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Accepting and processing past traumas related to BPD

Discussion in 'Bipolar Disorder' started by Sm412, Feb 25, 2019.

  1. Sm412

    Sm412 Member

    United States
    Peace and blessings in Christ to you all.

    I recently began working at a mental health treatment facility. We are transitional housing for people who are in the process of moving from institutionalized living to independence, generally coming from lengthy stays at the state mental hospital. Often they are under the jurisdiction of the psychiatric review board for decades, some for the rest of their lives, due to an "incident." In many cases this incident was a very heinous and violent crime for which they were found not guilty by reason of insanity.

    It's very heavy, but very rewarding. I am able to look past the incidents for which my clients are receiving treatment and I am able to view them through a strengths-based lens. I see them as good people genuinely in need of, and deserving of, my respect, positive regard, and empathy, even in cases where they don't treat me well. My goal is to become a peer support specialists. I have considerable lived experience with mental health issues (Bipolar, OCD/anxiety) and I believe God has placed me on the path to help others. I believe ultimately my experiences culminated into me serving this purpose. I am highly motivated moving forward.

    The job is difficult in the sense that I personally identify with many of my client's struggles, and this brings up past traumas that haven't been entirely faced or resolved. I have had in the past very severe manic and depressive episodes which have caused not only significant impairment, but also untold trauma. I currently enjoy very strong recovery and remission of symptoms. My condition rears its ugly head from time to time, but I am generally able to effectively cope with symptoms as they arise. I have also resolved my substance abuse issue, which has helped my wellness considerably. This hasn't always been they case though. Between age 16 and 18, my behaviors were so erratic and dangerous, and my symptoms so severe, that during this 24 month period I spent 21 months in institutions, from hospitals to treatment centers. Crisis were frequent and my functioning had deteriorated. I struggled immensely with mood swings, severe anxiety, impulsiveness, and anger, along with frequent mania and a pervasive drinking problem. I was a danger to myself and others, and my actions were often criminal. My parents took out a second mortgage to keep me in treatment until I turned 18. After leaving treatment, my struggles continued, with two suicide attempts over the next 2 years. The worst incident occurred when I was 16. I had to be involuntarily hospitalized due to manic psychosis, and I was unable to see my mother without security because I was talking about killing her, along with other homicidal ideations.

    Today, this seems like a distant memory; another world and another person. I consider myself highly stable, mentally and emotionally, and I have effective coping mechanisms for when I slip. I have tons of insight into my illness and manage it very well. In reaction to these traumas, I have mentally distanced myself from my illness, downplaying its severity in my own mind. I try not to think of myself as "one of those people" and more as "totally normal." This job I'm working, in which I identify very strongly with the illness and experiences of my clients, is shattering this self-preserving denial. I am thrust into a situation where I MUST face and accept my past. Typing out the details was even difficult for me. I could take the easy route and go back to my old college major (accounting, which I am VERY good at), but I do not want to "give up" when there are so many people who can be helped by my experiences. I feel I have been placed on this path for a reason, and I am motivated to push forward and come to terms with myself and my experiences.

    If anyone can relate, offer some perspective, or any suggestions, that would be awesome! I am utilizing God as best I can. I am praying for strength moving forward.
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. devin553344

    devin553344 I believe in the Resurrection

    United States
    Well I suffer from schizophrenia and was placed on medication for 8 years. I did well and never really had an incident that was found to be criminal until I had a bad divorce and decided to come off my medication. I found out afterwards that my illness had deteriorated. While I was off my meds I punched a guy in the jaw and took another guy's spot light off his person. The courts found me guilty of robbery and felony assault. I spent 7 months in jail and learned an important lesson about taking my medications.

    While I take my medications I do well and interact normally.

    But the incident did come up in counseling sessions (one of my counselors is also schizophrenic BTW). And I realized that I might attack people. I began to have understandingly self doubt about my self control. Even though I have never been a violent person until that one episode.

    Because of this self doubt I had violent hallucinations about hurting people for about 6-12 months. I simply stayed on my medication and eventually it faded. Now I'm normal again.

    I think episodes that come up in your sessions might promote self doubt. But as you said, you're doing well now and I assume on medication. I think you can see it as a different person back then. One whose brain was not functioning properly but now is. And now you can have self confidence.

