I’m a woman, born in Denmark 1989 to a Faroean father and Greenlandic mother. I grew up in Greenland, but I currently live in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Growing up, I was a shy and reserved child, but generally happy. I tended to keep to myself, but never had trouble finding playmates. It’s hard to say exactly when I started to get sick.
I’ve always been a bit socially awkward. I always had a sense of being somehow different from the other kids. Different values, different way of viewing the world. I was often considered mature for my age.
My late childhood and early teens were somewhat chaotic, marked by my family’s move from small-town Maniitsoq to big-town Nuuk, then my parents’ divorce and a few years later, a turbulent relationship between my mother and her new husband. It was also during this time I met my two best friends, whom I’m still very close with.
Around my mid-teens, I started to grow apart from my friends and fellows, feeling like there was an invisible wall between me and everyone else that I couldn’t figure out how to get past. When I was around 14-15, I started to get increasingly depressed, but wasn’t officially diagnosed with depression until I was around 17.
I managed to reconnect with my two best friends, but the sense that they’d grown up and somehow left me behind never completely disappeared.
I received anti-depressants and started seeing a therapist at the psychiatric ward in Nuuk. The antidepressants improved my mood, but I never liked my therapist all that much. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I remember often feeling worse after my appointments with her.
A few months later, the effect of the antidepressants started to wear off. Around the same time, I was called into a meeting with a doctor, who asked me strange questions like whether or not I heard or saw things that weren’t there. I didn’t understand why I was being asked these things. I got the impression, that since I wasn’t actually crazy, I had no business at the psychiatric ward. Like I wasn’t sick enough to warrant treatment.
Looking back years later, I wonder if in truth, my therapist suspected I had more psychological problems than “just” depression and that was why I was called to the doctor.
I won’t know, because I never went back. I didn’t feel like my medication was properly monitored and didn’t feel like the treatment helped me much, so I stopped taking the medication and stopped seeing the therapist all at once.
I resolved to find my own way out of my depression and went on with my life. In a sense, you could say I pulled myself together and “beat” my depression. It worked for a while, but depressive periods remains a problem I still have to deal with to this day.
I managed to finish STX (Danish Gymnasium) in Nuuk and moved on to Denmark to study at Copenhagen University. After several delays and a change in major, I finally finished with a BA in psychology. The plan was to continue on for a Master’s but for health and economic reasons, I’ve had to put that plan on hold, for the time being.
Shortly before receiving my BA, I finally decided to seek psychiatric help again. By then, I was suffering from panic attacks, couldn’t sleep at night, suffering from the disturbing images that frequently became stuck in my mind’s eye. I barely left home, let alone saw or talked to anyone else.
I didn’t recognize the problems I had as symptoms of mental illness. I only knew that I couldn’t function day to day. It was only after talking to a couple different psychiatrists and psychologists, that my condition began to make any sense. It turned out that I have quite a few autistic traits that I wasn’t aware of. Enough to warrant an Asperger diagnosis, but the doctor surmised I needed more help than the Asperger’s diagnosis could offer and sent me off to OPUS Amager, a psychiatric facility offering two-year treatment programs for young people aged 18-35 with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders and psychoses. In the end, I was diagnosed with Schizotypal Disorder and began treatment.
These days, the worst of my symptoms are gone and I don’t take any medication. However, I’m still not quite up to full-time work and still struggle with balancing stress-relief with day-to-day living.