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My mom and her untreated serious mental illness

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The tragedies are too numerous even to take in. The perpetrators are often accused of being mentally ill, even though there may not be an actual diagnosis. Social stigma is only fueled by the fear and revulsion such acts bring. One can understand how the public would have even greater fear of people with mental illnesses. However, according to the National Institutes of Health , people living with mental illnesses are in fact less violent than the general population, and are more likely to be the victims of violence rather than perpetrators of it.

The social isolation faced by people with mental illnesses and their families deepens the wound inflicted by the illnesses themselves. And it is compounded when our faith communities turn away from those who suffer. This happens especially when mental illness is perceived as a sign of spiritual weakness or result of lack of faith. My own experience as a person of faith and Christian priest who lives with mental illness does not confirm this. Christians may be as miserable as the general population. Studies such as this would implicitly suggest that God is a form of therapy, a tool to help us feel better.

The Christian faith does not teach that God is a tool to be used, but Creator and Redeemer to be thanked, adored and worshiped. Christians who suffer from mental illnesses may even be told that they are not praying hard enough, not attending church often enough, or not reading the Bible carefully enough.

When people of faith slog through the deep grief of depression, or soar on the erratic joy of hypomania, or get sucked into the cognitive mud of schizophrenia, and the problem is credited to a spiritual defect, we should all be ashamed of ourselves. But when her son was first diagnosed with and hospitalized for schizophrenia, the pastoral care team did not reach out to her at all. Indeed, we in the church perpetuate stigma and fear in our ignorance of psychiatric symptoms.

The biblical stories of Jesus and his disciples casting out demons are sometimes used to explain away mental illnesses as demonic possessions. But these same stories can be understood in another more helpful way. The symptoms of mental illness may indeed be like the demons Jesus encountered insofar as they are not the patient herself. The symptoms, like the demons in the story, need to be cast elsewhere, away from the sufferer.

One important lesson we must all learn, Christian or otherwise, is that the patient is not the illness. Symptoms are external manifestations of a sickness of the brain. In order for faith communities to be able to care for their parishioners who suffer from mental illnesses with the same support they would give to those living with cancer, we need to draw back the curtain of fear and reveal the face of the person who suffers. Once we personally know someone who is mentally ill, the fear becomes less overwhelming and the stigma becomes less powerful.

This is part of the reason why the celebrities with the courage to write and speak publicly of their experiences with mental illness are so important. Research shows that within Christian denominations, across racial and class divides, clergy are often the first responders for those suffering mental and emotional distress. This may be the case because parishioners are frightened to seek mental health care at all, much less from secular providers. Educating clergy is crucial for the mental health of our faith communities.

Clergy need to be familiar with basic symptoms of mental illnesses. We need to teach our congregations how to intervene when mental health crises arise. We need to know how and when to refer suffering parishioners to quality mental health care providers. This will mean accepting that we are not competent enough to handle these crises on our own.

We have our own role, and it is separate from the role of a psychiatrist. This is my heart work. I continue to be grateful that life changes allowed me the time to take on this important work. I was able to see that my background in emergency dispatching and work for local government, combined with my passion for NAMI, had given me the perfect set of skills to coordinate the training and support of the wonderful NAMI volunteers in Oregon.

Volunteering and working for NAMI is the first time I have experienced such a deep passion for a cause. I am also a spokesperson for the Silver Ribbon Campaign for the Brain www. August 25, I was 9 years old when I was playing with matches in the room. The house burned down. Nobody knew it was me until 30 years later. At 15 I went to county jail and was raped. My trauma was set. I was a heroin addict for 22 years. Drugs became my solution not my problem. I was 40 when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and placed on medication. That was the last day I used any illicit drug. Since then I have graduated college, I'm now in grad school, and coordinate a program for mentally ill substance abuse MISA for chronically mentally ill.

My clients do not know my history. August 25, I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for three years. I am very open with people at work about my experiences and I am very lucky that they are willing to learn with me. I am a very "logical and studious" person--I never thought that I was mentally ill--I always thought that it would happen to someone else, and I would be the one to academically intervene.

