Mental Health First Person Essays: We feature stories of mental health, empowerment, and change, including mental health first person essays, by and for those with mental health challenges.
it has been a very long time since I have been out dancing. I am much too depressed and the pain is overwhelming; however, there came a meeting of my many minds and the solution was couch dancing. LOL, you say? I would be willing to bet you have never tried it!
“You need to accept the fact that schizophrenia is a chronic condition. You will have it for the rest of your life, so you need to start focusing on managing your symptoms.” When I heard it put so plainly, I sighed in despair.
My panic attacks are still not discriminatory nor are they accommodating. For years, they came and went as they pleased. In bedrooms, in showers, on vacations, and in cars.
We have a strong marriage but with our multiple diagnoses there are challenges that most would not understand—like going to the grocery store or out to eat.
I’ve been told I am crazy more times than I’ve been told I’m smart or strong or worthy of love. I’ve been diagnosed and re-diagnosed. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with me and how to “fix” myself.
I was trying to manage my PTSD (unsuccessfully), which was magnified by my newly received diagnoses of bipolar with treatment resistant depression and borderline traits.
I am what clinicians may refer to as “comorbid,” meaning I experience simultaneous disorders at once. With my history of diagnoses of major depressive, post-traumatic stress, panic, generalized anxiety, illness anxiety, body dysmorphic, and social anxiety disorders, I have had an overwhelming journey.
I had always been a sullen, solitary girl, sensitive and moody, prone to uncontrollable emotional outbursts. But the sadness I felt that winter was deeper, the outbursts more frequent, intense, and all-consuming.
I should have asked for her hand in marriage, but she would have just given me the finger. I live with bipolar disorder. Once, I loved with it too.
It is impossible to ignore the impact that a child’s addiction and mental health has on a parent. Because of this I started therapy myself, and I believe that it saved my life.
I’m a thirty-seven-year-old woman who was diagnosed with bipolar, depression and anxiety at the age of twenty-two. As I look back on my life I can remember feeling anxious throughout my childhood. I grew up in a good home with loving parents, but my anxiety persisted.
Bowser and I had met when I began a rather impulsive search for someone, or something, to help alleviate my mental and emotional turmoil.
I’m writing now as a happy and fulfilled young adult. But ten years ago, I thought my life was worth ending.
Though I am in recovery from generalized anxiety disorder, (GAD) that doesn’t mean I am cured, I have periods of remission and mini flare-ups.
I stopped drinking the next day. There was no plan. It was just, “I’m not drinking today, and probably not tomorrow.” Five years.
You’re more powerful than you know. And, once you learn how to wield your powers, trust me. They’ll applaud.
My illness devastated me at age twenty when I was committed to a psychiatric hospital for sixty days and eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
My impaired judgement was obvious even in the early days of my illness. I exhibited so many of the symptoms associated with psychosis—a substantial drop in my grades, trouble concentrating, declining hygiene, a significant weight loss, oscillating from strong emotions to a feeling of emptiness to name a few.
Not hallucinations, but rather some of the smaller and fuzzier denizens native to Cambridge, Massachusetts. There is no metaphor more fitting for the person I was back then: twitchy, easily startled, a propensity to run scared from others. I had lost all the avenues I’d had to hide from depression and anxiety, and they closed in like a pair of gangsters in an alleyway.
I felt like a complete failure. I had always been able to handle everything without an issue. But at first, navigating depression was another story.
One night, my mental state deteriorated to the point where I tried to end my life through a suicde attempt. It was impulsive and rash.
The Five Stages of Mourning is a perfect template for my own Five Stages of Depression: Anger, Anxiety/Exhaustion, Depression, Treatment, and Recovery.
When I exhibited symptoms of C-PTSD and OCD, I was afraid and lost. I survived multiple major depressive episodes, all of them including suicidality.
Whenever I’d gone through stages of major depression or anxiety as a young teenager, all I’d hear was that I was stupid, lazy, and unambitious. Imagine being judged by your symptoms and not by your illness.
