My Story’s the Opposite of EVERYTHING We’ve Been Taught About Mental Illness

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

~Martin Luther King, Jr.

One year, six months and five days ago I was in the worst state I have ever been in during my over twenty-seven years of living with mental illness. I was severely suicidal and had been for many days and months in a row and was experiencing an elated mania mixed episode.

One year, six months and five days ago I attempted suicide and thought I was leaving earth forever. I strongly wanted to and was ready. I faced the reality of what death meant and I was there…

Those were scary and heartbreaking words to write especially because…

today I am beyond blessed to be alive and I feel better and happier than I ever have in my life. I feel inner joy, a peaceful spirit and a mental wellness I don’t think I ever felt before…

My suicide attempt was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to go off Klonopin, a Benzodiazepine, the only psychotropic medication I was on at them time. Because I overdosed on Benzos (as well as other psychotropics I had saved and stored in my home for years), the psychiatrists in the hospital would not give me anymore Benzodiazepines while I was in the hospital. And after staying in the hospital for two weeks and beginning the severe horrible hell of Klonopin withdrawal syndrome, I knew I would never take another Benzo again.

After I was forced to stop taking the Benodiazepine, Klonopin, I never looked back.

After surviving the severe beyond painful and debilitating neurological like impairments for over two months from the withdrawals from Klonopin after over two decades of their use, overuse and abuse, I am mentally well. I made it.

After the damage caused from taking Klonopin and the many other combinations and cocktails of Psychotropic medications and after having over a hundred ECTs over a twenty-five year period, my brain continues to improve and rejuvenate every day. I keep improving both physically and mentally even at my ripe old age of 56. My arthritis is even improving. It is uncanny and unbelievably amazing.

This is great news and I thought everyone would be happy to hear it and receive the inspiration of hope from my story.

However, my words now are sometimes more difficult to share with the mental illness community than when I shared my thoughts and feelings of the pain from being suicidal. I am happy I could do that then to help others, plus writing about my pain was very therapeutic for me.

Maybe more people could relate to my posts about heartache, loss, pain and despair because that was what they were going through, as well. Maybe it is harder to hear the blessings of wellness because it doesn’t seem possible to them. Recovery and happiness seem so far away and out of reach. They don’t think it could happen to them.

I must reiterate a million times that recovery is possible and is in everyone’s reach. Some people must stretch further than others. But recovery and happiness are possible for everyone.  Keep going. Keep reaching for that first grasp of success and recovery. You can do it. Once you grab on to recovery never let go.

For years, we have been taught that mental illness means:

  1. Continued struggles and ups and downs with recovery.
  2. Mental illness diagnoses are forever.
  3. You will need to be on various psychotropic medications for the rest of your lives.
  4. Mental illness is a life sentence.
  5. You will never be normal.
  6. We can get you to live a functional life. Ugh.
  7. You must accept your diagnosis and use of medications as the first step in recovery or you will never achieve it.
  8. You must accept that this will be a lifelong battle.
  9. You must lean how to deal with the knowledge of this permanent life sentence before your journey of recovery can begin.

At lease those were some of the things I was told. Yikes. No wonder so many people struggling with mental illness attempt or die by suicide… There is not enough hope and sometimes there is no hope…

We must have hope for survival, recovery and wellness.

I want to help inspire that hope.

At first, I was so excited to share what I had learned and the positive experiences that happened to me. I thought people would be happy and receptive to hear what I had to say.

I received mixed reviews. Although people are happy for me they are very skeptical. Some think I am manic and that is why I feel well today. They think I am “crazy” and that this can never happen. I am living proof but it is almost like they can’t believe it.

I want them to believe it. I know it is true because I am living it and I must share my story. What else can I do? I hope people will listen and find hope from my story.

Some people get upset with me for making it sound like I am promoting for all people to be psychotropic medication free. This is not the case. Medications are necessary for many but maybe not forever for some people.

