“Breaking The Stigma” Part 1

Breaking The Stigma

For many living with mental illness life can be extremely hard if their illness is not diagnosed and treated.

For many of them, their problems started during childhood.

"Well things were different back then then they are now, you know because I had ADHD or ADD, ADHD and back then people, and I had depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar and I was never treated for it cause I guess no one picked up on it, I don't know," said 57-year-old Vivian Miller.

"I thought I was the dumbest person in the world to tell you the truth. I didn't know that I could learn my way and not their way," said 52-year-old Charles Green.Despite knowing something is wrong shame or fear may keep many from looking for a diagnosis.

"I was scared, very scared, you know what would my family think, what would the people think, what would my friends think so I tried to hide it from them and I think I did a good job hiding it from them," Green said.For 27-year-old Brittany Starns who had already been diagnosed as bipolar as a teenager her fear came when her schizophrenia presented itself later in life while she was living with her grandmother. 

All she knew is that she would hear voices and describes seeing bee's and snake's coming towards her. 

"If I saw them I would turn on the light and they would all go away, but I was in a room and then I'd be in a room.. I'd be in a in a room and it'd be dark and I could see them coming for me so it was very, very scary to me," Starns said.

Starns said she didn't tell anyone about the voices, but would just say "they know" over and over again.

"They just thought that I was crazy," Starns said. "I was too afraid to tell them because I was afraid that they would send me to the hospital again."

Kristi Garlitz, clinical director at Lower Shore Clinic. The same clinic Starns goes to for treatment said for many getting into treatment takes time.

"Getting help and getting help for a mental illness is usually something that takes time, it takes a lot of convincing for some folks to get that help and recognize they have a mental illness and might need some help with it," Garlitz said.

Garlitz said people usually live with their symptoms until they can no longer cope with them or in some instances until an episode forces them to get help.

"When I was about 26 years old I got into a car accident and I flipped my car and my dad had to EP (emergency petition) me and send me to the hospital and then when I was in the hospital that's when they found out I had schizophrenia," Starns said.In Starns's case it was an accident.

For David Ziehl, who didn't know he was  bipolar or suffering major depression and post traumatic stress disorder all  compounded by alcoholism his episode nearly cost his life.  

"I just, I wanted out. I wanted to be done. I didn't want anybody to know, I didn't care about anybody and looking back it was sad," Ziehl said. "I really got suicidal, tried to kill myself, disappeared for a week had a missing persons report put out on me stood on the 50 bridge with a knife on me for hours just contemplating should I do this or not."That night Ziehl explains he blacked out, intoxicated and was later found by the Maryland State Police a move that arguably saved his life. 

He ended up in "three south" as he and many others call it. The psych ward at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.  

It was there that he found out just what he was dealing with a real diagnosis. Something he calls a relief.

"Then I was looking back at my life and realizing these are the anxiety attacks that I was having these were the things that I thought I was having through my life that they weren't normal they should have been but they weren't just because I wasn't on any kind of medication at that time," Ziehl said.

Categories: Health, Local News, Maryland