I have been fighting writers block for the last two weeks. I closed down my first two attempts at starting my own blog and started a new one but haven’t even posted anything to it yet. I need to figure out where to start – where to begin.
And I want to post here. And I want to comment on the posts I read that make me smile or think or emote. But I don’t. Or I haven’t been anyway. I’ve been lurking… reading a lot but not posting, that is.
The truth is I don’t feel good enough or interesting enough to join in the fun.
Let me clarify: I DO NOT believe I would be, or will be, judged for posting whatever is on my mind at any time. At least not here. I trust Aunt Becky and her merry band to keep us safe from the Mole People. I’m not scared of what might be said in response to what I write.
The truth is I am absolutely terrified of opening up the can of ghosts and demons inside of me. I’ve shared a little of it with my boyfriend, who is the closest thing I have to a best friend too, but even with him I’m scared to share any more.
Honestly, the sheer quantity or ghosts and demons I need to face and fight and get through is staggering me blind most days.
Partly, I am afraid of rejection. Rejection by my wonderful boyfriend, the “friends” in my life, people on Facebook, even here. And by rejection I don’t mean mole people hating for no reason.
I mean losing people. No one caring about me. Or people only caring enough to help a little bit and when the burden gets to be too much they stop trying to help anymore. I’m afraid of alienating people or hurting someone else. Part of me is terrified to even look at this shit myself, so how can I subject anyone else to it?
But at the same time, I know I need to face these things. These ghosts and demons haunting me – some for years and years. Some things as tiny as committing a social faux pas in elementary school all the way up to things as huge as trusting the wrong person with a secret – and losing my job after she shared that secret with my bosses.
The truth is I’ve been on a downward trend for years now. I thought I hit bottom when I went into the hospital last year (psych ward). I thought I hit bottom when I was fired six weeks later and the bills for the “coinsurance” portion of my hospital stay started showing up. I thought I was recovering from those and getting some shit together again. But no. I’m unemployed again. And barely keeping my house clean enough to keep CPS at bay. And relying on my boyfriend and my brother to cook and clean the kitchen. And relying on my parents to pay my bills.
When I start to hit bottom, I start to hide. I haven’t called a single one of my friends in months – granted none of them have called me, either – but two or three did reach out on Facebook to me and I failed to follow through on calling them back too. I’m hiding hard. Even with a fully anonymous email account attached to my as-yet unwritten blog.
I need to start doing something proactive to change.
So I’m reaching out into internet-land, sharing something just to prove to myself I can.
And I’m making a pledge to myself to do three things during the hours upon hours I spend every day with my laptop on my lap each day.
1) I will post SOMETHING either here or on my blog everyday. Something that is honest.
2) I will comment on someone else’s blog (at least 1) every day, just to show some love to people.
3) I will try to share something on Facebook with the people I know IRL.
Someone once told me that we don’t grow unless we do something that scares us. I’m scared shitless right now just typing this. I haven’t even thought about hitting the submit button yet. But I’m going to click that button when I’m done typing (and probably some editing, but if I’m too scared I might skip that step) because I need to put myself out there. I need to be honest for once in my life and share what’s going on inside my brain and body and life with SOMEONE or I’m pretty sure it’s gonna kill me one day.
So here I go off into the unknown. I’m gonna face some ghosts and some demons. And I’m going to share honestly and openly. And as Aunt Becky and her Pranksters so eloquently put it “Fuck the Haters”. I’m not doing this for them or for anyone else. I’m doing it for me.
And that’s scary as hell too…
PS. Thank you Aunt Becky for your post today about your upcoming procedure. Your honesty helped me to make this decision. You’re doing something scary to get better and so am I. You’re my hero.
(ed note: I’m honored and blushy and even crying a little. I love you. Fuck the haters. Most of us have been here before, too. Being brave is hard as fuck, but it’s also strengthening. I promise. Loves you. Be brave. Scare yourself. You can do it).
We all have letters we’d like to send, but know that we can’t. A letter to someone we no longer have a relationship with, a letter to a family member or friend who has died, a letter to reclaim our power or our voice from an abuser.
Letters where actual contact is just not possible.
