So as my first blog post I thought it would be fitting to explain my own mental health conditions, what they mean and how I experience them. If you have read by bio you will know I have been diagnosed with severe depression, anxiety and “dissociative amnesia” (I come to the quotation marks later).
Before I was professional diagnosed with any of my conditions, my family and I assumed I suffered from both anxiety and depression. Depression and anxiety for me are very give and take, mutually inclusive conditions. My father experiences anxiety and both of my parents have had depressive episode, as most people have, but it was hard to see if it was just an episode or more. I began to experience depression more severely when I hit secondary school and while I reached out for help from school counsellors, teacher and even friends most people told me it “was probably just teenage hormones” or ask if it was “my time of the month”. It felt like I was shouting into a void and none one was there to help, so I gave up and took matters into my own hands. It was only when I started self-harming, losing weight and much more palpable, physical signs showed up that people began taking me seriously. And while I self-harmed for my own reasons, I will openly admit I started it as a method of attention seeking. Not attention seeking for the clout but rather to be taken seriously and eventually it became addicting and felt necessary.
After people began noticing and a terrifying conversation initiated by my mother, I managed to get some help. We went to a counselling service for children under the age of 18 and got an appointment. I brought a journal I had been keeping which contained art I had made while alone. the counsellor agreed I was suffering mental health conditions and offered follow up sessions. I left my contact details and waited. By the time they responded I was over 18 and unsuitable for their program so was, yet again, alone in the world but this time off to university.
Getting into university posed its own problems to me with my dyslexia and dyspraxia and although it caused me loads of grief and hours of crying once I was there, I felt like I could be the person I truly was. Depressed, but at least it was finally me beneath the depression. By second year I reached one of the lowest I ever have and went to seek help at my GP as a last resort. They formally diagnosed me, provided me with medication and recommended the university counselling services. For the first time whilst I still wasn’t standing on my own feet I felt in control. A new type of confidence I had never felt, someone believed me and gave me my own power. Now obviously neither these meds or the counselling “fixed” me but it brought up points that I have since tried to solve to and made me and therapist realise there was probably other conditions at play.
I was “diagnosed” with dissociative amnesia within the last year so this whole experience is a learning curve I hope to document. I used a lot of quotation marked while referring to this condition because it is very hard to confidently diagnosed, I fill out most symptoms, but it is so volatile and different in different people that there is a possible it has been miss diagnosed. Though my own doctors are relatively confident in the diagnosis I will be going to see a professional soon. Dissociative amnesia is less common than my other diagnosis, it is a form or dissociative disorder and although almost half of the population has experienced at least one episode in their life, only 2% of the population meets the criteria for a formal diagnosis. Dissociative disorders include: dissociative disorders of sensation, dissociative identity disorder (DID) and dissociative amnesia. While I experience the later, I can sometime experience a symptom or two of the other disorders. It means the patient often experiences periods where they are unable to remember information about themselves or their past in a much more sever way than just forgetfulness. These episodes can last anywhere form minutes to year and can be selective, localised, generalised, systematised or continous. An example of my own experience of a selective period is when I thought I was going to lectures but in fact wasn’t. it is selective because I remember everything in between the lectures. My case is also unique like most other cases in its own way, whilst I do forget periods I often fill in the gaps with my own made up memories, for this example I truly believed I had been in the lectures and had a panic attack when I could find the notes I believe I had made. This has led to several complications of making up memories, creating “nightmare” memories and sleep paralysis. Whilst all cases of this are inconvenient and very scary, I am always thankful that mine doesn’t seem severe, I have not experienced “waking up” in a place and not knowing where I am (dissociative fugue) and I have never forgotten my own or anyone else’s identity. I also have a fantastic support system and will probably right a post of how I organise my life and remind myself of events and plans.
Sorry that this was so serious, but I felt it was important to be as medically clear as possible even with the grey areas so had little room for jokes. Hopefully my next post is lighter and that you found this interesting. Let me know if there are any subjects you’d specifically like me to cover.
Thanks! And I hope you stay your happiest.