The Faces of Mental Illness – 2/23/2014

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For all purposes here, I am The Llama. If you have ever read anything about The Llama on Terminally Intelligent, that is me. I have been a silent sufferer of mental illness for a long time. I suffer from depression, anxiety, and mild panic attacks.

Since the birth of our child, my wife has suffered from depression and anxiety. As my symptoms began to manifest I pushed them aside and tried to hide them so that I could, in my thoughts, be strong, happy, and supportive for her. Obviously that was not healthy for me but I thought it necessary.
Seven years ago I suddenly had a bad meltdown and saw my doctor about my symptoms. I have never been suicidal or in any way close to self-harm but that seemed to be mostly what he was concerned with. From what I told him, he put me on Paxil. That was a terrible experience. While on it I cheated on my wife, lost my job, and then split from my wife for a woman who was an incredible whore and toxic for me. Now I’m not blaming the pills for my problems, but I am saying that it was the wrong medication for me and I behaved very out of character while on it. I then did exactly what I shouldn’t have done and weaned myself off of the Paxil. It was all in the spirit of trying to fix my relationship with my wife and get my life back together. Thankfully, I was lucky and didn’t cause myself any harm and did get my family back.
Since then things have not only gone back to normal, but I have fallen more in love with the woman I married than I thought was possible. Problem is that I also went back to pretending to be a smiling rock for my wife. While it is helpful to her, again, it’s bad for me. She saw all of the symptoms but didn’t want to say anything because she knew that it could feel like I was being attacked.

I am constantly an anxious mess. I spend most of my day worrying that a text I received from a friend might mean that they didn’t like what I had said to them, thinking about what I may have messed up at work the previous day, or thinking about what I’m going to say in an important conversation that I may have coming up. Over and over again. In fact I thought and worried about typing this message for about two straight days before finally starting it. Then the depression that causes me to cry for no reason. For example, the other day the tears started flowing while mixing pancake batter with Imagine Dragons playing on vinyl. Can’t imagine any nostalgia or memory that would cause it. Then the panic attacks join in. They are very mild and might not even be panic attacks but that’s what they seem like. No breath, heart racing, and can’t think about anything but trying to stop it. It might be just heart palpitations caused by the anxiety but those are almost the same thing.

Next, I don’t like myself very much, physically or emotionally. I’m so [afraid of] anyone finding out that I put on an air of arrogance. Sometimes it gets so bad that people really view me as arrogant, which does not help the anxiety. Or sometimes it turns into real arrogance and suddenly I am either having problems at work or, in one case, being fired. Finally, there is my crippling fear of death. Since I was a child I have been afraid of the fact that we are all headed toward an inevitable end. To this day I still break down about once every month or so because of it.

The other day I broke and had one of my worst days in a long time. I decided that I had to sit down and confess to my wife, not to mention myself, how I really feel on a normal day. I was scared out of my mind that she would break down in tears because she couldn’t rely on me to be strong anymore or that she would be pissed that I have basically been lying to her. In the end, she was proud of me for coming forward finally since she had a feeling I was not doing so well as I seemed. Also giving her something to focus on helping and fixing helps her feel a bit better.
We have come up with a plan to begin to fix each other. Pick the right doctors for us, treatment, love, and communication. It feels so much better to be able to talk with her about it and just having her around, talking or not, really helps to quiet the anxiety a bit.

The Faces of Mental Illness – 2/9/2014

MeHi, I’m Paul. I have major depression in the bipolar spectrum for about 6 months. However looking back I’ve had depression most of my life. I was first diagnosed with depression while I was in the USAF. At the time it wasn’t as well understood as now and after two visits I was declared healed. I didn’t realize until I was 50 my heavy drinking was actually self-medicating. I stopped that about 13 years ago but slowly the depression worsened until last September when I had a meltdown and went on disability. I’m now getting the proper treatment though doctors, medication and a great therapist. I’m beginning to understand myself more but I still have a battle to fight to get to where I want to be.

To get there I’ve started volunteering at a local hospital and working to get my shepherd/collie dog certified as a therapy dog. I’ve also started reading again and trying to teach myself how to draw and color with colored pencils as part of the therapy. I actively work for Mental Health Awareness and Fighting the Stigma through my Facebook page and expressing my self-discovery on my blog on Google+ “Life In My Flock”. This gives my enforced retirement some meaning and hopefully I can help one person through their battle with Mental Illness.

