RE-sharing

6 Jul

Not everyone goes to the links on the side bars of my website, but this is one of my favorite posts and you can find it there along with a few others.  I’m at the NAMI National Confrence today and read a guest blog post I wrote about 2 years ago on stigma and what you expect from people with severe mental illnesses.  Here is a copy of that post.  Oh and btw I got a standing ovation 😀

I have my days, more than most.  I am mostly depressed.  Walking to the mailbox is exhausting and considered an accomplishment.  I stay in my room and hide from the world.  I don’t feel like eating, it seems pointless and food has lost its flavor anyways.  All I want to do is sleep but I can’t.

The thoughts won’t slow down long enough to allow me to rest.

“Why me?  This isn’t fair?  I just want it to end. You’re over reacting.  I wish I could escape.  What did I do to deserve this?  You’re stupid.  Just snap out of it.  Why me?…” 

I can’t sit still, my legs shake and my heart pounds as I try to anticipate what is coming next…  How bad will it get this time?  Will I need to be hospitalized again?  Have my medicine changed again?  Should I call someone?

I live 75-90% of my waking hours actively psychotic.  I hear voices that live in multiple places in my head as well as voices from the outside that belong to real people.  The voices say many things: including demeaning comments or suicidal and homicidal conversations.

The voices scream and sometimes I listen to what they say or bargain with them.  I am often paranoid that my family is talking about me behind my back and plotting together to get me institutionalized so they do not need to deal with me.

I self-harmed for over 10 years, usually cutting open my skin with something sharp and occasionally burning myself.  I think about suicide constantly, not only from the voices urging but as a relentless thought.  I plan my death, what will be done with my body and possessions, what my funeral will be like.

I fantasize about the pain finally being over.

I will no longer be a burden to my family and others.  I’ve written a few notes and had a couple attempts the first being at the age of 10 when I tried to suffocate myself.

I often have no feelings, a numbness and emptiness in life.  I’m afraid people will leave me or reject me, so I mostly stay away from people and have only a few close relationships.  I’m terrified of conflict and cannot handle it, this stems from experiences in my childhood.

Much of my childhood was spent raising myself and sometimes my sisters. My parents were often physically unavailable and never emotionally available.  Alcoholism and anger outbursts were standard in our family throughout my developing years.

Before the age of twenty-five, I had more than 80 Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) treatments also commonly known as shock therapy. I have been in numerous medical studies not commonly used yet to treat my different symptoms, including having a stimulating device implanted inside me by surgery (VNS  therapy).  I’ve been hospitalized, in a psychiatric hospital, over a dozen times in the last 8 years, mostly involuntarily.   I’ve also spent time in crisis residential housing, which is similar to being hospitalized but with more freedom and fewer patients.  I compare it to being in a “group home.”

Along with these overnight stays I have been in many different programs that take place during the day and I am able to go home and sleep at night.  These programs vary in length and duration but all are outpatient services. One program is called a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) that is Monday-Friday 8am- 3pm for at least 2 weeks and sometimes as long as a month.

These programs take place at psychiatric hospitals, where the group does group therapy, art therapy, skills based learning groups, and one-on-one appointments with psychiatrists and social workers.  Enrollment in a PHP generally is a step down from hospitalization or used to prevent hospitalization.

I’ve been in weekly therapy since I was 19 years old, in addition to any groups or classes I might have been in at the time.  I’ve been on psychiatric medication since I was 10 years old.  I have been on over 30 different types of medication and at my worst was on 11 different prescriptions, taking over 20 pills a day.

With just this information, what do you picture? 

What would you expect?

Believe it or not, I’m a (mostly) functioning adult.  I am 30 years old with blond hair, blue eyes and I am a college student.  I do have schizoaffective disorder bipolar type and borderline personality disorder.  I am on four psychiatric medications and still go to counseling once a week.

I am not “dark,” I have few visual scars, do not dress in all black, or wear black eye liner.  I’m not an EMO teenager or someone just going through a “phase.”  I do not walk around mad at the world talking about how everything is depressing and pointless.

I am not an “attention seeker.”  Few people know the extent of my illnesses.  I am not homeless and do not walk around dirty or talking to myself or the voices.  I am not a zombie devoid of any emotion or intelligent thoughts from my brain being shocked too many times.

I will not approach you to tell you how the government is spying on us and has been for years.  I am not a serial killer or a danger to anyone except maybe myself.

You do not have to worry about setting me off.  I am not stock piling weapons or making a list of innocent people to kill.  I do not use street drugs and have never been arrested.

I am not “psycho.”

Who I am is intelligent and compassionate.

I have above a 3.9 grade point average and over 100 college units.  I am always trying to lend a helping hand to those I know personally and strangers as well.

It is likely I am one of the least judgmental people you will ever meet; my illnesses have given me empathy as well as a unique perspective.  I love children and have worked as an after school teacher.  I also teach Sunday school and have done reduced cost child care for families that needed it.

My favorite place on Earth is Disneyland and I go there at least a few times a year.

I am not my mental illnesses. 

I am not a stereotypical “crazy” person.

I am not what you’d expect.

2 Responses to “RE-sharing”

  1. Joyce July 7, 2015 at 4:55 AM #

    Reblogged this on MAKE BPD STIGMA-FREE!.

  2. manyofus1980 July 22, 2015 at 12:41 AM #

    oh wow. this was awesome. I absolutely loved it. Well done on writing such an incredible post. XX

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