I think when I first started noticing symptoms of my mental illness looking back in my life, I was about 13. I was drawing away from everything and unable to get close to anyone. Strangers were different, they were easy to convince I was okay. I was a good talker even then. I was shy all the same.
I was very shy because of my size and height. I was standing tall over all my classmates until I was in ninth grade I think. We moved a lot which made it hard for me to make friends with most people. I have never been easy with change anyway and moving a lot made it worse.
I was molested at nine years old, which made life even harder for me to live. I didn’t really understand at the time what happened but. Soon after becoming a teen, I started realizing my feeling of emptiness and feeling dirty inside and out. There were times I couldn’t understand how life was so different for me than others but I knew it was. I grew up in a Christian home my parents sang in church and later became members of a quartet. They were awesome, dad had this awesome bass voice which I still hear in my head sometimes. Mom has a great voice too, she sings alto. I think I always wanted to sing like them but it wasn’t possible. I just wasn’t the musical talent they were. It was always this way for me because my self esteem was never right.
When my grandfather, which called Papaw, died at an early age, when I was twelve part of me died with him. Really I think part of me crawled into that grave that day. When I was younger I was the apple of his eye even though I was close to the other grandparents and loved them just as much, papaw Scott was my hero. I think as long as he was alive I knew I was always safe from ever having the issues of earlier in life ever happen again. I had never told anyone about the abuse but, I never felt the need to because I now knew what happened was my innocence was taken from me and what was the use. There was no way to bring it back which made me angry and filthy dirty. I had no one I could trust and life got worse and worse as time went on. There were times when I seemed to enjoy being alive in my teens but for the most part I was useless to society. I never fit in because I was so out of control emotionally. There were times that I felt if I could just open up to someone things would be better although I never did. I was so scared my dad might end up killing someone and go to prison. This was one of the earliest illusions I suffered for I always had my dad on a pedestal as the strongest man in the world besides my grandfather. I would think about telling my parents when I was bullied at school and on the bus but knew my dad would go completely mad and hurt others. I never would be able to open up. The kind of thoughts that went on in my head became worse. I started wanting to die and shut myself off from everyone in the family unless forced to be involved. I wanted so bad to be part of the family but I never fit in. I was so ridiculous everyone felt I had been spoiled as a child and was just acting out to show others I could. No one liked me.
My paranoia became almost consuming there was no peace in my heart except the knowledge that at nine years old I gave my life to God through Jesus Christ and I know that was for real! There were to be many times I had to fight myself telling myself I wasn’t saved because I was dirty and unclean meant I wasn’t saved. It haunted me for a lot of years. I never felt like I could ever ask God to forgive me enough. I thought that I was doomed and never able to reach a happy place in my Christian life. I continued to grow into a very mean person to protect my feelings inside from being shown. Fear, inadequate, lonely, self defeating and lots of other feelings consumed my being. I had Christian people telling me if I would just trust in God I would be okay and things would become easier for me to grow. I knew I trusted God but, showing others wasn’t a possibility because it meant showing myself. They would see right through to the dirtiness and the hateful attitude was just a cover to keep others out. I prayed for forgiveness all the time and I think I was rededicating my self to God everytime I walked in to church, I was baptized three other times after becoming an adult. I know though that the first time was the one that saved me. I just had a real scary fearful life in which I blamed myself for things that were out of my control. If I had opened up way back in my life I wouldn’t have suffered so long. As a grown up teen I became very promiscuous. This lead to even more guilt and shame.
The fear of guilt and shame and going to hell engulfed me to the point that I knew I had no soul. I abused myself by finding others in my path to become my abusers. Whether it was being married to a man who would abuse me physically and emotionally as well as sexually or allowing my family to think I was the person they thought I was. Inside I wanted to reach out but knew I was unworthy of love from others.
As a late teen I became pregnant right before my first marriage was to take place. The shame and fear tore us apart even though we loved each other. I raised my little girl alone although my parents would be raising me and her together. I was a total mess and a mother. Wow I had brought my child into my madness. That was just another way to set myself aside from everyone and destroy myself again. I felt like a failure for making my child go through life without her father and I together. I lived in fear of her dad taking her from me.
I married my first husband just because he treated me bad and I deserved it because I wasn’t who I should be. I was an unclean person who had no chance of ever being happy. I never tried to succeed at anything because I didn’t deserve it. There were so many things I could have done but didn’t because I let my fear of people and the idea that I was the lowest form of life stop me. I could have excelled in school and went to college on a scholarship if I would have tried. What was the use. I didn’t deserve life much less success.
