Mental Health Concerns

I’ve had psy­chi­atric care. I have, in fact, been treat­ed for treat­ment-resis­tant major depres­sive dis­or­der, anx­i­ety, and com­plex post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­der (CPTSD) on and off since around 1988. I think I prob­a­bly need­ed treat­ment long before that, but my par­ents did­n’t rec­og­nize the prob­lem and nei­ther did I.

I’ve large­ly had help as an out­pa­tient, but I did spend one week in a hos­pi­tal after a seri­ous sui­cide attempt in 1988. There was anoth­er, longer stay in 1991 when I real­ized that I was head­ed into a sui­ci­dal state again. I’ve also attend­ed a part-time, out­pa­tient psy­chi­atric pro­gram that was very help­ful. I see a ther­a­pist reg­u­lar­ly for talk ther­a­py and take anti­de­pres­sants. In 2016, I had a course of tran­scra­nial mag­net­ic stim­u­la­tion (TMS), too. I spend a fair amount of time on my own read­ing, jour­nal­ing, med­i­tat­ing, prac­tic­ing grat­i­tude, and oth­er­wise work­ing to improve my state of mind. Every year or so I re-read this book and revis­it the med­i­ta­tions includ­ed on its CD: The Mind­ful Way Through Depres­sion: Free­ing Your­self from Chron­ic Unhap­pi­ness (Book & CD)

My depres­sion seems to large­ly be relat­ed to being raped when I was a child. It’s very like­ly that oth­er fac­tors, such as a genet­ic pre­dis­po­si­tion to depres­sion, con­tribute to the issue, but the his­to­ry of sex­u­al abuse seems to be the most sig­nif­i­cant con­trib­u­tor for me. I also have obses­sive-com­pul­sive dis­or­der (OCD) and I had an eat­ing dis­or­der at one time. All of my diag­noses are pret­ty typ­i­cal for abuse sur­vivors of any kind. 

I have come to accept that I’ll prob­a­bly always need anti-depres­sants. I mon­i­tor my depres­sion lev­els, and if I seem to be head­ed into the trough again I try to fig­ure out whether there’s some­thing in my life that’s con­tribut­ing to the depres­sion. I improve the sit­u­a­tion if pos­si­ble or accept it if that isn’t pos­si­ble. My part­ner is great about help­ing me through those times, but some­times I also require a med­ica­tion adjustment. 

CPTSD and anx­i­ety give me more ongo­ing trou­ble than depres­sion. I have a fair­ly low tol­er­ance lev­el for noise and crowds, which is unfor­tu­nate­ly exac­er­bat­ed by fibromyal­gia. I still get flash­backs and night­mares at times (it seems to be a cycli­cal thing). I com­plete­ly avoid read­ing any explic­it recounts of any kind of rape or sex­u­al abuse. I have tran­quil­iz­ers that I can take when nec­es­sary for those and pan­ic attacks, but I’m wary of their addic­tion poten­tial. I try to use mind­ful­ness tech­niques to calm myself, instead. 

Few peo­ple real­ize how dif­fer­ent­ly you’re treat­ed once any­one learns that you’ve been in a men­tal hos­pi­tal or had any oth­er sort of psy­chi­atric care. I know most of you think “Oh, I’d nev­er do that. I know men­tal health treat­ment isn’t so strange.” But real­ly now, look deep­er. You back off a lit­tle when you learn some­thing like that about new acquain­tances, don’t you? Almost like there’s a chance of contagion? 

You would be absolute­ly stunned to learn how many peo­ple you see and inter­act with on a dai­ly basis have, at some time, had some sort of psy­chi­atric treat­ment, whether it was talk ther­a­py or anti­de­pres­sants or the occa­sion­al anti-anx­i­ety drugs. In most cas­es, you’ll nev­er know unless they do tell you, because they are nor­mal, func­tion­al peo­ple. You’ll nev­er have rea­son to know unless they tell you. 

The stig­ma regard­ing men­tal health will remain until we bring the whole top­ic out of the clos­et. It’s the peo­ple who refuse to seek help when they need it who go off the deep end and start shoot­ing chil­dren in play­grounds! Get­ting help for men­tal health prob­lems is no dif­fer­ent from tak­ing insulin if you’re a dia­bet­ic, or get­ting your bro­ken leg set so it’ll heal prop­er­ly. Do you take anti­de­pres­sants? You hide that from most peo­ple, don’t you? Do you wear glass­es or con­tacts? When’s the last time you hid that? Need­ing your vision or your body’s chem­istry cor­rect­ed isn’t a moral issue, but sim­ply a fact of life. So is seek­ing help for depres­sion or sim­i­lar prob­lems. Please get help if you need it! 

There was a time when I did resist being hon­est about depres­sion. I did­n’t want to be open enough with my ther­a­pist to even get the help I need­ed. I resist­ed so much, in fact, that I tried to kill myself. I woke up in ICU a few days lat­er, throat sore from being intu­bat­ed, feel­ing gen­er­al­ly nasty from hav­ing my stom­ach pumped and being giv­en char­coal. My first coher­ent thought was “Damn, that was stu­pid!” If you’re think­ing about hurt­ing your­self, please take my word for it: Don’t. Get help. You aren’t irre­triev­ably bro­ken. You are sim­ply ill, and you can get bet­ter. It is worth the work to do so. 

If you’ve been through some sort of men­tal ill­ness, talk about it. Be open about it. Treat it just as you would treat hav­ing sur­vived can­cer or a bro­ken back or any­thing else. Don’t let any­one shame you about it, and don’t be silent. You may be able to help some­one else through your openness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top