I was born on January 8 1980 in Readfield, Maine to J. and M., I was their first child and my sister was born in 1982, my parents never really got along very well and though they tried for my sister and I, they eventually separated in 1983 and their short marriage officially ended in 1985, I met my best friend, S., in Kindergarten and we were inseparable, I had trouble with shyness and making friends, but somehow S. and I clicked, we spent all our time playing together, or exploring as we called it, we explored our backyards and as we got older we explored the nearby forest, as my sister got older she became the third member of our exploration team, S. and I always wanted to be teachers, ever since out elementary school teacher took the extra time to encourage us and help us see learning as fun instead of boring, also joining us was our mascot Rocky, my pet raccoon who loved grapes and attention, so my sister, S., Rocky and myself were always active, or overactive really and would run around madly all day and seemed to have boundless energy, my life was almost unbelievably happy thinking back on it, I had more fun than I ever could have asked for, Me and my family always went to the state fair in Bangor every year without fail, so in 1990 when I was 10, we planned to head off however as Mom was unwell the first week we instead went on the last two days, we left out home in Readfield at around 6am on Saturday August 4 and arrived at the fair just before 9am, as always my sister and I were running around like mad having fun, I would say I was a very friendly child but also a very naive and trusting one, I always found it easier talking to adults rather than children and I always believed adults were good and honest people who would never harm me, so when I met “Frank”, no thats not his real name, I am using a different one for legal reasons, Frank saw me admiring some horses and started talking to me, Frank explained he was a veterinarian and specialised in horses, I was amazed and want to learn more about them, horses were my favorite animal, so when my Mom saw me talking to Frank, who appeared to be a respectful and professional looking adult, she thought nothing of it and even introduced herself and my sister to him, so I talked to Frank for an hour or so and eventually went back to out crazy adventures, the next day Sunday the 5th, I again met Frank who offered me what sounded like the chance of a lifetime, to join him on an adventure helping horses, all he needed was my address, I hesitated knowing Mom had told me never to give it to anyone but I so believed what he said that I relented and gave it to him, Frank asked our plans and I told him, he then gave me instructions on how to meet him, and I promised I would follow them and not tell my Mom, I know looking back on it that this is the most stupid thing a child could possibly do but at my age and with my lack of understanding the dangers of the world I thought it was exactly as he had told me, a chance to help horses and go on an adventure, so after we got home that night and everyone, including Mom had gone to bed I climbed out my window and waited for Frank, just as he had instructed me to, around midnight he showed up and we left on what I thought would be the journey of a lifetime, So my journey of a lifetime only ended up taking just across the border to Berlin, New Hampshire, by the time I started realising I was in trouble the situation had already gotten far outside of my ability to control or even understand, so when I ended up in Frank’s house, locked up in the cellar I had no idea what he wanted from me but I knew things were going to go badly for me, so after being left along for “ages” though ages to a 10 year old was really more like 45 minutes to an hour for anyone else, when he returned I begged him to let me go home, saying I was sorry for whatever I had done to make him mad and that I would never mention his name or anything about him, he found this funny and I almost felt safer for a second because he laughed which I thought was good, I had idea of the hours of sexual abuse and pain that would follow, most of it I ended up blocking from my memory, I do remember though after it was done I felt as though something inside of me had been torn away from me and stolen by him, when he returned with food, pancakes, I was too distraught to eat, I had no idea what was going on or why he was doing these things to me, I refused and he warned me I would be punished if I didn't but again I couldn't, so Frank got mad at me for disobeying him and punished me by assaulting me again, this time in a different and more painful way, after this was over I remember all I wanted was to die, and he left me along in the dark to bleed and suffer, a lot of thoughts raced through my mind, my Mom, Marissa, Rocky and Sara, all the things I knew at that moment I would never see again, When Frank returned hours later, again with food I did like I was told and ate, I wasn't hungry and actually felt sick to the point of almost throwing up but I couldn’t bare the thought of being punished again, I again begged to go home and Frank told me that this was my home now, he also told me he loved me but of course I didn’t believe him, for the next few days I managed to avoid punishment by doing as I was told, no matter how much I didn't want to or how much it hurt, I tried desperately thinking of ways to escape but none of them would have worked, except maybe in my mind, on my eleventh birthday on January 8 1991 I was given a present, or really I was myself a present for him, though somehow in his mind this was something I would enjoy, that day is nothing but an endless blur of pain and I would look back on it as the second worst day of my life, by the time my twelfth birthday came around I was finally allowed to wear clothes again, however