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Schizophrenia and Love

In the classic story, Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara experiences the complexities and tragedies of love as she falls in love with a man and then marries his brother just so she can be close to him. Her husband is killed in the war and she meets and marries another man, all while still in love with first one. Eventually, she is left alone and bereft, only gaining true insight about the ways in which her heart works after it’s too late.  (more…)

The Light Switch Effect of Stress

Imagine you have cancer, complete with nasty symptoms that flare up at inopportune times. Now, imagine that your cancer is in remission — you haven’t had symptoms for a few months — and then something big happens. You break up with a partner, or you’re moving, or one of your parents dies. All of a sudden, your symptoms flare up again and leave you reeling in pain. This obviously isn’t a reality for cancer but for mental illness it is. There’s something strange that happens when stress enters your life. Your risk of a heart attack increases, your risk of diabetes increases and your symptoms of mental illness intensify pretty significantly.  (more…)

When to Pull Back When You’re Living With Mental Illness

Living with schizophrenia, it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll come up against barriers, some of which may seem insurmountable. You’ll face tough days, weeks, months or even years, and all that pushing for some semblance of recovery or normalcy can easily overwhelm you. Stress is the light switch for symptoms of schizophrenia. As the stress starts to build, your paranoia can increase, you may start becoming obsessive and delusional and you can easily lose yourself in the midst of all these symptoms and find yourself in scary situations. When curve-balls come your way, you have to know how and when to pull back. In essence, you have to be conscious of what you’re feeling, you have to recognize your mind’s reactions to stimuli and be aware that the things you are experiencing are mostly in your head. Having a “wellness toolkit” filled with strategies that work for you will help you figure out your limits and gain an essential awareness of the maximum you can take without falling into delusion.  (more…)

My Body, My Eating Disorder, My Recovery

The red numbers on the clock bleed into the darkness. Soon the room lurches into focus as my eyes shake off sleepiness. 5:32 AM.

My arms feel heavy as I begin to shift. My mind is buzzing from the night before—I’m still drunk. As my senses wake up, I smell something musty, sour. I start to turn over in bed and then I realize. Oh my god. It’s in my hair! It’s everywhere. It’s vomit, caked in my hair, down the length of the bed, trailing from the bathroom.

I get up quickly (too quickly, if you ask my hangover) and stumble into the bathroom. My eyes are wide, staring back at me from the mirror. A single contact has dried and stuck to my cheek. I’m still in my party clothes.  (more…)

How Past Trauma Informs You as a Mental Healthcare Worker

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Christa Godillot is a Registered Nurse at Montgomery County Emergency Service, Inc. (MCES), a private, non-profit crisis psychiatric hospital located in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Recently, she sat down with her friend and former colleague, OC87 Recovery Diaries editor Gabriel Nathan to talk about her career and her life. In Part two of her interview, Christa talks about her past and her experiences with trauma and how those experiences shaped who she is today. Please click here to read Part one of her interview.   (more…)