Since my About Me page is a little discreet and lacking information, I thought I would do an introduction with utilizing questions from @beccadoeslifethings’ post. I hope it gives some insight into my story/journey and why I’m passionate about changing the tone and view of mental illnesses.
- What mental illness do you have? I have been diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Bulimia. I have a history of OCD tendencies and was misdiagnosed at first with Clinical Depression.
- When were you diagnosed? I was diagnosed at the age of 13 after a suicide attempt. I didn’t want to die, it was more of a cry for help. I was hospitalized for 10 days and was diagnosed with Clinical Depression, Generalized Anxiety, and Bulimia. After many failed attempts on anti-depressants and psychotic episode my freshman year in college, I was correctly diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder with seasonal patterns.
- Who knows about it? My family and some friends know of my diagnoses. It is nothing I am ashamed of but it is also nothing I want to first express when introducing myself. I have disorders, I am not my disorders. I have never been stigmatized, in person, when I finally shared my dx’s but I still fear the misjudgment that could come with expressing that aspect of myself.
- Do you receive treatment for it? I have been hospitalized 3 times due to my mental illnesses. I have seen numerous psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals regarding my mental illnesses. I’m currently seeing a mental health family nurse practitioner who provides a holistic approach that has helped me over the years.
- Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything? Not necessarily. After my first year of graduate school I dropped out due to mixed episode and I never went back. I never viewed it as my mental illness has stopped me from doing something, but that I just had to change my path in life. I barely have any regrets and I view my past as lessons learned.
- Is there anything in particular that has helped you? My parents had always been supportive with my seeking mental health treatment. I have dealt with a lot of stigma (mostly from mental health professionals!) in trying to find adequate treatment without judgment. I had been told a number of times that “I’m not this” or “I’m not that” given cultural and socio-economical factors. I have amazing friends that know me well enough to know when to step in but also when to give me space. Understanding me and my behaviors has saved me from myself so I am grateful for my family and friends.
- Can you describe what it feels like to have your mental illness? If I could choose a word, it would be chaotic. That pretty much sums it up. It is a daily rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t change the ride because I have learned so much about myself and others through it.
- What is a common misconception about your mental illness? That you can live a fully functional life with a mental illness. I graduated college, have a full-time job, engage in hobbies, have an amazing relationship, and wonderful friends and family as support. If I didn’t tell people I have a mental illness, they wouldn’t know! They are usually surprised if I tell them and that just shows how we have to change the views of mental illness.
- What do you find the most difficult to deal with? Finding the balance between my normal self and mental illness. Am I sleepy because I’m tired or because I could be falling into a depressive episode? Do I have tons of natural energy because I’m taking care of myself or am I on the brinks of hypomania? Is my worry reasonable or am I exaggerating the situation? This at times can be a daily struggle but I have learned over the years coping mechanisms that help through accountability.
- Do you have anything else you’d like to say? Never be afraid to ask for help. I still struggle with this but I know if I truly need help, I have amazing people around me I can lean on. Also, you are not your illness. There is more to your beautiful self that an DSM-V diagnosis. Keep talking, keep sharing because you may never know who you are healing while healing yourself.