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Australian beauty Madeline Tinson had a nick name growing up, The Madness. But at 21 the madness was about to take on an entirely different meaning. Maddy began to complain she was feeling ‘strange’, but her family ignored her and blamed lack of sleep and poor diet. As I sat down with Tinson, she began to reveal her story and her struggle. “No one would listen to me, they didn’t understand. I know my body and something wasn’t right.” Maddy was already experiencing signs of depression due to a recent and devastating break up. “I hadn’t been eating enough and I remember not being able to sleep. I was spending thousands of dollars on clothes and partying. I lived in Australia at the time and I took a spontaneous trip to the mountains to ski with some friends. Half way through my trip I called my dad, who lives in the Middle East, and asked him to try and get my mum to come to her senses and come get me. At this point I had not slept in six days. That’s pretty much the last thing I can remember.”
Maddy blacked out for several days. When she came to, she had been admitted to a local psych ward. “I spent a total of three and a half weeks to a month in various hospitals. It seemed as soon as I would make progress they moved me to another hospital. Because when you are ‘sectioned’ you are under the care of the public health system. I was constantly monitored and on medications. I remember that they had me so drugged up I had to drag myself across the floor to the bathroom. I couldn’t speak to tell the nurse what I needed so she just picked me up and put me back in bed.”
Maddy came to the point where she felt like she needed to get out. She faked feeling better in order to be released. “I knew I wasn’t ready but I just wanted to be home.” Later her doctor’s records would reveal that at one point she had believed she was the Virgin Mary and at another point had hallucinated a small boy in her room talking to her. “In order for the doctors to release me I had to convince them that I didn’t believe I was The Virgin Mary anymore and they asked me various other questions. The doctors made me promise that I would admit myself to a private hospital on the day of my discharge. As a result they did not send medication with me. Since I had a new sense of freedom I did not admit myself to the hospital as I was told to do but since I was voluntary at that stage I was allowed to go home if I wanted. Within 12 hours of not having medication I relapsed. I obsessively organized my sister’s room thinking that I was her. Eventually, after my sisters persuaded me to, I admitted myself to a private hospital.” However, she discharged herself again after failing to experience any progress with the treatment, and recognizing nursing students from her time at university.
Maddy rested at her family’s home and continued her medication after her release. “Then one day I just weaned myself off my medication. I didn’t want to be dependent on it and I wanted to get better. The side effects of the medication were too much to bare. I had to sit on my hands to stop the Parkinsonian shakes and not to mention the weight gain, so I had enough.”
Maddy took her illness and her life into her own hands, breaking free from what doctors had prescribed. Today, almost three years after the incident, Maddy is thriving. She works full-time, lives independently, is in a serious relationship with her Marine boyfriend, eats healthy, and attends the gym every day. “I turned my life around. I don’t party that hard anymore and I have a better support system, great friends, and I take care of myself. I know the signs and what to watch out for.” Although Maddy admits she has a slight fear of a reoccurring attack she is confident that the event is in the past. “I am just a normal girl. If you met me on the street or befriended me now you would have no clue that I went “crazy” for a while. It happens [...] we are human and things can get off track, but that doesn’t mean we have to spend the rest of our lives in hospital or in fear.”
Maddy wishes to stand as an example for other people who have suffered similar events. “I’m not ashamed of what happened. It made me stronger. Mental illness doesn’t have to be for life.” In the future Maddy hopes to speak out against the stigmas of mental illnesses and “breakdowns”. She hopes to begin a life with her partner and finish her nursing degree.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, a mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. “Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.” Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder.
Mental illness, however, is treatable “as most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.” MedicineNet.com states that mental illness can be caused by: genetics, biology, psychological trauma, and environmental stressors. The site also states that mental illnesses are very common.
[...] they are more common than cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 25% of American adults (those ages 18 and older) and about 13% of American children (those ages 8 to 15) are diagnosed with a mental disorder during a given year.
Forbes online magazine has made a list of the top ten signs of a potential future breakdown. These included: lack of concentration, violent or suicidal thoughts, negative emotions, substance abuse, isolation and appearance issues.
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms or they have expressed their concerns to you, don’t hesitate to act or seek help.
Image credit: Mental Health Foundation via Facebook.com