Ylva Larsson, 45, grew up in a seemingly idyllic family with mom, dad and four siblings. They lived in the countryside outside Uppsala and in her spare time Ylva often took care of her own pony and several other kinds of animals.
“Convinced that a monster has moved into me”
As a child, she was a happy and stubborn girl, but tells News24 that already at the age of four she felt different and strange – something she was ashamed of and felt bad about.
– I hid it well, especially after a self-injury incident when I was only eight years old in connection with my first panic attack. I was convinced that a monster had moved into me and I wanted to push it out and get rid of it, among other things through self-harm.
Felt completely alone
The symptoms of her mental illness thus began at an early age and the anxiety eventually took over Ylva’s life. She could no longer focus in school and had a constant imminent anxiety and worry.
Outwardly, however, no one noticed it. Instead, Ylva chose to take on the role of “clown” and many saw her as a happy and social girl in her teens. Inside, however, Ylva felt completely alone.
At the age of 14, she was investigated for depression at BUP, but tells Nyheter24 that no one in psychiatry wanted to take her seriously and both doctors and psychologists found that she had a “complicated puberty”.
“Did everything I could to alleviate my vulnerability”
Two years later, it escalated for Ylva, who for the next ten years between the ages of 17 and 27 commuted between round-the-clock care, inpatient care and five different treatment homes. Over the years, she learned to hide her anxiety in a severe self-harming behavior, something she calls “camouflage”.
– I basically did everything I could to alleviate my vulnerability and to simply survive for many years.
“They are driving me apart from within”
Several medical theories, medicines and years later it was clear – Ylva had a bipolar diagnosis. A mental illness which, in Ylva’s case, means that she oscillates between manic and depressed.
– Living with bipolar disorder is exhausting, I am torn between a strong despair and a kind of euphoria with recurring suicidal thoughts. Although a depressive relapse is terrible and I want life out of me many times, it is harder, more stressful in another way with euphoric hypomania. They break me from within.
Bipolarity is in many cases a hereditary disease and something that Ylva knew goes down in the family. She was therefore not particularly surprised by the diagnosis.
A few years earlier, Ylva was also investigated for ADHD on two occasions. The first when she was 23 years old and the second just over seven years ago. But when she was abusing amphetamine at the time, no doctor could take the case further:
– I agreed to the criteria both times for ADHD, but I was not offered any support or treatment after the first investigation due to ongoing active abuse of amphetamines.
Now she has a medicine that helps her with impulse control, distraction and everyday chores, but it was not until around 2014 that the token really fell down. Her psychologist told her that she suffered from PTSD, something Ylva was relieved to hear when it explained why she thought and felt the way she did.
– Sunny! No one had, strangely enough, ever even mentioned PTSD to me before. It is probably the diagnosis that torments me the most and limits my everyday life. I have recurring flashbacks from past events, seeing pictures and movies as fragments of my life that I want to forget.
“Constant and stressful search for substances”
During all the years that Ylva switched between care and treatment homes, she had taken drugs to numb the mental pain. These included hashish, Rohypnol, Benzodiazepines and alcohol. Finally, she started taking amphetamines.
– It was a constant and stressful hunt for substances, denial, guilt and shame and to constantly darken it for my surroundings, says Ylva and explains that the mixed addiction started in late adolescence.
After a long period of denial and excuses in the style of alcohol only for the social contexts and that the drugs were actually prescribed, the facade of the doctor in the affective ward at the hospital suddenly burst.
– I admitted to the doctor and myself that I had an ongoing addiction. Then I quickly came to the addiction medicine clinic.
The children became a “wake up call”
Ylva had two children during the addiction, something she describes as a wake-up call. The help she received after her confession of the addiction was fantastic for her, when she was finally taken seriously.
– I have got a fantastic care team there over the years and a form of care I was not at all used to or barely dared to trust. A form of care I wish all users in psychiatry. Permanent care contacts, availability and continuity. Participation. I’m still staying there according to the care plan.
“Dare to talk and dare to listen”
Today Ylva feels better than ever. She has routines in life, two teenage children and lectures about her life with mental illness. She is an ambassador for Hjärnkoll and usually blogs at the Swedish Association for Social and Mental Health.
– I am like any mother and human being with my ups and downs that in different scales are present in everyone.
When asked what she would have liked to reach out to others who suffer from mental illness, Ylva says that what she prefers to convey is that it is okay to be herself, to be sad and to be able to ask for comfort:
– There are such good conditions for a good life with your diagnoses once you have accepted them and have the support needed for each of your loved ones and caregivers. Dare to talk and dare to listen.
She believes that life is obviously not always a dance on roses and that she has come to the conclusion that she has to struggle a little extra with life to get everything together. But she has a completely different attitude than before:
– In the middle of all the chaos that sometimes prevails, I can not help but laugh at it and take new steps.
Source: nyheter24.se by nyheter24.se.
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