Frank had started telling me over and over again that no one loved me and no one wanted me but him, that my family would never want or take me back after what I had done, the worst thing wasn’t the abuse or the fear, it was the loneliness and isolation I felt, sometime in 1992 after accidentally saying something about Frank’s mother, I ended up having my wrist fractured, of course he apologised for it but also said I had made him do it, he bought a brace from the pharmacy and “fixed” it but it never healed properly and ended up with nerve damage, Things continued like this, I won’t go into more specific detail because one; my mind has blocked a lot of it out, and two; almost every day was exactly the same, darkness, isolation and sexual abuse, by the time I was 14 I had created an incredibly vivid imaginary world for myself, a place where I was safe and happy, where no one would hurt me, sometime in 1994 I started feeling “strange”, I didn’t know why but I assumed I was getting sick, so you can imagine my; shock, terror, fear, any and all of those words fit, when I was informed I was going to be a mother, Frank on the other hand seemed ecstatic about the idea of being a father, as some time went by I started thinking maybe it would be good to have someone to love me and someone for me to love, I was 14 so this reasoning made sense to me, however a few months later Nicole “Nicky” died before she could be born, I don’t know if it actually would have been a girl or not but I imagined it was and gave her a name, she deserved that much at least, I felt it was my fault she died and when Frank found out that I had done, he got mad and attacked me but stopped short of strangling me, so he left me alone without food or water for a week, I reasoned I had been left to die, I laid in the same spot and I cried until I no more tears left, after a week when Frank finally returned I was almost dead, all I could say was “I’m sorry” though I don’t think I was saying it to him, I was saying it to Nicky, so Frank apologises and tells me its not my fault and he still loves me, he gave me water, and bathed me, then he took me to his room, it was so beautiful to have a bed and be clean and somewhere nice, Frank kept telling me he loved me over and over again, and reciting his rhetoric that no one in the world wanted me or loved me but him, finally on the third day I gave in and told him I loved him, I was so mentally broken and so desperate for someone to love me and take away my pain that I finally gave in and allowed myself to feel the same for him, he was the only person in my world and I needed someone, So after two weeks in his room, I was informed it was time to go, I feared going back into my bleak prison surrounded by darkness, but to my surprise I got my own room, which was actually nice, well compared to what I was used to anything would be nice, but it was light, and had colors and didn't smell, it was beautiful, so I had a lot better prison, and although the sexual abuse started again almost immediately I was so overjoyed to be somewhere so nice I almost didn’t care, I gradually got more freedom as time went by, I started to think I was in a normal loving (though highly abusive) relationship, I cooked and cleaned and did as I was told, when I was 17 I had got sick of my existence, I was always scared and in pain and I hated myself for loving a monster like Frank, so I decided to kill myself but I didn’t have the courage, no matter how hard I tried I couldn't do it, but this phase ended when I was allowed into the back garden for 5 minutes late one night, I looked at the stars and remembered my mother how she had held me and told me about the constellations and how I could reach any star if I tried hard enough, and I felt the grass under my feet and remembered my sister, that day before I was taken that night, had been the happiest of my life, me and my sister and Mom had a ball, I remembered the world existed around me, I remembered people loved me, and I remembered I was me, a person not a piece of property, though knowing this and doing something about it were two distinctly different things, I continued being submissive but kept thinking of how to escape, in August 1997 I was allowed to go to the store with Frank, a lady noticed I looked and behaved odd, being a teacher she could tell something was wrong but both Frank and I convinced her I was fine, that I had just been sick and was very shy, I wanted to say something but I thought it would put her at risk, the last thing I wanted was to have anyone else hurt because of me, on Friday October 31 1997 I finally found my courage, and my opportunity to escape, I got dressed, stole Frank’s wallet and snuck out, by this time I wasn’t locked in as he believed my submissiveness would keep me from leaving him, I made it outside and ran and ran, I had no idea what town or even what state I was in, I found a park and I sat down on a bench, I was terrified he would come after me but I was so exhausted I couldn't go any further, I waited until morning and wandered into town, I know looking back going to the police would have been the smart move, but I was so damaged it was the last thing I thought of I just wanted to go home, and out of surprise I happened upon a bus company which had a bus going to Augusta, Maine, 15 miles from my home in Readfield, so I waited all day for the bus to leave at 3:30pm, it was coming from Manchester, New Hampshire, I attracted the attention of a lady who worked there, I wouldn't tell her what was happening but she surmised I was escaping an abusive relationship, I got off the buss at Winthrop, Maine about 10 miles from my home, and I walked him, it took me three hours but I was so determined I could have walked for 3 days, I arrived home at around midnight on Saturday November 1 1997, 2,643 days after I had