http://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2014/02/07/living-with-mental-illness


Town Square

Living with mental illness

Original post made on Feb 7, 2014

"Kaitlin Chan" was working toward her doctorate in clinical psychology when she tried to end her life. She was taken to the hospital on a psychiatric hold, and later she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 7, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments

Posted by Carroll Harrington, a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2014 at 10:42 am

Congratulations to Sue Dremman for this excellent article and accolades to Kaitin Chan and Lucy Gray for sharing their experiences. I am sure this will help many others.


Posted by Bravo!, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Katie Chan, you are a very brave lady to share your story! Thank you so much! Mine is nowhere near as courageous, but the synopsis is:

My mother was a danger to herself and to me. She ate NOTHING but pastries, and then forced herself to vomit. This, of course, caused her to lose most of her teeth. I found out later that this behavior had started when she was working as a model in the Forties. she also, as the oldest of seven children, had been forced to help raise her siblings, which caused her to dislike children.

My mother considered my birth to be " rotten luck", and she mistreated me from the beginning, skipping feelings and " accidentally" dropping me several times. By the time I was school age, this had escalated to whipping, slapping, hosing-down, forced enemas and laxatives, skipped meals for two days at a time, beatings,with sticks pulled from trees in the back yard, etc.

Neighbors complained of my screaming, particularly during the summer months when she was "stuck " with me. Once summer evening someone called the sheriff. My father sent the officers away, but after several more calls that summer, when my father was working, my mother was taken to the psyche ward of a local hospital.

This happened a few more times before the 72- hr hold law took effect. By then, and until my father died and I left home at age 17, my mother was shipped from one hospital to another every 72 hours, all over three counties! When she was home, she ate the " nerve pills" they gave her like candy, and became addicted.

I refused to talk to her after my father's funeral, but because mental health care in those days was NEVER paid for by insurance companies, not even in the tiniest portion, all of my mother's psyche bills were paid by my father's life insurance, forcing her to sell the house and two cars so she could move somewhere less expensive.

My mother died thirty years later, aged 87, in spite of smoking two packs a day and eating nothing but pastries and coffee. During those years. I tried hard, with the help of counselors, to forgive her. One day, I realized that sometimes parents do unforgivable things to their children ( and each other), and that I really did not have to forgive her for them.

That "epiphany" lifted a burden from my shoulders and my own "salvation" began.

HOWEVER, as a result of unending physical and verbal abuse, I recently found out that I had visible ( by a certain type of MRI) brain damage often seen in war veterans! As a result, so that I don't end up in a pity pool of permanent depression, I have to take medication. Fortunately, the meds are covered by insurance, but it have never told anyone that I must take it, due to the stigma of this " mental illness" somehow being my fault and something I could just " snap out of" if I really, really wanted to!

Mental illness can be a misnomer for what is actually physical brain damage caused by constant fear, which produces damaging bio chemicals, or by injury or trauma of any kind, physical or emotional. It should be treated as a physical brain disease or injury, not something within the individual's control. Anything else is just another form of a use!