Most people assume that means someone is unstable, crazy, sick, psycho, disturbed, mental, disturbed, insane, nuts….. the list can continue for days.
Statistics regarding how prevalent mental illnesses among those in the United States are:
I personally believe the numbers are higher but many still lack the self disclosure due to the negative stigmas still associated with identifying with a mental illness.
20 years. More than 20 years I have been struggling with various mental illnesses. At times I still feel shame stating that. I hate coming to terms with the fact that there are some things that I will deal with, probably until I die. It took about seven years for me to get formally diagnosed with clinical Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) aka depression. I remember feelings of severe worthlessness, loneliness, suicidality, sadness, and just plain emptiness by the age of 8. Age 11 was when I first wanted it to be over. Done. Finished. I found a release for my pain at age 14/15 when I started self-injuring (cutting). That was the same age I was finally diagnosed. Things started to make sense.
Depression is one of the things that I may struggle with for the rest of my life. I am classified in the clinical aspect, meaning it is not situational, it is the way my brain is wired. I have tried going off medication before to have horrific events occur.
Last November, I decided to give my body a break from birth control/artificial hormones. December I started going into severe lows for 4-6 days. I hadn’t had that in a long time. Starting in January I started going bed bound for a couple days with it. I was at a complete loss as my depression hadn’t hit that low in a few years. In June I had gone to my doctor, I had realized that there was correlation between my severe lows and hormone levels. Considering I will soon be a clinician, I knew it meant….. PMDD aka Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Leave it to me to still get severe symptoms like that WHILE on antidepressants 😐
Fortunately, I am able to state that I am in full remission with polysubstance dependence and bulimia nervosa which means they technically don’t have to be on my diagnosis anymore. PTSD usually still climbs onto my list as my symptoms still technically qualify me there but I manage.
So, even though I have been able to eliminate some diagnosis from my label…. it doesn’t mean I still cannot have my struggles.
The thing about me, I hate admitting my struggles. I have come so far that I want to be fixed damnit. I should be able to say that there no more problems ever! Even when I was sick, I severely struggled asking for help or assistance in any form or fashion. Every clinician asked me to come up with people to reach out to when I struggled. Every time, I would list off people. Every time I had a battle going on, I couldn’t call someone.
It took me years to identify why I couldn’t call on people to help me when I needed it. I always was there for others when they needed help. They offered me their help, why wouldn’t I take it? The answer became simple. I am unworthy. Every time my excuse would be, “I don’t want to bother them, they have to deal with their own things in life.” Now, my AA friends it was easier for me to reach out to them when I struggled with the desire on using. But when it came time for when I was literally dying from my eating disorder and I attempted to get help from my sponsor, “who are you trying to get attention from?”
Now as a mother, mental health worker, and counseling student I don’t have the time to lose my shit. So when I have my days where I am struggling, I don’t know who to call. I have a best friend who has been nothing but supportive for me. She doesn’t understand one ounce of my issues and that is okay! But she is there for me. I still feel like I overwhelm her and I feel utterly guilty for that as I know how much my past and life shit can be for someone. It’s hard for a “normal” person to hear, “hi, I am having a rough day… I really want to eat as much food as possible then go vomit until I taste acid because I know it will make me feel better for the 20 minutes.”
I know how overwhelming I can be. So because of that, I choose to stay silent. So when people ask how I am doing, if I am okay, what’s been going on, if work is going well, etc…. I smile and say it’s fine. It is much easier than trying to scare someone by stating, “I’ve hit my limit for right now. I need someone. I don’t know what I need, but I need it.” I physically cannot express my needs 99% of the time because I blatantly don’t know how. Whenever I have expressed my needs in the past, they have followed with a “no”.
Getting raped. Saying no. It happening anyways.
So many things stem from this it’s quite comical.
Several severe injuries. Expressing physical pain. Told to play sports anyways.
My first form of understanding that my voice doesn’t matter.
So, I sit here today as a clinician and tell my clients to reach out to others to prevent themselves from acting out on negative coping skills. Yet I cannot reach out to others. I cannot tell someone when I am struggling. I cannot tell someone when I need help. I cannot tell someone that I need a hug. I cannot tell someone that I am not okay. As I type this, my brain automatically goes to negatives as that is how it was originally trained. “You’re worthless to not even be able to do it yourself, yet you expect others to listen to you?”
This is why I state that some mental illnesses I may struggle with for a long time. I have to consistently remind myself that, I am enough.