Do you have a letter you can’t send?
Why not send it to The Band?
This is what I would like to tell my mom, and probably would if she weren’t in a fragile state. She’s been wheelchair bound since my second child was born and my daughter is now nearing junior high school. How she ended up in a wheelchair isn’t at issue at this point. Needless to say, she is simply too weak to hear this stuff.
Did you ever wonder why I was so angry as a young man? Or why I only had a single friend when I was going through school? You should remember the angry tantrums that I used to pull. The anger I showed you was caused by a deep, horrid certainty that I was useless and doomed to failure. That I could never trust people or achieve anything of moment in life.
While a lot of this is standard fare for a teenager, you never informed dad about any incident as far as I can tell. He was never the kind of man to sit still for such nonsense. Did you stop to think when you told me as a very young child that I was a “surprise?” It didn’t take me long to figure out that “surprise” meant accident, and that you didn’t intend to make me. From that time on, I wondered if everyone would be happier without me, or if I even was truly wanted in the home.
What about the grades, Mom? You know, when I began failing in high school and you would hide the facts from Dad. Of course a child would accept help in such a way. I didn’t want to be in trouble at home AND school, after all. It’s a repeated pattern with you.
Consistently, you would “shelter” your little boy from Dad’s wrath, which was rather corporal, yet never over the top. Yet you failed entirely to protect me from sexual predators. Yes, mother I was molested as a child. I, your little boy, was fucked by a teenage girl belonging to a “trusted” family. My innocence was gone by fourth grade, Mother. Then, listening to your gossip, I learned that you never really even liked that family and thought their mother to be disgusting and immoral. Why, then, was I allowed to mix with them? Did you never wonder why I didn’t have any friends or why I quit playing with the other children from that family? I really believed that my molester was my girlfriend. You have no idea how confused and hurt I was when I saw her with a boy her own age. I had no one to confide in, and as children who are abused often feel that they would get into more trouble.
You were already struggling with demons of your own, of which I had known a little from the time I was in second grade when you were first hospitalized for “stress.” Junior high came around, and while I seemed to be okay, inside I was dying. I felt completely alone, as sex abuse survivors often do. I went through those three years with one friend who I met in fifth grade.
Then, you decided you were divorcing Dad. We moved out and lived for a few months in another town. You went back to father because, as I later found out, he bribed you. Yes, he cashed money from his retirement account and gave you a lump sum of cash to spend at your discretion. That caused me to lose a lot of respect for you. That was a single summer and back to the home. It was fucked up mom.
Junior high progressed. Even then I would have horrid angry outbursts of hopeless despair which should have caused some questions. Mom, why didn’t you do anything to get me help then?
High school came along and I gave up my choir aspirations. I didn’t have the confidence to try out for the high school choir, even though I had pulled straight A’s in all my choir work for junior high and earned a place on the Honor Choir. Indeed, I began to give up on everything then. I didn’t have many friends and had no visitors or invitations during summer breaks to anything. You never wondered why I never went steady with a girl, and asked only one out, and only then after repeated assurances that she would say yes? I pushed away my best friend in this time, in favor of what I thought were better friends. I’m lucky he forgave me, when I asked for his forgiveness.
I joined the Navy, only to flunk their psych evaluation and be sent home after five or so weeks. So there I was in the airport, defeated. You were so out of it, Mom. Dad was obviously exhausted. Apparently, it was getting near to another stay in the hospital for you. Not that they did you any good, except for to get you to decide to pretend everything was okay, so you could get out. Do you remember that ride home and the crazy things you talked about? In any case, Mother, you couldn’t handle your little boy leaving and broke down again. I needed some strength and real help then, Mom. But you, once again, were in trouble. I felt guilty by even thinking, “Dammit, I need my parents right now!” But Dad was dealing with your outbursts and insomnia. And so, once again, I kept my secrets and felt an utter failure. I know you’ve had difficulties Mama, but this isn’t about you right now.