I thought that the intense and very real pain that I felt was normal. Imagine living in pain for a quarter of a century and believing that it was the norm! And to my fellow companions in this terrible illness, please know that it does get better. Thousands of us are testament that life cannot only be lived but lived joyously and fully with bipolar disorder. August 25, Having depression has turned my life even more upside down than it was. Being on medication for almost a year now has changed me somewhat, but I now have a drinking problem as well.

My story is too long and too painful to mention, but I struggle daily to keep above water, and hope soon that I will come back to life. I would just like to mention that the medications being given out for such ailments are beginning to scare me. Am I alone? August 25, I helped my brother during a particularly difficult period of his life, his 3rd divorce. During that time my family and I discovered that Bill had hidden his mental illness from us for over 40 years. I served as his legal agent, co-ordinating various aspects of the divorce.

For that effort I was "blackballed" by the nanny agency that I have been affiliated with for over 20 years. The hidden mental illness has impacted an entire family. I am glad to have been able to help him and am hopeful that he will remain in a stable situation. He is my brother.

I want him to be happy. August 22, I see people everyday with all types of mental illnesses- from chronic schizophrenia to bi-polar, major depression to borderline personality disorder.

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But like I said, I see people- each with their individual strengths, abilities and personalities. I get angry when I see the stigma my members have to deal with daily. The way people assume they're ignorant or dangerous. The way the government cuts the most needy first. I wish more people understood that having a mental illness is like having diabetes. They didn't ask for it or get it by being bad people. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. August 21, I remember when first being diagnosed with major depression, I wished I had a broken leg, a visible sign that I was in legitimate pain.

I heard the "get over it" mantra and felt that my emotional pain meant nothing. I'm sure many others have felt and still feel the same way, that our inner turmoil, being unseen in those of us not prone to manic outbursts or paranoia, etc. Too often society views the mentally ill as ranting, disheveled people on streetcorners, but we represent all types of people.

Through sharing our stories, we may help others to see we're not all that different- how many people can really claim they're "normal," after all?! August 21, For me, one of the most frustrating "side effects" of depression has always been the dogged insistence that clinical depression is something one might simply "get over" in the blink of an eye, as if it were possible to change one's so-called attitude that simply. I've been struggling with depression and anxiety since I was about 11 I'm 27 now. When I went on antidepressants for the first time at 16, my God, you would have thought I was having a lobotomy.

You don't need those! You just need a kick in the pants! You need to get religion! Add this to the simmering stew of misfiring neurotransmitters, low seratonin, and adolescence, and you have one miserable gal indeed. To this day, I get, "So, what, you're just going to be on them the rest of your life?

Folks need to realize that mental illness in all its forms is no less serious than any other physical ailment, and is not something one can simply "get over. August 21, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 17 years old and I spent the next few years in and out of hospitals that would be illegal if they were in operation today. Finally I walked away from my family.

Many years later, I decided to try lithium because I was having so much trouble trying to handle the disease alone. I've used lithium for 14 years and life has improved a great deal. I have a happy married life and I have completed a graduate degree, but I still have trouble with distrust because of the bad experiences I had in the hospital as a young adult. The Fountain House model, where people accept and help each other, looks like an excellent program.

I lost my self esteem. I lost my independence. I lost some of my faith in G-d. I lost my pride. I discovered that people who I thought didn't care "really do. Everyone I know supports and cares about me, even people I didn't expect like the people at my favorite delicatessen. I regained my faith in G-d. I learned that tenacity, perserverance, family, friends, self-education on schizophrenia, and finding the right medication, are paramount in finding success and wellness. I have never had to hide from my illness and I thank my family for creating a haven for me where I could flourish and grow.

In Sept. It is amazing to me what can happen when the people in your community rally around you instead of having stigma kill your dreams and maybe even you! I have experienced the best that medicine has to offer me over these last 17 years and even though there were days I wished I didn't exist, those were the times that G-d carried me and helped me through! To all of you who don't believe in keeping hope alive I say, "Never give up. August 21, I am a psychiatric survivor who is now a mental health professional.

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Not every mental health consumer will enter the professional mental field, but we still need your advocacy, education and leadership. My story began when I became ill at age 26, with such severe depression and anxiety, that I received over 40 ECTs over a period of 12 years.

