Author: Hannah Mick
Hey there! My name is Hannah Mick, and I was asked to be a guest writer for this blog. I am greatly honored to be able to educate others on mental health awareness. I have decided to do that by telling you a little bit of my story. At thirteen years old, I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety after an overdose in my school library. At fifteen years old, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after I had gone manic and tried to hurt someone dear to me. At seventeen years old, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when the psychosis had started, and my rage was at the worst. At twenty-two years old, I was diagnosed with PTSD when I was open about my nightmares and paranoia from sexual assault. Now each of my diagnosis came at a time in my life when I had hit rock bottom; when I did not know what to do or how to get help. I had frequented quite a few mental hospitals, counselors’ offices, and pharmacies, but it was always a dead end. It was not until I was twenty-three, that I really started to understand that mental illness is more than just a diagnosis. It was my solution.
A solution? Sounds pretty crazy huh? Let me explain. Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems with functioning with daily life. With BPD, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have long relationships with others. BPD usually begins in early adulthood. The exact cause of BPD is unknown. Genetic, environmental, and social factors are found to play a role. Does not sound like a solution yet, does it? Well BPD affects 1.6% of Americans. That means that over four million people in the world have BPD. Now how about if I say that 75% of them were women; that is a ratio of 3 women to 1 man. Now I understand that this does not clarify a lot to others, but to the person with BPD, its reassuring. I know that I am not alone, I know that even though there are a decent amount of people with it and there is no clear therapy or medication available to us, that I am allowed hope. I now have a clear understanding of the makeup of who I am. I did not have that for a long time and that broke me even more than I was already broken. I disliked the idea of so many things being wrong with me, but I had no idea why. I knew it was more than depression and anxiety, I knew it was more than just hormonal development and I knew it was more than environmental. Having a diagnosis is what has kept me alive. I am constantly learning more about my brain and I am learning new coping strategies daily.
Now PTSD is something that more of us have heard of, but I want to talk about it on a more personal scale. PTSD is a mental health condition that is triggered by a terrifying event- either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event. For me, my PTSD was triggered by sexual assault when I was 17. But that is not what I want to talk about, not yet at least. That is a story for possibly another blog. Now, I often do not talk about my opinion on the military but let me just say that I am a big fan. I want to talk about veterans with PTSD. PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and quite a few of our veterans have it. In fact, among Persian Gulf war veterans, PTSD rates are reported between 1.9%-13.2% and from veterans of the currents conflict in the Middle East, PTSD point prevalence is reported from 4%-17.1%. This disorder represents a significant and costly illness to veterans, their families, and society. PTSD is treated by getting timely help and support. Some people turn to their families and even friends, but others turn to therapy or lean on their faith-based community.
Suicide plays a major factor in both PTSD and BPD. In fact, the suicide rates with BPD are 8-10%... 8-10% of Americans diagnosed with BPD are successful in taking their own lives and 70% have at least attempted. That means the rate is 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population. In 2012, 5000 suicides were a result from suffering with PTSD. Now that is a lot of deaths. A lot of funerals. A lot of broken-hearted families and friends who wished they could have prevented this.
Both do not have a cure. They do not have an automatic solution. But we as a whole can help prevent our loved ones from attempting or succeeding in suicide. We can educate ourselves on their diagnosis and work with their symptoms. We can be the support that they need and more than just by posting on Facebook or celebrating during mental health awareness month. We can be that phone call at 2 am when they need us. We can be that shoulder to cry on. We can be their friends even when it can be hard. We do not know what they are going through, and we cannot even fathom how they are feeling within. I personally know that my mind is my absolute worst enemy and I am sure it is like that with many others who are struggling with mental illness.
I know I have only touched a little bit on both BPD and PTSD, but I am hoping to be able to talk about it on a deeper level in another blog. I feel like they both should be addressed more separately because they are both very important and deserve the time. All mental issues deserve more time.