Friday, May 2, 2014

May Is Mental Health Month

So I'm told that May is Mental Health Month. Most of my readers probably already know I have a mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that I have a service dog named Isaac that helps me cope with that disability (not everyone with PTSD is disabled by it but I am).

What many people probably don't know is that I have another mental illness, dissociative identity disorder (DID), as well. I decided since it's Mental Health Month, sharing that might be a good thing.

I think talking about mental illness, and mental health, is the first step. The first step to a society in which there is much less stigma associated with mental illness, and much less discrimination, a society in which people that go to the ER for a mental illness-related problem are treated with the same dignity, compassion and respect as those that go to the ER for a physical health problem (which sure ain't the case now), a society in which people with mental illnesses aren't told to just "get over it" or called "selfish" or "weak," a society in which treatment for mental illness is much more available and affordable. None of that will ever happen if we don't even talk about it.

Why don't I post much, or talk much, about having  DID?  I guess mostly because, as open as I am about many things, I don't like to seem nuts anymore than anyone else does.  For those not familiar with DID, it used to be called multiple personality disorder.  Well, something similar was called multiple personality disorder, anyway.  When the name was changed, the diagnostic criteria was changed a bit, too.  But most people know very little about DID and some people don't even believe it's a real disorder and many people think it must mean someone is really, really crazy.  So I don't talk about it much.  But I probably should.

Anyone else want to share anything?  Please feel free to leave comments.


  1. I also have recently been diagnosed with PTSD and borderline personality disorder. All resulting from childhood trauma and abuse. It can be hard sometimes as there is no one major thing that has triggered this but rather many many little things. I don't feel I can talk about this at all. I am in a child protection profession and I just don't know how to "come out". Work and even going out in public is getting more and more difficult since going into this work two and a half years ago. Before that I worked for over ten years with victims of abuse and I managed okay, but my new job is tearing me up. I don't know how much longer I can do it. I found your blog via OH and am enjoying your candor. I have sent out inquiries for an assistance dog but haven't heard anything.

    1. I would imagine that your job can be pretty triggering. Before I went on disability, I was a social worker. I ran an anger management program for teens. Most were referred by the court system but some by Children's Services or other agencies. I didn't hear a lot of stories of abuse but I did hear some. And some of it was triggering. I can only imagine in your job, you get a lot more of that.

      The agency I worked for (the YWCA) was a great agency and people were really supportive. That is not the case everywhere, I know. I think a lot of people are at least familiar with PTSD and at least get it a little bit. They probably would not automatically assume it meant you couldn't do your job or anything like that. On the other hand, it's not something everyone needs to know so you certainly don't need to feel pressured to tell people.

      I've found that, for me at least, it's easier usually to be open about stuff. Hiding stuff takes a lot of energy. I figured that out a long time ago when I came out to people about being bisexual. Well, actually I came out as a lesbian. For many years, I considered myself lesbian, not bi. But anyway, staying in the closet

    2. Oops, hit "publish" before I was done. Anyway, staying in the closet took a lot of energy and I decided it was just easier to be out. I was lucky, though, that I didn't have a lot to lose. Coming out wasn't as big a risk for me as it is for some people. I worked in a social service agency with a number of gay coworkers that were out at work. I wasn't close to most of my family so I wasn't worried about how they would react. I know it's more complicated than that for some people.

      I'd love to hear more about your search for an assistance dog, if you'd care to share. Isaac has been such a blessing to me.