To and Fro

Anytime I take a step forward, I knock myself back with thoughts such as “I’m broken” and “I can’t picture things getting better”. 

Self-sabotage, introjects, resistance to change…the reason doesn’t matter since the end result is the same. 

I feel like I don’t want to exist. 

Lately, I’ve been reaching out to certain people and feeling like I’m saying goodbye. I keep thinking about how to end things with my girlfriend because I think I’m shitty for being in a relationship when I feel this way. I tear up when I think about the graduation party for my cousins because I get the feeling this is my last family gathering. 

I don’t think I’m going to attempt anything like suicide, but I just get the feeling I’ll be disappearing for a while. Maybe it’s ego death. Maybe I’m running away. All I know is I can’t stay here, not like this. I need to leave. 

What am I leaving? I guess I just want to leave this shell of a life. For what? There are no guarantees in life. My problems are as much internal as they are external, and leaving my life doesn’t mean things will get better. I suppose what I need is some sort of major change, of environment. 

I need to be some place where I feel safe to excel. I don’t know what that entails. I just know it doesn’t include my family. 

Figuring Out Fear

I’ve become aware of various levels of fear in my life, as an underlying factor in my insomnia, anxiety, and general apprehension in just giving myself a chance, taking a risk, and so on. 

I don’t know if getting to the root of these feelings will help or not, but I feel compelled to explore. 

There are parts of me frozen in time, bare with me, this is just one of my interpretations of my personal experience. It’s this space full of absolute terror, fear that I was about to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was just a kid. Feeling like I don’t know if I’m coming or going, like this can’t be real, this is a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. Powerless. 

Again, when mom kept having me institutionalized, I would be dragged out of bed, pinned to the floor by a half dozen adults, given injections of Thorazine and Ativan and then put in 4 point restraints for hours on end. There was nothing I could do. My mom consented. They could do whatever they wanted and if I fought, I’d just wind up getting injured. I’ve been tackled, arm choked against the wall, head slammed into floors and doors. So what the fuck was I supposed to do? I just would dead weight and not say a word, because I didn’t want to get hurt. 

I’ve carried this powerlessness as fear. When I want to sleep or relax, every sound triggers that fear in me, because I can’t trust anyone not to hurt me. So I have trouble sleeping and whatnot when there are other people around. 

When I start to reach out and make new connections, I get scared that either they’ll breach my trust or abandon me. I don’t allow myself to be close with anyone because of this. I’ve been with my girlfriend for a year and a half and I’ve known her since we were 18, and she barely knows anything about my childhood. It took me about three years with this current therapist to be able to say some of it out loud. 

Fear gets in my way a lot and maybe that is because I never found a way to…to what? What am I missing? I didn’t get to fight back. I didn’t get to break free. So how do I fight back and break free now? This probably ties in with that dream I had about two weeks ago.  

Dream: I was walking through a hospital in search of a woman named Ruth. I noticed all the staff were busy treating patients, but the patients were already dead. There was a sense of urgency to find Ruth. 

I only know two Ruths. Ruth 1 was my professor back at the community college. She volunteered to be my client for a counseling theory class after my mom attempted suicide a week after she was my client. I remember something she said to me, something to the effect of: animals don’t question if there’s a God, they just do what they do. 

Ruth 2 recently lost her best friend and this will dramatically alter her life routine. 

So the Ruth component I take to mean that sometimes I have to stop questioning and just live my life and also that I must learn to adapt. 

I think the staff treating dead patients means that I am hanging on to things that I need to let go of. If something doesn’t work, move on and do something else. 

And now to tie this all together!

I don’t need to let go of the fear. I need to let go of the idea that I am powerless. If something happens, I can fight or I can leave. I need to let go of the idea that I am incompetent because of the symptoms of PTSD. I need to let go of the idea that this is a mental illness that needs fixing and start seeing it for what it really is. I was wounded in ways I cannot fathom and I survived. I fucking lived, despite it all, even despite myself. 

I have to let go of all those things that fuel the negative self image. Ego death. I’ve been down this path before. 

It would make sense then, that fear and the urge to run away, is so strong now. It is the ego crying out “I am damaged. I am undeserving.” while pleading to exist as such. I just have to say NOPE and break out of this cycle. 

Easier said than done. 

Graduation and Lack of Support 

As graduation nears for my cousins, I swell with pride for them and disappointment with the rest of my family. No one supported me as an undergraduate. No one took me seriously because it took so long, and no one acknowledged my struggles. They just treated me like a loser. 

By the time I graduated, I felt that I had been getting closer to having a healthy relationship with my aunt, uncle, and grandfather, but none of them were going to my graduation. What should have been a day of celebration with my family, was just another day I had no one to share with. I didn’t go to my own graduation, and I just went to the office to sign for my diploma. 

