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Nearly 6% of Americans suffer from a mental illness doctors barely understand

“We only have medications that treat individual symptoms.”

Nearly 6% of Americans suffer from a mental illness doctors barely understand

MELISSA STANGER SEP 23 2015, 2:45 AM

Pamela Tusiani was 20 years old when she suffered what her mother described as a “sudden and life-shattering nervous breakdown.”

As she wrote in an article for Newsday, some days she would be bedridden, unable to eat or speak to anyone; other times she would lash out in anger at people she cared about, or cut herself to feel some relief from her emotional pain.

“My daughter is losing her grip on reality, and I’ve never been so scared” her mother wrote in “Remnants of a Life on Paper,” a book that looks at Tusiani’s illness from both her mother’s perspective, and Tusiani’s perspective, as seen through her diary entries.

“I keep thinking and thinking, it won’t stop — so many thoughts are racing through my head. I’m confused, can’t remember. I find myself drawn to my bed and cry for no reason at all,” Tusiani wrote in her diary. “I don’t know what to do, think, or feel. There is so much darkness and sadness, it’s almost impossible to see it.”

After a series of in- and out-patient hospital stays, Tusiani was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), a mental illness that affects an astounding 5.9% of American adults at some point in their lives, according to the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder. But despite the prevalence of the condition, BPD is notoriously difficult to diagnose and, subsequently, difficult to treat.

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