19 Survivors Of Mental Illness Describe The Exact Moment They Realized They Had A Problem

Porsche Brosseau

Identifying your own mental illness and need for help can be difficult. The pressures of life and society often mandate that we ignore our problems, keep smiling, and move forward and sometimes that’s possible. However, for many, this simply becomes too difficult as the stress of their condition begins to crush them.

Here are the stories of 19 people who suffered from mental illness who describe the moment when they realized they couldn’t go on as they had anymore and decided to get help. The inspiring thing is…they did.

1. Caught Just In Time

When the thought of being alive past 20 was unrealistic.


2. In The Corner, Crying

I stopped having fun doing anything. Being slightly sad became my new high point, I couldn’t get above it. Any happiness I felt was fleeting and it just steadily got worse.

I moment I really knew something was up was when I got ready for work one day and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t step out of the front door, I just sat in the corner of my bedroom and cried, full on break down. Came out of nowhere and really knocked me on my ass. Literally.


3. When She Realized She Feared Eating

My eating disorder started in high school. It had been pretty bad for a while. Eventually, friends got concerned enough to talk to a teacher, who talked to the school counselor, who called my mom. I knew it was bad logically. I knew that passing out wasn’t normal and I wasn’t supposed to be cold all the time. But I’d kind of accepted all of that.

I got called out of class to talk to the school counselor and she told me she was going to call my mom. I broke down. I cried in the office for over an hour. Eventually, I went back to classes.

At the end of the day, I went back to talk to the teacher whose class I’d been called out of to see if there was an assignment. I had known this teacher for years and he could see that I was clearly upset. He asked what was wrong and I said it was nothing. This went back and forth until I finally told him, in tears, that I hadn’t been eating and the counselor had called my mom. I said I was scared.

He asked what I was scared of. Was I scared that my mom would be mad? I told him, between sobs, that of course, I didn’t think my mom would be mad (just worried), I was scared that I was going to have to eat.

The horrified look on his face was kind of a wake-up call. He told me that if I was this upset and scared about having to eat then he’s glad my mom was called. When I said it I hadn’t realized how crazy it would sound to most people.


4. When He Realized It Was Just Him

It took a while to realize that excessive sweating, heart racing, difficulty to breath and uncontrollable shaking weren’t normal reactions to talking to people.

I legitimately thought everyone felt that.


5. Total Isolation

When it was February 22 and I realized the last time I left my house was Christmas Day.


6. When Your Psych Class Describes You Perfectly

In my first semester in college I took an intro to psych class and noticed I had some of the symptoms of bipolar, swings from really productive to depressive, thinking I would do great things, spending too much…but they also seemed like normal college kid things so I just tried to find ways to control the negative aspects of it a bit.

About seven years later I was officially diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar I. I hadn’t done anything too crazy but it was getting harder to control and figured I might just be depressed or something, turns out struggling that much wasn’t normal.

Same thing happened with narcolepsy, I thought everyone was that tired and just coped with it better than me.


7. Self Mutilation

I started carving symbols into my skin to appease the people in my walls.

I just sort of stopped and went ‘You know what, even for me, this is kinda fucked up.’

There were other signs I know I should have responded to but it wasn’t until I was cutting ‘x’s into my skin because the voices told me to, that I realized that something was terribly wrong with me.


8. When Dying Didn’t Seem ‘Bad’ Anymore

When I was comfortable with dying, not being “edgy” or how some like to call that, but there were times when I went to sleep with hope of never waking up, of hoping every day that a car swerved into me, etc. You don’t want to do it yourself but you want out so badly. It took a long time to sense some light at the end again but I did and hold onto it…


9. Considering A Suicide Note

When I found myself nonchalantly thinking about what I would put in my suicide note.


10. When He Found Himself Angry All The Time

I was waking up for work every day pissed off. I’d go into work angry as fuck. I’d go home angry as fuck.

