I was an Executive Chef with a special passion for cooking and creating new dishes. I spent ten years of my life doing that. Towards the end it was just becoming so boring and uninspiring. I was feeling supported by the owners and the other managers involved (who are all related). One Thursday in July I just couldn’t do it anymore. For the last six or so months before that day I could feel it coming on. I felt so sorry for myself and for everyone else because I did not want to let anyone down. But I just couldn’t do it anymore.
A Northwestern Journalism Masters student interviewed me and wrote about my story.
I started drinking when I was a junior in high school. A couple of buddies and me got a bottle of fruity vodka and drank it. It gave me this warm effect and it felt good. I drank whenever I could over the last two years of high school. At the time I had not been diagnosed, but drinking was probably my way of dealing with my obsessive compulsive disorder.
I am a mom. I’ve wanted to be one since I was a very small girl, someone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was always something like this: “I’m going to be a mommy, and then maybe a lawyer or something.” Cute, at 4 years old…
There are lots of things that the parenting and pregnancy books leave out, and you can read all of them and still run into situations where you don’t know what to do for your child. I had no idea when I had my daughter, not one clue, that I would wear SO many hats. I’m Mom, teacher, friend, Dr. Mom, nurse, psychic (otherwise known as Mother’s intuition), counselor, warden, maid, cook, chauffeur… all of those you kind of expect, the one that threw me for a loop was the “Slayer of the Invisible Dragons” hat.
I may be too close to it right now, but I’m having a rough time forgiving and being thankful. I know that will come soon. But today, I’m going to forgive myself for being exhausted, and I will trust that the rest will follow.
I’m a caretaker. My husband has bipolar and despite all the efforts he and his amazing team of psychiatrists, doctors and counselors have made, he’s been struggling with paranoia, anxiety and extreme agitation. For the first time, he’s targeting me so now I’m the enemy. That’s hard and I’m tired. I’m beginning to become raw and fight back, though that’s not helpful.
Bipolar Disorder is said to be one of the worst diagnoses one can receive. I disagree with this statement for a few reasons, and while my personal experience with it has been far from pleasant, I hope to convey that there are many benefits as well as disadvantages to living with this brand of mental illness.
I originally thought that I suffered from Depression, back when I was in my early 20’s. I remember the day when the elation suddenly went away and all the joy drained away from my life. Everything in my vision shrunk down to a pinpoint and was shrouded with a thick miasma. I lived with this for two years before finally going to the doctor.
My first episode of depression occurred at 15 or 16. It did not get diagnosed and I was perplexed by my behavior. Shortly after I began to drink. I know now I was self medicating.
By 19 I was finally diagnosed with depression by a local MD. He put me on Prozac 20mg. Not a therapeutic dose. As I found out a few years later when I applied for the CHP and was denied due to taking Prozac. They asked me to get off my med and reapply. I was devastated that now this condition might keep me from my goal of being a police officer. Up until then I had received no information on depression and I was unaware I had a mental illness. The 80s wasn’t as enlightened.
In Feb. of this year I noticed my son talking aloud to nobody. I watched him for a while and then I asked him, “Who are you talking to?” he said, “nobody mom.” I said okay. I left it at that for about a month. Then during the first week of March he was always talking and walking in circles in our yard. I asked him again who he was talking to and he said, “Well, the voices in my head mom.” his tone was like I should have known that already. Around March 5 or 6 of this year he came to me and said he was thinking about dying. So the next day I called the insurance and got a list of Psychiatrists and started making calls.
My name is Eric. I live with severe depression, it has been with me my whole life. The genetics have been with me but it wasn’t easy the way I grew up especially with my grade school. I was constantly being bullied and beaten up severely for my weight, intelligence (Traumatic Brain Injury as an infant) and any weird quirk I had during that time. That’s where I learned to repress my depression and shut down in hard times. I also was abused as a child as well, which didn’t help either. There were times it hurt repressing old feelings: I unintentionally shut people out and scared people with suicidal attempts. But I learned to how to cope with different techniques and with the right help. I’m looking to work with children as a teacher with my two years in human services. I also am helping others on my Facebook Mental Illness Awareness Page.
I have never shared my struggle with depression in public let alone on a website. Well I’m 32 years old and I suffered from depression off and on since I was a teen. It has been a roller coaster ride. It hasn’t been easy growing up on a traditional Korean household. I came to US at an early age. In our family we were not allowed to show emotions.