It really bothers me that I’ve been treated like a lost cause for as long as I can remember. They shut out my mom because she was reckless and they left me with her. No one wanted to take responsibility for the child of a fuck up. 

I resent my mom for dragging me through her hell and I resent my family for turning their backs on her when she clearly needed help. If family isn’t there for family, then what is the point of having one?

I am estranged from my aunt and uncle, but I visit my grandpop regularly. I can’t say it’s a healthy relationship. I want to believe that it is, but he seems very clingy and needy, which is very off-putting. 

I’m looking forward to getting out of here, soon. 

Long Hx of Situational Depression PTSD

Am I clawing my way out of some dark recess, or am I being given birth to?  It’s hard to tell when in a depressive state.  Sometimes I come out renewed, sometimes I just feel broken down and ready to die.  Depression is my companion, sometimes my keeper, and often times it just lulls me into complacency with unacceptable circumstances.  It has kept me alive in some respects — being complacent in a bad situation as a child, meant surviving in the home and surviving in school.  School loses meaning to a child once they have faced horror.  Who cares if I did my homework, I just need to get through one more day at home.

I’ve had suicidal thoughts since I was roughly 5 or 5 1/2 years old.  I used to think about jumping out of the car when we were going fast.  I always talked myself out of doing it, because I thought that by the time I unbuckled my seat belt, pulled the lock up, and grabbed the handle, that my mom would see me and pull over, then I’d be in trouble.

In the first grade, I doodled a grave stone with my name on it at school.  I was just looking at it and picturing myself gone.  When I realized that someone could see that, I immediately erased it.  The teacher wound up seeing it.  She grabbed my shoulders, while looking me in the eye and asked me why I drew that.  I told her that I would be happy if I were dead.  She shook me and told me to never talk like that again.  Were she to report this incident to the principal, I wonder what would have happened.

I held in my feelings and kept my thoughts to myself.  I have large chunks in time missing until about 11 years of age.  I was going through a rough time, transitioning from private to public school, and moving in with my mom’s abusive boyfriend.  At least before, I had my grandmom around all the time.  She was loving and nurturing to me.

By the time I was 13, I was just falling apart.  I was miserable from puberty (I always felt like my body was wrong and puberty made that much worse).  I lived in an abusive home, I was a complete misfit at school, and I had nowhere to go.  I spent a lot of time outside in the woods from 11-12, but a recent move to a large neighborhood surrounded by commercial zones took that away from me.

A friend of mine told me she got to spend a couple of weeks away from home because she told the school counselor that she was suicidal.  I followed suit and went to a behavioral center for a week.  That was the biggest mistake of my life.

I was diagnosed with depression.  My symptoms were: nightmares, anxiety, inability to concentrate, the desire to run away, suicidal ideation, insomnia (also dissociation and flashbacks which I didn’t understand at the time).  Unfortunately, I couldn’t articulate my feelings and experiences so well.  I didn’t even know to mention that most of my childhood is missing.  I didn’t know that an inner dialogue instead of a monologue wasn’t common.  I thought I was going through “phases” not that different versions of myself existed within me.  So, the trauma and the real issues were buried under this label of depression and I was treated with zoloft.

Zoloft made my insomnia worse which meant I was running on less energy.  Between that and the hormonal onslaught which is puberty, I was irritable.  This led to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, at the age of 13 (nevermind the fact that professionals aren’t supposed to give that Dx until after the age of 16), and more drugs that I didn’t need.  I was on 47 different psych meds over the course of the next ten years of my life.  My neurologist said it’s a miracle I didn’t suffer permanent brain damage from what the psychiatrists at those institutes did to me.

I was in-patient for months at a time.  I could barely function because I was on about 8 or 9 different psych meds DAILY.  At one point, I was so drugged that the doctor said I had lost touch with reality and they were considering sending me to a facility which specialized in schizophrenia treatment.  I couldn’t hold a conversation.  All I could do was sleep, eat, and stare.  I gained 80 lbs during this time.  My hair was falling out in clumps.  When it was time to wake in the morning and I couldn’t get out of bed, the staff would call a code green on me, even though I was just lying there and not fighting or even talking.  I’d get dragged out of bed, pinned to the floor by several people, shot with ativan and thorazine, then dragged into the quiet room and strapped to the bed.  This particular stretch went on for around three months.  Even so, I preferred being there than being home. I didn’t think I would survive to 18.

My 18th birthday came along and I threw a nice party, treated friends and family to one of those arcade restaurants.  It was really nice and I ended on a good note with everyone.  I was done.  I didn’t want to suffer any more nor cause suffering (I was convinced that I was irreparably insane and damaged, and that I was destroying my family’s lives).  I decided that if I died on my birthday, then the people who knew me would only be sad once a year instead on the birthday and deathday.   That night, I overdosed on my psych medication and cut my wrists.

