Lost It.

 23 years ago I fell in love with a deadhead girl, it was my first experience and we were doing a ton of drugs at the time.  It was not a good start, but the sex was awesome, ( of course it was I was a virgin)

after we broke up I went to New York and flipped out,  I was having conversations with her in my head and wanting to call her it was quite

obvious to my family I was losing it.  I ended up at St. Vincents and I remember that awful feeling of being dragged down a corridor and locked in a white room.  I was scared and I was manic and I was lost.  I went to day treatment after my hospitalization and the whole thing was very shameful for me.  3 years later i had a relapse

and went to St. Lukes  I was on the wrong medication and my diagnosis was adjusted, and frankly it happened with the same trigger that experience   I know I am in trouble when I start thinking about her.  When my mother died in 1993 I went on 

a cross country road trip and gave out teddy bears at hospitals.

Then i went to England with only a bible and some toothpaste.

Once again, I was losing it.  I couldn't explain it to anyone I  felt

compelled but I hadn't taken my medication in weeks and I unravelled.  I am now married happily and taking my medicine and

going to therapy, and now I work with mentally ill people in residential programs and formerly as a counselor.  The one thing I tell people who are mentally ill is don't give up hope and don't think

of yourself as a nut, the stigma thing really bothered me because I was semi led to believe i was different.  I think that is a myth we may be peculiar but not different, we eat drink and sleep like anyone else.  Because we talk to ourselves we are weirdos, those people who say that can kiss my butt.  I hate that, we are consciously experiencing something that they do "in secret" every day.  No biggie, I often talk out loud when no one is around I find it healthy and frankly I have nothing to prove to anyone, I have begun accepting myself as I am.   I work in the field and encourage people to express themselves constructively if they can and if they need to scream they can go out in the woods or my favorite is to walk near the subway tracks and talk out loud when the train goes by.  People are completely oblivious, and i am not talking to them anyway.  My diet was a huge help, eating healthy quitting smoking

and exercising went light years in my wellness.  chantix works

so get on it if you can,  smoking and drinking coffee are huge no nos if you want to get mentally well.  Cigarettes are a narcotic.

Coffee is a stimulant, if you are going to have any type of mental

wellness that needs to stop.  I find working in the field helps me actually your experience in a lousy economy is an assett, you won't make any money doing it but it is therapeutic to help others when you have had this experience, and it makes you feel like less of a kook.  I didn't go to college, but my life experience especially  these

breakdowns gave me a degree in the school of hard knocks.  It is valuable don't let anyone tell you different.  I realize the meds are a knockout at first, but hang in there and take them, i see myself

and people I work with make good progress if they stick with their

medicine and have a good support network and a supportive family around them EVERY TIME!  without fail even for myself, having a wife a dog a cat and two birds have saved my life, along with loving friends which I can count on one hand ( that isn't a bad thing actually)  I am active in my community doing what?  Picking up trash.  I go out with a group and stab at garbage 2 hours a week.

It is like a walking meditation for me and it makes me active in my community that is another plus, though I rarely make eye contact with people because I have this illness, I know that i am participating whether people like it or not. And no matter what my head tells me,  I am helping out and that is good.  If I think adults

think I am a freak then i just do it in the park early in the morning.

I feel for the paranoia piece people have, but trust me it gets better.

My best advice is get out and try to be active, that can start with 2 hours on the porch a day, and work it's way up to 2 1/2 hours a day walking.  My final advice is own it, own your experience be honest with yourself if you caused it so be it, but own it.  I don't think it is the girl anymore i think it was the drugs, I know it was the drugs now.  that being said when I am alone I still have tremendous moments of being upset and talking out loud, my neighbors probably think i am bananas, but I do it in the basement

this has been 23 years, I have come out on top, I have a wife i have my treatment regiment i have my pets and I have a job and I have a community group.  It is a long way from where I was and have been when I have had breakdowns, and I owe it to great people and places.  One of them is Esalen on the West coast and

a therapist in Gestalt named Seymour Carter, I was catatonic and I make a contribution every year ( even a small one) in his honor i have to say he changed my life.  And i was only there a week.

A doctor in New York named Stephen Lund, at St. Lukes, he was really nice and he put me in a good residence.  He was a great psychiatrist but he went into sleep labs.  He was a nice and a patient guy.


All the people at the Bridge in New York, it is a great organization they do alot of great work.  Look them up and support them.

Peter was a consumer and started it.  They are great people.


I have been lucky.  But i also worked very hard to get better

and I didn't give up on myself and even when i did I knew down

deep, that i hadn't.  Now I am able to help alot of people and all those crappy jobs I have had actually led somewhere and this crappy experience actually led to a career.  So keep the faith.

TBC119 TBC119
3 Responses Feb 28, 2009

This seems so close to anxiety. I have also become recluse and uncomfortable trying to talk to people use I feel they are thinking I am crazy.

