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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration


Last Updated: 7/7/2008

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)

 

Lynn's Story

In my teen years, I had some anger issues, but never identified them as mental health problems. The turning point for me was toward the end of an unhealthy relationship, when a door was locked in my face and I decided to put a fist through it. The glass didn't hurt me seriously, but at that moment, when I fell to the floor weeping and bleeding, I realized I needed help. Help getting out of the relationship, getting control of my anger and my dependency.

By my thirties, I self-medicated by overspending and managed to get myself deep in debt. My parents tried to help me out. I was an only child, and my mother loved me, so she constantly tried to help me, and explain how the dangers of debt could impact your self-image as well as your credit rating. I was guilty and ashamed of my debt. When I got bills in the mail, I wouldn't want to open them. I stopped taking mail out of the mailbox, and I didn't want to get out of bed.

My best friend could see the trouble I was in. She bought me a book on codependency. We talked about depression and anxiety, and she eventually steered me toward her family psychiatrist. I believe she saved my life.

My psychiatrist was very patient and kind, but we didn't have much success with medication. Every time a new antidepressant was released, I hoped it would help where the others didn't. I was torn between relying too much on medications and being unable to believe they'd help. We had mixed successes, but I never got a very good fit.

Therapy made a big difference, though. My psychiatrist has been my rock. I've seen him off and on for the past 16 years, and he really talks to me and knows me very well. His role has never been just to prescribe medication. In fact, last year I got off antidepressants because we decided the benefits weren't there for me.

Thanks to him, to group therapy, and friends and family who stuck by me, I've been able to keep my current job for 25 years. I've won awards for publication design and photography—I guess I'm one of the victims of the "creative/depressed" curse. I've maintained healthy relationships. And most importantly, I was finally able to get out of debt a few years ago.

Although my friends were supportive, I did run into people who were less supportive. A relative of one of my friends once said that an acquaintance with depression should just "pull himself up by his bootstraps." I was in the room at the time, and it was very hurtful. I understand that she had her own issues, but I felt it was insensitive.

It's a hard lesson to learn, but I think it's important to face your own demons. You have to be honest with friends and with yourself. I'm hoping that through telling my story, I can help people understand that their feelings are valid, and that mental illness is just as difficult as any other illness. If insurance providers and workplaces accepted this, we would be able to say, "I'm feeling really down now, and I need to go home." If you know where a problem comes from, then you've gone a long way toward solving it.

Lynn


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.