Today, I hold a Master's degree in Licensed Counseling and work with mental health clients in an empowerment type of mental health clinic and drop-in-center. I am always happy to share with others regarding my experiences and yours. August 21, I have been living with mental illness all my life and it is not just mine that I have to live with , it has been with my father's and my grandmother's and so on and so on I and my younger sister are trying to break the chain that holds us to the rest of family in this illness.

We both take our meds and we see doctors when we need it. But the most important thing that has helped us to work on the over coming of the illness is the believe in the Lord and His saving love for us. We are not an island but part of something bigger and we need to work togather to overcome whatever comes our way. I have spent some time with a group in a small town as one of the clients in the mental health section of the government programs and I was the youngest one there, just at the end of my teens, and the next person closest to my age was at least.

August 21, This story is my son's story and how his mental illness has impacted our family. My son has suffered from bipolar disorder since he was It played a part, I believe, in his being assaulted by several of his shipmates in the Navy and resulted in his being given a medical discharge. Since it was a pre-existing condition, he didn't qualify for any benefits from the Navy. Instead, he came home and has tried to hold down one job after another without success.

During his periods of mania, he is very grandiose in his thinking. His boasting and his irrational thinking have made it impossible for him to make friends. He also can get very belligerent during the manic episodes. I watch him in social situations, and it breaks my heart. He is so lonely, but he can't see that his illness is sabotaging his efforts to make friends.

He refuses to take mood stabilizers because he is so afraid of the possible side effects.

‘Genetics Tell Us Who Can Be Afflicted With Schizophrenia, Depression Or Whatever - Not Who Will …

At home he will talk almost incessantly during a manic episode, and it almost drives me up the wall. He talks a lot of nonsense. His ability to reason is definitely impaired. He has had one episode when he hallucinated and had to be hospitalized. In Texas the public mental health system used to have "respite" houses, where a mentally ill person could go for a few days to give their family a short respite from having to care for the mentally ill family member.

We moved from Texas to Washington when I remarried. There are no respite houses that I am aware of in this state. And my son hasn't been able to get Social Security disability yet. The first time he applied, he was denied. He is in the process of reapplying. Then we hope he can get into Section 8 housing. That is another long wait and it's very hard to find out when the waiting list is open for new applications. You have to keep calling; they won't notify you when the list opens up.

This has all been very hard on me, his mother.


I see my son with no life. No girlfriend, no car, no job, no friends, no future. He is full of anger and he is also full of loneliness and despair. It breaks my heart; I can do so little to help him. Please pray for my son; his name is Paul. August 21, About the time he started middle school, my son started showing a lots of anger, his grades fell, and he began shoplifting.

After one terrible fit of violence, I had him committed. They moved him from doctor to doctor it was a teaching hospital , then put him on an antidepressant. Once he was out, he refused his meds and refused to talk to doctors. His school and shoplifting record eventually got him put into a Wilderness Camp. He came back ready for high school a changed boy. Within a year he started showing symptoms of type II bipolar disorder no mania.

It took us four years to recognize it, and by then he was headed to the Army. He made it one year. He was a mechanic in the Army but that frustrated him. He was a machinist until the pressure got so bad that he committed himself because he was suicidal. He's 23 now and I hadn't been able to get him to take meds. This did it, but because he went to state agencies, the workers weren't well trained.

He said it was so long since he felt normal, he didn't know what normal was, so he couldn't tell them when the meds were wrong. It was also difficult to get him to keep his visits: he didn't like going alone, his wife felt there was nothing wrong with him, and she didn't think she should have to "babysit" him. He ended up suicidal again. I brought him to a private doctor, who straightened his meds out quickly. His marriage fell apart, but quitting his job and leaving his wife relieved so many pressures that he felt better. He still gets depressed, but has been off all meds since November and is doing well.

He is night manager of a McDonald's and very proud of himself and how far he's come. In my thirties, my symptoms of anxiety slowly worsened, not uncommon for perimenopausal women. I count myself lucky, in that I seem to stay pretty aware of consensus reality. Although I've been through several episodes of clinical depression, including suicidal thoughts, I've never fully lost hope and attempted suicide. All the same, this disease has impacted my life deeply. Since childhood, I've often had enormous difficulty in falling asleep, and as I've gotten older, the problem has worsened.