My psychiatrist became so annoyed with my theological nonsense that he abruptly stalked out of one session, exclaiming, “You just can’t talk to crazy people.” I sent him a note later, in which I informed him that I could talk to crazy people, so that was his problem, not mine.
Around age fifteen or sixteen, I began experimenting with drugs. I can tell you that this was, and always will be, the beginning of an ultimately fascinating journey that I call life with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.
I am determined to love and live intensely and fearlessly because, as Audre Lorde said, betraying myself into silence will not protect me.
When you think of married life, what comes to mind? Are you in complete bliss or just plain miserable? Maybe you’re floating somewhere in between.
I endured this routine for so long: try a new medication to alleviate my treatment resistant depression and either feel horrible or feel absolutely nothing.
I am trying hard to make good decisions. I see my psychiatrist regularly. I take my medication. I try to live a healthy lifestyle with schizoaffective disorder.
The passive suicidal thoughts are still there, but I have started to recognize that they are only powerful if I give them the power.
When I finally saw a psychiatrist, she was surprised that I was still alive, having been afflicted with depression for so long without medical treatment.
As I battle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD, it has always been far easier for me to support others with mental health struggles than to admit my own.
With depression, I had suicidal thoughts. Not because I wanted to kill myself, but because the idea of being “done” felt like serenity.
These images of mental in pictures are not what the public wants people to show. They are reality. They are dirty, messy, uninhibited, and true.
Persistent depressive disorder (formerly known as dysthymic disorder or dysthymia) is just what it sounds like: depression that persists.
Social anxiety still exists online. You’re still putting yourself out there and you feel vulnerable opening up, not knowing what response you’ll get.
In my research, I found several articles about Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures. Doctors do not use the term pseudo-seizures anymore because it falsifies them and invalidates them. Pseudo is a prefix meaning “false” or “fake,” and the seizures I was having, while not epileptic, were anything but fake.
I feel like I need complicated charts, graphs, and spreadsheets to adequately explain how big of a failure I am as a brand new stay-at-home dad.
“I can’t explain where I’ve been, and though everyone wants to understand, it doesn’t mean they comprehend. They can’t grasp where I am.” – Kathryn Rose Wood
Experiencing childhood trauma, I knew that something was wrong or different about me, but for a long time I dismissed that notion.
I went from unhappy to miserable to struggling to overwhelmed to depressed and suicidal. First I was diagnosed with post-natal depression, followed by treatment-resistant clinical depression. Then came the biggest clanger of all, diagnosis number three: borderline personality disorder.
My father’s compassion when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder was unreal and unexpected. Importantly, he was engaged in his own efforts to better understand what life is like for a son with bipolar disorder by seeking out support groups.
It took months of internal debate before I worked up the courage and the desire to at least give the depression and bipolar support groups a shot.
Groggy. Always groggy. Part bored, part feeling down. Seems I always have habits I either need to break or start—when I can get around to it. Maybe tomorrow, after my 8:30am nap.
Before I had a name for my mental illness — bipolar disorder and ptsd — this is what it felt like: playing diagnosis dress-up, trying on labels, seeing how they fit, and feeling lost — like there was nothing left in my closet to wear.
They say when you experience a traumatic experience as a child, you block out the details. My memory jumps.
I failed the postpartum screening given, as protocol, by the hospital, and yet they sent me home.
I crossed seamlessly from ambivalence and malaise into an area I’d never been before: actively planning suicide.
I’m not an expert on mental health, addiction, or suicide. I’m a survivor.
I don’t know when it started. It was not as though I suddenly woke up with a raging heartbeat and butterflies in my stomach, wishing I could run away from myself. It came in tiny bits of worry.
Yes, I have been diagnosed with depression, OCD and borderline personality disorder. Yet, I am still a good person.
Trapped between fear and anxiety, I would drink and use drugs to cover up my feelings. After years of living this way with several bad trips, blackouts and hospitalizations, I went into treatment.
Schizoaffective bipolar type is a disease characterized by mood swings and depression, in addition to psychosis, delusions, and paranoia.
