National Alliance on Mental Illness
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(800) 950-NAMI; email@example.com
My name is Marci. I am currently diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder bipolar type and Borderline Personality Disorder. I just turned 30 last month. My mental health issues started young, I don't remember much of my chaotic childhood and adolescence. I do remember at age 10, deciding that I was the cause of my families problems and arguments; if I was gone everyone would be happy. I tried to suffocate myself with a pillow and was upset and frustrated after waking up at not even being able to do that right. I saw a therapist and had a psychiatrist at age 11. I was on Trazadone to help with sleep problems and Imipramine to help combat depression, I was also on medication for Ulcerative Colitis. The therapist situation didn't last long, as soon as I started revealing the chaos at home. I needed to go to the school nurse everyday at school to take medication. I didn't really have any friends and felt very alone.
At some point I stopped taking the medication until a relapse of depression when 15, back on medication and no option of therapy this time. At some point in high school, I started self-harming, I experienced moods of hopelessness and depression and refused to shower or go to school, then I would be okay and hyper ready to do everything and anything. My friends enjoyed the highs I had since I was so fun to be around and I either masked the lows or withdrew and they were okay with that. No one knew about the self-harm or voices, that was just too weird. Towards the end of high school my friendships ended and again I felt so alone. I made one new friend but was put on independent study after refusing to go to school.
My first years of college just got worse and worse, no medication was working I was still acutely suicidal and self-harming (which was now known.) My psychiatrist suggested ECT (shock therapy) and I had 82 treatments during two different time periods, I don't remember much as memory loss is a common side effect of ECT. I was okay for a little while, more likely just hypomanic. I switched schools to a private Christian university where I lived in the dorms hoping for a new start, it seemed like high school all over again, the students enjoyed being around me when on my highs, yet disappeared when I experienced my lows. The depressions were getting worse and my psychiatrist suggested VNS therapy which was a new treatment for treatment resistant depression, that involved surgery and a medical device implanted in me. I was desperate and said go ahead. I had the surgery and wish I could say it was effective, unfortunately it didn't help and gave me health issues including asthma. I had to finish school on incompletes, because of missing too much school because of the surgery and then a partial hospitalization program.
I had my first inpatient hospitalization after experiencing visual hallucinations and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2005 just two months after getting my first and only job, there would be many more hospitalizations to come. My mom didn't even come to visit, and it was like pulling teeth to get my dad to come. Again I felt so alone, my family still struggles with accepting my illness. I was able to hold the job for 3 years, despite leaves of absence for mental health reasons, hospitalizations, and dealing with most of my symptoms still. The worst feeling was when my psychiatrist said I was to ill to work, and suggested disability, I haven't worked since.
I have been attending weekly therapy since 2003 and have been on a myriad of medication, over 30. My diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder was not revealed to me until 2007, though it was in my medical chart 2 years prior. After 8 hospitalizations in two years I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder bipolar type, it was hard to accept it seems like I had the worst of everything: parts of schizophrenia, parts of bipolar, and a personality disorder. Unable to work and essentially isolating myself, I feel into a deeper depression. At least when I was bipolar, there were successful people with bipolar disorder and it didn't seem so taboo. Didn't seem to matter where I went, I didn't fit in; group therapies, hospitalization, partial programs, classes there weren't any people with Schizoaffective Disorder and most people didn't even know what it was.
In 2010, I started up a blog I needed to get everything that was going on with me out. I used it to process things, as a place for venting, and to keep track of how I was doing. Suddenly people started "following" my blog, I didn't understand how anyone would want to hear my craziness and whining. Some people had Borderline Personality Disorder, some Bipolar, some just found what I had to say interesting, and even a couple people had Schizoaffective Disorder. Finally, I wasn't alone anymore. I realized that even though there aren't many with Schizoaffective Disorder, I could relate to a lot of people with mental illness: I had experienced hospitalizations, hypomania, depression, self-harm, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions. Suddenly what seemed terrible as having symptoms of everything allowed me to connect with others even if they only experienced pieces of what I did. People were interested in my story, people left comments to encourage me and give advice. I began helping out other bloggers as well: posting resources and information on different mental illnesses, commenting and giving advice as someone who has gone through similar things, even showing the positive sides of dealing with mental illness. I was no longer alone in my fight, I had found a wonderful blogging community!