At 44, I now also deal with frequent "early awakenings". Like so many with this disease, I'm fortunate in being gifted creatively. I have a body of poetic work written largely at times when I've shifted into a heightened, almost right-brain state, due to lack of sleep. I have tried Zoloft I really want to stay off the drugs if I can; we don't know the long-term effects, and they leave me flat and creatively deadened.

I know folks for whom the drugs have literally been a lifesaver, and I'm so glad that this option now exists. However, now mainstream society and the insurance companies put lots of pressure on us to go for the quick fix, and damn the cost. Accupuncture has proven to be greatly helpful for many of my symptoms, including managing insomnia, but of course, the crappy insurance I struggle to pay for doesn't cover it.

People become afraid, there is a tendency to cut the "weaker" animals from the herd. So those of us who can, struggle to pass Thanks for the film, and this forum. August 21, I am disquieted. I am here milling about in square one. Always square one. One squared. One cubed. One to whatever power. It always ends up the same: one. One me, making love to myself and searching for a Higher Power, searching for another number, perhaps in vain, but always somehow clinging to the hope that more exists than this one thing.

Even on the axis of imaginary numbers one i , could there be another dimension to my one-dimensional life, the ultimate egotistical one-demented life? There are so many stories to tell, but my fingers could not work fast enough to keep up with the thoughts in my mind and the stories get jumbled at best and sometimes lost, words and letters flying around at super-sonic speed.

So now, sitting here, against the will of agitation in my mind, I am forcing myself to focus on myself, my issues and my illness the unfortunate by-product of that focus being my reeking in self-pity, like an alcoholic pissing in an alley reeks of urine and other wastes of life. Of course, I am not always such a downer. In fact, right now, I would say my temperament is more toward bipolar textbook euphoria, ah me: a bouncy helium-filled balloon tethered in square one, being held steady by any number of prescription bottles full or half-full of pills, but, make no mistake about it, the balloon is still afloat somewhere over the walls of square one.

Once I have the language to describe these highs and lows, I have always described them as the double edged sword or the magicians two-faced coin, sine and co-sine waves which indicate polar opposites but look the same under emotive scrutiny of 16 years of therapy, perhaps?

Even after all these years, it is still strange for me to re-discover in the square one hieroglyphics that the stories of my life are so consistently themed, whether they be stories of low or high, those of suicidal sloth or impetuous adventure. The behaviors in the separate cycles are so opposed yet they are emotional counterparts of each other, culled from Yes, I am self absorbed, but it really is still fascinating to me, this personality of mine. Each time I pull myself out or get pulled out of the muck of depression or the self-destruction of mania I come to recognize that, contrary to whatever I may have been led to believe in years of therapy, I am still serving time in the jail cell of square one.

Like all prisoners, I have put myself there because, even though sometimes circumstances are beyond my control, I know I can go for help if I choose to do so. If I were to foretell my future, I see only one times one ad infinitum and, again and again, I am amazed by the power of it and of how I am drawn into it. August 20, My mood swings began when I was a child. A teacher discovered my first suicide note when I was 8 years old. Over the years they became more and more extreme.

I was not diagnosed with manic depression, however, until I was twenty-five. I have been hospitalized three times and tried over twenty different medications. At times I have been unable to hold down even a part-time job, or to live on my own. I have made three serious suicide attempts. Occasionally, I self-injure.

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I hallucinate more often than I tell. My story is less about that than it is about advances in medical care and the power of family and friends who didn't give up on me. There were literally years of hell, and what seemed like floundering. But today, I am a successful graduate student at a prestigious university and my career prospects are good.

I still become very ill quite often, but things are better than I ever could have imagined. August 20, For many of us with psychiatric histories, the concept of "mental illness" just doesn't fit our experience. The literature shows that the overwhelming majority of people who end up in the mental health system are survivors of childhood sexual or physical abuse; again, that is not an "illness. We don't have "diseases," therefore the diagnoses you list here are not relevant to the real problem, which is a human rights problem. August 20, Around Christmas, my boyfriend of 4 years was diagnosed with schizophrenia after 2 years of being told he suffered from anxiety or depression.

