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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 10/7/2008

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Karin Heck's Story

At the age of 21 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This was after many years of drinking myself into oblivion to manage the symptoms. After my diagnosis, my family disowned me. They felt that my coming out as having bipolar disorder tarnished the family name.

Because of this I told no one around me that I had a mental illness. I hid in shame.

Over the next couple of years, my disease was managed with medication and I graduated with honors from college. I had friends around me who cared and who supported me through this process. I obtained my first job as a therapist and did very well at it. At this point, I did not feel I needed medication anymore so I stopped taking it. This was in 1993.

Over the next couple of years, I bounced between deep depressions and wild manias. It got to the point that I was hearing voices. I returned to therapy in 1998 and was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder as well as bipolar disorder. I was put on meds for bipolar and again things got better.

At age 39, I am just now at starting to deal with my diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. I do not feel a lot of people understand this disorder so I have chosen to only tell the people who are closest to me about it. I no longer hide my diagnosis of bipolar disorder and my job has been very supportive of me. I just wish there would come a time when I could be completely honest about myself.

I am in graduate school right now and hope to graduate in 2007. I continue to work as a therapist and greatly enjoy my job. My mental illnesses have been a challenge but they have taught me a lot about myself, and I appreciate what my experiences offer my clients.

Karin Heck

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