If nothing more comes of my previous post than my friend’s willingness to talk (anonymously) about her own mental illness, that’s enough for me. After reading my post she said she’d tell her story someday, and I asked “Why not today?” Here’s her reply, exactly as she sent it to me:
Today’s a good a day as any.
Mental Illness. Many have it, few will admit to it, even fewer will get help for it. The stigma is still such a horrible thing. As a public figure, a teacher, I must keep it quiet…not necessarily among my peers, but among my students and their parents. On the positive side, I have NEVER missed a day of work because of it.
What “invisible illness” do I have? Several, unfortunately. It started with a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder about 6 years ago, but if I look even earlier than that, I see the signs. You know they say hind sight is 20/20. Added to that a year or so ago was the Generalized Anxiety Disorder as well as the REALLY uncomfortable “diagnosis” of having Borderline Personality Disorder “traits”. Traits. Not the full disorder, as in order to “qualify” you need to have 5 of the nine criteria, and I have 4. The biggest issue I don’t have is the fact that I have the ability to relate to other people. I don’t explode. I’m a “quiet” Borderline. I keep everything in. I’m a self – harmer…a cutter. I cut to release stress, I cut because I feel I have no value, and I cut because it puts a physical release to emotional pain…something I have been suffering quite a lot of in the last few years. It’s also believed that I suffer from a mild case of PTSD thanks to the emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of my ex-husband. How have I survived? I would say, if it wasn’t for my friends and my therapist, I wouldn’t be here typing this. After my life blew up in the fall of 2012, and I tried handling things for a while, I hit a wall. In February, though, that wall became rock bottom. If it hadn’t been for that “little voice”…one of a friend reminding me of my son, oddly enough, my personal “Jiminy Cricket”, I may not be here. It scared me, and took me two weeks to even admit it all to my therapist.
Dealing with someone with MDD is not an easy thing. I probably have burned way more bridges with friends over the years than I have saved. I’ve also created some new ones. No one can save me from myself, though, except me. I’m not a happy person, but working on it…meds, therapy, DBT classes, I have a therapy dog, I keep to my routine. No matter HOW I feel, unless I am truly sick, I get my butt out of bed and go to work. I’m a teacher. I have 65 students that depend on me daily. I am a single mother. I have an 8 yr. old son who means the absolute world to me. And, something not all single moms have, I OWN my own home. I have a mortgage to pay, not rent, on top of the other bills. If I don’t work, the bills don’t get paid. I have no one to depend on BUT myself, which means, no matter what, I HAVE to keep going…for my son, for myself.