snuck out to meet Frank, I tried to get up the courage to knock on my door, but Frank’s rhetoric was going on and on in my mind, I feared my Mother would hate me and what I had become, but I wanted so desperately to see her and my sister one last time, so I knocked and my Mom didn’t quite recognise me at first until I said “Mom” and she realised it was me, Mom welcomed me home, and set aside my fears by saying she loved me, no matter what had happened, I saw my sister who did the same, I was finally home, the police were called and questioned me, though my communication skills were limited by my lack of access to outside stimuli and this should have been the time Frank was arrested and sent to jail forever, but though this kind of thing is sadly all too common nowadays, back then most people didn’t understand about how things like this happened, there were so many questions I couldn't answer; Why did I leave with a stranger willingly? Why didn't I run away before? Why didn't I call for help? Why didn't I speak up in the store that day? Why didn't I go to the police when I escaped? The answer is mental conditioning, and/or brainwashing but in 1997 in rural Maine no one believed this could ever happen, and no one believed I could have so many chances to escape and didn't, so my case went away, I was the girl who ran away, ended up in an abusive relationship and made up a crazy story to cover it up, I was partly devastated but also so happy to be home I didn’t care as much as I may have otherwise, The police made me see a psychologist, feeling I was mentally unstable, she told my mother I was so mentally damaged I would never be able to lead a normal life, this alone should have told the police I was telling the truth, but it didn't and they closed the case without action, so I went on with my life, what small scrap of if I could piece back together, I got my GED, I went to college and I got a job helping people, ironically had my story been believed and had Frank been prosecuted I would have never been able to do the job I wanted because people with severe mental trauma are not allowed to work for the federal government, so it worked out for the best, I am finding my way towards happiness and away from pain, Frank died in 2005 in his home in Vermont, having moved sometime after I escaped, he had ended up drinking himself to death, I was so happy to know that my life had been the only one he had stolen, and that no one else ever suffered what I did at his hands, I have a lot of problems, trust is the biggest one, I am always scared of being hurt again, but I am slowly working my way back to the person I used to be, the one who was stolen and locked away but is slowly reemerging, I will make it.
(part 2) none of the people i am friends with, never imagined me less then i am. what they saw, was an outgoing, loving, funny girl who always had a smile on her face. nobody imagined me depressed, anxious or frustrated. all they ever saw was (me); someone who could never be sad. well, i was. and sometimes i still am. i have suffered from depression, since 8th grade. maybe even from 6th grade. but, i never had anything to be sad about? i had two great parents, two good homes, people who loved me. i am blessed. i used to be sad, about nothing. but that's what depression is sometimes, people tell you, "you shouldn't be sad, you are so blessed!" and it makes you feel bad. but, you can't help it. it's not something you can control. i was depressed over the littlest things, then over the years i started to have reasons why i was depressed. school- i suck at school. my friends complain about having a b-, while i have a d+. friends- i never have gotten invited to anything, i spent my halloween at home on the couch waiting for somebody to text me and ask me where i was. relationships- i ask people to hangout all the time, because i'm scared that i will get rejected or cancelled on like i did in my past. i may seem desperate at times, because i feel lonely. over the years, my depression and anxiety has gotten worse. i would be anxious about the little things people never thought twice about. my pencil; i used to check my bag three times before switching classes just because it was my only one. my hair iron. i used to tell my mom that i'd unplug it, i still do! sometimes i even take pictures of it, just so when i'm worried i left it on that i have proof i didn't. my mind automatically assumes the worst case scenario, like you would think, "oh shoot. i left my iron on. oh well, it'll be fine." but i think, "oh my gosh i left my iron on, i'm going to burn down the house and fire trucks are going to have to go to my house and i will be responsible for my family owing thousands of dollars, all because i didn't unplug my iron." crazy right? my anxiety has consumed me, and my depression has too. my mind had come across suicidal thoughts and actions, and i thought i was all alone. nobody cared about me? nobody loved me? nobody wanted me? i felt like i was invisible to everyone. i thought it wasn't a big deal, that i should keep my problems to myself. but that only made it worse. i used to sit inside my 6th hour at lunch everyday, because i felt as if nobody wanted me at their lunch table. i was afraid of being called annoying or desperate. i had trained my mind to think the worst things about myself, it was all apart of my depression. the outside me may be happy 24/7, but that's not what i saw at all. i remember being so sad one day, and i walked into the bathroom, turned on the hand dryer and just sobbed on the bathroom floor, because i was lonely. but, you're not alone. i know it feels like you are the only one suffering sometimes, trust me. you're not. you will get through this, you can't let anxiety or depression consume you, because it can. but don't let it, things will be good soon. i promise.
Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Self Harm. What happened between "then" and now. It hurts. It hurts to have been born with depression. It hurts to grow up with the burden of an anxiety disorder. It hurts to have grown up in an emotionally and physically abusive household. It hurts to have been raised under the care of a parent suffering from severe mental illness. It hurts to think about having been molested at the age of 8 by a family friend. It hurts to remember being sexually assaulted in the 8th grade by someone I mistakenly gave my heart, and my trust. It hurts to remember “falling in love” for the first time, and then having my self worth shattered by that same love. It hurts to think about the 4 consecutive years that I underwent bullying so severe that I lost all of my self respect, my ability to think rationally, my dignity. It hurts to suffer from PTSD as a result of the many things I have been through. Not a day goes by without all of the above, at the very least, crossing my mind- if not choosing to fully occupy it. I used to attend Leander High School- I was a Pre-I.B. student. I had a GPA of 4.85. I was taking all A.P courses. I was hardworking and dedicated to my studies. And then I was crushed under the weight of my own soul. I have always suffered from depression, and an anxiety disorder. Dealing with the consequences of both is far from “new” to me. But while they can be manageable, extreme stress can amplify the “symptoms” of both. In my case, nearly all of my stress was a direct result of being so harshly bullied (receiving death threats, being told to kill myself, being made fun of, and at one point, stalked) that I considered ending my own life on several different occasions. What drove me to the breaking point wasn’t the bullying in itself, which had gone on for 4 years...but the fact that nobody, not even faculty members, was willing to do something about it. I had a mountain of evidence to suggest (and prove) who was responsible for sabotaging my social life. This included screenshots of death threats from the girl herself, admissions from friends of the bully that said she had ASKED THEM TO DO THINGS TO ME, and screenshots of messages she had sent to other people, describing in detail, what she had done or planned to do to me- and yet, my own assistant principal couldn’t bring himself to deal out actual consequences when my bully was caught - only empty threats of juvenile detention, which obviously never accomplished anything, because the girl never stopped harassing me. They were all too afraid to “ruin” this girl’s life by punishing her for her actions, many of which were tantamount to felonies. I lost hope once I realized that I didn’t have a voice in combatting the harassment. My motivation by sophomore year died completely. The stress caused me to lose weight, and energy- I was always weak, and I always had a burning feeling in the pit of my stomach. My eating habits changed- sometimes I wouldn’t eat for days, and other days, I would binge due to severe stress. I stopped caring about my hygiene- it was as if I didn’t even have enough energy to take a shower, or find clean clothing. I couldn’t bring myself to do my schoolwork. I had so many ambitions I wanted to fulfill, including my involvement in the I.B. program, and the school newspaper- and I failed in nearly every way, as I barely participated. Every day after school when I got home, I went straight to bed- because sleeping was a way to escape the painful memories and experiences bouncing around in my head. By the last 3 months of the school year, all of my grades had dropped to averages of 60’s and 70’s. I passed many of my classes by the grace of some of my teachers, who recognized to an extent that something was wrong. But the circumstances had “cracked” me. I crumbled under the judgement of peers and strangers alike, and the pain and betrayal I felt. And in the end, I was pulled out of the school permanently. No going on to the I.B. program- I lost the opportunity to participate in classes I was genuinely excited for, and I missed out on fantastic teachers I had developed friendships with. I had also lost contact with friends I loved dearly for their support and kindness. So, I was moved to another school in the district. And I decided that a “true” fresh start would be perfect for me- and it was. My best friend, disgusted with what she watched me go through at Leander, switched to my new school to be with me. I started off my Junior year with all AP courses, and was able to get into senior level advanced courses early, as well. I joined a program meant to compete with the I.B. program. I discovered that many of my new teachers had connections to my favorite teachers from LHS, and found that they were also wonderful people. My best friend and I have been able to develop a comfortable, healthy social group, made up of intelligent and kind people- and since the end of sophomore year, I haven’t had to deal with harassment of any kind. But despite all of this… something lingered. My memories. My mental and emotional wounds never actually healed. The source of the problem was gone, but there was never a true resolution to the conflict I endured. Little did I know that I was suffering from PTSD as a result