You must realize that I was neglected by you in a few ways. Sure, you kept the house clean and meals on the table, but you never would inform my father of things that he had the right to know, like my failing grades. I was allowed to withdraw unhealthily into fantasy-like video games and television. You didn’t make me do the the things that I should have been doing, Mom. Dad could have helped you with that, if you would have let him. But I knew you, and I played you to keep the bad grades secret, just like any teenager would do, given the chance.
You did all that shit with my older sister, to the Nth degree, keeping her from facing the music for so long that she’s now a drug addict with no job, car, house, or self-respect. I escaped that because all along, since second grade, I have resented you. Yes. Resented that I couldn’t have a mommy that didn’t pick crazy fights with dad as we were watching a baseball game, eating dinner, or whatever. A mommy that wouldn’t freak out at tiny problems and scare the shit out of me with lies fashioned to keep me safe, that only served to inhibit my sense of trust in the world. A mommy who didn’t get so tired she wouldn’t talk to me or Dad and had to be taken to hospital on regular intervals.
I love ya, Mom, but you sure fucked up bad.
Four kids, one alcoholic, another a depressed, self-loathing mess (me) and a drug addict forever child. My oldest brother is the most well-balanced of the four of us, and I truly believe it’s because he spent the greater majority of his time with Father. Why did you “protect” us three from Dad so much? I have a good relationship with my father now, but my brother and sister haven’t spoken with him in years, in any meaningful way.
Do you know why dad was so grumpy all the time, mom? Because he slogged his ass of in a coal mine for twelve hours a day, six days a week and came home to either a batshit crazy or a sweet as pie wife–he never knew what to expect. He paid your way, Mom, and you resented him for it! He never made you stay home, you could have had your own money. Instead, you spent him into debt with secret credit cards, on more than one occasion. I remember the fights. They were the only ones that had any kind of justification. In other words, Dad was right!
You even kept him from forming decent relationships with the majority of his children.
Mom, I love you, but you have messed up three of your kids. That is a fact. I am now thirty six and struggle daily with feelings of empty, horrid loneliness and depression. These things are only bigger for me now, and I resent that you had every reasonable signal that something was very wrong with your child and you did …nothing. NOTHING!
I am now a father, and if one of my children began behaving the ways that I did, I would most certainly get them to someone for help. It’s not normal to rage the ways I did. Now I know it’s because of the injustice of abuse and the feeling that I wasn’t really wanted in the home.
I’m fixing these problems now, Mom, and without your help, just as before. It’s fucked, and I’m still kinda pissed off that all the signs were there. Sure, it was the early nineties. You watched enough talk shows to see at least one child psychiatrist telling parents signs of trouble in a kid. This fucking rock I’ve been toting for so goddamned long is a big bastard now. I’m pissed that I’ve had to do that carrying for so long. I’ve learned so much in my reading that I know that things wouldn’t be so bad NOW, if you would had done more THEN. Maybe you could have found yourself some decent help along the way, too.
I’m taking action now, Mom. I’m a big boy and have been taking care of myself. I’m getting the help I need, but my problems are compounded now by a failed marriage and the breakdown of my little family. This isn’t easier. Time didn’t make this shit go away. Indeed its only become worse.
I will overcome.
I love you mom. I hate you too. I don’t like it, and certainly this is going to be something that I address in therapy. But I’m doing it, finally, and that’s the point.
Mental Illnesses are prevalent in our world. They greatly affect not only the individual involved, but the people around them. In the month of April, we focus our spotlight on Mental Health, in order to heal together and break down stigmas.
We want your stories. How has your own, or someone else’s mental illness affected your life? How are you rising above stigmas?
Please share your stories with us during the month of April.
A bigger obstacle than psychiatric ward staff to the treatment of a Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) patient is that of a psychiatric doctor. Why? Because there is still a divide between the people who believe/assert/think/etc that DID exists and people who think it’s humbug and that we’re all faking it. The person supposed to treat you may not even believe you are telling the truth!
So you may now understand my relatively high level of anxiety and paranoia when entering a doctor’s office. Either I’ll be respected and treated as an equal, or I’ll be patronized and treated as though I’m just a vivid actress faking a bunch of crazy shit. The third option is that the doc wants to believe me, but actually has no fucking clue about what Dissociative Disorders are, and, evidently, has no clue how to treat me.