Two months later, he committed suicide, probably due to a horrific hallucination. There was plenty of hope for my loved one, he had a normal life, was completing a degree, was raising my child with me, we planned to marry, and he had a good job. People with schizophrenia are no different than any one else with any other disease. But yet they are so much at risk for losing support from family, friends, and society, and for losing their own lives to their own hands.

As a society, we need to stop being scared of what we don't know, and learn more. Ignorance is not bliss. It's deadly. August 20, I experienced paranoid schizophrenia in after smoking weed. I heard voices telling me that they were god and that I should kill my kids to save the world from destruction and a lot of other negative things. With meds and therapy I was able to continue to hold my job and standard of living and able to retire last year. I think that education about the illness is the key to overcoming the illness and that the ones that understand the illness best are those that experienced it first hand.

August 20, I left home at 17 after HS graduation with honors and scholarships to study nursing in Boston. I did very well and was a class leader. One year later, the lights went out in my life. It was and I was profoundly depressed and nervous. I was admitted to Boston City Hospital psych unit for 3 months.

My dreams crashed. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and took a drug that made me fat and dizzy.. I left the hospital and got a job as a go-go dancer! A bit surprising for a Catholic girl who had never been to a bar. Then I got depressed again. It was a bumpy ride. Lithium was not being used in this country at the time. I was diagnosed as bipolar in , the year I was separated from my husband. I took Lithium but did not stabilize until I've been a practicing nurse for 34 years and am grateful for depakote, the medication that changed my life, and for all the psychiatrists and therapists who have helped me live with the disease.

August 20, My story has a positive twist regarding mental illness. I am year-old professional and the daughter of an alcoholic and a schizophrenic. This has been lifetime struggle for me to cope with. The only diagnoses Ive ever had are occasional bouts with generalized anxiety and IBS. My story relates to my boyfriend of a year. He has moderate OCD, gets excellent treatment and is considered quite successful by societys standards.

I wouldve never considered engaging in a relationship with a man with an SMI prior to knowing him. Too socially unacceptable. The beauty of dating him is that I do not have to hide my own history. I have spent my life in fear of judgment by people I get close to. With him, I can let the curtain down, be myself and allow the issues that are a result of my own insane childhood to emerge. No more hiding. Not to say that we do not have occasional struggles related to his OCD but for the first time in my life I am allowed to have a struggle or two of my own and they are met with.

August 20, My siblings and I suffered mental and physical abuse at the hands of our parents throughout our lives. We were raised in a religion which excluded us from outside socializing and most traditional holidays. Our father was the "hand of god" and carried the rod without reinforcement of nurturing. As a result, several of us have had to go through counseling for depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, and most recently schizophrenia. My youngest brothers are twins, have been diagnosed with schizophrenia. One brother, who has suffered physical pain from fibromyalgia and hears voices.

He was overmedicated, in pain and frustrated and tried to purchase a gun to end his life. Now the justice system has accused him of lying on the application based on a technicality and without consideration for his history or conditions. I fear that his living situation, probation process, and fines incurred will push him further over the edge. He is very angry with his situation but is a gentle, sweet, and creative person. August 20, I had a nervous breakdown at age 22 in It manifested as severe anxiety and depression coupled with agorophobia and claustrophobia.

I was not hospitalized. I have been dealing with it for 47 years. I was in therapy for 5 years and since then have relied on self help. I still have extreme anxiety at time and depression but do not want to take medication. I overcame a moderate problem with alcohol. I put myself through college. I've been married 26 years. August 20, I was seventeen and living with my brother who was in the navy when my first episode happened. My brother didn't know how to handle the situation so he had his girlfriend lock me up. From jail they sent me to a psychiatric hospital which I left to come back home to New York when i turned eighteen.

When I arrived to the Bronx, no one wanted to deal with me so I ended up living on the streets for 3 years. One day I was sleeping on the stairs of a church called Holy Cross on the corner of and Fort Washington when I heard a voice call my name. When I looked, it was my mother who just happened to be at that church that day.

Two months later I got hospitalized at Lincoln Hospital. I was there for a couple of weeks then I got transfered to Bronx Psychiatric Hospital , where I had to learn how to live with my illness. Nine months later I was released, I've been receiving treatment for 3 and a half years now. I am now stable and have been attending college for two semesters! August 20, I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at age Due to being put on Haldol, I began to gain weight.