of what I had gone through. My crystal clear memory of every conflict related to the bullying, of every word spoken, every lie told, every person manipulated, every situation twisted haunted me. I would have dreams repeating especially horrific incidents over and over again… or I would be in the middle of math class, when suddenly, thoughts of the bully crossed my mind. Once, I saw her in a grocery store- and the pain flooded back to me after almost a week of feeling “okay”. I wanted to scream at her, hit her, kick her, ask her why: and at the same time, I wanted to run and hide, curl up into a ball, and pretend I didn’t even exist. Who could have guessed that my suffering would lead to the development of a chronic, pain based illness I would have for the rest of my life. My Junior year of high school started off well… Until I began having stomach cramps at random times during the day. At first, they were manageable...but they evolved into stabbing pains that would leave me hunched over in agony, unable to move. And these stabbing pains eventually became constant- no breaks between episodes. I was always in pain...And then I started throwing up- daily. I began missing school; in total, nearly 3 months of it, spread across the entirety of the first semester. But... It wasn’t until I threw up blood that I found true cause for concern- and after a “wonderful” array of tests and laparoscopies, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”- it doesn’t sound like a big deal. It’s a “diagnosis of exclusion”- meaning that it’s diagnosed only when no other tests can determine a more obvious problem. But the name of the illness hardly suits it, as it mimics the symptoms of major gastrointestinal illnesses like Crone’s disease- and as such, it is, in itself, a major illness. I.B.S. is incurable. Little about it is understood, except for one thing- that it correlates strongly with stress. I was stressed to the point of developing a chronic condition that has left me in physical agony for the past 7 months. The implications for my grades are obvious- although luckily, my school has been very understanding, and my teachers have worked diligently to ensure that I finish all of the schoolwork I have missed. And I am in the same situation now, as I write this. So you might wonder, where is the silver lining to this story? Unfortunately, there isn’t one. I’m as lost as you probably are, reading this. So why write at all? Because I know there are others who can relate to my story, in one way or another. Because I want people who have been through the same pain I have to know that while it doesn’t necessarily end, you can still find a way to get through it. I could have given up 4 years ago and taken my life then, when the bullying began. I could have given up 3 years ago, when I was raped. I could have given up 2 years ago, when I was alienated by peers and ignored by those responsible for protecting students. I could have given up a year ago, when my grades faltered, and my motivation and ambition faltered. But I didn’t. I don’t quite know why, myself- I don’t know where the energy comes from, because I don’t feel like I have any left. And yet, My will to live burns under the cloak of depression, PTSD, anxiety, and pain. I’m still doing well academically. I’m maintaining healthy relationships. I’m forcing myself, each and every day, to pause in the middle of a “negative” thought-train. I recognize that I’m lucky enough to have a select few people in my life that I genuinely love, who love me back enough to support me despite the burdens they already carry. And so, I’m still trying. For my loved ones, but most importantly, for myself as well. Know This: “You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.”
In February of 2015 I met a beautiful boy. He was sweet and charming and he knew exactly how to make me smile. After a few weeks we started dating. After about 2 months of being exclusively together he started making comments like "hey baby maybe you should go to the gym" or "babe your weight is too much for me" and slowly but surely I started feeling self conscience and I depended on him for reassurance. I needed him to make me feel good about myself. Everytime we would get into an argument I would go in the bathroom and cut my arms and legs with a razor blade, so deep that the scars now make texture on my skin. Once we reached 6 months together I was completely dependent on him. Anytime he was at all upset I would be distressed and do anything to make it up to him. One incident in particular pushed me over the edge. My uncle had taken us to a baseball game and I had a beer. When we got home he grabbed my face on either side screamed at me and then shoved me away. I forgave him for that but I never forgot. 2 months later we got into another fight. That's when we decided that we weren't going to make it. That we needed to break up. I was so distraught over the break up I drank and I popped pills and I was cutting even worse. I attempted Suicide and was hospitalized twice in a week. I was committed to a psychiatric hospital. I stayed there for 6 days. After my treatments and 15 weeks of out patient therapy. I finally gained control of my own life. Ever since I have had relapses but I have been able to recover.