Mental health silent retreats have been an important tool in my recovery. They have allowed me to forgive, heal, and gain clarity.
I started writing songs about my feelings and sharing them with audiences throughout the country as a touring musician, under the name The Homeless Gospel Choir.
Therapists have told me that I use these repetitive behaviors as way to avoid facing my fears.
A memory, a word, a smell, an instance can take one back to the exact moment the trauma first spoke to them.
I have bipolar disorder and I’ve written a book about my experience living with bipolar disorder and depression.
Gabe lives with bipolar disorder and Kendall lives with Gabe, who lives with bipolar disorder so, in a way; Kendall does most definitely “live” with bipolar disorder.
“I wrote the song “Becoming” about giving my mental health adequate attention and care, even while in a relationship.” — Emily Yacina
As bad as my depression has been – and I’ve experienced more than 40 years of it – I have somehow, luckily, always found the magic of laughter within reach.
Depression tricks you into thinking that you are completely alone when, in fact, you are the opposite. No one is truly alone.
We’re always looking for mental health empowerment in unsuspecting places, and today we’re featuring feeds focused around the diagnosis of anxiety on Instagram.
All my life, the media had taught me that, in order to suffer from mental illness, you had to endure some kind of a severe trauma. That was incorrect.
When it comes to mental health, how we can become our own best friend in 2018? Here’s what we came up with. Happy New Year to you, friend.
In this installment of our Mental Health Resources column, we’re covering the best of anxiety Twitter accounts. As always, OC87 Recovery Diaries is committed to our shared cause to #buststigma around mental health issues.
As I lie in bed, my thoughts spiral saying, “You’re a horrible mother. You’re a horrible writer. You’re a horrible person.”
A journey from dark days of mental health institutionalization and repeated electroconvulsive therapy treatments, to a successful advocacy career.
On losing my mind with bipolar disorder, the bottom line is this: I need to take my medication, no matter how much faith I possess.
Depression Facebook pages that share genuinely different content while still all speaking to what it can be like to live with depression.
“What could go wrong for someone who has panic attacks in large crowds at an event regularly attended by 20,000 people?” — Sheila Hageman
Depression tricks you into thinking that you are completely alone when, in fact, you are the opposite. No one is truly alone.
The doctors recommended that I receive an Honorable Discharge from the Army with a 100% Disability Rating: not what I had planned for my life.
Managing bipolar disorder behavior involves more than medications. Changes in mood are affected by factors in our environment.
A therapist writes with humor and passion about her struggles with panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and an eating disorder.
As we seek to #buststigma around mental illness, this installment of our mental health resources column highlights OCD videos on YouTube that we love.
This was not exactly the learning I wanted when I went to graduate school, but the lifelong journey of becoming a therapist, is the therapy I have needed.
Despite getting progressively better at social interaction, dating with schizophrenia is just too much and, every time I try, I crash and burn.
Still, I resisted. For several years, I didn’t want to accept that the push and pull of depression was a permanent part of me.
The media is so quick to pick up the mental illness scapegoat because it knows that people need to blame the tragedy on something.
There is only one thing that gets me through the bipolar cycles and that is time. It is a cliché but, during my cycles, the only way is through.
Today we’re showcasing bipolar disorder Instagram accounts that enrich the way we understand what it’s like to live with this diagnosis.
After traveling with depression, I know that I am a powerful being who overcame the dragon blowing fire into my brain. I fought, and I won.
I keep publishing because people say my writing about mental health has shed light onto something they have had a lot of trouble understanding.
I focus my work on helping folks navigate sex and depression on their own and with their partners so that everyone feels supported and safe.
I am plagued with obsessions and addictions. On default I use mental compulsions (avoidance, reassurance seeking, mental rituals, etc.) to seek relief.
Therapy can change lives, though there are bumps and valleys in the therapeutic process. I’ve found it makes for a happier state of being in the long run.
This disassociated state, where you plan your death as though you were planning Tuesday night’s dinner, is one of the many shades of depression.
