Tag Archives: Mental Illness

#9 Mental Illness – Part 4: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

(Read part one)
(Read part two)
(Read part three)

It’s hard to help people–who just don’t understand mental illness–to grasp what it is like to experience what someone with a mental illness goes through routinely. I am going to share some personal things, not just for those that do not understand mental illness at all, but also for those that I consider my friends. Some of the people that I care a lot about have said some hurtful things to me. Now, I know that they don’t mean them to be hurtful, but to them OCD is a joke of sorts.

I am both hurt and frustrated every time someone tells me “oh, next time your OCD acts up, come over to my house, it really needs to be cleaned.” Seriously? I know they don’t understand, and a lot of the time I will just try to laugh it off but…

Beads of sweat trickle down my spine. My heart races, pounding in my chest. Gotta wash, gotta wash, wash them, wash them, wash them. Dirty, dirty, dirty, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash. My thoughts are racing. I can’t breath. I can’t think. I try to fight the growing insanity. I can feel myself rocking, but I’m not there. I’m trapped in my head, just trying to find an escape from all of this… Do it, do it, do it, now, now, now, wash them, go,wash them, now, wash them.

Tears are flowing and hot water is burning my hands. I don’t remember moving, but I can’t stop now, I have no control. I’m shaking and crying. I am telling myself to stop, please stop. But I cannot. My head feels like it is exploding.

Wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash. Can’t stop. Want to stop. Need to stop. Wash, wash, wash. STOP!

Shaking. Crying. Shaking. Sobbing. Burning. Please. Stop. Please. Crying. Soap. Hot water. More soap. So much soap.

My hands keep foaming now, even when I keep rinsing and rinsing. The soap won’t get out of my skin. The bad won’t get out of my skin. Get out of my skin. Get out of my skin. Get out. Get out. Get out. Leave me alone. Help me. Someone help me. Help me, help me, help me, help me.

It hurts.

I tell myself repeatedly, I don’t need to wash. And my head responds: wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash…. Insanity. I fight. I lose. I fight. I lose. I fight. I lose. I fight. It hurts. I can’t win. Can’t, can’t, can’t. HELP ME!

In the past this is when her arms would wrap around me, pull me away and hold me tightly as I struggled incoherently to try and get back to the insanity. Wash, wash, wash, wash, wash, wash. Arms tight and loving, rocking, soothing. Come back home. Wash… wash… wash… Soft, warm, safe, home. Clearing, but still there. Anxiety throbbing through me.

It is a struggle to keep control. This isn’t the only type I suffered. But this is the most traumatic, the one that I had the least tangible control over. The last episode I had, I recorded part of it. I watched part of it in tears after and wondered, “why doesn’t anyone help her?” Well, because no one was there to. She had to fight for control. Breaking her mind into pieces to rip herself away from the burning pain. Nausea and fear. I ended up having to call the crisis line for my therapists office. They talked to me calmly for a while. Explained to me that my hand washing was a form of self-harm. NO SHIT! It’s not like I was doing it on purpose. I didn’t have control. I didn’t have any control.

Every time someone jokes about my OCD as a “clean freak” thing, it hurts. Please, please, PLEASE, do not ask me to clean your house under the pretenses of my OCD. OCD is very scary. Having to live through that fear even for a moment feels like hours. It is physically and emotionally draining.

When I complain about my OCD, it is not funny. I am not making a joke. When I am talking to someone else who has OCD, it is a breath so fresh air and the. Someone walks up and jokes about it, making both of us pull back into ourselves and stop connecting. Even then, some people with OCD do not understand Other types of OCD either.

And those of you that do not actually have OCD, but are just anal about things being clean, please top calling yourself OCD. If you don’t have the constant anxiety and fear and obsessive compulsions running through your head. You. Are. Not. And do not have OCD!

