Archive for December, 2015

Hello, my name is Mark. My life has led me to have a lot of experience in trying to get help for my psychiatric issues. I write this to share some of my story hoping it might increase awareness and maybe even help someone.

I’ve had struggles with mental illness since I young. Up until about 7 years ago I was able to be resilient and keep things patched together enough to get through. That all stopped then. I went into a serious breakdown and lost almost everything. I was desperate for help. Desperate for change.

A couple months later I started having overbearing thoughts of suicide and was hospitalized. I would go on to be hospitalized around 15 times the next 2 years. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-psychotics, and mood stabilizers were tried. If any did good at all it was short-lived. Diagnoses of bipolar, borderline personality disorder, and anxiety disorders were given but none stuck. I saw multiple therapists with differing opinions on what I needed, but none had an answer.

As you might imagine, all this trying and failing grew very frustrating for me. But it was also frustrating for the hospitals and outpatient treatment facilities. I would be accused of faking and heard “there’s nothing wrong with you”. I was told that I was making my own messes and just needed to try harder. Told that I wasn’t really suicidal because I had never attempted suicide. This experience seemed to prove what I had thought and felt for a long time: That there was no help for me and the world would be better off without me. The keywords there are thought and felt. More on thoughts and feelings to come. I was still desperate for help. Desperate for change. Even more so than before.

Though tormented by my own thoughts and feelings that told me to die, I was able to conclude that I was not ready to give up on life yet. I wanted to keep trying, but I also knew I needed to try differently. I identified that there was something that was in my power to change. I began to see that it was, and still is, very hard for me to express negative thoughts and feelings. I wasn’t able to outwardly convey the mess I was inside, and I felt that could be why I was so misunderstood and thus mistreated. I thought if I could learn to express myself better that it might change the treatment and maybe the diagnosis I get. That the cycle of reaching for help then not getting any then reaching again for help and still not getting any could be broken.

Mostly because I hadn’t yet found good treatment, I had spent 6 months out of a hospital. And in those months I had made a really big mess. Lost everything again. It was time to put changes in how I communicate into practice and be hospitalized again. I was able to choose to go to a hospital that had always been good to me. There I felt safe enough to really try to open up and give details of what was going on inside of me. My effort rewarded me with being taken seriously. I got understanding and empathy from the staff there. They went out of their way to help improve my self-esteem. My psychiatrist there however did not connect with me, but that led to good too. For the first time I had found someone who agreed that I needed long term treatment. They would send me to Warren State Hospital to continue and further my treatment.

Within two hours of meeting him my psychiatrist there gave me a diagnosis that I had not even heard whispered for me before: I have Obsessive-compulsive Disorder. And he was so right. Mine is an untypical case. Along with it I also have fairly untypical Bipolar disorder. I would go on to spend nearly 2 years at Warren. In that time my psychiatric diagnoses were proven true and truly treated with proper medication. I also received long term and high level therapy from a doctor of psychology there. My life has been far more stable and beneficial since I decided to not give up on life but to seek treatment in a different and better way.

I want to tell you to not give up on what is good, and to stop banging your head against that which is not working. It’s very hard to get good treatment without a true diagnosis. And it’s hard to get anything good and lasting if you’re not able to express yourself. My experience, and thus this essay, echo these points.