I am now I have had 6 hospitalizations altogether; however, I was not on Disability til All this time my schiz. From I weighed over lbs. In I had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis they thought , diabetes, and hypertension. I took over 20 pills a day. I had an episode and got on SSDI. I had so much support from the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic- housing, case management, community living classes etc. I went to the gym every day, walked every evening, and joined Overeaters Anon. Now I weigh and have no diagnosed illnesses other than the schiz.

I lost over lbs. People at the gym and in my life in general consider me a miracle person, but really it just takes perserverence, parents who accept and love you no matter what, and 12 steps. I am still losing weight, and I hike in the mountains here as well as ride a bike, have many friends etc. I still live in WYGC housing, but I am able to manage my own money and supprot myself for the most part. I hope that those people who have. August 20, I am 21 years old and I am living with a mental illness. My main problem is that I am manic deppressive. I have trouble living with it every day.

My parents don't understand, neither my family. I feel alone all the time. I feel like killing myself at least three to six times a week. I never get a break. I have trouble concentrating so I can't really go to school. I am in a great deal of debt because when i was on a manic high I ran up all my credit cards. Every day is a struggle. Every day I feel a different way than the last day.

I still am not comfortable with my disease to this day. All I do is fight with people or get depressed and try hurting myself. Hopefully one day I will finally get the right medication in me so my life will get a little bit easier. I always spent a lot of my energy trying to hide how I was feeling from other people. Only when I was alone could I really be myself. When I finally was able to live alone, I spent a lot of time in bed, but I wouldn't tell anyone about it.

It was only when I was in my late 30's that I started seeing a therapist. I think I suffered for such a long time thinking that I was just a slug. My self esteem was terrible and the loneliness really difficult. Now, I feel better because I know what's wrong with me and that it's not my fault. I really thought that I was terribly flawed and needed to keep it a secret. I still don't tell very many people but can tell my friends.

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August 19, Each time I encounter the metaphor, "mental illness," I wonder how many people who employ it would also employ "physical illness" in the same manner: "People with physical illness", and I know the answer: None. The public prejudice of the "singular" illness is one of the worst of the sources of prejudices we face. I am also bothered by the prejudice of "the. The first of the "the's" to be medically murdered were "the" mentally ill, in a gas chamber invented by doctors, Brandenburg There is no "the" mentally ill, it IS a Nazi metaphor, and it survives.

August 19, Born: Treated for ADD: - Drug abuse while away at school cannabis, hallucinogens : - Hospitalizations, as per schizophrenia and bipolar: served 4 1-month terms, - , community hospital psych wards. Live alone in owned 4-bedroom colonial on 0. I think it was my parents that made me follow the rules and stick with the program, so they get most of the credit. I have a job with strict quotas, only I like to take my time and follow a ritual e. My EEO prospects are dim, from reading the handout.

But then, year after year after fiscal, never-take-a-risk-al year, I somehow pull in what I need. I am 41, earn 6 figures, and will die with many toys. I suppose I'm stronger than I think, living alone in that big old house on the cul-de-sac. Like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, I would think that repeated humility, mixed, too, with sad disillusionment, has given me this strange prize. August 19, I'm 36, and Bipolar.

I was diagnosed after a three day stay in Laurelwood for suicidal ideations. I have been compliant with my meds. I have seen my Psychiatrist once a month, and my Therapist twice a week for all these twenty months. The unmitigated chronicity is what is pulling me down now. I just can't get a break from my disorder. I swing from mania to depression and back again without really spending and time in the middle, just being "ok".

My mania's are usually disphoric, so I'm angry aggitated and irritable. And I have to deal with all this and work too. I guess I might be considered one of the successful cases by being able to work, at the job I had before my diagnosis, but right now it is overwhelming. I'm tired. I can take a vacation from the job but not from this Disorder. And that stinks! What is one to do then? August 19, My story is that of a father of a year-old son who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

His mental health condition has split our family. When he was at his worse, he would become violent to the point that police have had to be called. He managed to be charged with assault against me and a therapist when he was 11 years old. We have removed him from our house and we have had to relinquish custody of him to make sure he continues to receive Medicaid funding for treatment. We also needed to protect ourselves physically me, my wife and another child.