I have an intense fear of losing control. I have a fear of loss and a fear of contamination. These are not things that I can easily explain. I cannot clean my bathroom without gloves on. I cannot touch animal waste. I don’t try to, but I avoid situations that I think might put me in a place where I will be around people and have OCD issues. I feel insane and out of control.

I will not go into all the details of my OCD. If you would like to learn more about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder you can visit the following websites:

http://iocdf.org/about-ocd/
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/index.shtml

I encourage you all to comment and discuss. If you want clarification, I am happy to talk to anyone about anything I have mentioned in this post.

The Resident Femme

(Read OCD Part 2)

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#8 Silent Danger – Mental Illness Part 3

(Read part one)
(Read part two)

According to Web MD: “Suicide is not a mental illness in itself, but a serious consequence of treatable mental disorders. “

According to crisiscenter.com : “There is no typical suicide victim – It happens to young and old, sick and well, rich and poor.”

According to mentalhealth.gov:” Suicide causes immeasurable pain, suffering, and loss to individuals, families, and communities nationwide. “

According to the New York Times: “Suicide is the act of taking one’s own life on purpose.”

Every single one of these quotes is wrong in one way or another. And I am going to break them down, take them apart, and reform the truth as I see it.

First, not all mental disorders are currently treatable.  Some doctors will claim that they are, but I have seen many people crumble inside themselves from something that they cannot name, they cannot comprehend, or grasp. There are disorders that we may never understand, as a society. I am not speaking from a professional standpoint, but from a personal point of view. You can choose to disagree with me; this is just my own belief.

Second, one can claim that people are well—or look well—when they end up committing or attempting suicide. I disagree. Some part of them is not well. Some part of them has a speck of darkness eating away at them, even if they never show it. You cannot assume that they are well. None, none, NONE, of them are 100% well.

Third, there is a disgusting assumption here that suicide is an American epidemic. It isn’t. This is a worldwide issue. Not statewide, not nationwide, not just in developed countries. World. Wide. In fact, according to a map provided by The World Health Organization, the US isn’t even the worst affected by suicide in the world. (link provided in sources below)

Fourth, there are some disorders that successfully take control of one’s life. So by claiming that every single case is “the act of taking one’s own life on purpose.” is in fact ignoring the disorders that take control. I watched mental illness take reality away from someone that I loved. I watched her control slipping as everything slid away into dreams and confusion, hallucinations and fear. She swam in and out of a dream world that convinced her that it was real… and her only way into real life was to end her life in the dream, which was actually real life. She did NOT know what she was doing. She didn’t try to take her own life, she was trying to live it, she was just confused which life was real. Nothing here was on purpose. You cannot claim that when so much was beyond control.

Now, I am writing this while watching Patch Adams and thinking about Robin Williams. He struggled with depression and maybe more. Regardless of what was really going on, I refuse to believe that he had full control over his actions. Depression does crazy things to a person’s life. Robin Williams was a very strong person that brought laughter to countless people. And yet, he was so lost himself.

I’m coming onto an important point here. Suicide is selfish; absolutely, completely, irrevocably selfish. If you are considering suicide, DON’T USE THAT AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT REACH OUT. People care. My statement above may seem harsh. It is the truth. You not only hurt yourself; you hurt your family, your friends, people you may not have known, people that could have been in your future, your potential, etc.

I am not saying that it is easy or that it is condemnable if someone has committed suicide. Something pushed them to that point. It is important to try to be understanding, especially for those that they left behind.

My baby sister attempted suicide at 13 years old. She described it as feeling out of control and overwhelming. She took her gym shorts and used the draw string to try and hang herself in the bathroom. She is so blessed to have had an angel walk in on the attempt and save her life. My beautiful sister has struggled with depression and body image issues. This girl is amazingly gorgeous, I am so jealous of her. She has done what she can to get the help that she needs to avoid finding herself in that situation again.

The 100% wrong thing to do is what my father, his wife, and her family did to my sister. They accused her of just looking for attention, of being a “bad daughter”, of making her parents look bad, of being selfish and full of herself.

