To change others’ views of mental illness and to combat stigma, it is important to tell our mental health stories. Our stories can teach, inspire, and help others. This blog has been about my experiences with mental illness. I have now decided to interview others with mental illness so that I can share their views and stories.
I interviewed Teresa Richardson. Teresa is the wife of a friend of my husbands. I never met her but have talked to her through instant messenger. Like me she has battled mental illness and has a compelling story to tell.
Here is my interview with Teresa.
What type of mental illness do you have and what are the symptoms?
I have PTSD and am also borderline bipolar depression. I do suffer from anxiety and some depression. I started with symptoms of just not wanting to wake up, loss of appetite, couldn’t sleep right, and also gained weight from trying to replace my happiness with food.
Can you describe what it has been like to struggle with your illness?
I have my good days and bad days. Lately I’ve been back to struggling with it more since dealing with my mom trying to give up. On my bad days I just want to shut down and crawl in a hole.
What type of help or therapy did you get for your illness?
I tried therapy and meds at Stairways (A mental health program with therapist and psychiatrist) for eight years. The therapy just seemed like all they wanted to do was put a band aid and find everyone else to blame for what I did and why I was ill.
What steps did you take or are you taking to reach recovery?
I took many steps and still am taking steps in coping. I have found several support groups on Facebook and I also take time to exercise. I take time to just go into a book or music and vegetate and clear my thoughts.
When did you realize you had an illness and what did you do when you discovered it?
I really didn’t realize it until about ten years ago when I lost a daughter and just couldn’t function in regular life. I reached out to a friend who was working in MADD (as it was a drunk driver that killed my daughter fifteen years ago).
What advice do you give to others struggling with mental illness?
The only advice I can say is, look into all aspects and therapy. There are so many new ways that aren’t using medications if medication isn’t an option you want. Exhaust all other roads. There are many natural remedies and many ways to deal and cope.
What motivates or motivated you to reach recovery?
I was motivated to change as I got tired of feeling worthless.
What types of challenges have you faced because of your illness?
I face different challenges but the main one is getting up and having a positive outlook on the day.
How has your family reacted to your illness?
My family has not dealt well with it.
How does your illness affect your ability to work?
It used to cause a high level of apprehension and anxiety, making it difficult to deal well with the public.
What is it like to function in society while struggling with your illness?
I don’t deal well with too many people. Society tends to blame the person suffering or tell them to just get over it. That doesn’t happen to a person dealing with mental illness and I hope to actually find a way to help those in a group I am trying to get approved by Facebook.
What are some coping techniques you use?
I use music and just keep myself busy when my mind wants to fall back into old habits.
Teresa’s Richardson’s Bio:
I’m a mom, grandma, wife, daughter, friend, and sister to many. I work as a cashier at a grocery store but not a whole lot of hours. Eventually I want to get my degree in social services and see where that will lead. I am forty-six years old and am now trying to plan for retirement. I am just going for my driver’s license because it has become a necessity. I take care of my husband who has had several surgeries and we try to stay active with yard saling, and just doing what we can together. My hobbies are few because I do not leave myself a whole lot of time to do things. I do for everyone else and sometimes it burns me out, but I like to listen to country, 80’s, R&B music. I love to walk and stay active. So, in short just looking to better myself and my future. This is me in a nutshell and I am who I am so people can take me or leave me. That’s their choice. If people choose to stick with me, I can be the best friend that will become a root, but also know I can’t do toxic relationships anymore. I’ve had too many in my life and choose to be better than that.
Please leave Teresa a comment. Give her your support. If you want to share your story, please contact me. Leave me a message saying you would like to be interviewed.