A round-up focusing on schizophrenia Twitter accounts that serve our community through education, empowerment, and meaningful engagement.
I should probably explain a few things. I’m not crazy. I suffer from major depression, as well as generalized anxiety disorder. I’m basically a shut-in.
Stepping away reminds you that you are human; another hard lesson. It took me years to realize that I am a valid human being despite my illness.
After being diagnosed with a serious, chronic illness like schizophrenia, it’s hard to find any purpose in life, including finding work with mental illness.
People are now openly talking about having depression or anxiety — BUT NOT BIPOLAR: I believe that the word bipolar in Australia is still scary.
These five depression TED Talks share our agenda to inspire, build bridges, and bring light to the shadow that enshrouds mental health challenges.
Disclosing your mental illness has costs and benefits, but the thing to remember is that, while it’s a tricky choice, it is most definitely a choice.
Say the words “psychiatric hospital” to the average person and the hair on the back of their neck might stand straight up.
I put a lot of thought into how to make the web-series Katie and Shaun responsibly. The portrayal of anxiety and depression is true to my experience.
These PTSD Facebook pages speak to the specific challenges and lived experiences of this diagnosis to #buststigma, foster community, and create change.
I start to feel a bit of ennui, a French word meaning, “general malaise.” This can go on for a while until the ennui surrounds me and depression sets in.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks and depersonalization. At the time, I was actively pursuing a career in music.
Maintaining mental health stability is a delicate dance that, at times, can be very unstable and can cause some serious trouble if you fall.
Glenn Holsten discusses the making of his mental health documentary film, Hollywood Beauty Salon.
I will always struggle with depression, but finally I feel I am done clearing the land and am ready to plant the seeds that will become new growth.
“OC87” is a term coined by one of my therapists. It refers to the year 1987: the year I wanted to control everyone and everything.
In celebration of our new podcast, we’ve rounded up 22 mental health podcasts that are doing their part to #buststigma around mental illness.
I wrote a song called “Everything Will Kill You” inspired by all the times that I’ve fearfully prepared myself for tragedies that have never actually happened.
Finding stability with a mental illness, like anything else worthwhile, takes time, effort, and openness to learning, and failing.
Perhaps it is important to talk about how I ended up in a psych ward and how I ended up having an earache. I can explain pieces of the first thing.
Living with schizophrenia, I’ve been through the full gamut of side-effects. New side-effects pop up to say “hello” with each medication I’m prescribed.
After my bipolar diagnosis I got married, got divorced, lost my job due to the stigma of mental illness, and attend two assisted outpatient hospital programs.
“Honey, I will be checking on you every fifteen minutes.” I stared at her, puzzled, until she leveled me with a four-word gut punch: “You’re on suicide watch.”
A round-up of smart, empowering, and engaging OCD Twitter accounts who share our mission to #buststigma around mental illness.
When I was deep in the midst of a psychotic break, I was convinced that I was a prophet sent from God to save society from its ills.
I’m talking about my depression, not in vague terms any longer. It is a problem. It has a name. My boys know that name and I hope they’ll be stronger for it.
Living with schizophrenia, I’ve experienced all manner of delusions about the way I think the way things are, and the way they actually are.
It all hearkens back to storytelling, to this desire we have to relate something. To let people know who we are, or were, or wish we were, or fear we are.
This post is a round up of depression videos that have us feeling educated, moved, and empowered to continue sharing mental health recovery stories.
Love can be the gasoline on schizophrenia’s fire, playing tricks on your mind and it can lead you to places from which you may not be able to return.
The severity of my depression in the wake of losing my job solidified the notion that, for people with mental illness, having a job can make all the difference.
The effect of stress is serious to your mental health. It’s easy to fall into delusional holes if your stress level gets to a point that isn’t manageable.
People say the first step in therapy is acceptance. I can’t speak for others, but I’ve started taking my steps. It’s okay if you want to take yours.
Be sure to follow us @OC87rd on Instagram and check out these other accounts who inspire us daily in the mental health Instagram community.