Let me first revisit my statement. “Suicide is selfish.” Yes. Suicide is selfish, the completion of it. However, it is not the person acting selfishly, not intentionally. The selfishness belongs to the suicidal thoughts that are taking over this person.

My sister wasn’t acting selfishly, she was doing the only thing she could think of to gain control of her life, though it wasn’t the correct decision, in these moments one’s mind does not process thoughts or impulses correctly. She was not doing it for attention. She was not doing it to piss off daddy. She was not doing it to hurt anyone. She was doing it to try to gain control of a teenage life spiraling out of control.

Now, many of you might not be able to understand this. If you have not lived through a life that has put you in a situation where your mind, heart, and body cannot agree and it is tearing your soul apart. If you haven’t lived through heartache and torment through most of your life; there is no way that you could possibly understand exactly what she was going through. You can be compassionate and supportive, but you will never know.

In the area I currently live in, suicide is something that is hushed, swept under the rug, and when it is not ignored, it is looked down upon and criticized. I have watched the church take suicide as an opportunity to preach sin. This is morally wrong. Instead of trying to help the family that is suffering a tremendous loss, they are pushing them farther and farther down. Their actions dig deep holes of dark depression surrounding the families and friends of those that have lost their lives to the fight against the holes in their lives.

Suicide is not a sin. Suicide is a loss. Suicide is not a copout. Suicide is a lost fight. Suicide is NOT a failure. Suicide is pain and confusion and… well…

Part of who I am is trying to understand the best in people. I try to find the part of them that could explain why they did something terrible. She stole from the store because she really needed it; he lashed out because he had a bad childhood, maybe. I cannot understand everyone; I couldn’t even comprehend trying to.

What I would like people to understand is that these families need support and compassion. Please try to stand up to the bullies that try to tear people down.

If you can stand up against those that preach the wrongness of suicide to the point of stigmatizing the family that has been brought to its knees with grief. These families have it hard enough. Give these people love. In this, I am not saying that suicide is correct; I am just saying that one should not tell a family that their lost loved one will not be accepted into heaven because mental illness took over and stole their lives. This is wrong.

I was recently made aware of a disturbing fact. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Utah had the third highest suicide rate in the country in 2013. (Succeeded only by Montana and Alaska). It is estimated that for every reported suicide there are 12 attempted suicides. In 2013 there were over 600 suicides in Utah according to the above statistics. If you include the attempted suicides the number rises to over 7000. That is over 3% of Utah population. That may seem small, but that is three attempts for every 100 people, and one attempt for every 33, does it really seem so small now?

According to the World Health Organization:

“Over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year and there are many more who attempt suicide. Hence, many millions of people are affected or experience suicide bereavement every year. Suicide occurs throughout the lifespan and was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds globally in 2012.”

It is important to note that suicide rates can tend to be higher among minorities, including LGBTQ youth and adults.

Next, I would like to share some of the possible warning signs with you all—while also informing you that there are not always warning signs.

One of the most important signs of suicide, one that is repeated again and again in different resources, is someone who talks about committing suicide, wanting to die, or wanting to hurt themselves. Please take these threats seriously and seek immediate help for the individual. *Please note that as much as 25-50% of individuals intending to commit suicide will NOT show any signs at all. If someone you know or love either attempted or succeeded in committing suicide, know that it was NOT your fault.

Other signs may include: behaving dangerously. Such as, buying weapons, increasing self-destructive activities (drugs, alcohol, self-harm, unprotected sex, etc.). They may be sleeping way too much, or way too little, eating too much or too little. They may become withdrawn, not wanting to spend time with friends or family. They may have recently been very moody or suddenly gone from moody to extremely calm. *Note: It is more common for someone that is starting to come out of a depressive cycle to attempt suicide then it is for someone who is stuck at the bottom of depression. They may have a sudden preoccupation with death, or “putting their affairs in order” such as telling people they care about goodbye and giving away prize possessions.

