My Battle with Mental Illness
I saw my psychiatrist for the first time in 2001. Stress from work was extremely overwhelming. I was working approximately 15 hours, sometimes more, a day, every day, plus going into the office on the weekends. My direct manager was very abusive toward me, in private and public. Even other workers commented to me about the way I was treated. They could hear her yelling at me. I had no time to look for another job, so I tried to put up with the bullying, until I was too physically and mentally exhausted. Eventually, I had a breakdown, and my family physician sent me to see a psychiatrist at a hospital.
My psychiatrist diagnosed me with Adjustment Disorder with Depression and Anxiety, and I was put on various medications. I took a few months off to attend the group therapy program at the hospital. We have a good health care system where I live, outside of Toronto, Ontario.
The group therapy focused on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I learned some coping methods, such as relaxation, and analyzing my anxious thoughts. For example, if I have an anxious thought, I try to be objective and ask myself: How realistic is my thought? Are there other possibilities that might be true? What are the consequences of thinking that way? How much do those consequences matter?
For the first year, I had a lot of trouble applying my newly acquired knowledge. A few times, my psychiatrist asked me what I learned in the program. He even asked me if I needed to go through it again. I declined.
Attending group sessions in a ‘stable’ mind was not always easy. For some reason, I was extremely fragile one Friday. Bad thoughts were running around in my head. I knew I needed to get some help, so I asked my therapist if I could see her after the morning session, and that it was important. At first she said no, but after a look on my face, she changed her mind.
After the session, I went to her office. I had trouble telling her exactly what was wrong. She asked me what I would do if I left. I told her I would cry in my car and maybe drive my car into a wall. At this point, she knew how bad I was. She tried to find my psychiatrist, but he was gone for the day, so she took me to the ER, and they put me into a room that was well padded. I sat on the couch and waited. A social worker came in to talk to me, then he left. I stayed there and waited. Finally, the ER psychiatrist came in, and by that time, I was so tired, all I wanted to do was sleep. The doctor released me. I was in that room for over an hour.
Throughout my first year of therapy, I had legal issues with the company that I worked for, and the stress of that hindered my recovery. The issues were eventually closed at the end of 2001. I won, but I became unemployed. My self-esteem was very low, and every available job that I saw seemed to be beyond my scope of abilities. I was more than discouraged.
While I was job-hunting, I still saw my psychiatrist. Somehow he knew there were some other issues that were buried deep down inside. I’ve always been shy and quiet, so it took a lot of patience on his part to wait for me to talk. Slowly, bit by bit, I told him.