Taking care of yourself with mental illness requires some fortitude, especially in the face of a mountain of paranoia, delusions and hallucinations.
Disclosure is about feeling safe enough to find a kinder voice for ourselves. Every time I share my experiences in safe spaces I feel truer to myself.
Pulling back and regaining stability is complicated but it will help exponentially help in the long journey of living with mental illness.
In my eating disorder, I loved to push myself, to bring my body to the edge and watch which way it fell. More liquor, more dancing, more starving.
Family is the most important thing for a person with mental illness. We need support and validation that we are not alone in the world
Sitawa Wafula is a Kenyan mental health blogger and advocate for people living with mental health conditions and their families.
Schizophrenia is an insidious disease. Schizophrenic delusions are persistent, which is one of the major reasons recovery can take such a long time.
It is with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Gabriel Nathan as editor in chief of OC87 Recovery Diaries.
What is your mental health “wish list” for yourself in 2017? How would you like to grow personally? Where will you look for inspiration and strength?
One of the things people with schizophrenia do that isn’t that widely understood is the tendency to make connections out of seemingly random things.
The only advice I give is to be there and, above all else, give it time. Time is truly the only thing that can heal in situations like these.
I don’t know if my depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder will ever go away.
Delusions of grandeur are part of the experience of psychosis. It’s ok if you’re a little crazy. You’re certainly not alone.
There are nights where I lie in bed, staring up at the ceiling and I ask for help. Sometimes the voice comes; sometimes it doesn’t. By now, I’m used to it.
If you’re having trouble with schizophrenia and voices, first, try to recognize the reality, that the voices are just a chemical imbalance.
Narcissism begets hyper-empathy: narcissistic parents produce children who become attuned to the emotional states of their caretakers in order to survive.
Yes, I have schizophrenia. But I don’t want to sit around feeling sorry for myself because I have schizophrenia, and life can be difficult sometimes.
Psychosis is defined as a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
The pain of being labeled crazy doesn’t present itself as one big sweeping hurt, more like a series of small little jabs as you go through your days.
“Here’s my first and most important piece of advice: YOU NEED TO ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE A MENTAL CONDITION.” – Claire Eastham on anxiety disorder recovery
Schizophrenia Symptoms in Relationships – I’ve struggled with so many different complications, nuances, symptoms, side-effects and annoyances.
It’s been exactly ten years since my bipolar disorder breakdown. These years have been hard work but they have brought tremendous joy and peace
My name is Meg Hutchinson. I’m 38 years old. I’m a singer-songwriter and poet. I’ve been living with bipolar disorder since I was 19 years old.
It took a year for me to find the courage to google “bipolar disorder.” On some level I knew I needed professional help, but there were a lot of risks.
I’m at peace with the fact that I unlocked my secrets about living with bipolar disorder. I’m not the first one to be bipolar, and won’t be the last.
Being hospitalized for a “break from reality” is a part of my history, and it does not define me. I can understand this with distance from the experience.
The hardest part of life with depression and the recovery journey is realizing that maybe you’ll never reach the end. Maybe the journey is the destination.
I’ve been hospitalized for depression so thick and so bad, my doctors didn’t think it was safe for me to go anywhere else.
I hope, in reading my story about coping with depression, you will be strengthened in your own journey and feel comforted that you are not alone.
It felt like I got hit by a truck. Immobilized. Debilitated. That basically sums up my experience battling depression. It has been a long struggle.
Living with schizophrenia has made me aware of this fact: I have a mental illness that causes me to question the reality of things.
I am still in the process of healing from PTSD, anxiety, and major depression with the help of a psychiatrist, a therapist, and the love of my life.
Recently, I underwent a slight psychological break. Determined to claw my way out of the darkness, I began to write about my journey and experiences.
I have a wonderful life. But I would be lying if I didn’t say it has been a hard fought one. I suffer from bipolar 1 disorder. Here is my story.
Bipolar disorder and alcoholism left me exhausted and defeated. Hope came in the form of a co-occurring illnesses rehab facility.
