Mental illness – My Story

Much too often I meet people who feel psychologically bad. Those are people who really do have a good life practically, economically etc ….. but still they feel bad, suffering from anxiety or depression.

What is really ”required” to feel good ? Or maybe just to allow yourself to feel good?

It can often be very easy to get stuck in anxiety and depression. Some even punish themselves unconsciously because they consider themselves somewhere not worth feeling good!

It sounds sick. But that´s the way it can be sometimes.

But of course, some people don´t have the ability to get out of mental illness because of ”medical reasons” when you may have some sort of difficult diagnosis. Anxiety is usually a definition of something you feel bad about, but you do not know or understand why ? Pressure over your chest and a tingling feeling that sometimes, often or constantly ”pushes you down mentally”. It gets hard to think clearly. Anxiety darkens your life !

Some may have something traumatic from their past that needs to be processed. Or maybe it doesn´t even have to be something traumatic. It might just be that you need to need get things out of your mind. To make feelings in to words. To talk about things you had always kept inside.

”Anxiety” is also a very abusive concept that is often used for everyday problems, which is not at all in line with the real meaning of the term and can therefore often be misunderstood.

With my experience, there are unfortunately too many people who only accept their ”weak psyche” and find that you just have to ”accept your situation”, although there really is help to get.

It´s of course very individual. Some may go to a therapist but they might give up after a few visits because ”it didn´t help” …. But it can actually take a very long time to get on the right track that can lead to something better. Of course, you also must find a therapist that suits you and that you feel confident with. Today, there are also medicine that can help to make you feel better.

I have taken antidepressant medicine myself for many years, and still do. But it would probably never have helped me so much if I hadn´t been in conversational therapy at the same time and had all my feelings and thoughts sorted out that I had been wearing for so long – and that, without really understanding that I had so much ”dirt in my backpack” (as we say in Sweden)

The combination of therapy and medicine got me on the right track.

This is my story

By the end of 1992, when I was about to turn 30 years old, I began to feel that something wasn´t quite right with me. I had always been a very sensible person, but this was something different.

In a parable and figuratively speaking, I could feel and call it ”a distant psychological earthquake”. There was a feeling of fear and that something horrifying was about to come up from somewhere.

– It came from within! What it really was, I didn´t understand. I just got very scared. That feeling began to extend more and more as the days went by, and I couldn´t stop it ! A few times, I got such a panic that I started to run automatically shouting out ”No, No, No !!!” But it was impossible to run away from myself ! It felt like a big demon was coming up taking over my body and brain. And I honestly thought I was going crazy and I would probably soon end up in a nuthouse somewhere.

I woke up at night and did not know where I was and hardly knew WHO I was either. I started isolating myself more and was even ashamed of the fact that I no longer had control over myself. Just the thought of that I could panic made the attacks come up on the most ”outrageous” occasions, and I also had to renounce important jobs because of it.

I got some medicine from a friend called ”Sobril” and I started to take it to get more calm. It helped a little bit at first, but after a while I noticed that I just became some kind of strange and numb. In order to make a long story short, it became clear that these anguished attacks from within myself became just worse and worse, and I thought that the only way to get out of it was to commit suicide. Luckily, for myself and my loved ones, those thoughts never went into action.

It felt like I was living in a nightmare!

I got the recommendation from a very good friend to get in contact with a psycho therapist. I called her up and after a few days I could visit her. After just two visits she said to me: ”Nalle, there´s no use talking to you! You would need medicine to calm down so we can have a good and sensible dialogue. ” Medicine, I thought …? Then I´m a Psycho !!” Around this time, media had not begun to write about panic attacks and I did not know or understand what was happening to me. At first, I said No to her suggestion, but after a couple of days I called her up and said I was willing to do anything to get out of this hell I had come across.

I got a medicine called ”Anafranil”. I started with 25mg a day and then after a few days I went up to 50mg, then after a few more days 75mg and so on. When I had reached 150mg, I started to get some hope. I began to feel like myself again – at least a little, even though it also felt like my whole brain was embedded in carbonated water or something like that. But still I had a long way to go.

My therapist told me it wasn´t just a matter of taking medicine.
I should continue to come to her for therapy. To talk !

I visited her twice a week, sometimes even more often. Sometimes it seemed like I had just been wasting my time talking a lot of nonsense when I was visiting her. But yet I felt relief in some way.

At this time I one day saw a headline from a daily paper. It was a friend of mine who was a journalist who told his story about his ”panic attacks”. I bought the paper and read the whole article. It was like reading about exactly what I was going through myself ! He had also taken the same medicine as I was now taking. With relief, I understood now that I was not going crazy!

This was actually something that could happen to someone I knew! Maybe even anyone !?
I´m still very grateful that he published his story – Thank You Stefan !

I perceived that before the panic attacks had started, I had somehow built up my person as a puzzle that had been completed. Now that puzzle had been torn up and broken apart in all its parts and I had to start building the puzzle again – bit by bit. The pieces would of course come in the same places again, but now with a slightly different shade. Of course I did not know then – but that’s how it became over time as I experience it.

It took about 2 years in total before I felt that puzzle was reasonably finished.

The medicine Anafranil I only took for about 3 months. I cut it down down step by step and could continue the therapy without it. But after a while, I started to feel bad again. I didn´t get panic attacks, but got strong anxiety and felt that everything was meaningless and hopeless and I ended up in a bad depression. My therapist recommended me a new medicine called Cipramil 20mg (today Citalopram 20mg) After just about 4-5 days the anxiety was gone – blown away.

I couldn´t understand that I had felt so bad before. It almost felt like magic !

My therapist told me that my body probably produces too little serotonin. A signal substance that should be sufficient in body and brain for your well-being.

In my opinion, to take medicine for a problem like this is similar to a diabetic who needs insulin.
You´ve got to find and get the right balance in body and brain.

Since I started with Citalopram, I have maintained a good mental balance. But, as I said, there was much left to sort out!

I continued the therapy for many years after the panic attacks broke out, and that´s my best investment I’ve ever made in my life! And I still sometimes go to her after 25 years. Much because I learn so much – about myself ! And it´s also really very interesting. It has been, and is still like ”A Study of Myself”. No matter how honest you might think you are to yourself, there is often a lot of shit that you don´t think or reflect about, and consciously or unconsciously, you ”sweep much under the carpet”. Or maybe you just have to reflect and get some distance to where you are in life right now.

Some famous actor has said:

”I wish all people could become rich and famous for some time – to see and understand that it’s not the solution for a good and happy life”

Happiness and well-being comes mainly from inside.
You only need to find it.
And often you don´t get it for free.
You have to strive and work for it.
And never give up!

Today and since many years back in time I feel mostly really good ! But life always goes up and down. That´s just the way it is !

But in its entirety, I today feel that life is fantastic, amazing and fun, and I´m actually grateful for everything I had to go through in these difficult times. It has taught me a lot !

With all this, I’ve also had an answer to why my great brother, Benny, commited suicide. We were very similar in many ways. What we didn´t have in common was the ability to talk about sensitive things. He kept everything inside and didn´t know or understand how to handle all his feelings that really needed to come out. He deafened himself with alcohol instead, and eventually the pressure became too big for him. And back then, in 1986, we didn´t have the same opportunity for the help I sought and received.

I hope that some of you will recognize something in my story and that you will understand that you´re not alone in feeling bad – and that in most cases there is help to get !

You just have to look and search for it.

– That´s my belief !

”As long as there is life – there is hope”

Nalle Påhlsson May 15, 2018

(Translated to english May 28, 2018)


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