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What I Finally Know Now as a Man in My 40s Living With a Mental Illness

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I live with major depressive disorder with psychotic features, traumatic brain injury residuals, and cluster B traits (almost borderline personality disorder).

Hi, I’m Steven, and I do not have a wife, do not have kids and live with my mom (but I am her full time caregiver). I am Latin American, Spanish, Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian. I am a heterosexual man living in California and am not even employed.

My life, by every measure, is complicated, and each day is difficult to face.

Each day I have trouble dealing with poor self-image, self-esteem and confidence. Most days I don’t even see myself as a human being.

That’s because I have a host of mental illnesses I never planned on having in life. I would like to say that my mental illness doesn’t control or define me, but I’m sorry, it is effing bad, man.

This is because I have major depressive disorder with psychotic features. This means I have hallucinations and delusions. I also have traumatic brain injury residuals, like moodiness, memory loss, trouble making decisions, impulsiveness, etc. I also have symptoms of borderline personality disorder.

I’ve had symptoms of depression since I was a child, and was diagnosed with dysthymia, a mood disorder, in my mid-20s. I have had approximately nine traumatic head injuries in my lifetime, and I’m sure each one attributed to my residuals of cognitive disorders. These head injuries were related to running, snowboarding, the military, etc., and have had a big impact on my ability, or inability, to be able to work anymore.

It seems that the older I get — I am 42 years old now — the worse my symptoms seem to get. Nightmares, paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks and visits to the emergency room have all had their turn. For example, from 2009 to 2015, I went seven times to the psychiatric ward for being homicidal or suicidal. Each stay lasted from 72 hours to nine days.

The biggest thing is this — I don’t blame myself. I believe that my environment had a large part in creating these mental illnesses that are a part of me now. Only with intense psychological therapy and medication the past 15 years have I been able to live a stable life recently.

You see, I am the product of an abusive past. One that I know isn’t my fault. Sexual abuse, verbal/emotional abuse, physical abuse, abusive relationships — all contributed to who I am today.

The thing is — this abuse didn’t stop until barely two years ago, when I turned 40. I could go on and on about all the people who abused me and took away my innocence and who ruined my life, but I am beyond all of that now.

The best thing is — I am free from all of it now. I am on the road to recovery. I am making myself a better person every day. I am picking myself up and moving forward each day.

And I’m becoming a better person because of it.

Life is hard, yes. But life is good again. Life is beautiful at times again. I realized I am finally free from all of that stuff that happened in the past. The only thing that remains is healing and living a great life.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, dear readers, and remember to not let your past define you! Keep your heads up! Keep your lives full of love, life, laughter and goodness.

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Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Originally published: August 30, 2018
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