After several years of decline and three unsuccessful hospitalizations, I finally did receive appropriate and adequate help. Nevertheless, I recognized that I had to be my own therapist and resolved to distance myself from institutional psychiatry. My initial efforts were crude and consisted primarily of various forms of denial (that anything was wrong with me), blocking, and magical thinking (to control anxiety). I relied on external connections to support me during dangerous depressions, and, without reflection, patterned my life after those of my childhood friends who were married, working, or parenting. It didn't occur to me that I needed to make allowances for my mental health problems, because I did not acknowledge them. Nevertheless, my life was decidedly more troubled, less satisfying, and more difficult than I thought it should be. I didn't know why.