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LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS: "The church accused me of a lot of things I know I didn't do."

Staff writer

Lisa Blackmore was diagnosed 1989 with bipolar disorder.

“I knew I had grown up depressed, but I didn’t know how really bad I’d gotten until 1985,” Blackmore said.

In 1989, Blackmore and her husband, Bill, moved from Copeland in southwest Kansas to Strong City.

Earlier, she thought she could learn enough to stop herself from exhibiting symptoms.

“I thought by 1996 I’d have it wrapped up — and I didn’t,” she said.

Blackmore eventually was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, sometimes known as dissociative personality disorder.

The disorder causes the sufferer to create alternative identities. She has had as many as 53 alters over the years.

Blackmore’s alters — all of them except for three — were integrated several years ago by a therapist in Manhattan.

Over the years that she has struggled with mental illness, the reactions of many people were hurtful.

Among other things, they told her that her children should be taken away from her. Parishioners in a church where Bill was a pastor said that she was possessed, and that her journals should be burned.

After psychiatrists got Blackmore stabilized, she thought people were teasing her when they talked about things she had done.

“The church accused me of a lot of things I know I didn’t do, like show up in people’s back yards,” she said.

She has been treated at Larned State Hospital and hospitals in Wichita, Halstead, Topeka, and Newton.

Blackmore had much better experiences with some facilities than with others.

The first time she was hospitalized for mental illness was frightening.

“Anyplace they’re bringing people in, they keep the new ones separate,” she said.

Lisa has had to go through more than anyone should have to face, Bill said.

On the other hand, living with her is like living with an orchestra.

“I wouldn’t trade her for the world,” he said.

Blackmore has worked with other people suffering from mental illness in peer support and family support roles.

Her faith also has helped her in her struggle with mental illness.

“The Lord helped a lot,” she said.

If people can’t be supportive or helpful, Blackmore said, she wishes they would at least understand.

“I just wish they wouldn’t be afraid of me, so they wouldn’t be afraid to leave the children with me,” she said.

She takes medications to help her, and her state of wellness has always been up and down.

“Just being a good friend to me means the world to me,” she said. “I tend to isolate. By the way, the meaning of ‘I’m fine’ is ‘I’m Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, and Evasive.’”

There is one well-meaning but unhelpful thing people sometimes tell her.

“If you’re a Christian, don’t tell me to pray more and have faith and go off my medications,” she said.

Last modified Feb. 23, 2023

 

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