My experience yesterday was something like this: if you put the three options within equal distances of each other and drew lines to find the smack middle, my doc would have been sitting on top of the bulge of the three coalescing lines. She had quite a carefree outlook, vivid vocabulary, mild hand gestures. Naturally she wanted to hear everything explained, again, in detail. Fortunately my care worker was with me.
I stared at my thighs, and at my Adventure Time leggings, as the doc said in a chirpy voice, ”You’re not exactly normal, are you? You’re like a splash of color.” I giggled at this – my leggings and my unicorn hoodie were both so colorful I reckon the eyes of passersby would sting. ”No, I wouldn’t say I’m exactly normal.”
The doc decided I’ll stay till Friday, then try being home for the weekend and then come back for the beginning of the week, during which we’d have my second treatment plan meeting.
I have been given permission to take outings during the day. Physical exercise is very important for me in order to keep dissociation at bay, so I went to the gym today, as well as a walk. It is the time of year I wish I lived somewhere else, somewhere where it didn’t start getting dark after 3 pm.
So here I am, sitting on my hospital bed with my small turquoise HP Chromebook purring in my lap, waiting for my designated nurse to come knock on the door again.
Looking back on my/our times inpatient, I see an array of different experiences. Whilst at first I felt locked up, caged and incapacitated, later on I felt safer and more in agency of myself. My first inpatient experience was in 2010. This is what I wrote about it:
“I was in psychiatric hospital from April to June 2010. The rooms were cold, with white walls and loud air conditioning. I always fell asleep watching the wall, the shadows portrayed on it by the blinds.
The worst of all was when the visits went from once a week to none. When my phone was taken away from me. When I wasn’t allowed to see my parents.
Being caged in a room with no lock, no security, no privacy, without any contact into the world — and no hugs, that was what hospital was like.
I can’t believe I went there by choice.”
The hospital rooms I’ve been in still aren’t all that comfortable. The one I’m in right now is a mix-match of blues and purples (with a blue ceiling, of all things!) and the clock on the front wall is loud and crooked.
Here, we fall asleep with not just our teddy bear but also with our unicorn, bundled up in surprisingly comfortable hospital sheets. Here there is much less need for the sort of musical escapism I did as a teenage patient. Here I am a subject, an agent in my own treatment, and my folks no longer dictate my medical ways. On the contrary, I/we decide how and when and why I am treated.
I was visited by a friend last night, and would most likely be visited by my family and other friends if I were/am to stay longer. My friend gave me the biggest of hugs and played with my hair and kissed my forehead while we lay on my hospital bed talking at ease.
This time round, I have my phone, my laptop, my tablet – all connection to the outer world is intact. We are not trapped or suffocated, though staying within these four walls does get a tad bit boring in the end when I’ve finished all imaginable tasks on my computer.
And I do not regret coming here by choice, or having come here the last few times this past February and the year before. In between we have been treated in an open Daytime Ward, a six-hours-per-day sort of thing, like a part-time job except your job is, well, your own health and well-being.
Unfortunately, it is still a struggle for the staff to understand our condition and our way of being. The phrase ”So I hear you have these personalities?” is still a frequent visitor, and if I don’t remind them they’ll forget I’m not L (unfortunately, L is still up in her Limbo Room).
I’m seeing the doc today. Going to determine whether I leave or stay. Wish me luck!
I’m sitting in an ambulance. The blonde-haired paramedic gazes at me in the blue light, asking me if it is alright that the proper lights are off. I suppose something in my face alarms her enough to gasp: “Is it too dark?” I reassure her with a shake of my head that no, it isn’t too dark.
I feel childlike in my Adventure Time leggings and sweatshirt-tunic. I never noticed the white lines on ambulance windows were full of glitter. One of the littles hops up to front in a gush of joy. Glitter, of all things, glitter! I swallow a glomp of air and push her back in the garden with the rest. L peeks through the slit below the door of the Limbo Room somewhere deep inside.
