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A Week of Summer Vacation With High-Functioning Severe Mental Illness

Last weekend I went on a spontaneous vacation with my husband. I enjoyed the thrill of exploring an exotic new place. While he drove us, I planned out our weekend, finding us a bed-and-breakfast, interesting restaurants, local attractions, and areas of the city to explore. We had a great time.

But I had a panic attack in a restaurant since it was really crowded and I got overwhelmed.

I couldn’t sleep on our trip since the stress of...


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Reach Out To Me When I Am Mentally Ill

Recently my grandmother passed away. I received an outpouring of support from all sorts of people.

I was overwhelmed by all of the people who told me, “Call me anytime you need to talk.” “Let’s get together sometime this week.” “Talk to me anytime. Is there anything I can do for you?” It was nice to feel all that compassion, though I mostly wanted to grieve alone.

But then I...


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When I Was Kicked Out Of A Counseling Program Due To My Mental Illnesses

Eight years ago I started a master’s program to become a counselor. I was 26. I remember being so happy in the program. I felt like all the pieces of my life were coming together.

I had been diagnosed at 20 with bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, and diagnosed at 25 with dissociative identity disorder.

My life had been very difficult between juggling all of my mental illnesses, being mistreated by people in the...


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When my Mental Illness Convinces Me No One Can Understand My Pain

Since I have several mental illnesses, my problem often feels very specific. I struggle with the unique combination of Bipolar Disorder, Dissociative Identity Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

How many people in my community have this combination of illnesses? Maybe only a few, and I will likely never run into them. Even online I haven’t run into anyone with the same set.

So my problem feels specific and unique. I feel like I will never meet someone who...


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The Advice that Changed the Course of My Mental Health Recovery

I thought I knew all about how to manage mental illness. I’ve been in recovery 15 years (though I’ve been mentally ill for 27). I’ve been in counseling off-and-on for 10 years. I’m currently studying to become a counselor so I’m learning more about mental illness and how to cope. I’ve started counseling my own clients. I have an enormous list of coping skills and am very self-aware. I thought I was managing everything...


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The Loneliness of Being High-Functioning with Severe Mental Illness

As someone who is high-functioning with severe mental illness, I often feel trapped between two different worlds.

My mental illnesses make everyday life hard for me.

The stranger symptoms of my mental illnesses, including mania, hallucinations, and dissociation, are hard for most people to understand.

Often after I share with someone that I have mental illness, they immediately respond, "Oh, I understand. I was depressed after my dad died." Or, "I understand. I had a panic attack last year."...


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My Small Victory Over Weeds, Agoraphobia, and Mental Illness-Induced Fatigue

For nearly two years I have come home every day and looked at the weeds alongside my front steps. Each day I wished I could weed them, but I couldn't. Why not?

Because my mental illnesses make me so physically tired all the time. It's hard for me to get through my regular day, let alone through nonessential chores like weeding.

And because for the past nearly two years I have been struggling with panic disorder and agoraphobia. 

In late...


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A Roller Coaster Week In My Life With Mental Illnesses

My mental state changes constantly due to my mental illnesses.  It’s like riding a roller coaster, in the dark, without a seat belt.  I am trying to hold on as things are constantly changing.  This is my past week of managing my mental illnesses.

Sunday

I woke up nervous that I was going to have a panic attack at the church picnic.  I keep having panic attacks in crowds.  The thought of having a panic attack made me almost...


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Uncomfortable with Being Called a “Trauma Survivor”

Since I have dissociative identity disorder, people assume I've survived severe childhood trauma. But the mind doesn't always follow the same patterns. The traumatic years of my life were young adulthood. I developed dissociative problems as a young adult.

Still I struggle with calling events of those years "trauma." I don't like seeing myself as wounded. I see my own gritty determination to overcome obstacles. I don't want to admit I've been hurt.

Other words are bandied about. People...