Most of my life, I was a good student. I was a perfect daughter, perfect friend, I felt my life was perfect, and I didn't need to answer to or justify myself to anyone. I had friends, and I took everything at face value. I was even on the verge of "popular" - I was captain of the pom squad, I was president of student counsel. I was on the National Junior Honor's Society. I got straight A's. Everything was going the right direction. Then, when I was 14 (8th grade for me), I started having problems in school; I had a boyfriend who pressured me into things I wasn't completely comfortable with; drinking, smoking, drugs, promiscuity. I started feeling intense anger, intense jealousy, and overwhelming sadness that I just couldn't shake. My "friends" began to pull away. I started to get teased. I'd put on a little weight after I'd quit the pom squad (due to poor coaching and false accusations); suddenly I wasn't part of the "in" crowd anymore. I felt alone, I felt lost. I sought refuge in my boyfriend, whom my parents did not like. I don't remember the exact moment things came to a head, but my parents felt I needed counseling. But it wasn't so much counseling as it was being told what I'd done wrong. My parents were always in the room, I was never alone, never free to fully express myself. I grew up in a small town, where everyone knew my family. Everyone knew my parents, and image was everything. I didn't conform to that image, and I was not allowed to engage in anything that would tarnish that image any further than I'd already had. We kept a lot of secrets; one of which was my "counseling". When I told a friend about it on the phone, I got grounded. My parents didn't trust me, and looking back they were right not to. I lied, I snuck out, I did things that I didn't really want to do in the hope I'd find a crowd. I reached a point where I hated my mother; we fought constantly. My siblings were on her side; they'd tell on me every chance they could. I felt alone, lost, unloved, unwanted. Fast forward to high school. While I was no longer with that boyfriend (specifically instructed to not have contact with him, per my parents), those feelings of self doubt, alienation, sadness, darkness, didn't go away. They increased. I struggled to make friends. I struggled harder to keep them; often doing things I didn't want to do just to keep friends that would have turned on me in a heartbeat. My boyfriend in high school wasn't much better than the previous. He was abusive, he was codependent. He didn't feel he could survive without me, he wanted me to move in with him (I was 16), he wanted to get married, he wanted me to spend every waking moment with him. But he was hurtful, he was physically abusive. At one point he slammed me into a wall, hand around my throat, because I didn't want to do something he wanted, I don't remember what it was. He held a knife to my throat because I didn't want to have sex. The feelings of doubt and sadness continued - I hated everything about myself. On top of that my parents were in the middle of a very ugly divorce, and we (my siblings and myself) were used as pawns. Everything was so out of control in my life, and I had no outlet, because I couldn't talk to anyone; partially because my parents forbade it, but also because no one really understood, or wanted to understand what was going on inside my mind. When I was 17, I tried to overdose. I had some medication that I knew I couldn't tolerate, and I took the whole bottle. I woke up hours later sicker than I'd ever felt; vomiting until I blacked out, just felt like the bus had run me over and then backed up a few times. And I felt worse; I couldn't even commit suicide the right way. I just sunk farther and farther into sadness, loneliness, isolation. By the time I was a senior in high school, I had no idea where my life was headed. Nothing gave me joy, nothing gave me hope. I got involved into theatre, which helped in the sense that there was a group of people who were somewhat outcasts like me. I started to feel a little more confident, until I confided in a longtime friend about being depressed, attempting suicide. The response I got was the opposite I thought - he backed away, telling me it was all too much for him to deal with. That blow led me down the road of self mutilation - I began cutting myself. And it felt amazing - for the time I was actively cutting, feeling my skin separating, seeing blood rise to the surface. But afterward came massive amounts of shame. I had to hide it, I had to keep anyone from knowing my dark secret. A point came where I could not take it anymore; I couldn't take holding it in. I confided in a teacher, and he was very supportive and sympathetic. He respected my wish to not call my parents. He directed me to peer counseling. He checked on me, made sure I was going to be ok. It was refreshing to know that someone out there knew, and someone out there didn't think I was bad. He encouraged me to use writing as an outlet, which I did. It was the first glimmer of hope I had. However, it didn't last, because graduation meant going to college, and into real life. When you are someone who suffers from low self esteem, depression, sadness, all of those things, my advice is to NOT pursue a degree in theatre. Some may find it therapeutic, and if you have someone in a position of power who can help you, it could be. My experience was that it was not; it was the opposite. Once again I was outcast. I was teased. I was excluded. The department director refused to give me a chance to prove anything. I felt more lost, more alone. I began drinking - very heavily for a while. This continued all through college both the first and second time. The temper, the violence, the self harm, all if it got worse. I was cutting daily. I was lashing out. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep. I started drinking daily, started doing drugs, started sleeping with anyone who said yes. I made yet another attempt at my life in my mid 20's after my mother kicked me out; I tried the whole "chase the bottle of aspirin with the bottle of vodka" approach; obviously that did not work. Furthermore, I couldn't find a decent job, so I had to work several jobs to support myself, my boyfriend at the time, and his friend. I was the only person making money, and it all went toward drinking, drugs, partying. And then behind closed doors was the same story; frequent abuse, both physical and verbal. He cheated on me constantly; he gave me an STD from it. I just felt unheard, unloved, unnecessary, and completely forgettable. I'd tried medication at 19, and it helped for a while. But I didn't have insurance, so I reached a point I couldn't afford it, so I stopped. I tried counseling, again very expensive, and couldn't afford it. However during that time one psychiatrist made a suggestion to me - he gave me a list of "symptoms", and asked me if I felt any of those. When I reviewed the list, I felt that yes, I fit majority of them. It turned out, that list was the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder. This was back in 1999, so I'd never heard of it before. And I did spend a lot of years in complete denial of the idea that something was wrong with me in that way - I still had the mentality it was just ME. Fast forward to about 10 years ago, I moved across the country because I managed to get a job that actually