What would you say when someone asks “Who are you?” The first word that comes to mind when I think about this question is Student. I’m a student, an academic, a professional learner for life.
Postnatal Depression affects 1 in 10 women, yet many people still ignore or hide their symptoms. I did this, and it turned out to be a terrible idea.
“Young, Black and Bipolar” helps people navigate through the craziness of accomplishing a normal life after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
I once heard anxiety compared to a superpower. Once I stopped being so ashamed of it, I saw that anxiety was my superpower too.
I have bipolar disorder. Today, it is a big chunk of who I am, but thanks to these three bipolar coping skills, I know it is not the only chunk.
I joke about men’s mental health because, sometimes, I don’t know what else to do. Of course, the stigma against men’s mental health is not funny.
Another year has come to an end. I have to say that this is one of the quickest years I’ve experienced in my lifetime. Many people I’ve spoken with have felt the same way. I’m not sure why people are experiencing this phenomenon but so be it. One thing is for certain:...
The trauma that has affected me the most happened when I was nineteen years old. After that experience, EMDR therapy taught me to trust myself and my body.
I talk with my kids about my mental illness often. They know Mommy has bipolar disorder. I teach my children that it’s okay to talk about mental illness.
I finally I agreed to ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). I was both intrigued and terrified. After my ECT treatments I started to feel like a human again.
Radical acceptance helps me with PTSD and bipolar disorder with borderline traits. Radical acceptance dictates that change is just another part of life.
I look “normal” though I’m a mom with PTSD and bipolar disorder with borderline traits. This is part 1 of 3 of my recovery story from an abusive childhood.
Confronted with debilitating depression, anxiety, and a life filled with chaos, I was led to a spiritual solution to manage my mental health meltdown.
Over the 15+ years we’ve know each other, friendship and recovery have been intertwined. Being a person, being a friend, is constant work.
Race gender and mental health were discussed intersectionally at the 2015 Gender Spectrum conference, featuring the original video A Journey Within.
I have learned what works for me in helping diminish the severity of my symptoms. Getting help with medication and therapy has been part of my treatment.
Lauren Dicair recounts her experience dealing with depression and anxiety in college after growing up in the suburbs with parents who were junkies.
We were a white, middle-class, Jewish family. Born into addiction with junkie parents, I came out of the womb and began having withdrawal seizures.
I hurt so much. I didn’t understand how to take care of my body. I didn’t know that I was sick with Bipolar II and a major anxiety disorder.
To cope with depression, Grace Kim set out to do something scary every day, and the Best Day Project was born, giving Grace a new perspective on life.
“Things Blur” is a story about a break from reality. Due to PTSD (among other things), I had what was later described to me as a manic episode.
I used to be like you. Why should I air my dirty laundry? What if my friends all think I’m weird if they know my brain is broken? This is my brave.
A recap of the 5 most popular posts on OC87 Recovery Diaries from 2014 plus the OC87 Recovery Diaries team shares what helped us along throughout the year.
I was 14 and my mother, in the depths of depression, sat in our living room crying. This experience began a director’s journey into documentary film.
As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s very difficult for me to take the perspective of other people. Recently, I made a breakthrough in this area.
It’s okay to not always know how to navigate complex memories, emotions and traumas. The Perks of Being a Wallflower was a gift in teaching me these things.
Bud Clayman, from the documentary OC87, talks about his experience with Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy while at the International OCD Conference
Leah Alexandra Goldstein writes and draws about her healing experience with Reiki in the face of cancer and mental health challenges.
I don’t really want to share any of this. My mind is like a pendulum swinging from, “I don’t have any mental health problems and it’s a sham to pretend. . .
Marbles is a hilarious moving graphic memoir about artist Ellen Forney’s diagnosis & recovery journey with bipolar disorder, a search for clarity & wellness.
Between the ages of 20 – 27, I was psychiatrically hospitalized on seven occasions. My recovery story started when someone held hope for me when I had none.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college that the compulsive behaviors of my OCD emerged. I often had obsessively sad and sometimes violent thoughts.