    I re-assured myself with positive thoughts during the episodes of self doubt.

    I think you're right in assuming that courts should not hold people responsible for crimes while they are insane, but it can happen. I think of people as robots with complex computer brains and on top of that souls. The body is a machine and can malfunction. But if it's salvageable then it should be saved or kept from self harm or harming others. You're doing good work and have the right attitude. I think maybe those ill people need you in their lives.

    Just be careful, not everyone will take their meds. My sister is schizo and she has to have a nurse watch her take her meds. And one time took a knife after my mother in a paranoid episode. I think it's really about who takes and who doesn't take their meds in the end. The people who take their meds can have normal lives even.

    I don't think you would have made it as far as you have if you weren't capable of serving in the job you're talking about :) God Bless.
  3. Aspzan

    Aspzan Well-Known Member Supporter

    United Kingdom
    Hi Sm412,

    I am in the process of being discharged from care with the Early Intervention Team who deal with psychosis. I had a short episode almost three years ago and had severe anxiety afterwards. My episode revolved around the people of my city conspiring against me so it was difficult to get back to going outside normally. I am now completely healthy and looking for work in construction.

    Although I was not hospitalized I was very secluded for around the first year and have gradually increased outings etc. I became a Christian on the 11th of July last year whilst healthy and to me in a completely unrelated way. It is good that you say you are motivated and although the work is hard and I sympathise The Bible says we are to work hard. Remembering this helps me. I am also happy you are mostly able to combat symptoms when they arise and that you have stopped substance abuse. I too have stopped smoking around around two years ago and I no longer drink any alcohol. One of the main reasons for my psychosis was smoking marijuana and lack of sleep.

    You say you have to be confronted with your past but I would say the key is balance and not overthinking as much as possible. Although my family have suggested I get a job in the mental health field I just want an outside and physical job for the time being. In this sense you are a strong person and being around mental health issues a lot can take its toll as you know.

    I am NOT relating this part to you as it would be judgemental. But, I blame myself for the substance abuse which lead to my illness. I am to blame, in my head. I broke the law in taking drugs and it is my fault. As a Christian I am to remain sober. Maybe this is my defense for not wanting to work in the mental health field. I could look to blame others but I find it unhelpful.

    I do recognise your good attitude towards helping others though! Personally and although every case is different I think it would be wrong to ultimately say everyone is not in some way responsible for their own wellbeing. This might seem harsh at first but it is a preventative measure in helping others to not go down the same path. Tough love to those who have, is also sometimes necessary.

    Sorry for the length of my reply. Praying and turning to God is a wise decision. Personally I would not feel as though I was neglecting anyone in choosing a different career, but that is me. Ulitmately it's a decision for you. I hope my perspective and thoughts helped.
  4. Sm412

    Sm412 Member

    United States
    Thank you both so much for sharing your insights and experiences. I am more motivated than ever. I can relate to your experiences; we will be stronger people because of it :) While I do not believe I would be neglecting anyone if I chose a different path, I believe the strengths I have in relation to this work make it a good fit.

    I really feel I pathologized myself excessively by this post. I am not my illness. I am a capable, strong, resilient, compassionate, loving, driven man. I view clients through the lens of their strengths, so I can view myself that way as well. I will do this.
  5. quietpraiyze

    quietpraiyze In The Secret Place

    Well...okay...I don't think you're going to like what I have to say but I think you should stick with Accounting and do Mental Health work on a volunteer basis. That way you can have the necessary distance that you need to both serve others and take care of your mental health. Because mental health also includes dealing with trauma, you don't know what is going to trigger you and when. As a person afflicted with Bipolar 1, I can enjoy sharing time with fellow Bipolars and some other mentally ill people but I also know we can be exhausting. So it's important that you're able to get away from the mentally ill community when you need to. Also the System in which you work can change at a moment's notice. So it may not be as stable as you think for those employed in it. I just think it's important that you are able to secure yourself all the way around and then help others. Mentally ill people also need testimonies from those who have experienced “episodes” but are now living on their own in the real world. Even better when done with and through Christ. Sometimes it's not a matter of if you should serve the mentally ill but HOW should you serve them. Maybe seek the Lord about that?