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General

Naming Types of Panic Attacks

I have panic attacks so frequently that the term "panic attack" never seems descriptive enough. I have so many types of panic attacks. They all seem to fit the DSM description but they vary. Do these types resonate with other people? These are some types I experience. Maybe others can list more.

The Classic: The classic panic attack. Something triggers me, and suddenly I feel overwhelmed. My heart races. I can't breathe; it feels like someone is standing...


Counseling

When Manic Doesn’t Mean Dangerous

I am currently in a master’s program studying to be a mental health counselor.  I also have several mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder.  I took Diagnosis a year ago and didn’t agree with my professor’s perspective on some issues.  I wish I could have spoken up, but if she knew I had mental illnesses she wouldn’t view me the same way.  I want to do well in the program so I can become a counselor.  Since I can’t respond to my professor in person, I want to share my responses here.



General

Wanting to Reset Boundaries with My Psychiatrist

I've seen a lot of psychiatrists in the 15 years since I was diagnosed. Often not by choice - I lived different places, my health insurance plans changed so I had to switch. But sometimes by choice.

I had the psychiatrist who gave me 7 diagnoses in 8 minutes, including ADHD, when I'm pretty sure my difficulty focusing is due to anxiety and medication side effects. I had a psychiatrist who refused to refill one of my meds, until she saw me in her office, shaking, curled up in a fetal position in my chair and sobbing from withdrawal symptoms.



General

How Gaining and Losing a Borderline Personality Disorder Diagnosis Affected Me

Fifteen years ago, after a few manic episodes that included hallucinations, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I had driven to another state while manic and was committed at a hospital there. The hospital let me go after two days.

I drove the two hours home wondering, "What does bipolar disorder mean?" I turned my car around and checked myself back in the hospital to get answers.

Back in the hospital, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder...


Counseling

I Confessed To a Banquet Hall that I Have Mental Illnesses

Recently I was invited to a banquet for an award I won. The award recipients and I were supposed to give short speeches about our lives and the obstacles we have overcome.

I decided to be brave, and speak publicly for the first time about having mental illnesses. The other people were sharing personal stories about their lives so I felt like it was a safe place for me to share as well.

I was nearly the last one to speak, and I was trembling before I even got to the podium. My hands shook as I focused on my typed up speech. I focused on speaking the words clearly despite my emotions. Twice I started crying and had to pause while I collected myself.



General

What Dissociation Feels Like: Each Type Described In A Poem

Dissociation is a hard thing to define, but I've experienced nearly every type of dissociative problem defined in the DSM. So I thought I would describe what they feel like. I would like people to understand what it's like for us. I feel like poems help illustrate experiences most clearly, so I wrote about each type of dissociation in poetic form. Depersonalization: feeling detached from one's body (I started experiencing depersonalization since I was in extreme physical pain, more than my body could tolerate)



General

11 Strategies Helping Me Recover From Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

Eighteen months ago, I barely left my house except to go to school or work. I couldn't go to a store, restaurant, church, a sporting event, or a crowded place without a panic attack. At home I was lying in a corner, covered in blankets, lost inside my head, jumping and shrieking at every noise, and even twitching or convulsing.

I'm better now. I am more social and can go many places, though places that are loud or crowded still trigger panic.



Counseling

How Long Should Therapy Take?

My professors often talk about how long therapy should last. They speak about how therapy should be a short-term process and the goal of therapy is to help clients help themselves. After several weeks or months, the client has learned ways to cope with life stresses and is ready to end therapy.

I learned in one class about how most growth happens in the first six weeks of therapy. My professors caution us about clients who become dependent on therapy, coming to therapy for years instead of becoming independent.



Counseling

18 Reasons Why I Function Well With Severe Mental Illness

I know that my list of mental illness diagnoses and my everyday symptoms are severe. I have bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder (or something similar), panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. In the past I have experienced a lot of psychosis, intense mania, and bizarre dissociative problems.

I've often experienced people looking at my medical history and thinking I am too mentally ill to function in society, let alone become a counselor.

But these are people looking at my chart and history of mental illness. These aren't people who see how I can find ways to manage my mental illnesses every day.



Counseling

Why I Won’t “Break Up” with My “Ineffective” Therapist

I've been seeing my psychologist for two and a half years. It seems like every six months we have the same conversation. He says that he feels like things aren't working between us and he isn't being helpful.

He explains, "I've been a therapist 30 years and I feel like I have some decent skills, but I feel like my counseling skills aren't effective with you." He explains that it seems like I'm not happy with him and mentions how people in my life have told me to switch counselors since it doesn't seem to be working.