The Disorder Iím Happy to Talk About

- by Adele Ashworthy
Award winning author of Romance Novels
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I suffer from something that we intelligent, educated, well-read

women rarely discuss or want to admit we have. The dreaded

Mental Illness. Yes, I, Adele Ashworth, loving mother, happy

wife, author, romance reader, friend to many, gregarious

socializer, center stage stealer, and normal person, suffer from

Clinical Depression, Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. That can be a pretty scary

handful to accept.


For the record, I am not in any way embarrassed to admit that I

have a brain disorder. It is a fact, a physical malfunction of the

body, therefore why not discuss it? Since the day I learned

exactly what my situation was, Iíve been an advocate, to the best

of my ability, for better understanding of the brain and how it

functions, the role of mental illness in families, and ways to reach

others who suffer and have no idea whatís wrong with them,

either. Yes, you read that right.


I have a chemical disorder of the brain that alters mood, and yet

the most tragic thing for me was the fact that for more than 15

years I was mis-diagnosed and treated improperly. I spent

literally thousands of dollars on tests and exams to be told by

people who held advanced and specialized medical degrees that I

was exaggerating my illnesses, that I had a mitral valve prolapse

(a common heart condition), that I suffered ďfemaleĒ problems,

nervous tension, and chronic worrying. I saw neurologists,

physical therapists, a cardiologist several times in as many years,

who said my heart was fine and the palpitations I frequently felt

were perhaps imagined, unimportant, or simply signs of stress. I

saw a therapist who said my anxiety level was off the chart, but

that was before Anxiety Disorder was really a proper diagnosis,

so she treated me with relaxation techniques. It was a

well-attempted effort, though never proving very effective. Iíve

always picked the skin on my fingers to the point of bleeding,

experienced unnatural thoughts I could not control, feelings of

helplessness, hopelessness, and pure despair, an unnatural fear of

germs, the strange desire to ďcheckĒ everythingĖ locks, doors,

closets, showers. But, in the end, I was told these were all signs

of stress or nervousness. I had severe depression as a teen, and

yet, even after telling several people, it was brushed off as an

ďadolescent thing.Ē For more than half of my life, I'd been

thinking I had something wrong with my heart or body, when all

that time I actually suffered from a chemical brain ailment that

can be easily treated! That saddest thing of all is that Iím not

alone. Millions of women (and men) are mis-diagnosed daily

when they could, if only more aware, be getting the treatment

they need.


These brain disorders have a tendency to run in families

genetically. Since my illness was properly diagnosed, Iíve learned

that I, too, have a direct family history of Bipolar Affective

Disorder (aka Manic Depressive Illness), Clinical Depression,

Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Panic

Disorder. Itís also believed these disorders run in very creative

people. This side of my family is musically gifted; an extremely

imaginative bunch. Many incredibly gifted authors, poets, actors,

artists, and musicians through the centuries have suffered from

one or more of these disorders.


Iíve now come to terms with my illness, and with the fact that I

will live with it for the rest of my life. Iím on a very good

medication and will likely never be able to go off of it. Iíve

accepted that, even though the minor side effects are sometimes

difficult. Whatís helped me most of all has been learning that

there are so many others out there who are just as normal as I am

but who also suffer with these purely chemical disorders. Many

are either unsure where to turn for help, or are unwilling to seek

treatment due to the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Theyíre afraid that if they seek treatment, doctors will think

theyíre weak-willed, exaggerating monthly mood swings, or that

their panic attacks are ďall in their pretty little heads.Ē Believe

me, Iíve heard them all. But there is help. If you suffer from

panic, anxiety, depression, and/or OCD, and want to discuss it,

please email me. Iíll be as frank about it as I am here. Support is

essential to recovery!



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