May 26, 2014

AshleyThere are thousands of diseases known to man both physical and mental. People around the globe are faced with diabetes, cardiac problems, degenerative joint issues and mental illness.

Each one brings with it symptoms that cause pain and suffering, many include a higher risk of death. Normally when someone is faced with an illness or disease others are quick to feel empathy with them and do what they can do help but with mental illness it’s a whole different ball game. For many people with mental illness it is a daily fear that a loved one will turn their back, a boss will terminate employment, even that a therapist will someday "have enough".

People's attitudes towards me have changed

The daily stigma of mental illness is a very difficult burden to bear.

There have been many times I have been terrified to tell someone about my post traumatic stress disorder and dissociative identity disorder. There have also been many times that a person’s attitude towards me has changed the moment I divulged my mental illness to them.

This really makes me wonder if people even understand the complex and deep suffering that comes along with mental illness. We are humans with dreams, passions and feelings too. Just because someone has been labeled with depression, anxiety or something of that nature does not mean they are dangerous or less than human.

I would like to focus on one particular experience I’ve had of mental health stigma.

I didn't tell him right away that I have PTSD and DID.

This was when I decided to tell another student at my college that I had feelings for him. I didn’t tell him right away that I have PTSD and DID. I didn’t because I was terrified he wouldn’t even consider getting to know the surface of who I was. This had happened many times before, and I had such strong feelings for this man that at the time I felt it was better to wait.

I prayed that if he got to know me at least for a few weeks before I told him he would realize my mental illness wasn’t what defined me and he’d stay. About a week into the relationship I told him after he had seen a diagram on my wall of my alters (other personalities). Immediately I sensed his discomfort and I asked him how he felt about it. He told me he was a bit uneasy with it and that he didn’t understand.

I survived. I also learned

I remember smiling and telling him, just to keep an open mind and ask questions. You have nothing to fear and I’m an open book. Things seemed okay for a while. He’d ask a question here and a question there, but didn’t seem to be invested in getting to know who I really was or about my illnesses. I ignored these red flags and clung to a relationship I thought was real. He kept me holding on with hugs and kisses and compliments.

Soon we discovered I was pregnant. Immediately he pushed me away, he told me he didn’t love me, didn’t want the baby and that he didn’t think a relationship with “someone like me” could ever work. It was on that day that I discovered how he really felt about me and about my battle with mental illness. I was beyond devastated and rocked to my core with a deadly fear of abandonment. But guess what? I survived. I also learned.

If you are facing stigma because you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, please, stand up for yourself. I know it can be scary, it can be hard, but you deserve it and it will help us all to end this terrible problem.

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Read Ashley's blog here: http://journeyoutoftheabyss.wordpress.com/


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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

Acknowledging PTSD

I totally get the stigma part & how others treat you differently. Reading this post really brought things into perspective hoe the real word reacts to PTSD. My husband was recently diagnosed with PTSD and is still having a hard time with the diagnosis. He doesn't want anyone to know he has PTSD. He has had symptoms for the last past few years and refused to get help. It has been hard for me as a spouse to help hi, but I never gave up. Seeing him finally get the help he needs and trying to come to terms with PTSD is a step in the right direction. I will be there for him because I love him and supporting him is the right thing to do.

Ashley's blog

You ate very brave. I have depression, anxiety and ptsd . I'm glad that you shared your story. Keep up the good work. You are amazing.

DID

Hello Ashley, I'm only 13, but, i've been diagnosed with DID, because of my pains, apparently its my 'sub-consious' I keep an opened mind, but I know my own body, better than anyone infact! And I beleive it is NOT DID, but my mum does and so does everybody else! I am getting treated different by everyone who knows! I'm going GOSH next month! P.s can i have some advice please?

Ashley's blog

Hi Ashley.Well done.You have coped and by telling others you are helping them.I have Bipolar Mood Disorder which includes depression and acting out of character in a manic way and in my case involved spending money i didnt have!It is difficult to tell someone who means a lot to you.Wishing you more joy in your life.Take care.

Acknowledging PTSD

Hi Ashley, until a few years ago, i never understood what was wrong with me,i had mood swings anger outbursts things i thought were normal. being an Ex Military i saw things,and just locked them away, but now things seem to make sense, after a serious issue with my partner, i sought help in trying to find out what was wrong with me. i was diagnosed with PTSD,and mild depression, which now makes sense, it has taken almost 3 years to get the help i need, i thought if people found out then they would treat me different, am proud to have served my country, and am still proud even though i have this illness, you are a strong women,with a beautiful baby, and i admire your strength, take care merry xmas

Hi Ashley

Thank You for your story - though at first it sounded all-too-familiar... but then again, I can't really blame the father of your child for abandoning you (this can sound a bit harsh, so apologies for that) because your mental disorders probably took him by surprise. And since the issue of stigmatisation around mental illnesses (especially) can be a bit too much for the so-called "sane" people to deal with. My mother is a very good example :D I myself have been diagnosed with depression (recurrent one), GAD and OCD - panic attacks have let me be for quite a long time :) But at the very moment, life has decided to throw a series of setbacks which I find are sapping my powers away (for about two weeks now) and I really am struggling in order to even make it through a single day without climbing walls :( The last of these setbacks came to me this week, when I was contacted by my landlord concerning this months' rent. He was kind enough to let me pay the rent at the beginning of June, but that might prove to be somewhat difficult, because I'm not sure if my application to be granted some extra money for the rent and other costs of living... isn't my life just grand and worthy of living right now.. I don't know how I'll make it through this, let alone next week... I'm not afraid to say that I do feel quite agitated, frustrated and angry about this present downward spiral, especially when it comes down to trying to explain the volume of this illness and how they affect my everyday life these days. I've got all sorts of applications in which I (and my backup troops) am trying to get authorities to understand the width and the length of my illness - and the massive effect it has, and has had, in my life so far; but so far, to no avail... But I'm glad to hear that you're doing okay now, you know survived and learned :)

