Anxiety: The Symptoms Return

Do you ever feel like a failure for taking yourself off medications that you “don’t need anymore” only to end up right back on them?

That happened to me recently. I took myself off my anxiety medication a few months back. When the anxiety got so bad I could barely leave the house, that’s when I couldn’t lie to myself about the necessity of it anymore.

My anxiety symptoms seemed better, so I took myself off medications. Then they came back.

Return of Anxiety Symptoms:

I started blurting out random words and phrases to cut off the chatter in my head. Blasting music through earbuds to help me ignore all of the people talking to me. There are sounds that make no sense that just spill from my lips, sounds that derail the train going round and round in my brain. I hide in dark rooms crouched in corners, trying to keep the panic from finding me. It always does.

When I could no longer fake normal, that is when I realized that the dreaded anxiety medications really were necessary. Lying awake for hours, reviewing every conversation in my head for mistakes – that’s when I knew that I’m not okay. I still pretend. Three times a day is really annoying for taking medications … so I miss doses. It’s foolish, you don’t have to say it. I’m already telling myself that. Even as I’m hiding from everyone who cares for fear of being annoying, I’m pretending that the anxiety isn’t an issue.

Wait, what?

Didn’t we just have this conversation?

It never ends, you see.

We – me, myself, and I – always have this conversation. The anxiety gets unbearable, and keeps us locked inside our mind. Then we go back on the medications so we can leave the house again without panicking when someone walks by. When the medication does its job and we feel better, we stop taking it. It isn’t necessary anymore! That is the lie that we keep repeating, wishing it were true and trying desperately to believe it.

Sometimes I do believe it. Until the medication is out of my system, anyways. So for now, I’m back on anxiety medication. We will see how long it lasts this time.

What is it Like to Have a Mental Illness?

A diagnosis can be many different things, because there are so many different mental illnesses. While no two illnesses are identical, several illness share symptoms with each other – which makes a doctor’s job much more difficult.

Since there are many different illnesses out there, I obviously cannot tell you what it is like to have all of them. So this post will focus on what it is like for me to have a mental illness.

Mental illness is usually discussed in hushed tones, if it is discussed at all. I'm tired of living in darkness and confusion where most people have no idea what I'm going through. They think that I'm attention seeking, or making it up. Mental illness is real, though, and someone else's lack of belief in our suffering does not make our problems any less real. This post is to help people without a mental illness have a little more clarity on what having a mental illness is actually like.Living with a Mental Illness:

For me, socializing is absolutely exhausting. I need time alone regularly (usually daily) or I have a breakdown because I can’t cope with the stress of trying to be normal anymore. I can’t go out in public without seeing and hearing people pointing and laughing at me. Voices call my name and talk to me, and I often respond without realizing they aren’t actual people. I fixate on certain people, and try to communicate with them without telling them what I want to say – for instance, playing or singing a certain song around them so they can realize without me telling them that I am sad.

It’s long nights where I sit up in bed for hours to protect my husband and myself from the people I see in the room. Cuddling with my teddy bear because I’m scared to death and don’t want to bother my husband for the fifth time that night. Sleeping all night with the light on, because when we turn it off the people come back and I have to be on guard. Being ill for me, means seeing messages in the time on the clock. Seeing portals appear on the back of the mirror when we turn it around so it can’t communicate with the clock. It’s struggling not to hurt myself because I want to make it stop, struggling not to hurt the people I love when the need to hurt someone or something is overwhelming.

More Symptoms:

Having a mental illness means staying in a public area longer than necessary to make sure the strangers walking to their cars are safe from the man on the sidewalk with a knife. It means being a freak to people who don’t understand. Losing friends because I’m not always in control. Becoming a different person when the psychosis is really bad, and no longer recognizing my own name. Existing in my own world (The Border) and not knowing what is happening in reality. Losing the will to live, and not taking care of myself. Being incoherent and unable to explain what is going on. Sometimes being so happy that I feel like I’m floating and talking so quickly that no one can understand.

There is so much to having a mental illness. No, this is not all of the symptoms I experience, but my aim was not to detail every problem; rather, my aim was to shed a little light on the darkness. There is still so much darkness – but now, maybe a little less.

 

Nicole

5 Challenges Associated with Mental Illness

As you may or may not know, having a mental illness – especially a severe one – comes at a high cost. It can cost you relationships, jobs, sometimes even your life. Having a mental illness is not easy. It’s a difficult path that we are forced by our own minds to take. That’s why I’m writing about the challenges you may not even realize exist for people with mental illnesses.

Like every illness, mental illness makes life more difficult. It's not easy to live as an outcast or freak, but those aren't the reasons listed. These are five challenges that people with mental illnesses suffer that healthy people don't have to worry about.

