According to WebMD, the most common types of mental illness are
- Anxiety disorders – generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias
- Mood disorders – depression, mania, and bipolar disorder
- Psychotic disorders – such as schizophrenia
- Eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder
- Addiction disorders – such as compulsive gambling and alcohol and drug abuse
- Personality disorders – such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and paranoid personality disorder
I have never put a trigger warning on one of my posts, but feel that this warrants one since I am not in a good spot, and desperately need to write this out in order to get feedback from those who have felt like I am feeling now. Triggers include self-harm, suicide, and substance abuse.
PROBLEM #5 — DEPRESSION (Bear with me; I am working a bit backwards.)
I am depressed and the depression is telling me, “no one understands; you are the only one who feels this way; you are just crazy and utterly hopeless; etc., etc.” I have been through this enough times to know that these negative, intrusive thoughts are part of the disease. Nonetheless, knowing doesn’t make them go away, or significantly less disconcerting.
PROBLEM #1 — ANXIETY
It all started with persistent anxiety, which I have been experiencing now, for the last five months. My anxiety is constantly high to the point that I don’t even realize it is at an unsafe level until I take an anti-anxiety pill.
After taking a pill, my racing thoughts, irrational fears, and excessive physical energy all subside. My body and mind expel huge sighs of relief. I feel less fractured, sometimes even whole.
SOLUTION #1 BECOMES PROBLEM #2 — SUBSTANCE ABUSE
My doctor prescribes four anti-anxiety pills a month for me, leaving me to decide how to ration them, which is difficult to do if my anxiety is high at the beginning of the month and again at the end of the month. She used to prescribe more pills at a time, and I would take them as needed. One prescription usually lasted five or six months, until about a year and a half ago when I noticed I was watching the clock, waiting for when I could take another dose; looking forward to my next dose.
Due to my history of substance abuse, and because my suicide attempt three years ago involved a mix of over the counter pain relievers and a bottle of anti-anxiety medicine, I immediately told my doctor about my developing dependence and emerging urges to abuse this medication. I am grateful for this healthy fear of becoming an active addict again, because I know that if I am not sober, my other mental illnesses will spiral out of control, and for me, this means death. I don’t want to die, not really. I do, however, want to be free of this mental agony.
Therefore, a few weeks ago, my doctor increased the dosage of one of my anti-depressants, because new research shows that this dose of this medicine significantly lower anxiety levels. My doctor warned me, however, that an increase in anti-depressants for someone with Bipolar Disorder, like me, can trigger mania or rapid cycling moods.
SOLUTION #2 BECOMES PROBLEM #3 – RAPID CYCLING BIPOLAR
After four days on the higher dose, my moods started cycling up and down within the same day, similar to how people (including myself) with emotional regulation disorders such as borderline personality, feel throughout their day. Only in this case, the coping skills I learned through DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) were ineffective.
Below is an image of my September mood chart which details my symptoms. (For best viewing results, click on image and then zoom to 150%.)
PROBLEM #4 — BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER
I think these severe and rapid mood swings have now put me in crisis mode, exacerbating borderline personality traits that had been under control for the last six months.
My next doctor’s appointment is in two days. In the meantime, I believe my best hope is to keep talking to others about what’s going on with me, definitely keep writing about it (I feel ten times better than I did when I began this post), practice mindfulness through meditation and creative arts (for me, this includes painting and scrapbooking), and practice ‘distracting’ such as watching a funny movie or reading a good book versus obsessively cleaning and organizing, which seem to increase my anxiety.
(I used to think cleaning and moving furniture around and organizing were healthy distractors, but I realized that I often become obsessive-compulsive with these behaviors and use then as avoidance coping skills. In other words, I use them as an escape from my reality, from what I am feeling, from the pain, in the same way I used to use alcohol and drugs.)
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
Tie a knot in the end of the rope and hang on. Two days; just two more days. “And then what? What if the Doc doesn’t have any other solutions for you to try?” says my depression, to which I reply, “Shut the fuck up!”