My therapist has asked me to write down a list.
A list of all the traumatic experiences that have happened to me in my life, that have contributed to my Bipolar Disorder and PTSD.
Right now, my therapist doesn’t feel as though I’m ready for the therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). As far as I understand, I have to relive my traumatic experiences, have the proper emotional response, get over it, then have Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) so I can develop some sort of coping mechanism for the future. But until my medications are adjusted and I’m in a better place, I have to wait.
So, here is my list:
Sexual abuse around age 3 by a family member. I repressed this memory until it slapped me in the face at age 12, causing an intense anxiety attack.
Constant arguing between my parents, thanks to my father’s alcoholism, gambling, and pain issues due to needing a hip replacement. The pain issue turned into an anger issue; turned into a power tool being thrown at my mother, missing, and going through the window and landing at my feet; followed by an argument on a holiday with my father resulting in me taking a heavy duty power torch to the head.
As a “gifted child,” I was bullied a lot in primary school and high school. I still carry some of those emotional scars with me.
Funnily enough, my brain is currently trying to stop me from accessing more memories. Suck it, brain; stop being a whiny bitch and let me write this shit out.
When I was 16, my mother – being severely depressed – attempted suicide several times. The last time she tried, she had an argument with my father (now a better man, nothing like his days in my earlier life), and downed a ton of pills. I found her and her suicide note. I actively suppress the things written on that note, but if I actively access that memory, the note started with “I no longer fear death. In fact, I embrace it.” That sentence haunts me in my dreams. She is fine now, thankfully, but I refused to talk about it with anyone and pretended it never happened.
I was diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder when I had a panic attack at high school so bad my heart rate was 180, and I had to be rushed to hospital for fear of doing damage to my heart. Since that day, I regularly have palpitations.
I had a psychotic episode at 17, when voices told me to stab my mother. I became paralyzed in my own bed while lights shone down from the ceiling, and I was convinced aliens were coming for me, despite my logical brain telling me I was being stupid.
I was diagnosed with endometriosis and told I should probably have children before 25. I’m currently a week away from my 24th birthday.
I moved out of my family home to the capital of my state to attend university. I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder at this stage, and promiscuity, sleepless nights, shopping sprees, and severe irritability kicked in.
I dated a Muslim man for eight months. Toward the end of the relationship, I was emotionally abused, when he called me a dog. I went running into the arms of a male friend.
I decided I was the worst person in the world and went off screwing any guy who looked my way, drinking myself into oblivion, and eating pills like candy, just to numb the pain. I wanted to be used. I asked my male friend – now my fuck buddy – if he was using me for sex. He replied yes. I cried and said, “good.” Turned out he wasn’t using me: he was in love with me; as a result of my promiscuity, and his inability to tell me how he felt, he quit university, broken-hearted.
I started dating my current partner, whom I have been with for five years now. We lived with his sister, her fiancé, and their daughter. His sister is a lazy bully who cannot look after herself, let alone children (currently a total of three). Her fiancé is a violent, alcoholic gambler. After being made a prisoner in my own bedroom, we got our own place.
My diagnosis of fibromyalgia explained my constant pain and tiredness. Yay for inheriting every single shitty illness my parents have.
Recently, I have started to have feelings for a close friend, who also has a partner. While drunk, we have made out twice. I have feelings for him, but he is just attracted to me. I have immense guilt over betraying my partner, who is emotionally stunted. I think I’m just attracted to my friend because he has the social and emotional skills my partner lacks.
I was severely bullied at my last job until I began having daily panic attacks and getting into a screaming matches with a higher-up and former friend.
I decided to self-harm and contemplated suicide when the medication I was taking for five years stopped working. Unfortunately, while the medication stopped working, my now non-existent libido did not return.
Have also suffered Dermatillomania (chronic skin-picking) for most of my life, particularly my feet. It is disgusting.