PTSD and BPD

Your story is both sad and uplifting. You have succeeded in overcoming a major disappointment, and have become stronger because of it. I don't think I will be sharing my mental health problems at this moment in time.I believe in God and have a wonderful relationship with Him, and for me that's enough.Thank you for sharing, I think you are a bold and courageous young woman.

Stigma

Hi, I am 52 and suffered from the age of 13 .I totally agree some people are scared about being in a relationship with someone who has mental health issues.I have lost so called friends and family through talking about it as they don't want people to know about my illness.It takes a long time but eventually you realise you don't need these people in your life in fact the chances are they will need you first.People are cruel if it was a celebrity or a sports personality every one would be rushing around me but I am not I am me.Now that the 3 young royals are heading Heads Together lets hope it makes,friends,family,employees more acceptable to people with mental illness issues.I today have had someone text me that I am nuts !! No I am not NUTS!! They don't know about my illness or enough about me to label me NUTS.In the message they put they take 9 tablets a day for their own personal illnesses.I take 23 a day I feel I need to justify to them why I take so much but NO because I don't want people feeling sorry for me and I also should not have to justify why I take all this medication.At one time I would have sent an essay reply back to try explain but not anymore I don't need these negative people in my life.What does someone with mental health issues look like?? Katherine zeta Jones has suffered with mental health issues and so did the lovely Princess Diana but no one would call them NUTS.I tell new people who enter my life maybe a new beautician,hairdresser etc that I suffer mental health issues from the word go.I am not ashamed and neither should anyone else lets end this STIGMA make people aware as it can happen to anyone at anytime.

Ashley's comment

You really learned something then Ashley - despite him being sub human you could cope and next time you will think harder about whether you tell someone up front or not. You have done really well but I would hav told him up front and taken the consequences but that is easy to say with hindsight. I know that when you have any type of mental illness you really learn who your friends are and even if you have any and I was lucky to have two who stuck by me through thick and thin and latest on I've done the same for them in other circumstances. To understand people mostly have to know where you're coming from or how to be your friend regardless. You are obviously on the up but there will still be many downs so keep these good thoughts in your mind to help you through anything else and I think you will be fine

PTSD

Well done Ashley. You are an inspiration. We need to be more open about mental health .

helping people understand mental Health.

Hi Ashley, can I just say that you are a very brave person, I have Bipolar and when I am having what I call An episode I cant talk to anyone, I have been with my husband for 28 years , we have been together since I was 14. I always think that nobody else would want me, or put up with me and my mood swings and depression. I get scared sometimes that one day will he walk? he is very reassuring, I find it hard to get people to understand, I have had certain a family member say that she doesn't believe that its an illness that its all in the head , wow wish it was, what worries me is the amount of people who think that , what I say is research learn about it , because you know what you may be struck down with this frightening illness one day and you will need someone to reach out to and struggle to get people to understand . keep strong Ashley we need to stand together and stop stigma, take care x

PTSD

I think you are very brave to do this but the more you come out with it the more you will be able to help other people to come out and not be ashamed.This can happen to anyone there is no threshold to it rich poor etc.. The more people that come out with this the better. Some people don't understand until it becomes personal to them.I have suffered with anxiety phobias depression for a long time I always tell people now ,they have two choices if they don't accept you its their problem not yours. I do think though cos I have gone through so much I don't really judge people I try to understand.

Ptsd and bpd

You are very brave to share your story like this. I have in the past attempted to blog about my mental health issues and share this on Facebook for my friends and family to understand. Most of my friends gave me positive feedback but my cousin however said, something long the lines of "do you think it's a good idea to share this on a public forum" and my own father said something similar. I used one trigger word (rape) in the whole blog and suddenly my family were ashamed of my story and even advised me to take the blog down. It's horrible how much stigma there is out there, and it's shocking when it comes to you from those closest to you. Did you go on to have the baby? It would be interesting to hear back from you about what happened next. I pledged to share my story on time to talk day, and so re-shared the link to my blogs. This time, no one commented, because since the last time I shared it I've made my profile on Facebook next to impossible to find and only for family and friends that are close to me. I am afraid to speak out about my mental illness most of the time. More so as I am an I patient now and other patients can be the most stigmatised in their thinking than anyone else. People on this ward use words like crazy and bonkers and lunatics more than I hear out in public. I think as well the staff are Terrible when they us the words them and they or refer to us by our room number. It's terrible who makes these judgments and most shocking is the people who make them. The people suffering here don't talk about what they are diagnosed with. Just say things like, you seem normal for someone in here, and she's bonkers, avoid her. I could say so much more, but will finish with, thanks for sharing. All the best in your journey (this too is stigmatised to mental health patients, but I've said enough)and thanks for opening up. May God bless you greatly. X

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