The Mental Health Commonwealth

Howdy! I figured I would start a thread about mental health/mental illness. Feel free to post here with your personal experience with mental illness, questions, advice, etc.

Some basic guidelines (please suggest more!):

  • We are not professionals: This is a place for friendly advice, not medical help. If you need help finding a doctor, we might be able to assist!

  • Avoid judgement: We want to encourage open and honest expression. Being judgy or moralistic is not conducive to that.

  • Be open: Try to have an open mind when listening to other people’s experiences and advice. We’re all just trying to help each other out. In addition, be understanding that someone else’s experiences may be vastly different than your own, but that doesn’t make them any less valid.

  • Stay on your meds: If anything, this is advice for myself. Just like you shouldn’t stop taking antibiotics when you ‘feel better’, you shouldn’t stop taking your meds without talking to your doctor. Pay close attention, ask questions, and double check drug interactions. Doctors are human, and make mistakes! Also, understand that meds aren’t necessarily the magic bullet! You’ll likely have the best success if you also go through some sort of talk-therapy/CBT/etc in addition to medication (in the case where medication is a good option for you. It isn’t for everyone).

  • Trigger Warnings: Please consider the :tw: tag for topics that might be sensitive.

  • IF YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER TO YOURSELF, PLEASE CALL:

    • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
    • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
    • (suggestions for other hotlines?)

Please let me know what I can add to this OP, or what I got wrong! I can only speak from my personal experience, and that’s pretty limited.

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This is a very valuable topic. While I can consider myself very happy to be mentally stable, I have in the past dealt with people, sometimes close friends, with mental illnesses such as manic depression, and I am sad to say that due to my limited experience with this, I may sometimes have treated them in a way that was probably not helpful. So I would like to learn more about mental illness, and possibly how to react and deal with people who suffer from it. I would appreciate it if people here could help me out with that.

My mother is a professional caregiver for people with mental illnesses ranging from borderline syndrome to depression and other afflictions. I have to say that I have a lot of respect for this line of work, because I am entirely uncertain if I would be able to do such a job. From what she tells me, it must be incredibly difficult sometimes.

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Thanks so much for posting this! :smile:

I have a question for those of you taking medication for depression and anxiety. I just got put on Mirtazapine a couple of weeks ago for depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. I’ve been sleeping better, but it hasn’t been helping my mood at all. So I guess my question is whether I should ditch it for something else, or stay on it and wait to see if anything changes?

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My own experience with mental illness is, I guess, in an unsolved state. Mental illness clearly runs in my family, but no one ever really talked about it. My brother is bipolar, my mother has anxiety, and my dad is what I call “hoarder-lite”, which I was lucky enough to inherit. :put_litter_in_its_place:

I had a period of about 2-4 years major depression, and several years after that where I was less severely depressed before I finally went to a professional in the summer of 2014. I’ve accomplished a lot since then I think, but I know I have a lot farther to go.

Current diagnoses are Dysthymia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’m on the medication merry-go-round right now; it often feels like the medication is doing nothing, but my husband says he can always tell when I’ve started something new.

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It can often take medicines a full month to take effect. It’s also been my experience with taking anti-depressants and anxiety medication that they can take some time to kick in.

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@bonafideboy
I’m currently on mirtazapine (in addition to other things). It hasn’t really helped with my mood either, but it did help with my sleep (and also messes with my appetite. The sugar cravings are strong!) It’s not uncommon AFAIK to be put on a combo of drugs, since sometimes they’ll have synergistic effects. I would ask your doc about either adding something, or switching entirely; but as @Tolvo points out, it still might be a few weeks until you feel something. My psych originally tried adding buspar, but that didn’t help, just made me feel super weird. Currently taking buproprion in the morning and that seemed to help with my mood.

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Alright, thanks for the advice @TattersMatters and @Tolvo! I’ll keep on it and mention adding something else to my doc if nothing changes.

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Also I’ll introduce myself. Hi I’m Tolvo. I’ve attempted suicide many times in the past and have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression, I’ve been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder but that may have been a misdiagnosis. I was also told I have Autism and Schizophrenia but they weren’t a part of my full diagnosis. I take Clomipramine and Aripiprazole. I am also transgender so there are extra forms of anxiety and dysphoria that I deal with.

Medicines can be so trial and error. I had to get Aripiprazole added after months of Clompiramine because I would just wake up crying and cry the entire day before falling asleep so I needed something extra. They can take a while to take effect and have some frustrating side effects but I suggest keeping up with your medication always and asking your doctor about changes if needed.

