Person concerned: Miriam
Year of birth: 1982
Diagnoses: anxiety and panic disorder, depression
Therapies: Several hospital stays, outpatient psychotherapy for many years.
Resources: my husband and children, my best friend, my creativity
How and when did you learn about your disorder?
I knew already as a teenager that “something was wrong”. As the daughter of a mentally ill mother and a violent and mentally despising father, I had fears and panic attacks at a very early age. But there was always the will to get out of them at some point and then be able to take care of myself.
Why did you decide to show your face now?
I don’t want to hide anymore. It’s not my fault that I have these diseases and I’m not the one who has to be ashamed. Hiding takes an incredible amount of strength, which I actually need to deal with the illnesses. My illnesses have to come out of the dark corner, because they exist much more often than everyone thinks.
How did your environment react when it found out about your illness, and how would you like your environment (and society) to deal with your illness?
My immediate environment has reacted very positively and is very supportive. Again and again I meet people whom I tell about it, who have difficulty dealing with it and avoid contact. I am always happy when people inquire – compassion instead of pity helps. I would like mental illness to be allowed to be just as “normal” as the flu, heart disease or diabetes.
What things have helped you most in accepting the illness?
My still going through psychotherapy or working with my therapist. I am still and always accepting it or seeing more in myself than the disease.
What resources do you use in crisis situations?
Exchange with my therapist, my support group, which I founded in October 2021, the support of my husband. What would you like to pass on to other sufferers? Never give up! It’s worth it, even if it takes a long time.
What would you like to pass on to other relatives? How can they best help you (on the one hand) and themselves (on the other)?
They help me the most by being “there” and seeing and loving me. It doesn’t take much at all, sometimes a hand in the back that “holds” for a moment is enough.
What makes up your character and what quality do you value most in yourself?
I think a lot and then talk and want to be in exchange about things that have their place under the surface (e.g.). What is meaningful, what comes after death, what is important in life, etc.) I am richly endowed by my creativity, which has saved me many times.