I kept blacking out.  I saw flashes of being on the ambulance and going down the hall on a stretcher.  They were about to put a tube down my nasal passage when I blacked out for good.  I had the most peaceful experience: I felt like I was just suspended in the air, like I was totally weightless.  There was nothing around me, literally, nothing.  No sound, no light, no people, no walls, not anything at all.  I felt completely loved and at peace.

I don’t know how long I was experiencing that. I heard a faint crying, like it was close, but muffled.  It became louder and clearer over a few seconds and then I woke up in the hospital bed, to the sound of myself crying.  My body had started crying before I was even conscious.  One of the drugs I overdosed on was lithium, which made me feel the worst I ever felt.  It was as though every cell in my body was being smothered.  I was writhing in agony for several hours.

It was explained to me that my heart had stopped and I wasn’t breathing for almost a minute.  I was resuscitated and slipped into a brief (roughly 20 hour) coma.  I was transported to the usual behavioral center, but since I was now 18 and because my suicide attempt was nearly successful, they moved me to the state psychiatric center, where I stayed for five months.

The stories I could tell.  I’ll keep the fun stories for another post.

First, the setting: most days, there was blood and feces some place public, such as the floor and wall in a hallway.  This place was old and creepy.  They had a ward for the criminally insane and ward for the lifers (patients of the state hospital who were permanently damaged from ECT treatments FROM the state hospital).  There was a geriatric unit, a syphilis unit, one or two long-term units, and the intake unit (<6 months stay).  There were people from all walks of life there, in different states of mental illness.  Most of the staff were pretty laid back and they didn’t call codes for no reason.

The head doctor took me off ambien, cold turkey, so I barely slept for a few weeks.  He was trying to say I had mixed bipolar, which is why I didn’t feel euphoric but still couldn’t sleep.  He was way off base.

Since I couldn’t sleep, sometimes I’d convince the staff to let me into the day room to watch TV.  One night, I was in the day room and one of the male staff came in the room.  He started telling me I was fine and that we’re going to hook up when I get out of this place.  He leaned for a kiss and slid his hand into my genitals.  I was freaking out on the inside, but froze on the outside.  We heard someone walking up the hall, so he quickly moved away and I sprung to my feet.  I sped walked to the nurses station and told them what happened and said I don’t know what to do.  I told two or three staff members and a phone call was made.

The next day, the head doctor had me come into his office.  He told me that the man I accused of touching me had a baby on the way and that if he found out I was lying (which he made clear that he thought I was lying) that he’d press charges against me.  He then stripped away all of the privileges I had earned over the previous months.  I asked if we were done and he said he had nothing more to say to me.  I walked out and let the door slam behind me, not because I was angry, but because I was very nearly hysterical after what happened and then being accused of lying.  The doctor then barges out of his office, demanding that the staff escort me to the quiet room.  I told him I could walk myself, so I went straight to the quiet room, where he followed me in.  I sat on the bed and he stood there berating me and telling me that he thought I was lying about the side effects of the medicine, etc.  When he finally stopped yelling at me, I told him “you’re a fucking quack!” and his eyes narrowed, his face turned red, then he stormed out of the quiet room and slammed the door closed.  He told the staff to keep me there all night.  I cried until I threw up, at which point, one of the female staff let me leave the quiet room.

From the nut hut, I was moved to a group home.  That only lasted about 3 weeks because there was a resident there who sexually harassed me and another resident frequently.  This is the system we put people with mental illness into.  It’s unsafe and mentally unhealthy.

I rented a room from my mom’s coke head friend for a year before I wound up in subsidized housing for people with mental illness who needed help, but were well enough to live outside a group home.  I lived there for roughly 10 years, where I went to school and worked part time.

I hit another low when I felt like I just wasn’t getting anywhere.  I saw no way out.  I was cleaning out my room and giving things away.  I was afraid to attempt suicide because of what had happened the last time.  I was considering selling all of my belongings and heading to South America for a life of wandering as a beach bum, more or less.

Instead, I met someone whom I soon married, against my own judgement.  Needless to say, it didn’t work out, but I did finish my BA in Psychology and I learned a lot about what I can and cannot accept in a relationship.  Now I am right back to the source of all this, living at home with my mom.  It’s basically a never-ending nightmare that I can’t seem to wake up from.  I just don’t seem to get the chance to break out of the cycle because I can barely function as a human being when I’m in this environment, and I need to function to get myself out of it.

So, I’d have to say, depression is a constant in my life, but it isn’t something that drugs fix.  What would fix this, is removing myself from this toxic environment.  I am doing the best I can with what I have, and it simply is not enough.