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I have chronic Anxiety and Depression (with the anxiety part more pronounced) which I’ve known of/experienced since I was about 10. However, I never was diagnosed until college. Since then I’ve gone through a few cocktails of medication, but eventually decided to go off them entirely. There is no treatment that works for everybody and sometimes the treatments are just worse than no medication at all, but you need to be very aware of your current state and work with your doctor. I’ve always had a very high level of self knowledge and do not have a history of suicide, so I did get doctor approval. I also didn’t go cold turkey, but weened off the meds and still keep a prescription for emergency purposes. I only went back on once for a short period ahead of a big move, but otherwise I’m a lot happier without the meds and actually feel like a real person.

All that said, I definitely want to stress that you should take your meds, experiment with different cocktails and work with your doctor. However, if you have moderate to mild disorders and the treatments don’t work with you for one reason or another, you always have the option to not medicate. Not being on medication doesn’t mean you aren’t having treatment: work with your doctor, have regular psychiatric appointments, and adjust your lifestyle within the limitations of your disorder (I don’t drink or take any kind of narcotics and I leave open sick days for mental health days).

In the end, it’s your life and your biggest responsibility is to live it as happily as you can. There are a lot of options and you have time to figure out what works best for you.

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Oh yeah something you can always look up is drug interactions and ask your doctor about them. It’s very important to just be on the safe side. I had a doctor who accidentally prescribed me a fatal dosage which he realized last minute because of a drug interaction, so try to stay on top of those. It might also help you understand any negative side effects and let you know if maybe you need to switch medicines.

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That reminds me, I just added this to the OP but to reiterate a point that I personally struggle with:
Medication isn’t really a magic bullet, in that you take the right meds and bam all your mental illness is gone. You gotta also do serious work via therapy (whether that be CBT or something else). Just like losing weight: you might get some success changing your diet OR exercising, but you’ll get the better success doing BOTH. That being said, as @LordTataraus mentions, medication isn’t always an answer for everyone!

@Tolvo I will add that note to the OP! Doctors know a lot of stuff but they’re humans and make mistakes, so it’s important to be as involved as you can in the process.

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Oh, hey, it’s like the perfect thread for me. I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, OCD (mostly contamination obsessions), and Major Depression, and have a whole host of other anxiety issues to go with them (namely, severe social anxiety and spontaneous panic attacks, to the point where I used to have them on a daily basis). I’m also a trans woman, so gender dysphoria has been a constant issue for me as well, and has aggravated all my other issues in the process. Comorbidities are fun~

But yeah, finding the right medications are a complicated process, and you may have to try a wide variety of meds or combination of meds before you find something that really meaningfully works for you. The important thing with medications is to be patient, let them build up in your system, and be open and honest with your prescriber about how well they work and what side-effects you’re having. Also, if you feel like something is going particularly wrong, or you’re just not comfortable with one of the side-effects, make sure to contact your prescriber first and don’t just drop the medication on the spot.

Also, remember that just because a medication works/doesn’t work for one person doesn’t mean the same will apply to you. Individual brain chemistry varies a lot and it’s one of the reasons finding the right medications is such a guessing game.

Oh, and don’t expect medications to just totally cure your mental illnesses. Medications can bring about significant improvement for some people, but generally they just help make living with the illnesses easier to cope with. I would highly advise, if medications just don’t seem to be cutting it, to also seek other forms of therapy in conjunction with them. Personally, I’ve definitely had the most success when receiving psychiatric assistance together with CBT.

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I’m Andrew. I have no idea what I’m diagnosed with anymore since Aspergers isn’t really a thing now (?). “Austism Spectrum” or something. I absolutely hate it because it makes me unable to operate on the same level as everyone I see around me, so there’s a lot of self loathing going on. I desperately want to be “normal” even though I know that it’s different for everyone, but I’d give anything to stop apologizing for minor offenses real or imagined and generally feeling like a pod person. Another issue: I see the best in everyone around me, but only the worst in myself, so I only have these perfect paragons of humanity to compare myself to. I’m seeing a counselor weekly and haven’t missed my medication in ages, and if I’m having a good day I might even begrudgingly admit that I’ve made progress, but then I look at how far I have to go still and just get angry at myself again.

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Yo, sup, I’m Zim and I’ve also got the chronic sadbrains / depression and anxiety cocktail.