My face and attitude would be cheery but inside I was simmering almost boiling angry.

Made a psychiatrist appointment and now on meds and I feel better. Not to mention a job change.


11. A Deep Sadness

First grade. I said this before elsewhere, but at recess I saw another kid in my class off by himself. Knew he usually ran around and played all the time, so went over and asked if something was wrong. Found out his grandmother had passed away the day before, and we talked a little until he felt somewhat better and went to play.

But I stayed off alone. While talking to him, I realized I was sad too. Not just sad, but deeply sad. And I couldn’t remember when it had started. I didn’t know how to make it go away.


12. Fantasies Of Not Existing

I found myself getting strangely excited when people would cancel plans. I started making excuses not to go out. Fantasizing about not existing was really the main one.


13. Recognizing the highs and lows

When I realized that the only time I was happy was after a severe and intense mood crash. Most of these crashes would include attempting suicide, self-harm or excessive drug use (in order to “snap” out of it, or just not feel what I was feeling anymore).

The highs following would be intense feelings of affection, intense feelings of high self-worth/self-esteem and reckless behavior (spending money I didn’t have, telling people really big secrets about myself, sexual encounters without a second thought, etc).

I can’t afford medication or therapy at this point, but being self-aware helps. I’m practically half functioning here!


14. Calling Abuse What It Is

The anxiety and depression that I endured living in a really shitty family situation didn’t go away when I moved out.

The realisation of the severe sexual abuse came in trickles. I don’t think people who haven’t experienced trauma can necessarily understand. As a child I was unhappy and unsure of myself but I didn’t know why. You really can forget traumatic memories for a long time before they resurface. I’m 21 now and I still occasionally remember an event that I didn’t even know happened. It doesn’t help that I have very realistic nightmares, so sometimes I worry I’ve got it confused with something.

The first “oh shit” moment for me was when a man came to school to talk about abuse and child abuse and I guess before then I’d never really considered what happened to me as abuse – it just kind of happened. I think I was 12. It felt a bit like being punched in the stomach.


15. Suicidal Ideation Is Not Normal At Any Age

I thought being suicidal was just a normal part of being a teenager until people told me otherwise.


16. When You Have More anxieties at 9 am than most do all week

I didn’t until I started taking medication. I had made an appointment with a psychiatrist to get Xanax for a plane ride. I had stopped getting on planes 10 years prior to this, so this was a huge step for me. Before you see the psychiatrist you see their PA so they can make sure you’re there for a legitimate reason. She asked me “can you list the things that have you made you anxious over the past week” and I was like “well, I don’t remember what happened last week, but i can list the things that made me anxious this morning.” This was a 9am appointment, by the way. So I went on and on about the various things I had freaked out over since I had woken up. She diagnosed me with generalized anxiety disorder and had to do a lot of convincing to get me to try daily anxiety medication, but I did it and only once it kicked in did I finally fully realize just how much had been wrong with me.


17. Destructive Self Hatred

I wanted to peel my skin off. Like with a knife. I was just grossed out every time I saw myself.

I’m better now.


18. Social Anxiety That Requires You To leave

My toddler daughter touched the cake at a birthday party for a friend’s child. She was trying to put a decoration on it like someone else had, but being a toddler had the fine motor skills of a drunken albatross and instead smushed the decoration on. Everyone at the party was very kind and no one was upset but I could not bring myself to stay. I HAD to leave. The psychological burden of that social misstep made me so anxious and embarrassed that I was near tears and had to escape the situation. At that point, I realized my anxiety was affecting my family and I needed to get some help.


19. Seventeen Years Of Hell

When I was about 11 and I didn’t want to hang out with my friends. Spiraled into self-harm and pill addiction. Didn’t get the diagnosis of severe depression bought on by BDD until 28 after I tried to hang myself. 17 years of hell, followed by three of learning to deal. Now I live a normal life only I’m quite reserved. But I’m cool with that. Thanks for asking.

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