I did well in school and I tried to be a paragon of Korean American daughter should be like: study, go to church and be respectful. I studied hard in high school and I know I had pushed my emotions away. I went to college out of states and it started to become harder. I was becoming morose. I was part of an unhealthy church and when I got out of it in my own will I sunk into huge depression.
I was diagnosed with schizoaffective in 1999. I was suffering mood swings, delusions and hallucinations about evil spirits. I felt like I was very much alone. There are times I still do think I’m uniquely singled out to suffer.
But thru the help of NAMI and other supports groups available to me at my mental health behavior provider, I see clearly the focus doesn’t have to be on myself anymore. Many people come to the meetings and get to share their struggles, which are a lot like mine. The meds help me a thousand times over, as well as pastoral care, counseling and case management. When I struggle now with feeling like I’m alone, I usually am able to use some of the skills I’ve learned within the support to realize I am not alone. For example, Cognitive Behavior Therapy has rewired my thought processes in a positive way, bringing hope and confidence, which both bring balance and happiness to my life.
Hello. I was diagnosed with Autism in late Aug. 1984. Over the years I’ve had panic attacks, strong unipolar depression and generalized anxiety condition. I later developed Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults in late August 2008.
I’ve wanted (on numerous occasions) to end my own suffering.
I was admitted to the psych ward seven times (Aug 2000-Dec 2013), four for the Genesis Medical Davenport, two at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and once at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo.
I’ve suffered dearly, though I hope something becomes better for me during the upcoming years. I’m wanting work for Autism Society or similar groups of Autism related networks to help others with Autism.
I’ve been dealing with anxiety since early 2012. Panic attacks, couldn’t leave home without freaking out, my social life was completely destroyed. Anxiety was due to hypochondria, an episode involving my health triggered it. Months ago I started cognitive conductual therapy, it’s slowly helping me, and I already managed to hang out with some of my friends again. I still felt extremely anxious before leaving, but I managed to do it and I’m getting out more often now. I’m also taking medications, and my psychiatrist says I’m making progress.
My parents have a history of mental illness on both sides including: bipolar, depression, anxiety, OCD and narcissism and borderline. There is also a heavy history of alcoholism on both sides. I feel that genetically given my biology I inherited genetics for my mental illnesses and was kinda screwed at the get go. I also grew up in a CRAZY abusive household. I was/am totally traumatized. So hereditary and environment—the double whammy.
I went to a highly regarded anxiety and depression center and was evaluated extensively. They told me the evaluation would take 5 hours. Mine took 11. ;-) I knew that was a sign.
It’s pretty easy for me to figure out where to begin. When I was in 6th grade, I was bullied horribly. Peers assaulted me and I got showed inside of lockers a lot. Being an internal person, I figured that it was somehow my fault that others didn’t like me. This continued into 7th grade. By then I was cutting and oftentimes pinched myself black and blue to keep from crying every day I went into that building. I have contemplated suicide seriously 3 times, each time with a plan that I got talked out of through phone call help lines. Once at the school there was a teacher standing 5 feet away, there was the group of girls in my face yelling the b-word at me. The teacher didn’t do anything. I lost it. I left the building and never came back after breaking down.
It is really important to have a team around you who support you and know what your condition is. Sure, we all have days, for some of us those days can be more turbulent than for others. When I was in college almost 20 years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar. In my heart I believe that sometimes diagnoses are like a target and they try to come close but really for everyone it is different. Though, I do take my medication religiously. Every day I am a warrior for my health and my mental well-being. I told my friends who were closest to me and who have known me the longest about my condition. I didn’t realize how important that was for me until I did it. I cannot advise other people on what to do about that. But, their words of kindness meant a lot to me. My friends cannot be with me always, I try to express myself through art and music. I get scared sometimes. I feel isolated many times. But, like I said. You have to be a warrior for your well-being, every day, each and every day.
Hi, my name is Jody and I have had bipolar disorder with schizoaffective tendency and posttraumatic stress syndrome for 35 years. After the misdiagnoses and treatments, I spent many months in different psychiatric institutions. One of these included a state hospital where I was part of a treatment with a drug that brought me almost to the complete end of my sanity. How I ever got out of that place is entirely in God’s hands.
