many side effects from the medications I actually went crazy. It gave me terrible insomnia, I didn’t eat, I began to hallucinate and sometimes I would even speak in Spanish instead of English.” It was a miracle Madeline passed with A’s during her senior year.

In college she flushed all her meds down the toilet because they still weren’t working. Medeline went half the year alone again when things got bad. She said, “I had a depressive episode nearly every night. I went back to cutting and for the first time even slit my wrists and I knew there was something terribly wrong. I starved myself for a short period and lost about 15 lbs and I felt sick and tired and trapped constantly.” Madeline decided to see the college therapist when she asked, “Why are you even here? What are you hoping to get out of it?” So she didn’t go back and went home for the summer. Her mother asked her to see a doctor she found who has helped her a bit.

Madeline has dealt with debilitating symptoms. She said:

“I was always sad. But not sad like when you see a puppy get run over by a car, the kind of sad that sticks to you and won’t go away, the kind where it takes away all your good thoughts and makes you think that you’re better off dead simply so you won’t have to feel this way anymore. When I was 15 I began to feel nothing. Completely and utterly nothing which is why I began to cut, so I could feel something.”

Not only that, but she felt angry all the time. She would cry herself to sleep every night and take breaks at school to cry in the bathroom before rehearsals for theatre, or orchestra, or sometimes in the middle of class too. Madeline body image issues spiraled out of control. She said, “I actually locked myself inside and refused to leave the house because the thought of anyone seeing me made me want to die. I didn’t even want to see me. So for about a month I covered all my mirrors. I didn’t even look at them when I brushed my hair or teeth. I couldn’t or else I would break down and cry on the floor and hurt myself.”

Her life was hell, Madeline would think the knife her mom was using to cook can be used to kill herself. She would also stare at prescription bottles and think “I could just swallow them all right now”. Even doing laundry she would see the bleach and think “I could drink it…I could” But thankfully every time these thoughts would happen she would think “What are you doing? No, No, No you can’t”.

This affected her relationships with others because Madeline wouldn’t go out with people. Simply because she didn’t want to see anyone. It made it very hard to make friends and she has never been with a guy romantically. She said, “It’s mainly because of how I look and I always worry that they’ll hurt me or get hurt, and I hate this because I crave attention and a relationship so much, but I can’t even get myself to be alone with a boy and feel safe.” This is why Madeline talks online to people far away because it gives her safety net knowing and time to lose weight, love herself, and fix herself.

The turning point for Madeline was the argument with her mother and the realization that she couldn’t do it alone. The strategies she used to beat it was being her own therapist. She said, “I learned to separate what thoughts were results of my illness and then be able to counter back with something logical. One of the best ones I had was when I felt like killing myself and realized “No, I don’t. I want to kill what is making me feel this way. I want to kill my mental illness. I want to kill that so I can be happy. That’s what I want. I want to metaphorically kill myself, not actually end my life.” Not only that, but Madeline reached out for help. Her family helped by understanding, talking to her when she was down and doctors.

This is the lesson she learned from this ordeal:

“I think I’m learning and growing still despite almost being 20, but I think that all of this will result in something good…And I learn a lot about myself and how I see things has changed a lot over the years.”

Even her outlook has changed. Madeline is more understanding and caring. She also has decided not to push people away, because people don’t have to be bad to do a bad thing. She said, “There is theory where I believe that hardship builds better people, understanding people, caring people, strong people, and these people will go on to teach their children how to be the same…The world will be much fuller of these kinds of individuals when our generation starts having children and it can only grow from there too.”

This is her advice for those passing through similar situations:

“GET HELP. I know people say this all the time, but take it from someone who waited 18 years to even tell someone they had a problem…get help. Tell a friend, family member, counselor, teacher, SOMEONE. It is the hardest thing to do in that moment, but it is only a moment and you will be so thankful…but remember if you aren’t ready to, it’s okay… Help can be a whole other journey and struggle on its own and you really have to be willing to go through hell to get better.”

Madeline would like to also share this:

“No good book ever started with a happy beginning, and you are the protagonist of your own story. But, you are also the writer, and the day you find the courage to pick up the pen and accept that responsibility is the day you start to write a happy ending.
Nobody knows what they want to do with their life most of the time, if we did, it wouldn’t be such a fucking popular worry we have. It’s okay. Life is happening for you, not to you, have faith in something that you are exactly where you need to be in preparation for where you will go.”

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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