One of the exercises I learned at Eselan was to sit down and write my experience then to reread it from a different place 2 days later. The beauty of this was I could be ob<x>jective about it and realize that time keeps moving, things change, I change.<br />
I change daily. I feel for your dilemma around support I feel that way to, but I would recommend that you try to define what you want from people? What is going to make this better? Surrounding yourself with supportive people is going to help immensely but only you can define what the support is and means to you? Do you want to be in love......date or find a dating group ? Do you want a support group? their was a great one where I lived once called the Bipolar Support group at the local hospital ( then again I live in a city) Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to have a new career? These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself, part of this illness is masking our current dilemmas with a vague sense of self. That is never good. As for the meds, I see where it is difficult when you have had a bad experience but if it means driving an hour go to the best psychiatrist you can find, that usually means the med school or a mental health facility somewhere in your region. It is worth it because when it is right you are no longer ill or feel ill. Suicide is a red flag, it is a bad sign and it is not an option, if you really feel that way consistently you need to go back to the hospital. You can't just check out, that is not an option.<br />
And if you really feel that way you need to get evaluated, if you have a history<br />
of doing it before the chances are you may do it again. It is a sign that you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, you need take medication for that.<br />
That determining factor alone is a sign that you have a molecular organic issue.<br />
I am mentally ill, I know that. I can accept that, one of the things you need to do is accept this illness as yours, that doesn't mean beating yourself up though.<br />
You have it, you know it, you inform yourself of it, you maintain it but you own it. It is not a crime to be mentally ill. Another issue is to surround yourself with supportive people, get into a group therapy and talk it out you would be surprised how many people are in your situation. Some of the most creative<br />
people I know are crazy as hell, I actually respect them for it even if it isn't<br />
always "comfortable" for us and our moods that seem to clash at times. Your family IS the reason why you have this illness, examining that and being honest about it is being realistic. When I could be ob<x>jective about those relationships I was floored by the fact that it was in my family years ago and my great aunts and uncles all had it, and they didn't have any medications. They lived with it, but they suffered. When I was ob<x>jective and honest about my parents and examined those relationships I found that I was dealing with mentally ill people as a child, and I loved my parents. But they were sick.<br />
As for your statement that their are no mental health organizations that is plain out not true, NAMI is a great one they have a walk every spring around the country so that is not true at all. Look up National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.<br />
Last of all I will recommend two things, one is if you have the financial means<br />
go to Esalen in Big Sur California, check them out at Esalen. com and don't poo poo it, it is the future of this field if you go there it will change your life and no it is not a cult. The other more simple thing is read Eckhart Tolles the power of now. It is great and he is brilliant. Finally don't be to negative and don't feel terrible guilt ( frankly terrible guilt comes out of doing something wrong, do you know or think you did something wrong? own that experience and process it<br />
with a therapist). Keep hope, you can and will change, hell we all change every minute of the day come to think of it. You live on a planet with a perfect balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide, you are provided food and sustenance by everything around you, you are the exact distance from the sun so that you don't burn to a crisp or freeze like a popsicle. And you are the most complex<br />
lifeform that is known in the universe to this point in discovery. Things are looking up already, wouldnt' you say?

thanks for your story. I've had breakdowns too, hospitalizations. I am in my most recent breakdown now, and it's scary.<br />
<br />
Meds are a huge issue with me, because I've had some awful experiences with them and with the doctors who prescribe them not reallyworking with me. They assume that all patients are combative about meds, and won't take seriously the side effects, etc. They think you're just saying stuff to be a pain in the butt. But I had some very serious issues that the doctor's refused to take serioulsy.<br />
<br />
Consequently, I got myself of meds and lived that way for a dozen years, but now...I'm a mess again and in a small town where finding a savvy with meds psychiatrist isn't easy. My therapist acknowledges that...so much so that he is working with me trying to find alternatives that might work, but things are pretty bad now, and I may have no choice but to try some meds again.<br />
<br />
Living with mental illness isn't easy, but it's made harder because people have no respect or sympathy for it. I mean, at work each year we have huge fundraisers for cancer reasearch and diabetes. People walk to raise money for March of Dimes, etc. And I think that's awesome.<br />
<br />
If someone has cancer, diabetes, irritable bowel, or any other number of things, people offer help, casseroles, prayers, to babysit the kids, etc. But if they find out you have mental illness in your family...they just start to avoid you. No understanding about needing time off, or visiting if your in the hospital, no offers of food, or babysitting...they just avoid you.<br />
<br />
At work, the ladies talk about all the various meds they are on, they nearly brag about it, like it's a cool thing to be taking the latest asthma thing, or acid reflux thing, or something to lower cholesterol...but mention any psychoactive drugs and you can see people visibly move away from you.<br />
<br />
I've had co workers describe their most intimate female problems, bowel issues etc. Things I'd personally rather NOT hear about at lunch...but I can't say a thing about the fact that I am bi-polar...because a woman I sit with daily (she is a nice woman, really) regularly trashes such people, and complains about having to deal with them.<br />
<br />
She has no idea that one of her best work pals, a person who she depends on and considers a reliable worker for tricky jobs...is one of THOSE people.<br />
<br />
My family gets no support either, when I am in a bad way...they can't get comfort the way they would if I was down with any other illness. I really feel badly for them.<br />
<br />
Mental illness frightens people. I know that, I know that is why they react like they do. And I know WHY it scares them. It is very scary, I agree, I deal with it on a daily basis...but it's not catchy, it's not the person who has it's fault, it's not their family's fault, and people who have it can mostly still function well in society...if they can get the treatment they need.<br />
<br />
But even insurance companies don't treat mental illness as real. I can't get any help with my treatment till I've paid 1K myself...on just mental health care. My other health costs don't apply to my deductible, I have a seperate deductible just for mental health. And then, the coverage is much less than what it is for other health problems, as if my illness isn't as important as any other illness.<br />
<br />
And if I need to be hospitalized, it won't cover nearly as much as if I was hospitalized for anything else. I could drink, drive, get in an accident and they'd pay all my bills, but if I end up in the hospital because I am depressed or manic...I'm out of luck. <br />
<br />
All these issues add to the difficulties of living with mental illness. Sometimes I think suicide would be easier on my family. It would be over with once and for all. They'd get some sympathy then...and could move on, not having to fear the next episode or the stigma of having a loved one with mental illness.<br />
<br />
I don't smoke, do caffeine or eat junk. I live an active life. I am not on any Rx meds for any other condition. I am healthy...except for this, but for this...I can't get the care or understanding I need.