To contribute to medicine talk: I’ve been through half a dozen different things for it now. Sometimes the medication has no effect, sometimes it wears off after a few years, usually it’s a different experience for each person and it sucks. I’m on Lexapro right now, and it has been working well in the preventing-me-from-having-a-mental-breakdown-whenever-any-minor-inconvenience-happens department. It also gives me really vivid nightmares, which seems to be a common side effect, but honestly, I’ll take those over constant breakdowns.

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@Tenerence Hi Andrew! While I don’t know how well I can relate to the autism related frustrations, I know how it feels to be really down on yourself and only seeing the worst, and feeling frustrated/angry/sad/hopeless at how much “farther” there is to go. That’s a part of what I hope this thread will provide, a way to share frustrations, but also get some external validation when we can’t reflect on ourselves fairly. It sounds like you’re already doing a lot of hard work (seriously, just going to appointments and taking medication regularly is a big triumph).

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thanks for the nice words! And yeah, I realize that my sense of scale in terms of accomplishments and issues is massively blown out of proportion. I don’t exactly see the issues the way they actually are, but it’s a hard mindset to get out of. This thread seems super good so far, I hope everyone finds something useful here.

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I gave up on depression medication last year after cycling through several over the course of the prior years that all in some manner just flatlined my emotional state.

There might be some medication that works for me out there but I’ve gotten increasingly skeptical of the efficacy of the medications on the market right now and I’m just not willing to take the risk of going back to feeling completely non-emotional again.

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Hello ya’ll.

I’m on the Autism Spectrum and while I haven’t struggled too much with it lately, it still can be quite difficult connect and keep up with other people.

I was diagnosed with Anorexia and struggled with it quite a bit in the past few years. I won’t say the autism is fully responsible (as most people on the autism spectrum don’t have eating disorders and vice versa), but it has undeniably contributed, especially the feelings of insecurity and obsessive behavior. Also, depression and anxiety are often bedfellows with eating disorders and that was the case for me. I’ve had a therapist help me get my weight up to a normal range and deal with the pesky eating disorder thoughts. I still see her monthly. I recovered relatively quickly but it’s not the same for everybody, everyone has their own mountain to climb and at their own pace. I still have to fight those guilty thoughts and feelings, but I feel my therapist has helped (and continues to help) give me the tools to deal with them.

I also am taking Sertraline, mainly to deal with the anxiety and depression aspect (though, for me, gaining weight has helped quell those as well). I respond pretty well to it. As has been mentioned in the thread, it can be a trial and error process to find the right medication, just communicate with your prescriber.

For anyone who knows someone who’s struggling with mental health, I guess all I can say is just be patient, caring and supportive. I’m sure there were often many times when my family just wanted to say “Just eat a damn sandwich will ya!” But, like with any physical illness, it’s not just something one can just walk off; it’s a process.

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I don’t have a whole lot to tell you other than I’m coming from pretty much the exact same place you are and can 100% relate to what you’re going through.

I could have written this entire paragraph word for word about myself, honestly.

I also get kind of frustrated with therapy. I’ve been in and out of therapy for literally over a decade at this point, and I’m not really sure what good it does anymore. Like, I feel like I’ve hit a point where I’ve learned everything I possibly could ever learn from therapy and continuing with it is just throwing money down a hole for no further benefit because a therapist can’t just magic my brain into normalcy. If that makes any sense?

But hey, on the bright side Valentine’s Day no longer hurts because I’m completely incapable of seeing myself as a loving/lovable/sexual being. So there’s that!

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Hi folks!

I’m a health and behavioural scientist from a psychology background with the grab-bag of depression, anxiety, social phoba, OCD, and other issues. Like a few people I avoided any official autism spectrum diagnosis as the diagnosing professor said “in your case it is unlikely to help you get any better treatment, and may end up causing you more grief”. Now this was a fair few years ago now, but I can (unfortunately) see his point. I’ve been on a good selection of medications over the years and am currently trying to make a go of things without them (with my doctor’s support, please don’t just stop your meds!). Anxiety is currently the biggest issue for me (closely followed by OCD and paralysing perfectionism), but I’ve really improved the last few years.

If anyone has any questions for me please fire away, but as the disclaimer says at the top, I’m not (yet) a qualified psychologist, nor is it a great idea to encourage pathologising peoples’ behaviours via the internet or all the other stuff I’m sure you all already know. However if you’d like advice regarding therapy, general wellbeing tips, attending university with mental health issues, etc I’m happy to give my 2cents.

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