I married again after divorcing David my first husband. The reasons didn’t matter and I didn’t even care when it ended. I was too obsessed with thoughts of being a failure once more. I couldn’t have a relationship with my family members much less a man. The second marriage failed because both of us were sick. This was when I found out there was a reason for the madness. the fears, promiscuous behavior and the feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. I was so out of control and by the time I found out what was wrong with me I was 32 with three children who I loved as I could but, couldn’t show them the love and care they needed. I wasn’t able to function. Things were so bad by then that my second marriage ended in a terrible time of suicidal thoughts and destructive behavior.
I spent a month in the mental hospital the time I was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder NOS and personality disorder NOS. NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED!! The story of my life. What would the real answer be but that. No one would understand or care. I was just looking for a way out of my behaviors. Some excuse of course. These were the things I heard from those I loved and needed support from. I couldn’t get that support from them because they had lived through hell with me for so long that it was just another thing. I was a drama queen in action. I was a shame to our family and not to be loved. Everyone tried to love me but, I could never feel their love. Control wasn’t part of my dictionary.
As time went on I educated myself on what mental illness was? what I could do to make things better? How could I get the help and support I craved? These questions didn’t come with instant answers and when I ended up on medication that made me look unstable and like I was using drugs to continue out of control behavior, everyone just expected it. Yeah, the medication did take time to set in my system and it seemed like forever before it got to a point where it made a hit on the scale that a combination would finally work without making me a zombie. I was one of the guinea pigs of the early nineties. A time when mental illness was coming out of the mental institutions and people were being allowed to work on recovery outside an institution. I was glad that I wasn’t institutionalized but people made me feel like I should be and needed to be. At one point being on seventeen medications at one time, I felt so out of control that just being alive was not something I wanted anymore. It was time to die.
BUT, I had three children who loved me, even if no one else did, they did. I was their mother and they loved me. I was wanted. I look back and even though our lives were completely out of the realm of normality God gave me those little children to give me a life. Yes, I had a reason to live.
I started researching for ways to make our life better, which wasn’t a instant fix. I had one son who was very out of control and my daughter was too. We ended up apart on more than one occasion. Even though we were apart I still felt and knew they loved me. I held on to the love of those precious gifts for they were the string that helped me hold on to life. I started working on getting well and as I started to I lost my dad. I was 40 years old and lost my strength. My dad left us, he went to be with the Lord when my children had been looking to him for a father in their lives. And he had been right by my side protecting us through thick and thin. My mother is still the saint that is the wind beneath my wings. If I didn’t have her all these years I wouldn’t be alive. My kids would be with other people living a different life. Which might have been monetarily better for them but, I wouldn’t have ever been able to live through it. The love of these four people held me together until I learned that I had to love me before I could show these children and my mom the true love I had for them. It was always there I just had to love me before it would show through.
I took classes and learned about my illness through a lot of soul searching hard work. I let the shame go and turned the filthy dirty feeling over to those who had caused me to feel that way. My abusers, were going to carry the burden from now on. A lot of this came at several different times and in several different ways. I called them out one by one and told them they were gonna feel the pain from now on. That shame I lived for so long that had robbed myself and my children of so many good times. That shame was coming to an end.
I still work everyday to fix things that could cause me to fall back in that hole that was tearing three little lives apart. I have three grown children who love me and helped me become a person again. It was hard work but I learned to love myself and then I show them every chance I get that they are and always have been loved and I thank God for them. They are my gifts that I won from giving my life to Him at nine. Yes they were all born in a crazy world which could have destroyed us all forever but, we survived it and are still here. I have no greater love for anyone except my Heavenly Father than my Children. I also have my new husband who engrosses me in so much love and adores me and my children as well as our grandchildren. Yes he is a grandfather to them and loves them as his own. We don’t have money, on disability except for the little work I can do part-time. Physically I have destroyed myself and some of those things I can’t ever get back. I will always not be able to walk straight all the time again, take pain medicine to stay mobile and heart medicine to keep my heart in rhythm. That is okay God is Good and I am loved. I got old quicker that most because of the rough times but, thats okay my children love me and the man I love adores all of us. For that I am richer than anyone of you.
This is my story, I volunteer my time to help others learn to take care of themselves and that there is no shame in being mentally disabled or physically sick with brain chemistry diagnoses’. I am alive today to help others learn skills to stay mentally well and to love my family if they want me to.