Psychotropic medications are not ALWAYS required, necessary or healthy for all people to take for the rest of their lives. The use of psychotropic medications needs to be evaluated more often on an individual basis for people after diagnosis. The pros and cons need to be addressed much more often than they are and the damage these meds can cause needs to be looked at very closely–ALWAYS.

Please think about this regarding the use of psychotropic medications…

We repeatedly hear…

“Everyone is different and responds to medications differently.”

If that is true then why do hear the blanketed statements, “Psychotropic medications must be taken for the rest of your lives. Never stop taking your medications.” If everyon eis different than why do we assume EVERYONE will need to take their medications for the rest of their lives. We DO NOT know this to be a fact. Not yet anyway.

We also hear and read, “Bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are lifelong chronic illnesses. You will have bipolar disorder, for example, for the rest of your life.” If everyone is different, how do we know this to be true for sure? I don’t think we do. We do not know this to be a fact as they do not have all the answers about mental illness. There are still learning as they go and we are currently their subjects.

They do not have all the answers so we need to keep an open mind and keep the possibility and hope that mental illness is not ALWAYS a lifelong illness.

Also, some people don’t like it when I talk about the dangers of Benzos and other psychotropic medications. I know everyone is different, but still the dangers are very real and affect everyone differently.

I share my story to inform, educate, increase awareness and inspire hope.

Some people are not receptive to what I have to say. It is a very sensitive area. My story conflicts with what we have been taught about mental illness.

My story is the opposite of EVERYTHING we have been taught about mental illness. I share my current story about how…

  1. My recovery continues to improve and I have reached mental wellness.
  2. I no longer have bipolar disorder (misdiagnosis or not).
  3. I am psychotropic medications free for over a  year and a half.
  4. I have less anxiety symptoms than before starting Klonopin and other medications (withdrawal symptoms from Benzos can cause an increase in anxiety like symptoms worse than anxiety was. We blame increased anxiety on mental illness when in actuality it was from withdrawal effects of Benzos and possibly other psychotropics).
  5. I feel like my old self before my initial diagnosis of postpartum depression 27 years ago. This continues to improve every day and is a welcome joy.
  6. I enjoy working again. I am a resident care assistant for patients with Alzheimers. I get paid to give love again like before my diagnosis when I was a special needs teacher.
  7. I am joining church groups and signed up for an adult tap class.
  8. Slowly I am learning how to be social again and I welcome that as well.
  9. Nothing is permanent.
  10. My mental health improved. I am better and can live a beautiful, productive and meaningful life (BEYOND FUNCTIONAL).

Once I was given a mental illness diagnosis, it was drilled into my head that it is permanent and will never go away. I was told I will HAVE to take psychotropic medications for the rest of my life. “You must NEVER stop taking your medications,” I was repeatedly told. “You will never be normal. We can get you to live a functional life but you will never be normal.”

These kind of things are also said to many people after being given a mental illness diagnosis. The rest of your life seems like an awful long time to endure the type of hell I went through. Maybe that is why there are so many suicides. People with mental illness diagnoses are not given enough hope.

I was diagnosed with mental illness over 27 years ago and have been mentally well about a year after the Klonopin withdrawal symptoms finally subsided enough to enjoy the beauty of living again. Maybe my recovery  took 26 years, but the point is… it is possible and it happens. Regardless of the length of time it took, reaching recovery and mental wellness is a huge beautiful glorious blessing and is worth every pain and heartache.

Keep going. Keep fighting. You will make it too and once you do you will know it was all worth it–every painful step and pothole of your journey matters.

The pain and suffering from mental illness does not have to be forever. It really doesn’t. It will get better. You will get better. You can do it. You can make it. I am living proof.

Never forget…

You are loved by many.

You are needed.

You are important and you matter.

Your life has value.

You can live a long, successful, happy and productive life.

You can and will make a positive impact on many people’s lives.

You can and will enjoy the beauty of living…

and hopefully one day without the interference of mental illness.

I pray that for all of you.

Never give up.

You got this.

When you don’t feel like you can do this…

GOD HAS YOU.

Much love, Sue


© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

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