Currently, I am plagued by insomnia, headaches, anxiety, shame, severe depression, guilt, and every other horrible feeling imaginable. According to my therapist, I have feelings of low self-worth. According to my friends, I have a much lower opinion of myself than everyone else does of me.
I am both numb and emotionally unstable. I can’t cry, even though I really want to let it out. I think of myself as selfish and horrible, a terrible person who doesn’t deserve what I have. I theorize that I have some subconscious need to sabotage myself. Every time something is going well, just to add some drama in my life. Why I do this, I don’t know. And as I have written this list in such a cold, emotionless manner, I find it odd that I can be so numb and feel so many negative emotions at the same time. I feel like a robot.
I don’t want sympathy. At least, I don’t think I do. I am just tired. Tired of struggling through every day with these issues. I want the problems to just magically disappear because I’m tired of fighting.
I know it’s a long road ahead to my recovery. And as much as I don’t want to relive the aforementioned memories, I am also excited for the first time in ages because maybe, finally, with proper therapy…
…maybe I’ll finally get some peace and closure.
I am neglected.
I’m the product of parents who didn’t know how to fulfill my emotional needs.
I alternate between believing both that “my parents gave me everything; I had a happy childhood; I don’t have any reason to be this messed up,” and “my parents emotionally neglected me; I had an awful childhood; no wonder I am this messed up.“
I fantasize about being in the hospital because that seems like the ultimate (and only) way that people might finally see me and care about me. Logically, I know that it’s not true, but my emotional brain is convinced that being sick or hurt is the way to get the love, attention, and care that is not present in my daily life.
I am ashamed.
I’m a 22-year old who is still desperately attached to my mangled childhood stuffed animal, Lambie.
I surreptitiously, but uncontrollably, pull out my own hair. I know have trichotillomania (and dermotillomania while we’re at it), but it’s one of my most shameful “secrets.”
I eat spoonsful of Nutella straight from the jar, and sometimes that will be the only thing I eat for the majority of the day.
I am depressed.
I am pained getting out of bed in the morning. It’s hard to relate to people who casually say, “Yeah, I didn’t want to get up this morning,” but may not understand the gravity of depression. It hurts to the bone.
I have trouble taking my daily antidepressants because a hidden part of me doesn’t believe I’m worthy of feeling better.
I am obsessed with filling my brain with as much information about mental illness as possible. And yet, no matter how much I read books, articles, and studies about eating disorders, depression, anxiety, or impulse-control disorders, I struggle to control my own mental health.
I have a hard time with “I’m depressed.” Maybe because I don’t believe that the real me is just buried under mental illness. It’s more like “I’m a person living with depression.” It has taken so much of my personality and soul out of me, but without depression, I am a lively, joyful girl.
I am taking care of myself (or I’m learning to).
I practically begged my parents to see a therapist, nutritionist, and psychiatrist, when I was only 15 years old. It certainly wasn’t easy, especially because we didn’t talk about anything “emotionally charged,” but I knew that it was a step I had to take in order to alleviate my pain.
I reach out to others when I need it most. Even though I isolate, too, I also know that in moments of desperation, I do instinctively ask for help and support from those I trust.
I treat myself to occasional manicures, special purchases (a dress, a pillow, some art supplies), and a lazy Sunday. As much as my brain tries to trick me into thinking that I am worthless and unlovable, I try to actively do things for myself that remind myself that I deserve care.
I am brave.
I share my story with very few people, but when I do, it is the most rewarding experience. Sharing real experiences and thoughts is how I create deep connections with people.
I moved to Denmark for my first job out of college. I don’t speak the language, I’ve never been away from home for more than four months, and I left my entire support network at home.
I am working full-force in therapy at facing the demons and insecurities I have hidden for years. I am taking charge of my life by learning to be vulnerable, accept my flaws, and love myself in spite of them, and find happiness for the first time in my life.
I had a moment of realization this morning. I don’t KNOW that I have psoriatic arthritis yet. I’m clinging to this diagnosis, yet I haven’t seen my xrays. I haven’t seen the blood tests. Who knows what they say? I know something’s wrong. I know it’s not all in my head. But there are so many things it might be.
