As a child, I was vivacious, inquisitive, and creative. I had a particular "spark" that was recognized by anyone who met me.
I was defined by my friends' parents as "an absolute joy", and to my own parents, I was fascinated and quirky.
I am not sure exactly how or what changed, but eventually, as I grew older, I began to feel more jaded and life became monotonous. My smile slowly transformed into mask that I wore to conceal my insecurities. I felt very alone and misunderstood. I didn't realize that it was abnormal for me to perceive the world and life as being an unbreakable pattern of existing to make money, reproduce, and die, so that the future generations could do the same.
This idea that there was no purpose, no value to any person's existence was pessimistic and slightly morbid, but I thought it was a perspective shared by all.
I excused my chronic fatigue as being something every teenager experienced. I would get defensive and dismissive of my mom whenever she tried to intervene in my self-perpetuating cycle of sadness. I eventually accepted the understanding that I needed help, but in my mind, that meant those around me found me to be a burden and, in order to be able to tolerate me, needed to change me. This only caused my depression to permeate.
In reality, this shell of a person was not my personality. My state of self-loathing did not define who I really was. My family was convinced they could restore that "spark" I had radiated during my childhood. I resented them though, initially, as I was convinced they weren't being supportive, but rather, wanted me to be someone else's problem. This, of course, wasn't true.
Without hesitation, I can say that it was the professionals who lacked support and understanding.
Not every psychiatrist is like this, but in my experiences, I noticed that because the psychiatrists saw so many patients in similar situations each day, although my distress was unique to me, it was not uncommon to them. Because of this, I found I was treated like a job or an anonymous face, or even just an opportunity to make money.
My most unsettling experience, aside from the two times I was hospitalized, was when I was just beginning to be medicated.
In truth, there is no way to determine how a drug will affect an individual because everyone reacts differently. "Try this for a month", a psychiatrist would say, and prescribe me with a bottle of pills and a warning label I would be forced to ignore. I distinctly remember being in an office once and recalling my adverse reaction to one prescription. The drug made me feel almost hallucinogenic like faces were melting into walls, sounds were amplified, lights became too bright, my thoughts sounded like they echoed too loudly in my head, and I was constantly dizzy to the point where I even collapsed in the hallway of my high school. That psychiatrist, after several nods, then tried to prescribe me with that same medication. It made me feel hopeless. I was someone's child. I had my own life that I was not currently living. I wanted my life back. If I had been that psychiatrist's child, perhaps the severity of my situation would've been taken more seriously by her; but I was not her child, I was a stranger in an office. Despite these negative and discouraging experiences, I continued to seek treatment.
After a couple of years of being a medication guinea pig, I found a combination of drugs that worked well to stabilize my moods and thought processes.
No, medications alone weren't enough to "cure" me. There is no panacea for mental illness. However, the advice I will give to those struggling is this: Be open to solutions. Do not expect these solutions to make you "better", but remain optimistic that they may help to relieve you of the symptoms of mental illness. Think of it as a way to break the building blocks of the disorder so that the disorder itself is not as much of an obstacle in your way. Most importantly, remember that you must be willing to at least want to feel different from what you are currently experiencing.
You may feel as though you do not have the capacity or motivation to improve your mental state, but you at least need to want a change.
You do not control your illness, but at the same time, the illness cannot control you..remember that.