What Makes ME Qualified to Talk About Mental Health?
A Bad Experience at a Young Age
I vividly remember a horrible and traumatic experience, from when I was about 7 years old. It wouldn't be until I turned 22, and had 2 children, before I realized I had a problem due to this event.
My parents took me to a fast food restaurant for lunch, just as we had done many, many times. This particular time would cause me to develop a diversion to food.
As we were sitting and enjoying our lunch as a family, I noticed an employee sitting alone in a small booth, nearest the front exit. She looked very unhappy and appeared to be waiting for someone. As I was observing her, she began vomiting, in the dining room, into a large cup. I'm sure for anyone else who would have witnessed, this would have caused a loss of appetite as well. But for me, it was the trigger for something much deeper.
You see, I was always an insecure and nervous child. I always felt out of place. I couldn't relate to other children. I was very codependent when it came to my Mother. (I have 1 sibling but, he's 7 years older.) I would runaway from school. I didn't spend the night at friend's houses. I kept myself pretty isolated.
At that point, I developed that food diversion I was talking about. I began associating food with vomiting. I convinced myself that if I ate, I'd probably just vomit. So, I was afraid to eat. I would go days without eating. My parents took me to many doctors. I had every kind of test you can think of... MRI's, Ultrasounds, blood tests, you name it. The Doctors could never find anything physically wrong. As I got into my teens, I could go 3 days before I realized I hadn't eaten.
Eventually, around 4th grade, my Mother put me in counseling.... which didn't seem to help. Other than figuring out I had severe anxiety, my counselor never asked me about food, Anorexia or Bulimia so the problem just progressed.
"Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes."— Carl Jung
Eating Disorders Lead to Other Self Destructive Behaviors
I was much smaller and skinnier than the majority of the kids my age. I was also younger. This contributed to my insecurities which made me more award. My obvious awkwardness made me an easy target for bullies. I hated school. I had very few friends.
By the time I reached High School, I had developed many more self destructive behaviors. On top of my horrible choice in boyfriends (with the exception of 1), I was self hating, self harming, unsafely promiscuous, dishonest, mean, and extremely reckless with other people's feelings. I'm not sure I was even consciously aware at the time, that other people had feelings. I was so used to ignoring mine or hiding them. (Which I was taught by my Father to do, but that's a whole other story).
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages
10 - 24.
If you're concerned about a child in your life, please pay attention to some of the most common warning signs. Childhood into Adolescents is a difficult time in itself. A lot of Mental Health issues can appear during this vulnerable time.
- Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than 2 weeks (e.g., crying regularly, feeling fatigued, feeling unmotivated).
- Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so.
- Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others.
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort or fast breathing.
- Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or gain.
- Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships/friendships
- Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits (e.g., waking up early and acting agitated).
Bad Relationships, Failed Marriages and Amazing Children
At 20 years old, I was still UN-diagnosed with any Mental Illness (later I found out it runs in my family) and gave birth to my first son. Although he was the product of a very volatile yet casual relationship, he was (and still is) one of the three most amazing gifts life has ever given me. I had many more failed relationships, several attempts at marriage with horribly mentally and/or physically abusive men, over the years. During that time, I had 2 more amazing children who have been my inspiration for staying strong. Relationships are very, very difficult to maintain when you chose a "partner" who is more unhealthy than yourself.. I did this over, and over again.
Sometimes, when a person with Borderline Personality Disorder is in crisis hospitalization may be necessary. Suicide is a very real concern for persons with BPD. Overall, the total percentage of people with BPD who commit suicide is about 8-10%.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Mayo Clinic, National Eduction Alliance for BPD, National Alliance on Mental Illness
Finally! A Diagnoses... Er Uh, A Misdiagnoses Actually
I actually went to work in the field of Mental Health for a few years. It was too difficult for me at that time because I wasn't ready to see that I had issues of my own. Everyone else's issues, were triggers for me. I could see myself in a lot of people and I didn't want to need help.
As I sit here and write this today, I've made it 43 years in this world. I was first diagnosed in 2008, with Bipolar Disorder II. I didn't do any treatment at that time, and I wish I would have. But, like an addict, you can't really accept treatment until you are ready, and I wasn't.
After a few more abusive relationships, and then 1 pretty healthy one (or so I thought), I fell into a depression so deep, I couldn't get out on my own. It ruined that healthy relationship I was in. So, about 7 years later, I got some help from a local Mental Health Facility. I was re-diagnosed Bipolar II with Generalized Anxiety. I went religiously to my counseling sessions for 2 years then ran into a bunch of bad counselors. I was fairly heavily medicated on Mood Stabilizers, Anti-depressants and Anxiety pills. This all worked for about a year, then it just stopped working. I switched to a new doctor and was reassessed.
Borderline Personality. Social Anxiety. Obsessive Personality. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
These are my current diagnoses. I live with them everyday, UN-medicated. It's definitely a challenge. I have great days and horrible ones. I second guess every decision I make. But, I'm generally happy. I understand myself better now. I understand why I attracted all the wrong people. And why I was always "the victim". And why I couldn't be happy with anyone else.
Now I'm on my 5th, and FINAL, marriage. And he's a great guy, but like me, he's not perfect. We have challenges and I'm sure some days he wants to throw in the towel. I overthink, am insecure, have trust issues and a lack of self esteem... but I'm working on it every day.
My biggest hope in writing is that, my pages find their way to someone who can relate. If I can inspire just 1 person to get help, or write, or just get through today, I will feel so amazing.
And NEVER let anyone make you feel ashamed or embarrassed about the way you feel. I like to think of myself as a little unique and special... and you should too.
Getting Another Opinion
Please read my other article on the importance of Self Advocating. https://hubpages.com/health/Self-Advocate-Get-That-Second-or-Third-Opinion