Getting Psychological Help and Leaving the Stigma Behind

November 7, 2018

An abstact painitng with many earth tones.

Ever since I can remember I wasn’t like everyone else. I had struggles the other kids couldn’t quite understand. I would get in fights at school after being sleep deprived for days for instance and that was at age seven.

On the frequent nights that I couldn’t sleep I’d get into my mothers pills taking what I had seen her take for sleep and hoping for the best. Then as the years went on, I was feeling so low and hopeless that I wished it would all be over, wanting to jump off my parents balcony at age ten.

This led me to my first hospital stay and official diagnosis: bipolar disorder with mood affect, in other words borderline personality disorder (BPD) with bipolar traits. I started taking meds and was put into care of children’s aid where I struggled between hospitals group homes and treatment centers making few friends along the way. I did however manage to graduate high school, win two awards at the national level in martial arts, and learn how creative a person I am.

At age eighteen I returned to my mother’s for a year. It was rough. She was in poor physical and mental health and it was too demanding for me to care for her. After her abusive behavior became too much I left and moved to a nearby city where I realized just how serious my mental illness was. I was soon after admitted and resumed medication.

In 2010 I was admitted twenty-one times simply because I was too sick to function on my own but too well to get a treatment team. Anxiety and panic had overwhelmed my life as had my other illnesses and fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of not being loved, fear of abandonment. I gained many diagnoses ranging from the “BPD with mood affect” I already had to anxiety, bipolar disorder type one, schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia as well as a variety of personality disorders.

Whilst on the streets I did not know how to cope with the voices and delusions I had on a regular basis. I would take my meds, get my housing sorted, maybe make a friend or two, then everything would fall apart again. I also started lashing out in public because I couldn’t fight the voices, which led me to a more and more violent record, which led me to be unable to get a job. I wasn’t even able to access health resources because the care providers thought I was choosing to be sick. This stigma around my case is what kept me on the streets along with poor quality in housing and me not having the coping skills I needed.

Fast forward to 2018, I am now an inpatient in a hospital ward for the criminally insane. I also have cancer which, although it’s difficult, has taught me to be grateful for the little things. I have done cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for my psychosis and now know how to cope with most of my symptoms and am on meds that work.

An abstact painitng with many earth tones.

“Life Path” by Abeer Naguib

I use my creative outlets on a daily basis to cope with the restrictions on my freedoms which are temporary. I will be discharged likely within a year or so. But on the down side my cancer is stage four and could have been caught sooner…the hospital I’m at neglected to take my physical health seriously last year when I complained daily of pain in my left arm until nine months later they did an X-ray and found cancer had eaten my bone. To this day I struggle to get care for my physical issues often being told I’m exaggerating because of my BPD.

But recently something wonderful happened. I woke up and didn’t care what they thought about what I look like or how I’m acting. It is very freeing when you don’t always panic about what everyone thinks.

I have hope that one day I will leave this hospital behind me, go back to college, hold a part-time job, see the northern lights, travel coast to coast and enjoy what’s left of my life. My journey isn’t over. This is just the beginning.


2 comments:

  1. Benjamin Eisenstein

    November 7, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    I found this post to be delightfully authentic. I hope you get to see those northern lights sooner than later!

    I noticed that you mentioned you mother twice. How is your relationship these days?

    Reply
  2. BERNARD S SIEGEL, MD

    November 7, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    You should read my books to coach you into being a survivor.

    Reply

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