Let’s lay out, 100% what we know about me.
1) I have psoriasis. My elbows and feet are flaky, itchy, painful, masses of skin problems. I’ve had psoriasis for as long as I can remember. FOREVER.
2) My hands hurt. My hands hurt every morning when I wake up. It takes an hour of slowly moving my fingers to be able to get up and brush my teeth and hair. To get dressed. Sometimes I can’t handle buttons or zippers at all. Some days my husband has to open doors for me – not because he’s a gentleman, but because I can’t turn the knob on my own. Sad but true: I didn’t quit smoking to be healthier. Or to save money. I quit because I couldn’t consistently use a lighter or matches and holding something so narrow hurt my joints.
3) I have hyper-mobility syndrome. Every joint in my body extends past the normal set-point. This is partially why no one believes how much I hurt… my joints are still moving in the normal range of motion! But, doctor, they used to move MORE. Apparently that’s not enough.
What I know, 100%, is that I hurt. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot. Movement is good – to a point. Resting too long makes my joints stiff. I’m finding myself more frequently getting feverish without being sick. In general, my temperature is higher than it used to be. The shapes of my joints are changing. The color of my skin changes with the level of inflammation. When I hurt, my hands swell to twice their size or worse. My fingers look disgusting.
So, what’s wrong with me Doc?
I’m clinging to psoriatic arthritis because even though it’s life-long pain, there are treatments. It could get better. At the very least, it could stop getting worse. That’s all I’m asking for now – that today’s pain is the worst it is going to get.
Let’s take a look at some things that are total bullshit right now.
Psoriasis is bullshit. The itching, the peeling skin, the pain. People staring at me. People making nasty comments about me, asking to be moved to a different table so they don’t have to sit near me, avoiding any chance of touching me. All bullshit.
Medications to treat psoriasis are bullshit. All the damage it can cause, the extra blood tests needed, the worsening of the itching (and to think, I thought it wasn’t possible to itch MORE), the dryness, my lips chapping and bleeding even though I’m practically attached to the chapstick tube. All bullshit.
My best friend’s Grandma died yesterday, and the best I can do is help her by editing a couple of letters she needs to send, and being there online. Because she lives several states away, and I can’t just go hug her and tell her that she can relax and cry, and that I’ll take care of the huge list of things she has to do. That she doesn’t have to hold it together alone. Bullshit.
That people I don’t even know online have lost people so very special to them, and there’s not a damned thing I can do to help. I read their words, and I can relate to how they feel, but I can’t find the words to help. Instead I’m sobbing my heart out for people I’ve never met, and wishing that somehow, I could make it just a little better. All bullshit.
I’m afraid to walk from my car into the store because my purse might get stolen again. I should not have to live in fear. Fuck you, asshole, for stealing my purse, and part of my confidence. It was really fucking hard to get that confidence, and it will be even harder to get back there again. Total bullshit.
The Mate is in constant pain, and no matter how much I want to, there is no way for me to make it better. He’s on so many heavy-duty drugs, and still, he hurts all the time. Medical science can find a way to build robotic arms and legs, and no way to help him with the pain in his spine? Bullshit.
Animal abuse. I don’t even need to go into how many animals are out there suffering, and I can’t fix it. I do what I can, I have more animals than I can easily take care of, I transport, and still, there are so many more out there suffering. It’s all bullshit.
Parents that are assholes, abusive, nasty, whatever. I had them, and I hate that anybody else might have to go through something similar to what I’ve gone through. I HATE IT I HATE IT I HATE IT. I just want to gather everybody up in my arms and some how make it better. And I can’t. And that’s bullshit.
There is so much more bullshit I’d like to cover, but I’m having trouble typing through my tears, so I’m going to go hug my dog, find some tissues, and try to figure out at least one bullshit thing that I might be able to fix.