Giving up custody, however, has left him on his own more or less in the custody of the Department of Social Services and enrolled in a residential school. We have not been allowed contact with him since early March around his birthday. Until society truly learns to deal with mental health issues, my story will continue to repeat itself. I can only hope that medical sciences and drug companies can solve this problem in the near future. Good luck to all who care about those needing mental health care. August 18, I am year-old female and now single mother of 2 girls ages 4 and 8.

I have bipolar disorder and am on SSI. I have never been hospitalized, but the disease impacts me on a level that I am unable to currently function in the typical buisness world. My youngest will start public school next year and I intend to return to school and further my education in writing. The most difficult aspect I have encounted is the lack of programs to assist those with mental disorders who are in a relatively stable state without major flux. A prime example being housing issues for those that can function adequately on their own, but need financial assistance.

The community, especially smaller ones, simply lack those resources. August 18, I grew up with a mother who suffered from bipolar disorder although it wasn't diagnosed as such until she had been suffering for over 20 years. I watched as my beautiful, intelligent, loving mother transformed into a nervous, chain smoking ferret who would alternate between bouts of paranoia, fear, delusions of grandeur and suicide attempts.

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When she'd recover from an episode, she would tell me that she had no control but could feel it coming on. Although ECT treatments would keep extreme mania at bay, her fear of being connected to wires and zapped every two weeks was painful to see and not easy to rationalize to her when she'd beg me not to make her go for her next treatment. It's a cruel disease which robbed the essence and vitality from my mother throughout her life. Medical research has been unable to unlock the secret to this disease and millions of victims suffer from unspeakable mental torture made worse because they have nowhere to go for true relief.

August 18, I have had multiple diagnoses over the years, the most current being Schizoaffective Disorder. It's been a struggle and I have been hospitalized for suicide attempts. I have overcome childhood abuse and alcoholism. I don't ever remember not being clinically depressed, even as a child. There were times when my anxiety was so high I couldn't leave the house.

Then, in my late teens and especially in the late 20's, the paranoid and delusional thoughts began. My life in "reality" began about five years ago with the concept of recovery. Today, I hold a job as an executive secretary, am married, and have a beautiful 4-year-old daughter. I will always take medications and have a counselor available when things get too overwhelming. I have a great support system. Recovery is possible if all of these factors are in place, but it also takes being willing to look at myself and be honest with myself at all times.

I have to be responsible and do simple daily living tasks, even when I don't feel like it. August 18, My daughter was in her teens when I noticed that her problems were more intense than those of her friends. By the time she was 23 she experienced an episode which landed her in the hospital. The diagnosis was unsure and it took another years to come up with bipolar with schizoid features and another couple for that to stick. She is 35 now and the traumas of going through many hospitalizations, med changes, alcohol dependence and well meant but ineffective treatment have taken their toll.

Our system does not work August 18, My daughter had her first manic incident out of the blue during her junior year at college. We were frightened and clueless, and got a diagnosis of BP after we got her home. Looking back we could see her personality and sleep pattern changing over perhaps 18 months, but we just thought she was acting like an energetic college kid.

She responded well to mood stabilizers, and returned to school. Then her first depression hit and she started antidepressants. She is fortunate in her early diagnosis, successful response to medication and her ability to finish college despite the side effects and emotional trauma. When she graduated, she decided to stop medication to test the diagnosis of her one-time incident. She was hospitalized again within 6 months but not before racking up credit card bills, starting to smoke and drink, and getting arrested for reckless driving.

It took longer for her to get stable this time, and we are paying a high premium for private insurance as she is no longer a dependent [on our plan]. August 18, I am 33 and was diagnosed as bipolar last year. At first the doctor I went to put me on antidepressant that made me worse. For nine months I was completely manic. I attempted suicide twice and was hospitalized once. Finally in November of I went to a different doc who changed my meds and now I am like a new person.

Due to my bipolar [illness] I have lost everything I had: my family, my business, my job, my home, and my self respect. I am now living in my truck and I am working on putting my life back together.