Tell me about yourself.
I’m Marisse. I’m 24 years old. I’m a psychology major graduate and worked as an HR agent and CSR (Customer Service Representative); however, I had an issue with absenteeism so I decided to rest for now and I’m just staying at home. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type 2 and recently, ADHD.
What do you think was the cause of your mental illness?
Environment was a contributing factor. My father was violent to my mother and my mother was also kind of toxic. It started when I was around 5 years old. My father was violent in ways like dragging my mother out of the house or threatening her with a knife. Sometimes, I would also see my mother having many scratch marks in her body. My mother, on the other hand, was a nagger and I felt it triggered my father’s violent behavior. I believe the bipolar disorder runs in the family. My grandfather, aunt and my mother seemingly have it. My parents separated when I was in second grade and I moved in with my mother. When I was in high school, I already had a step dad.
When did you first notice your symptoms?
High school was the time my struggles started. I had sudden depressive and manic episodes and I constantly sought for comfort from other people. I learned how to self-harm.
On my first year of college, I had a teacher whom I had an issue with. I was a people pleaser and a perfectionist. When you’re a top student, you usually become close with the teacher. I developed feelings for him. Being the comforting person that he is, I got attached… too much. I had difficulty managing my possessiveness and got jealous with his other students. In all of his students, I was the only one who received a gift from him. He also said “I love you” but of course, he would add something to it like “my dear student”. I cannot attest whether it meant something because he was generally a sweet person. One day, he told me he doesn’t have a favorite student and we shouldn’t be that close. Because I was a stalker, I searched for his address and went to his house wishing that he would say something comforting because I couldn’t accept what he said. He told me people were already starting to gossip about him and he was scared to lose his license. I did that three times which caused him to eventually stop talking to me.
It was when I was in third year of college that my self-harm increased. I would go to school with my arms covered because the cuts were very noticeable.
The incident with my teacher caused me to transfer to another school on my fourth year of college. I poured out all my energy to the church. I went to a born-again high school and was religious before. When I was in manic phase, I was very energetic, friendly, cheerful and active. However, the more I became depressed, I kept feeling that something was wrong with me. You know, the dogma in the church made me feel like I was a sinner who needed to repent. I felt like they wanted to control my whole life. Feeling brainwashed, I decided make my new year’s resolution to become an atheist. Being an atheist changed my perspective. My feelings continuously improved after that and I noticed feeling lighter.
So you feel like one of the factors that hindered your growth was religion?
Yes. I felt like I couldn’t be myself. Everyday, I invested myself in the church but I didn’t see any improvement with myself.
This led me to join a group for atheists on Facebook and it became a place where I vented my issues with the church. In one of my posts, someone commented, “hey, let’s meet”. That’s when I met my current boyfriend. We’ve been together now for 4 years. He’s very affectionate. He’s the one who cooks for us and everything.
In the early days of our relationship, we were in an open relationship and it made me paranoid because of my possessiveness even if he didn’t really have other women. I became jealous even with his sisters and even asked him to delete all his female friends with the exception of family members in Facebook. That’s how severe I was.
Did you seek help from a psychiatrist?
For a long time, I already wanted help but my parents were in denial of my mental illness so they didn’t want to offer help. It was my boyfriend who brought me to the psychiatrist.
However, there came a time when my boyfriend attempted to break up with me and said that couldn’t handle it anymore which made me overdose with my medications on impulse. I woke up in the ICU. The first night in the hospital, my boyfriend looked after me because my parents had a lot of excuses. I experienced being tied to a four-point restraint. I was yelling and asking my boyfriend to come closer. I think I also pulled my I.V. line and hid under the bed. Then I was transferred to the psychiatric ward. The succeeding days, my grandmother looked after me. I asked for a waiver to be discharged on Christmas day. I was admitted for 1 week.
I live with my boyfriend now. Spending every day with him, knowing that everyday he will come home to me, the trust for him just naturally grew. My mom is not there, so there’s no more toxic energy. Nowadays, I’m more loose and understanding with my boyfriend. My self-harming behavior also stopped. But I couldn’t say that I am over harming myself. It’s possible that there aren’t just any triggers. I also noticed that I’m much more comfortable talking to people unlike before, I would freak out when people approach me.
So you also experienced having social anxiety?
Yes. Very much. I was really awkward before, I didn’t talk so much and didn’t have friends in school. Especially when I’m having a depressive episode, I get scared of people.
What were the things you did to overcome your mental illness?
After I left the church, I set monthly goals of self-improvement, made self-affirmations. I also started taking care of rabbits. With each day that passed taking care of them, I noticed paying less attention to my problems. Now, they’re already 2 years old and I’m already managing a Facebook page, Rabbit Awareness Philippines. One of my stessors now is animal cruelty.
Did you continuously comply with your treatment?
After I was admitted, I continued with the treatment for about 1 year. I decided to stop because I was always forgetting to take my medications.
Would you consider the treatment helpful to you?
The medicines helped to tone down the symptoms, to make my mental illness manageable.
What were the biggest factors of your recovery?
Moving out and taking care of rabbits. It started when I became an atheist but the biggest factor was when I moved out because each time I heard my parents yelling at each other, I would be triggered
Share Your Story is a project aiming to provide mental health awareness by featuring stories of people who are courageously willing to share their experiences in struggling with a mental illness.