There are some situations that make it more common for someone who is considering suicide (or even previously seeming to be emotionally healthy) to make an attempt on their life; especially so if they have had a previous suicide attempt. Any trauma or life crisis including, but not limited to: a death in the family, an abusive situation, a loss of health or ability to function, loss of a job or financial stability, etc.

Do not feel ashamed or nervous about talking to these people (unless you fear that they may be violent or dangerous towards you or others) talking to them can actually help their emotional situation. If you believe that the person you know could be dangerous to themselves or others please call 911 right away! You could help save lives.

I had a friend call 911 on me when we had a fight. He told them that I was attempting suicide because he was pissed at me and hoped that they would arrest me. However, the police take the threat very seriously. They will calmly talk to the person and make sure that they are okay. They are not upset about being called and will not be angry with the person that they are talking to or with the person who called. So even if you don’t know, but you suspect that they could be. Please help them.

Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (there is also an online chat option at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/)

The Trevor Lifeline 866-488-7386

The Trevor Project:  http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now

Suicide help in your area: http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html

If you or someone you know are thinking about or considering suicide please reach out for help. Talk to a friend, call a hotline or dial 911 immediately.

(Read part four)

Sources I used in my post:

American Foundation for Suicide Provention
https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures
Crisis Center.com
http://www.crisiscenter.com/content/51/Suicide-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms.aspx
Mental Health.Gov
http://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/suicidal-behavior/
The New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/suicide-and-suicidal-behavior/overview.html
Save.org
http://www.save.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewpage&page_id=705f4071-99a7-f3f5-e2a64a5a8beaadd8
Suicide.org
http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html
The Suicide Prevention Hotline
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
The Trevor Project
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now
Web MD
http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior?page=2
World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/
World Health Organization Map
http://gamapserver.who.int/mapLibrary/Files/Maps/Global_AS_suicide_rates_bothsexes_2012.png?ua=1

The Resident Femme

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#5 Mental Illness—Part One

This specific post was originally written in June of 2014.

I am just going to come right out and say it: Everyone has issues. Not everyone’s issues are of the same caliber. Some people only deal with mental illness once in a rare while, maybe it’s a wave of depression, a really anxiously lived day, a random moment of insanity. . . But there are those whose lives are controlled by Mental Illness.

Mental Illness Is not an attempt at attention, and some people deal with similar situations in different ways. Some people take the pain inside and it festers. It turns into a black poison that tears their soul apart. THIS DOES NOT MAKE THEM WEAK! This means that they are dealing with this pain again and again every day until they learn how to work past it. This makes them strong.

It may seem hard for some to realize this; however, I read something on my Facebook yesterday that I would like to share with you all.

“I don’t like the phrase ‘A Cry For Help’. I just don’t like how it sounds. When somebody says to me

‘I’m thinking about suicide, I have a plan; I just need a reason not to do it, ‘ the last thing I see is helplessness.

“I think: Your depression has been beating you up for years. It’s called you ugly, and stupid, and pathetic, and a failure, for so long that you’ve forgotten that it’s wrong. You don’t see any good in yourself, and you don’t have any hope.

”But still, here you are; You’ve come over to me, banged on my door, and said: ‘Hey! Staying alive is REALLY HARD right now! Just give me something to fight with! I don’t care if it’s a stick! Give me a stick and I can stay alive!’

“How is that helpless? I think that’s incredible. You’re like a Marine: trapped for years behind enemy lines, your gun has been taken away, you’re out of ammo, you’re malnourished, and you’ve probably caught some kind of jungle virus that’s making you hallucinate giant spiders.

“And you’re still just going: ‘Give me a stick. I’m NOT dying out here!’

“ ‘A cry for help’ Makes it sound like I’m supposed to take pity on you. But you don’t need my pity. This isn’t pathetic. This is the will to survive. This is how humans lived long enough to become the dominant species.

“With NO hope, running on NOTHING, you’re ready to cut through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with nothing but a stick, if that’s what it takes to get to safety.
“All I’m doing is handing out sticks. You’re the one staying alive.”