With will and determination and seeking help you can get through your problems. My life with BPD is so hard. Sometimes I just want to quit. But it’s easier to give up but you gain nothing from it. If you can give it your all and keep seeking help there is a way to get through it and you get stronger. Just keep swimming. I tell myself every morning that I will be happy one day. It’s my goal. And I’m striving to achieve that goal.
As of present, I have not been officially diagnosed by a professional. However, since many of my symptoms have disrupted my life, have plagued me for 11 years, it’s pretty safe to assume I have a mental disorder. And that, from the collective nature of the symptoms, my condition is either depression or PTSD. Maybe with a side of bipolar.
I should probably add at this point that I’m from a small town in Southeast Asia. Needless to say, my country is behind the US in terms of societal awareness. So I’ve not had access to counseling, medication or emotional support until a year ago, after moving to the capital. By then, my illness had woven itself so deeply into the background of my life that I was regularly, unconsciously engaging in multiple forms of self-destructive behaviour .
It’s hard to tell my story, not that I don’t want to. It’s very hard to put into words what it’s like to live in my world, raising a child with mental illness. Everyday is something different, once I think I have it all figured out then it changes. I know I am afraid to show people my troubled world. I know there are many families like mine. Afraid of what people might think of my husband and I as parents. Wanting people to think our life is normal. We spend every day walking on eggshells, holding our breath waiting for the eggshells to crack. My son has BPD borderline personality disorder and he’s 18. I say my family has been in survival mode for the last six years. It’s actually been eighteen years. We are a military family and that can be difficult for healthy children, always moving can be extremely difficult for a child with any mental disorder.
My boyfriend, Steve, has a variety of mental illnesses that he lives with daily. I have learned to adapt to his different mood swings, and so much more. He has Bipolar Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Dyslexia, yet still manages to teach at a high school and now keeps things under control thanks to medications and therapy.
Three years ago, I was determined to bring awareness to the complete lack of understanding/concern towards the mentally ill. Three years ago, I watched my mother suffer from Bipolar I disorder for the third time in my life.
I witnessed a psychiatrists P.A. tell my mother that it was her fault after prescribing her with Chatrix to help her stop smoking (this should not be under the scope of a psychiatrist’s office in the first place) which specifically warns against using in conjunction with even less serious mental illnesses, not to mention a history of psychosis.
I am the family member of a person who has lived with schizophrenia for approximately 45 years, and most recently she began exhibiting early signs of dementia, which seems to make her condition worse.
She oftentimes relapses because at certain intervals in life she stops taking her medication, which causes her major setbacks with regard to her mental health.
During the early years of the illness I was never exposed to the roller coaster ride the disease brought on. However, most recently due to her constant relapses, I have seen the illness manifest in unusual and unexpected ways.
My name is Rebecca Davis. I have schizophrenia. I will be 64 years old in December. I had a mental break when I was 32 and with the help of medication, God, counseling, and a stubborn will to never give up, I have recovered to the point of being productive again.
I am now the Director of a ministry called His Hands, Inc. I lead 2 Bible studies for people who have a mental illness and am also a support to the ones I teach. I am a conservator for one lady who has been so sick that she could not meet her own needs. I also do speaking engagements at NAMI groups, churches, Celebrate Recovery, Christian Women’s Clubs, etc., to tell my testimony and to help people understand what mental illness is like. I would like to share the first 2 pages of my book, Have I Gone Crazy, with you. Many people with mental illness and many family members have said that what I went through really helped them in their struggle.
Hello, My name is Sara. I am 29 and live right outside of Baltimore. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at the age of 15. I was initially given a misdiagnosis of clinical depression and was treated solely with an antidepressant. This course of treatment kicked me out of depression and right into the hands of full blown mania. A mania that ultimately landed me in the hospital after an intentional overdose of over the counter pain medication. I received the diagnosis of Bipolar I Disorder while in the Emergency room. My trip to the ER was followed by a 2 week stay in a psychiatric unit at two different local hospitals. Howard County Hospital for a couple of days and Johns Hopkins Hospital for the remaining week and a half. Those 2 weeks were the very beginning of a journey that forever changed my life; the journey of living with and overcoming a mental illness! This is a lifelong journey for me and so many others!
I have a diagnosis of bipolar type 1, depression and have a past of bulimia. I was diagnosed when I was in my twenties. I always knew something was wrong because I couldn’t control my emotions, and I was sad all the time. Art has been a coping skills to escape these diagnosis and to get away from the negative people in my life.