Mom Issues

Can we talk about mothers for a moment? Mother’s Day was not long ago and I have serious mom issues. 

I’m convinced my mother has Munchausen Syndrome. Here is my reasoning: 

1. She has addiction problems (has had this since she was a teen and she had me when she was barely 18) and convinced me and my family that I had mental illness when I was 13. I couldn’t handle my home situation anymore. My mom and stepdad resented each other and took out a lot of their frustration on me and blamed me for ruining their marriage. 

2. Mom goes to bars and tells her sob story about how terrible her marriage is and what a burden I am to her. As she is failing in life and asking my grandparents for money, she places blame on me. She keeps having me institutionalized so she doesn’t have to deal with me or her marital problems and then uses those hospitalizations to support the idea that I am mentally ill. 

3. Presently, she goes out of her way to seem sickly, frail, and mopey. She blows things out of proportion and feigns things like falls. She likes people to feel sorry for her. 

4. She is in constant need of attention. If she isn’t getting attention, she picks arguments and makes vague statements to outsiders to get them to probe about the latest problem with stepdad 2.0  

5. She blames my symptoms of PTSD on mental illness. She takes no responsibility in how traumatized I am. And she tells other people that I am mentally ill and when I’m having a hard time, she tells people about that too, getting that attention any way she can, even if that means exploiting me even more. 

It’s some mish-mash of narcissism, obsessive/compulsive issues, borderline personality, addictive personality. Not to mention her control issues. 

1. She controls through food. She always offered me food when I didn’t want or need it, but not when I was hungry. If I eat something she didn’t give me permission to, she gets angry. And if I don’t eat anything she gets angry. 

2. I came home to her rummaging through my room one day in high school. She threw away all of things I had collected (sea shells, feathers, crystals and stones, I was studying shamanism), my books, my CDs, my outfits (which were industrial goth), my drawings and creative writing. She basically put my identity into the garbage. 

3. I wasn’t allowed to explore other religions or philosophies which weren’t Christian. I wasn’t allowed to buy books about it or check it out from the library. She kept tabs on my internet searches and bookmarks. 

4. She made me keep my bedroom door open so she could keep checking on me. 

5. If anyone left anything on the table or counter, she would throw it away, even expensive things. Then she would scoop the cat litter box and put that over it. 

And that’s not all! When I attempted to tell her about the ongoing rape, she said I was lying and never to talk about it, that I should be ashamed of myself. 

I can’t stand to look at her or hear her talk. I feel nauseas in her presence. 

How is it that people need a license to drive and to go fishing, but any dipshit with reproductive organs is allowed to have babies?

I understand that being a teen mom is hard. However, there is no excuse to treat me as she did and does. I have no love for this woman and I am okay with that.

The Duty of Passing Down

As a human being, it is my duty to pass on knowledge to other human beings before I pass on. Since I have no siblings and will never have children, I have decided to compile tidbits of wisdom from life experience as a gift to my cousin who is ten years younger than me and graduating from college next week. 

I have this peaceful feeling about passing it on. 

I want to tell him things that would have made my life easier if I had known at a younger age. I want him to know he is loved and that he can find peace, even in the darkest times. He struggles too. 

The other component to this is I’ve been looking into alternative lifestyles. Living abroad, working a farm, just being a vagabond. I also still get hit with strong urges to end my life. I don’t know what is in store for me, but I do know that the way I’ve been living is unsustainable as far as my wellbeing goes. 

I think it is proper to be there for my cousin when he graduates and to give him that compilation, to end things on a happy note before I disappear. 

There’s a sadness in my soul and a stillness in my heart–and feeling like I’ve been holding my breath for an eternity. 

I need to let go. I need to breathe. 

Whilst I Am

I sit here calmly, absorbing Schubert and stepping back from my thoughts in order to examine them.

The world has always been a dangerous place.  So many people have this sense of security which they take for granted.  Then there are those whom have faced unspeakable pain and terror, so the danger becomes interwoven into their being.  The world has not become scary, no, it is the person who has become aware of danger and knows fear from personal experience.

Experiences which make a person question their place in the world, experiences which would make the most stoic among us shed a tear, these things happen to real people and it can really change a person’s perspective.

So how does one navigate this sea of life?  It’s like having a broken compass on a cloudy night.

I keep studying.  I read, write, and draw.  I unfold new ways of being and seeing all the time.  Yet, I always come right back here.

Existential meanderings, loss of meaning, loss of self, melancholy.  To what end?  What is so important about this way of being, that I must revisit it times without number?  If I were to shift my consciousness into any point in time, it would almost always land me in this state of being.

Psychologically, there must be a reason for the pattern.  I break myself down into nothing, put the pieces back together in a different way, only to repeat the process.  I don’t even feel like a human being–just a machine with a seemingly unlimited number of configurations to try out.