The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) will be released in May. Yahoo is featuring first-person stories from Americans who are diagnosed with some of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. Here's one story.
FIRST PERSON | I penned depressing, dark poems and suicidal short stories as a teenager. Living in a small town, I participated in drugs and alcohol. It could have been "typical" teenage behavior. I thought so, even though I'd dropped out of high school and continued the sex, drugs, and drinking.
At 17, I left home with a man 12 years older than myself, continuing the pattern; notebooks were filled with poems on loneliness, self-loathing, and abuse. I amped myself up on drugs for the energy to work. I cared about nothing but the constant irrational fears itching inside my head. Even the abuse that man I'd left home for was nothing but fodder for a pen and paper.
Within a year, I tried to kill myself. It was a simple thing; I wasn't in a state of panic or heartbreak. I was terrified of death. But I'd decided I wouldn't allow the abuse to kill me and give someone else the satisfaction of having done it.
I swallowed a bottle of high-end pain killers and closed my eyes.
After the incident -- which I didn't care had failed -- I went to a psychiatrist once. A dreary place in Denver stinking of mold, catering to drifters with no money or home address; I answered questions that showed a total lack of interest, very poor self-esteem, little to no energy, and withdrawal from society at every opportunity.
Depression. It sounds so self-pitying, just a word filled with stigma and angst. I never returned.
Teenage years blurred into official adulthood. Believing I had no prospects, I remained with the man who'd come and go from prison, stints of time during which I wrote letters that expressed all the right emotions of longing and love. Promises to remain faithful and to be waiting; everything I knew I should feel but didn't.
Pregnancy drove me to seek help and leave the abuse behind. Since I was seeing a physician, I assumed that they would be able to help me. Depression reconfirmed, I went from one anti-depressant to another as they stopped working and I'd be floored by fear and depression. Bouts of energy broke in, an escape, and the diagnosis became bipolar.
The series of drugs that came after this diagnosis spun me into an anxiety breakdown of horror that paralyzed me.
Fifteen years later, I've dropped the stigmas and saw a psychiatrist. Dysthymia was the problem all along, a sneaky form of depression that is acute and chronic. I deal with its common co-disorder, anxiety, with therapy. And I find myself optimistic, wistful, wishing I'd had the chance to have a life before.
- Mental Health