Hi! My name is Mega, I am 33 years old, and I decided to tell my story because I am sick of the stigma surrounding people with mental illness. I want to do whatever I can to stop the stigma! I want to tell people that THERE IS HOPE…I am living proof that you can live WELL with a mental illness! I recently started doing In Our Own Voice presentations with NAMI, and I have truly found my niche! I absolutely LOVE doing them! I would like to tell my story by essentially giving you a presentation of my life from the IOOV presentations I do. All IOOV presentations have 5 parts. Here goes.
I have lived with Chronic depression and was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder in 2001. I turned 18 in a Locked Psych ward, the oldest in a unit of adolescents with mental illness. My disease led me to a life of suicide attempts, drug addiction, conflict and dysfunction in my family and time in jail for crimes to feed my addiction.
When I was finally diagnosed after getting clean and sober, it was as if a light went on. A light of understanding, and finally compassion from the professionals at New Horizons a mental health facility that anyone can go to now, whether they have insurance or not. this is thanks to the efforts of people like you at NAMI. I never knew there were other people like me out there, struggling with the same demons that haunted me all my life.
Through therapy and proper medication and my greatest advocate,my mother Carol, I have come to be at peace with myself. I still have the black days, and I still get manic and do crazy things at times, like staying up all night writing, and painting- but now I know that I CAN GET THROUGH IT. I don’t want to die anymore, and I am so grateful for each day.
Please keep up the good work NAMI, and to anyone out there suffering: please know that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel!!! Please open up to someone you trust, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The hardest step is making that first phone call, or telling the first person how bad you are hurting. Then the healing can begin!
I dare you to read this through. It may actually change someone’s life. My story started about 5 years ago. I have been accused of being less than forthcoming. I have been accused of having a criminal history. Well, it’s time to set the record straight once and for all. Not another second will carry my head low and walk with neither shame nor guilt. So, that another person cannot say that I withheld anything, or they had to find something out, I want to make it clear what really happened on February 28, 2008.
I live with bipolar. When I spiral down, I get depressed, I feel sad, and alone. For me to spiral down is easy. Yet, it makes me very, very tired. I am sick of living this way. I want to live life, be alive, and awake. For the good and bad parts. Today I choose to spiral up!
The gruesome, bathtub drowning of baby Mary, two-year-old Luke, three-year-old Paul, five-year-old John and seven-year old Noah made haranguing headlines in June 2001 all across the country, if not the world.
Andrea Yates had killed her five children in her and her husband, Rusty’s, Houston-area home in Texas.
"How could someone do something like that?" was the sentiment of an enraged, shocked and disgusted public.
But since Andrea Yates was convicted of first-degree murder, thank God a lot has changed in this country, albeit not enough, when it comes to understanding mental illness or judging other people for who they simply are.
Hi everyone! I suffer from Adjustment Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. I started helping NAMI after going to my first Connection meeting. I didn’t want to sit down, but the facilitator compelled me to sit. I haven’t looked back since. I now facilitate Connection meetings here in Portland, Oregon. I volunteer 1 day a week to facilitate a morning group and an afternoon group on Tuesday’s. I have been doing this now for about 2 years. I also still go to my Saturday group where it all started for me.
My name is Angela. I’m a mother of a beautiful teenage daughter, stepmother to my beautiful stepdaughter and I am a wife to the greatest man on earth. And God has made all things in my life possible.
My story started when I was very young. I was a sexual abuse victim at a young age, and lost my Father when I was six years old. I was diagnosed with ADD, in special education classes all through elementary and middle school, and just always felt different from everyone else. I guess because I was so different, kids bullied me so bad in middle school, by the time I got to high school I was a fighter. When I was 15 I had my first break down in high school, cutting myself at school, and horrifying my classmates. I had NO idea what the heck was wrong with me. From then on I became wild, promiscuous, violent at times and made very bad decisions. I have a wonderful Mother, loving and caring, but I also was enduring a mentally and physically abusive home life, from my mother’s husband. Everything looked good to people on the outside. I was a ballet dancer, singer, model and always had the newest fashion, and had a cute boyfriend. Boy were they wrong.
How do you live when you can’t trust your mind to be there when you need it?
That’s the question I’ve been struggling with for 51 years. I’ve had severe major depression all my life, and during my late high school and college years I had psychosis as well. Instead of attending a college and living in dorms, I checked into psych hospitals and sought treatment. My parents’ college fund and all surplus money I made as a young adult were spent on treatment. It was a good investment — I don’t think I would have survived otherwise.