Being ‘Open & Honest’:
  • There is usually a point in someone diagnosed with a mental illness’ life when they need to explain their situation. It may be in order to explain strange behavior. It may be simply for the sake of being open and honest. Or maybe it’s to keep a job, due to absences or other problems. Explaining that you have a mental illness is scary. You don’t know how that person will react. Will they laugh at you? Maybe walk away? What if they tell someone else what you told them? There are so many questions and doubts that attack when you decide to tell someone what is going on. That relationship or job may be lost.
Challenges with Day to Day Life:
  • Acting normal may not sound challenging, but when you hear voices or see things that aren’t there, it’s definitely a struggle. I fought my own mind all the way through school so I wouldn’t be a labeled a freak. Friends were kept in the dark about the fact that I took medicines, and I had to hide or explain away any strange behaviors. I had very few friends because the more people there were, the more people I had to hide my illness from. It’s not just a problem with school, either. Think about your job, and all of the people you work with. Think about your neighbors. Consider the people you see every day. Could you hide strange behavior from all of those people? I became reclusive because the struggle was too much for me.
Added Responsibility:
  • Going to the doctor without anyone knowing is difficult, especially if you have a social life or work. Yes, you can tell your boss you have to go to the doctor, but how many times can you take off work to go to the doctor without explaining why? I had some challenges getting time off work, and I was most definitely not wanting to explain why I had to go to the doctor once a month. Depending on the severity of your illness and/or the effectiveness of your medicines, you may have to go to the doctor more or less often than once a month. After taking time off to go to the doctor, your boss may not want you to take time off for other things, either. Even though I was only working part time, we would work around 30 hours a week, and sometimes only got one day off. We worked irregular hours, and might get called in on short notice. People were in and out, working one day, quitting the next. It was hard to get any time off, especially regularly.
Even More Responsibility:
  • Taking medicines is a section on its own, because there’s so much involved. You have to have insurance to cover the medicines, because they are usually very expensive. You have to be able to get to the doctor regularly (and be able to pay for it), because they won’t keep refilling prescriptions without you seeing them. Then you have to remember to take pills as prescribed (or get a shot – eek!) and suffer from the side effects of them. Most of them make you gain weight, or make you sleepy. Some of them cause headaches, or dizziness. You don’t know what a medicine will do to you until you start taking it – and when you get awful side effects, you may not be able to get in to see the doctor right away in order to change it. Oh, and we can’t forget – there are people who find out that you take medicines, and tell you that they are unnecessary. They tell you to use natural remedies, or to pray until God heals you. While I believe prayer works, I also believe that sometimes, God says, “no”. Remember Paul and the thorn in his side – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Don’t risk your health because of the words of someone who has no idea what they are talking about.
Fitting In:
  • Did I mention socializing is exhausting? Being very careful about everything you say or do while you are with someone who doesn’t know about your illness really takes a lot of energy. I avoid social contact with people who don’t know about my illness as much as I can, but I still have to go places. I can’t hide all of the time. I’m very blessed that my small social circle knows about my illness and still accepts me for who I am.

 

Maybe understanding what challenges someone with a mental illness goes through will help those without an illness be more understanding. Well, this girl can dream.

Self Therapy: Sincerely, Words on a Screen

Writing day. Woo-hoo!

Self therapy can come in many different forms, and writing is certainly one of them. Being diagnosed with a mental illness can feel lonely, and lead to feelings of being misunderstood. When there is no one (or seems to be no one) to listen, we still need an outlet. That is likely why we consistently hear recommendations to write in a journal, on a piece of paper, or even on a blog – anything to express the words floating around in our heads. Don’t let a diagnosis make you feel trapped and alone. Letting our words out can be a very freeing experience.

I spent a bit of time trying to come up with a topic to write on, but what the heck – no creative fiction stories today. Instead I’ll write about how things are in my world as of now. If that sounds boring to you, then you’re probably on the wrong blog .. because this is supposed to be about living with a mental illness. Unfortunately, living with a mental illness does affect my day to day life. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. Time to speak sincerely.

Mental illness affects my day to day life - even more so when the anti-psychotic medications are not working. These Words on a Screen are here because you're not suffering alone, even when it feels that way.

Onward!

About three months ago, I switched to a new anti-psychotic medication because the one I’d been on (off and on) previously was causing problems that could lead to infertility.

A month ago, I got a script for my medicines with enough refills for three additional months, and stopped seeing my psychiatrist – because we’re moving and I have to find a different one after we finish moving.

Now, today, I don’t think the medicine is working. Alas, with a week until we move, it will be some time before I can locate a new psychiatrist. Even after we move, we are only staying temporarily, then moving again in a few months. It all hinges on when we find an apartment in our intended location.