I read this and cried. It is a very true thing for most people. It is a constant struggle to feel normal while trying to live with the world around you

I personally have PTSD, OCD, Conversion Disorder, and Dysthymia. I have been living with consistent anxiety and depression: pretty much my whole life.

I have finally gotten to the point where I was able to accept that I needed to seek help and my current agreement with my therapist is that I will not currently discuss what has caused my issues. Yet. I can let people know that I have the issues, but it is not healthy for me to tell anyone details as to why or what happened.

What I will say is that I have three major things that happened to cause the PTSD, things that I need to figure out how to work through so that I am no longer afraid of the world around me. I sometimes feel like it has been forever. I honestly had no real idea what happiness was even supposed to feel like. I was started on anti-depressants and I remember telling a friend: “I feel like I am malfunctioning. I am glitching and I need to be sent in for repairs.” I did not feel like how I knew myself to be for so long. I was finally being pulled out of my depression and being put into a healthier mental cycle and it felt WRONG.

It should never feel WRONG to feel enjoyment in your own life.

For a very long time I believed that I did not matter. Everyone and everything came before my needs. Because of this way of thinking, I became very sick. I was in a situation where I was living in pure anxiety for several weeks on end. I could not eat, I could not sleep, I couldn’t take notice in myself or anything around me. I was close to 130lbs and I lost almost 30lbs in 2-4 weeks. I was had already had stomach issues and could hardly keep anything down, and now I wasn’t eating.

My moods got worse and I continued to fall deeper and deeper into both mental and physical illness. It has been almost a year and I am still working on getting my stomach back to the size it was before. I have to forcefully remind myself that I have to eat at least three meals a day. (I have alarms on my phone for crying out loud!)

I do not know how to explain how my life is to people. I need the medication I am on right now to survive. They are keeping me in a place where I can value myself and not let myself be buried deeper and deeper in other people’s crap.
I was told in sixth grade that my only weakness was that I cared too much about others and not enough about myself. She never saw me as a broken human, she always saw me as a whole, beautiful, human being that was helping people so much I was hurting myself. It took me a long time and many people repeating these same words for me to understand what they meant.

My life is helping others, but if I do not take the time for me first, then I will not survive. I will wither away and die—literally.

Mental Illness is not something to be taken lightly. If you know someone who struggles with any at all: (Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, or one of many other mental disorders, etc.) Please be a support to them.

It is a mistake to accuse them of acting out for attention. In most cases, people are not trying to get you to see them, they are trying to follow what their brain is telling them to do. They hurt and they are afraid. Offer love and a kind shoulder. Offer healthy activities and just be a friend. I know that when I had the loss of friends around me, life got a lot worse. I had nowhere to turn, and so when I needed people and support the most… I locked myself away.

Now that I have friends in my life, people that are willing to sit and help me through my downs… I find myself still having issues with reaching out. It was impossible for so long that it is hard for me to ask for help now.

To my friends: Please understand that I am not trying to hurt you if I start to push you away. It is a safety mechanism. I am afraid. I know that I am hurting and that I do not want to end up hurting you with the $#!+ that I am going through. Sometimes it’s for the best to insist on being in my life, on MAKING ME get out of the house and distract me from what I have been dwelling on. ASK  me if I am working on my senses—hell you don’t even need to know what it means! Just know that it is important to my mental health right now. Ask me if I am alright and if I need some time to breath. Ask me to be a friend, because even if I am not reaching out for it… I need friends more than I ever knew I did.

This kind of turned into a strange rant about mental health. I hope that this post helps people understand that mental illness is not an act. LOVE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO HAVE THESE ISSUES. (Also, do not take possible mean things personally; we learn that to survive, it may be safer to be alone. Usually we do not realize that we are pushing/have pushed people away until it is too late.)

(Read Part 2)

~A Girl on the Edge of the Wild~

AKA
The Resident Femme

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