“I am a Kent student preparing to work in the mental health field and I have bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder (formerly called multiple personality disorder), and panic disorder. I have had many people in my life tell me I can't do things due to having "severe" mental illness. I've been mistreated by the mental health system and resolved I would become part of the system to help others like me.
Despite what people expected, I am excelling in my program at Kent. I have shared with my practicum supervisors that I have mental illnesses and they have been affirming and supportive. I've shared with several classmates and they have been supportive. Still, I am private overall due to the stigma. I want to get a job and not be labeled.
My mental illnesses affect me every day. I am always trying to keep my mood level since I have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. I will likely be on medication for bipolar for life. I also have to work to manage my other personalities. Right now I am trying to merge my multiple personalities so that I can be one "whole" person again. Panic disorder almost trapped me in my house a year and a half ago. I've had panic attacks in classes. I've been triggered and flipped to a different personality several times at Kent (though I flipped back and no one noticed.) I've come to class depressed or hypomanic.
I can manage my symptoms. I have good coping skills and I've learned how to hide my symptoms so others can't tell when I'm struggling. I am involved in advocacy organizations. It's possible to make a difference that way.
I am so so much healthier than I was when I was first diagnosed, many years ago. Recovery is possible. I have spent years in therapy and it has greatly helped me. I am currently seeing a therapist.
I struggle with mental illness every day but I have a good life. I am in a healthy, happy relationship. I have activities I enjoy. I have great friends.
For some people recovery might mean that the mental illness goes away. Bipolar disorder won't go away, but hopefully it will become easier to manage over time. I'm hoping that I can integrate the personalities and stop having panic attacks.
I want to encourage people that you are not alone with mental illness. There are people and therapists (like me) who understand. There are advocacy groups and support groups to join. I have found Kent to be a supportive and affirming community and I hope you have as well.”