Emergency Rooms, ambulances and psychiatric ward workers have always looked at us weirdly. The paramedic tap-taps on a Panasonic Toughbook. “Your care worker said you have these personalities?” she says, the question mark imminent in the air around her. Yes, I think to myself before even considering saying it out loud, my head moving in what could be called a nod. “I have Dissociative Identity Disorder,” I say out of habit. I should have used a plural pronoun.
It is the first time being admitted since this past February, when my dissociation had me walking into busy roads without looking. This time is different, though. This time it is even more confusing to the paramedics and the psychiatric nurses. The paramedic waits patiently as I try to remember which day of the week it is. L would know. L was here on Wednesday, that’s several days ago – Saturday, I blurt out slowly. What month, what year? Holy fricking shitballs. I find the right answer somewhere in L’s frontal lobe. November, 2015.
The waiting room is full, as per usual. Nosebleeds, broken ankles. Normal problems. The psychiatric nurse sees me after 45 minutes. A young fellow, agitated and, somehow, a bit amused. I try to tell everything, but it is difficult. “Do you remember [this]?” No, no I don’t remember doing that, that was another alter. “Why do you think L is gone for good this time?” I just have the feeling. I tell the guy that I’m the replacement. That I’m the one to take charge in case L is gone for good. His face is full of confusion.
In the waiting room again. The nurse called the doc. A foreigner, for a change. Not that I mind. I like the little lisp in their voice as they utter their sentences. The doc wants to hear the same story. I look at the nurse by the computer, apparently with enough agony on my face to make him state my dilemma instead. I add in a few details and listen to the doctor’s remarks, with a tight pull in my stomach each time he sounds less and less convinced. Finally we get to it: suicidality. I explain the monsters that are Dawn and Claudia, the cuts that have been made, the writing in blood in my journal, the knife brought to work with us. This peaks the doctor’s interest. “Oh yes, if that is the case, then we should take you in for a few days, as a crisis admission.”
The ward I know well. I’ve been here several times. I wouldn’t call it a second home, but I would call it safe grounds. We hand in our tweezers and nail clippers. Make sure nothing else sharp is left on us. Our psychiatric nurse at the ward is a young lady with a pretty braid in the front of her hair, dangling around as she speaks with a multitude of head gestures. She wants to hear the same story, but I tell her I’m too tired. After prying some things out of me, she retreats to the nurses’ station. It is only hours after that, we get our precious hospital bracelet, a Beck Depression Inventory and other forms to fill. What she doesn’t know is I would need ten BDIs, one for everyone. Maybe eight since the littles would just be confuzzled at the idea of a weird form to fill and even weirder questions to answer. I tick in some boxes that make me look severely depressed. Lydia must be close to front.
I unpack Bunny’s teddy bear and unicorn and feel her refreshing presence. The little five-year-old treats things with such openness and curiosity that I cannot help but smile and let her come closer and closer to front. I know she’ll be upset to be alone in a big three-person hospital room, but I am far too tired to take care of the body any longer. I step back in the garden and let her go forth, watching as she bundles herself up in pink hospital pajamas and her unicorn hoodie, giggling as she brushes her teeth with such vigor (need to kill all those germs). Finally, as she settles in bed, I let my guard down, retreating up the stairs inside the Clock and to my room.
I feel like I’ve lost enough recently. In the last year I lost my best friend (she won’t speak to me) and several close friends to different situations. None of them are dead, but sometimes things can’t be put back together.
I lost what I thought was my future. A career that I was brilliant at, had me trembling and crying behind closed doors from anxiety and bipolar disorder. I quit in August.
I lost the rest of my sense of peace and independence shortly thereafter and spent some time including my birthday in a psychiatric hospital.
I live with my parents now, and I’m trying desperately to get back on my feet, but my brain is fighting with me every step of the fucking way. I’m battling suicidal thoughts, panic attacks, and anger I never knew I had in me.
But plot twist. My parents are moving cross country and it’s no longer my choice. I’m going with them. I’m leaving my friends, my mentor, my therapist, my home.
I’m left grasping at straws.
I’m afraid of how much more I can lose because I’m losing the fight. Even when I try with everything that God gave me, it just doesn’t seem to be enough.
I miss my best friend. I miss my independence. I miss the me who could glow and love and feel joy. I never thought mental illness could cost this much.