With the help of my very understanding wife, who puts up with it, I know I will come out where I should be.

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photo (1) (1)My name is Nelly. I write under the name of Neurotic Nelly and I suffer from severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have been writing about my journey through the world of mental illness for over a year now. I believe that we can overcome stigma and fear if we band together and speak up. We are important and what we feel is valid. We are worthy. We are lovable. We are strong. I suffer from mental illness and I refused to feel ashamed about it. I refuse to be treated differently because of it. I refuse to accept that it makes me less than because it doesn’t.

If you are interest in learning more about OCD or my journey you can find more information on my blog.

14 faces of mental illness.

1MoxieI came across this today, and thought I’d share. As part of a separate project, a group people with mental illness created a collection of images. I thought these persons are very courageous for their work. Check it out.

This project is very similar to ours, and we’re very happy that more people are bringing their stories to the world. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and it only helps other people feel less alone when they see regular people struggling with the same thing they are.

The Face of Mental Illness – 1/19/2014

Image submitted through thefaceofmentalillness@gmail.com

Image submitted through thefaceofmentalillness@gmail.com

“Hello everyone, I’m Dave or The Man Behind The Afro as is my persona online. I suffer from General Anxiety and Depression. I’ve only just discovered about 6 months ago that I had these mental illness even though I have suffered from it most my life, in context I’m now 30. It was a shock during a break down that I realized that how I’ve felt all my life and hidden from the world was considered by a lot of people as normal. I’m glad that I finally opened up and told everyone because it has made me realize that I’m not alone and others understand what I go through.
I’ve also started my own blog and you tube channel to document my challengers and achievements against mental illness and also in the hope to bring more awareness to those that don’t understand what it means to have a mental illness.
These can be found on my Face Book and Google+ page which is entitled The Man Behind The Afro.”

The Face of Mental Illness – 1/12/2014

Image submitted through thefaceofmentalillness@gmail.com

Image submitted through thefaceofmentalillness@gmail.com

I am Michael. I suffer with dysautonomia which leads to frustrating physical symptoms, anxiety, agoraphobia and enjoy a healthy and fun level of pareidolia, and while these affect my life on a day by day and often even a minute by minute basis they do not define me. I am a college instructor. I enjoy cooking. I make jokes and laugh at myself and with others. I enjoy working on the computer and run my own technology business. I have a wonderful wife and two amazing children, all of whom accept me as I am.
 
And, like Sada who posted before me, I too get comfort from a bear. He is often seen with me and people can accept him or not. People can accept me or not as they chose – but I am very open with my challenges and find most people, almost all, are very kind and caring and understanding. It always amazes me how often people tell me they, too, suffer from similar challenges or have friends or family that do. Too many people live in fear of others finding out what challenges they have. Thank you, Rory, for giving people an outlet to know it is OK to have such struggles and still accept yourself.

 

The Face of Mental Illness – 11/24/2013

Photo: Rory

Photo: Rory

Today’s Face is Gloria Abril. Several years ago, NAMI decided to stop doing the Phoenix NAMIwalk. They could no longer afford to pay two people $60,000/year to run the event. Gloria continued working her regular job, and took on the monumental task of organizing the NAMIwalk for 2011, 2012, and 2013 with a small group of volunteers. Each year, instead of the wages being paid to those employees, the full amount raised goes to NAMI for research, advocacy, and education. It takes nine months each year for her and her volunteers to organize and run the event each year.

I asked why it was so important to her, that she would sacrifice so much of her year leading this effort. She told me that she has 4 family members with mental illness, and when she found out that NAMI wasn’t going to fund the event any more, she got volunteers to come in. Gloria does this to support her family members with mental illness.

The Face of Mental Illness – 11/17/2013

Photo: ~Rory taken at Phoenix NAMIWalk 2013

Photo: ~Rory taken at Phoenix NAMIWalk 2013

Justin
“I’m here in support.”
~”Do you have a friend or family member with mental illness?”
“I did”
~”What happened?”~
“Someone close to me committed suicide.”

Photo property of Rory

Photo property of Rory

Ryan has Bipolar Disorder, and clinical depression. He has been committed to several mental health hospitals, and self-harms. He is crippled by fear that he will commit suicide.