In the meantime …

… the symptoms are getting worse. I’m aggressive at unpredictable moments, very paranoid, seeing and hearing things .. and my poor husband deals with it. Recently, we were shopping and he left me with the cart to go find a few items while I looked for other things on the list. My stupid brain was telling me that a group of store employees were pointing and talking about me. It told me other shoppers were laughing at me, that I was being made fun of. Internally, I was freaked out. So when we got back in the (very hot) car, I was already upset. When my brain told me that pretty much everything my husband said was an insult or mocking (when it was nothing of the kind), that made things worse. It ended with silence in the car, but it was still a crappy experience.

It’s horrible to experience things other people don’t experience, and it’s horrible to get upset with someone who doesn’t deserve it because you’re experiencing something that isn’t real.

While I know Jesus sincerely loves me – that He loves all of us – I just can’t understand why He would let me be created this way. I don’t understand why I have a mental illness. I don’t understand why I have to take medicines that make me gain unwanted weight to make me “normal” when most people can get by with a mug of coffee.

Please ..

If you know someone who is mentally ill – we didn’t ask for this. We don’t want this. Please don’t judge us for what we can’t control.

All of you out there, suffering and trying to pretend you’re fine – whether or not you have a mental illness – you’re not alone. The causes may be different, but we were all created by the same loving God – and He’s out there, listening. I’m just words on a screen, but He is everywhere. You are not alone.

 

Sincerely,

Words on a Screen

Mental Illness versus Demons

Considering my stance that having a mental illness does not mean the sufferer is possessed by demons, I thought providing some support for my belief would be helpful.

Aren't you tired of hearing that you or someone you love is demon possessed simply because they have a mental illness? Let me give you some back-up, both through Scripture and common knowledge, about why mental illness is NOT demon possession.** NOTE **

While I only included the relevant parts of these verses, I highly recommend reading the background of the section for context.

Here are some traits of demon possession:

(as based in Scripture)
  • Cannot exist in the same body as the Holy Spirit
    • Mark 9:25 & Matthew 17:18
      • the disciples were not able to cast the demon out, but Jesus could.
    • James 4:7
    • 2 Corinthians 6:14
  • Not treatable except by prayer/casting out
    • Mark 9:29
  • (Might) Have strength beyond the normal human scope
    • Mark 5:3-4
  • Cannot act normal
    • Mark 5:5
    • Mark 5:15
    • Luke 8:27

 

Here are some traits of mental illness:

(based on Scripture, some scientific knowledge, and also personal experience both with myself and others I know/have known who suffer with a mental illness)
  • Are able to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior
    • Ephesians 1:13
    • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
    • 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • Treatable by medicine and therapy
  • God sometimes allows Christians to suffer
    • 2 Corinthians 12:7-8
  • People with less severe forms can act like they’re not ill (seem normal).
  • There are those suffering with a mental illness that become highly religious or obsessed with the Bible
  • King Nebuchadnezzar suffered possible mental illness symptoms and says, “at that time my sanity returned to me …” (v.36)
    • Daniel 4:33-36
    • Speaks of sanity returning in v.34 as well.
  • For “wickedness” and abandoning God, the Bible says various curses and punishments that will befall the person (or people), including “madness” and “mental confusion” (v.28)
    • Deuteronomy 28:28
    • If this “madness” could happen to non-Christians it can happen to us because sin is in the world.
  • David pretended to be crazy
    • 1 Samuel 21:12-15

 

A little more on demons (or lack thereof) …

Seizures:

It is also noteworthy that seizures are easily explained (for the most part) scientifically today – most people do not connect seizures and possession by demons at all. If you read Scriptures, though, there are cases in which seizures were caused by demonic possession:

  • Mark 9:20
  • Matthew 17:15

If not all (or even most) cases of epilepsy or other seizures are caused by demons, why would we think that all (or most) cases of mental illness are caused by demons?

Cutting:

Furthermore, this post would not be complete without mention of cutting. Yes, cutting has been associated with possession by demons:

  • Mark 5:5

 

The Bible also specifically addresses cutting as something to avoid:

    • Leviticus 19:28
    • Deuteronomy 14:1-2

 

Cutting being addressed so specifically is important, because someone who is demon possessed would not be able to follow such a command. The demon within the person would be making the decisions. Would a demon even read the Bible? For the most part, demons wanted nothing to do with Jesus. Frequently when Jesus interacted with demons, we see them asking Him not to torment them:

  • Matthew 8:29

 

Hopefully this (very long) post has addressed any questions or doubts you might have had previously. While I’m sure this is by no means an exhaustive list of differences between mental illness and possession by demons (or a listing of all possible Scripture references), maybe having it out ‘there’ will clear up some confusion.

 

Nicole