October 2011 I sought out a therapist to be my guide as I worked through my mental health issues. The issues ranged from feelings of worthlessness, addictive behavior and childhood trauma to suicidal ideation. I knew from day one that I was in for a serious process - a difficult road but one I was willing to travel.
Depression is a chronic illness, an illness I live with. I have said this many times.
If only saying things was the same as accepting things.
If only the idea of acceptance was the same as actual acceptance.
I accepted the idea that I would have several bouts of depression over my lifetime, I did not, however, accept the actual “real thing” – that I would not have control over when these bouts came, how often, how severe, how long.
I was first diagnosed at age 13 with depression. I was taken out of my home environment, which was abusive, and my depression was labeled situational. While I had symptoms of mania and PTSD, those symptoms were somewhat atypical and those aspects went undiagnosed. I was given talk therapy for 4 years with one 6 week support group for abuse survivors. For several years, I would self-medicate off and on with drugs or alcohol.
I had a hard time as a child. I cried a lot. I experienced a lot of pain and a lot of loss and I think one of the hardest parts of it all was not being able to talk any of it out. When I would bring up bad experiences of being mistreated I was plainly told that didn’t happen, I was wrong, it was probably a dream, or just asked why I always had to only remember the bad things. I learned very quickly that my family would not admit wrong doing or even believe me about being mistreated by others. I came to the natural conclusion that I was better off keeping secrets. It’s hard enough for a kid to talk about bad uncomfortable things, being called a liar for speaking up was just too much to bear.
My fiancee is not only the love of my life but my best friend. He motivates me and inspires me thus words cannot describe how much he teaches me every day. You see, my other half has a history of mental illness and substance abuse, however has maintained clean & sober for almost four years (and out of inpatient psych for the same amount of time). Our life together consist of taking things “a day at a time”. Some days his thoughts are fixed on “aliens” and “the government”; and other days on “how great it would be if he could just have a drink.. just one”.
However, I must admit that even on THOSE days hes my inspiration. You see, he perseveres beyond the illness and his disease..he fights his way through the irrational thoughts, paranoia, magical thinking, delusions and cravings. Even then.. amongst it all he tells himself “I’m bigger than this”. Since his last psychotic break, he has put his life back together.. and today I am most definitely his number one fan. On the darkest of days he finds the light and brings that light out in me.
Therefore in order to show him how much I respect and admire who he is, I have changed my lifestyle with him and have not drank in almost four years. Sometimes we crave a drink.. but "ITS A WE THING NOT AN I THING"; WE remind ourselves of what we can lose. WE encourage ourselves and identify our strengths rather than our liabilities. WE are not alone in this fight. WE AREN’T ALONE.. SO WE FIGHT TOGETHER.
"A scar means I survived"; "Struggles are required in order to survive in life because in order to stand up, you gotta know what falling down is like", ‘Fall seven times, stand up eight", "yes there are things im still afraid of but my courage is roaring like the sound of the sun".
My son was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder about four months ago. It has been a long journey and he has yet to finish it. But he is a courageous 20 year old young man and an amazing fighter just like all of you out there who are affected by or living with mental illness.
I am a 44 yr. old woman who has struggled with depression, anxiety and substance abuse since the age of 18. My clinicians recently diagnosed me with PTSD. I never understood this disorder until recently. It has been a revelation for me. I am reaching out to others to share my story in the hope that it will help someone else going through similar life experiences. I feel alone a lot of the time. But I know there are others like me.
Overcoming Mental Illness To Advocacy Through A Legal Education
Greetings. I am finally able to tell my story of mental illness and how I almost lost my own battle with mental illness and 1 particular story of how one mental health professional failed me. I have overcome these things and I am ready to speak. I have applied for law school and it was scary talking about my mental illness in my personal statement out of fear that the stigma would prevent me from gaining entry into law school. I decided that I could no longer fear this. If I was going to be the fierce mental health advocate I dream to be, I had to begin to tell my own story.
I am a 27 year old female and have been struggling with chronic depressive and panic disorder for as long as I can remember. That’s at least what doctors have diagnosed me with. Three weeks ago I chased three bottles of prescription medication with a bottle of Jack Daniels and went to bed. I didn’t feel strong enough to keep trying at my life. I had what I now call ‘The Great Sadness’ (The Shack) for about 12 years.