paid well. I was engaged at the time (this was my late 20's), so we packed up and moved away. I started to feel better; maybe it was the new environment, a chance to start over. But the feelings, the thoughts, the darkness, it wasn't gone. It was there. It followed me. I started learning things about my future husband that were completely outrageous, and my complete desperation for someone to love me blinded me to the fact that everything he told me was a complete lie. I went through with the wedding, and we had a daughter shortly thereafter. His lies continued, and they got worse. I felt trapped, and that my only option was suicide. Then I met my current husband. He was the first friend I made when I moved, and he's been my biggest cheerleader ever since. He stood by me during my divorce when no one else did. I returned the favor when he went through his. He was always there, he helped me with my daughter, I helped him with his son. We created our own family unit; and we realized that we had something special, something more. I felt a love for him that I'd never felt before; the same love I felt for my daughter. But my mental state wasn't completely in check - the outbursts, the temper, the anger, sadness, depression, distrust - all of those plagued our relationship to where I thought he was going to leave me. But then he said something to me that no one else had ever said - he told me that I may be a bit crazy, but he loved me, and that didn't give him a right to give up on me. I'd never had anyone tell me that they won't give up on me. It was life changing. It was vindication. I was not alone. Furthermore, we learned that my daughter has high functioning autism, and she has difficulties expressing her emotions, her anger explodes in a way that was very familiar - I did the very same thing to those I loved. I purposely pushed so that when they would inevitably leave, it wouldn't hurt as bad (untrue; it still hurts. Bad.). But what I realized was in order to help her cope, I had to help myself. I had to be sound in mind in order to successfully guide her through this. She needed me to be healthy, so that I could help her. Today, I've accepted that I do suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. I am currently seeking treatment with a good psychiatrist. I am making very deliberate and conscious choices in how I handle my emotion, finding constructive ways to manage. My husband has been very supportive; he's stuck by me and holds me accountable, which I've learned how to be accountable for my own actions. In turn, it's helped me to be a better wife and mother to my children. By no means am I "cured", but I've found a medication combo that works, and I just take things one day at a time. I will turn 37 this year. And I can look back now and be thankful that 20 years ago I failed, because I now have two beautiful children and a loving husband to give my life purpose. I wish I had support back then. Granted, having gone through a divorce myself, and having children of my own, I can now say that my parents weren't at "fault" - they did the best they could with what they had. Mental illness was just not discussed or talked about back then, and sadly today the stigma still stands, but more people like me are starting to stand up and tell their stories. And yes, telling my story is scary - but I am thinking of the future, of my children, and how they need support; support I never got. However even though I didn't have the support I would have liked, it's taught me that as a parent, I do not ever want to close that door to my children. My daughter is going to have struggles. She is going to have doubts. She is going to feel different. I want her experience to be vastly different from mine, and I feel the difference starts at home. I plan to be that parent that my kids feel comfortable coming to with something like this - and in doing so, I can tell them that I've been there, I've been where they are, and it does get better. I never thought my life would turn out the way it has, and while I wish things would have changed I don't regret anything - it made me who I am today, and without it, I may not have my kids. If you are someone going through a darkness like this, I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not flawed. You are not broken (although you will feel like it). You have a condition that can be treated medically, just like any other health condition. Don't rule medication out - there is a true imbalance in your brain and medication can help fill the gap where biology failed. It might take a few tries, because you really don't know how it will work until you've tried it, and you have to give it time. They do not work overnight, they have to build up in your system. But if it helps you at least get out of bed, it's a start. Reach out to others - maybe it's not your parents, but maybe a friend, or teacher, or counselor. Reach out on Facebook - you would be AMAZED at the amount of support groups out there for people just like you; people who are suffering now, people who have survived, people who need answers, people who can give answers. Those terrible words that your brain will tell you, they will always try to come back, try to take over, tell you that you are nothing, you are worthless. And it will be hard at times to ignore it. But try. And keep trying. The more you practice replacing those thoughts, the easier it will get. But it takes time, patience, and practice. Every day will be a struggle; some days easier than others, but you can and will overcome it. When those words come from others because you are part of a different group or live a different lifestyle, don't listen. It's hard, and it will be. But hold your head up high and just. don't. listen. Focus on you - you are special. You are irreplaceable. People fear what they don't understand. Don't let it change your life. Let them live with ugliness in their hearts, because anyone who can make another human being feel so bad that suicide seems like the only way out has nothing but ugliness inside them. You however do not - you have a beauty that not everyone deserves to see. Don't let others tarnish your beauty. You don't know what the future holds. No one does. But don't cut your future short; don't deny your future spouse, your future children their husband/wife/mother/father. There are those who love you and value you - stick to those and don't worry about the rest. Everything I went through in my life I feel is worth it because of what I have now. Don't stay silent. And don't give up. We have the power to change the way mental illness is viewed. We just have to unlock it and use it, and that alone gives you purpose. But you will find that you have so much more value and purpose than just a soldier of justice; however having that one thing to strive for, no matter how small it may seem, can be enough to help pull you out. Speaking out and getting help takes courage - but you are already courageous, because you battle a demon that no one else can see every day. Trust me - I know. Bottom line: YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Anyone who tries to make you feel like you are do not have a place in your world. You are special, because you are alive. Don't give up. Don't give in. There is help, and there is hope. I didn't think so when I was young. I was wrong, and I am sure glad that I was.
