One Man's Story
My personal dealings with mental illness are not uncommon but a very common case study. I come from a lower middle/working class family. My parents divorced around the time I was the age of 6 or 7. I have a sister who is nearly ten years older than I. My sister and I have always had a great relationship. The one with my mother and father seem to continually vary as relationships can do over a lifetime. I am now 29 years old and, in a decade long relationship with my best friend, and mother of our beautiful daughter. However, here I will attempt to focus on my interaction with mental illness.
My family has been limited on conversing about the state of their mental health or the traumatic places they have been. I struggle to remember the feelings I had prior to my teenage years however, my teenage years were confusing as I reflect here at age 29. I had temperament issues, obsessive behaviors, issues of impulse control, depressive bouts, and racing thoughts. These were things I just had found normal as I have typically been able to understand social norms regardless.
Around age 13 I began having my first interactions with substances such as alcohol and other drugs. This became the center of my life; the feeling of escapism became the goal of my everyday life. It was not until I left high school did my ability to function begin to slowly fall apart. Although, I clearly see now that I had and continue to have people who care for me, the feeling of hopelessness and no self-worth seems deeply ingrained. This feeling comes hardest after being fueled by attempting to hold onto my manic highs through substance abuse. When I am at my “lowest” I am diagnosed with PTSD, clinical depression (BPD) and GAD. These diagnoses come primarily from a variety of counselors, psychologists, physicians, and psychiatrists at Mayo Clinic Health Systems who continue to provide me the care I need so long as I listen.
In my lifetime I have been arrested 3 times as a juvenile and 3 times as an adult. Each arrest certainly follows the trajectory of anti-social behavior and increasing risk and violence. The largest impact being in April 2019 when I nearly took the life of a pregnant mother due to my choice to drink, drug, and drive. Fortunately, from the limited knowledge I have, the mother and child live a normal life within the context of our world. I was airlifted to be put on life support with a host of physical ailments. From there, I would return home in a wheelchair, attempting to cope without substance abuse, and being severely suicidal. This paragraph could be extended for pages as it would be followed by learning to cope with my actions, heading to inpatient treatment, and finally jail.
Once completing treatment and jail, I continued my medication regiment recommended by Mayo Clinic and was able to regain full-time employment and enroll in college at Southern New Hampshire University for human services with a focus on substance abuse by June 2020. In 2021 I had taken the positive reinforcements from my care team as a message that I was “okay” to take care of myself and went off my medications. I had begun to look to psychedelics and dissociates to care for my state, primarily dextromethorphan as it is an over-the-counter medication. This would bring me into a panic that would take me to the ER once again. I suffered from ongoing hallucinations, primarily auditory. I am putting myself back together again and seem to be effectively using tools I was previously taught. I am learning as I age that my inner monologue and auditory hallucinations may not be two different things. However, the way I process them can be difficult at times.