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When Your Mental Illness Makes You Feel Out of Place in Your Own Home


For years, I went through phases of not feeling quite right. I couldn’t describe my symptoms but they were definitely real, overwhelming and affected every area of my life

Recently, after a mental health crisis, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The names didn’t mean anything at first, but after months of therapy, I came to understand how each of these contributes to my “not right” feelings.

With my PTSD comes flashbacks. These can be triggered by a sound, a smell, a word or even the subject of a television show. When they occur, I’m transported back to a time and place that has only negative connotations for me. I’ve screamed simply from a touch on the shoulder from my husband or child. I’ve broken down in tears because a bedsheet reminded me of an unpleasant event, and I’ve been frozen with fear because of a smell no one else detected.

My BPD means everything I feel is multiplied many times over. Whether I’m sad, mad, excited or frustrated, I’m completely unable to control my emotions. As a result, I get overwhelmed, which leads to hysterical fits of screaming, crying and yelling or so much nervous energy I can’t sit down. This means my family never knows how I will react to anything and puts them on edge when a circumstance that will certainly rock the boat emerges. I’m aware of their feelings, which leaves me feeling guilty and ashamed that my family is held hostage to my emotions.

Lastly, and probably most difficult for me to bear, is the anxiety. Unbearable and severe, when anyone in my house has tension with another family member or feels a strong emotion, I take it on as my own. I get nervous, shake, cry and sit on edge for hours because I can feel their anxiety as if it were a blanket wrapped around me. Often, even when my family member has managed to successfully cope with their anxiety, I continue to feel it. We watch TV or play a game as a family but I feel awkward, out of place, almost like a stranger because my anxiety is so elevated. I try to hide it from my family, but they all know. It’s rarely spoken about.

I have hope that I will one day find a way to cope with my illnesses so they have less of an effect on my family and my life inside the walls of my home. Home should be my safe place. I’ll keep telling myself that as I take one day at a time to press on through the battles inside my head.

Photo by Issam Hammoudi on Unsplash