My grandfather had Alzheimer's for as long as I could remember. Sometimes he was there and other times he was in 1973, it was always uncertain if he was lucid or not. It was A game of Russian Roulette and I guess I was the unlucky one who got shot. The summer I was 11 was a summer of firsts, my first period, my first boyfriend and it was also the summer where my life forever changed. We were visiting my grandparents for the Fourth of July so we stayed at their house. My brother and sister slept beside me on the living room floor while my parents slept in the guest room. My grandfathers room was right across the hall from the bathroom. I woke up around 2:30am and went to the restroom in a silent house. Everyone was sleeping- or so I thought. I opened the door and there he was, my grandfather telling me to go outside and to hurry. I didn't question him, I simply followed his orders. It was humid and I don't really remember what happened or how it happened, but he raped me that night. He covered my mouth and told me to never tell anyone and it'll be our little secret. I didn't scream or try to fight back, I just laid there, helplessly. That night has stuck with me for seven long years. I had nightmares over and over and over again. I went through a state of denial where I didn't believe it and where I blamed myself or his sickness for his actions. I didn't realize I was spiraling into a depression it'd take years to crawl out of. I didn't tell anyone until except for my best friend three years later. He has helped me through everything and I'm so thankful for him. After my denial phase I went through an angry phase, except I was angry at myself. I punished myself for what he did to me. I started to self-harm. I would find and use anything to cut myself with, on my thighs, my arms, my stomach. And when that wasn't enough I starved myself and made myself throw up anything I ate. This lasted for about three years. So that puts us to this year, senior year. I had finally overcome everything when this boy started to mess with me. He'd walk by me and say "nice titties" or "nice rack" and "big tits." He'd grab my sides from behind and if I ever bent over he was behind me. I felt like crap about myself and my body and when I finally got the courage to tell my principal he said "try not to put yourself in that situation" and "don't give him the wrong idea" as if saying no over and over isn't enough. The boy never got in trouble and it lead to feelings of worthlessness and sadness and brought back my depression. I started self harming and throwing up again. It took my best friend to pull me back. Although I still struggle with eating and throwing up, I haven't self harmed in 3 months. I'm also in therapy and am on medication. For all of you reading this, reading my story, I want you to know that you are worth it. You are not what someone says about you. You are not what your parents say in fits of rage. You are beautiful. You are wonderful. You are powerful and you are strong. God bless and keep fighting your fight.
One day I had woken up and my life had fallen into pieces. I was only 4 when I first saw my dad lay hands on my mother. Never once did my dad abuse me my mentally I was traumatized. Growing up it got worse because no one really knew what I was going through at home. At the age of 8 I got taken from my parents and was sent to live with a relative because my dad had overdosed and my mom was divorcing him. At the age of 12 my dad got sent to Utah for rehab and at this moment I lost it. I lost my dad but not only that I lost my mother to a crippling depression all I remember is her sleeping all hours of the day and always taking her anger out on me and my sister. Soon I became depressed and started self harming when I was just at the age 13. All my friends had their mom and dad and a house full of happiness and I had nothing but myself. Soon my mom would see my scars and tell me I just wanted attention which made me feel worse. Now I'm attending 8th grade and I'm now 15 and at this point I hadn't self harmed in a year. At this point I meet a boy who tells me I'm beautiful and I had never gotten attention from a boy before. This ended in my nudes getting passed around the school. I was scared and hurt and angry and sad all in one. A couple days passed and I'd get looks in the halls and I would get called a whore and a slut so I started to self harm again but this time not only my wrists but I'd also cut my hips and my thighs so no one could see. I tried committing suicide by taking sleeping aid and i slept for two days before I woke up. When I awoke my mom took me to a counselor and I only went about two times and then we stopped because we couldn't afford it so I kept a journal and started writing in there every time I had a bad thought come across. My two best friends got me through this period. Now I'm a senior and I survived high school but it isn't highschool with out being called ugly or fat or a slut. Now here's my senior year and I've come to grow to love myself and if it wasn't for my bestfriend who stuck by my side through this I wouldn't of survived
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