Most of my childhood was either spent outside of the house, not usually by choice or inside a counselors office. My mom thought I needed “help” ever since I can remember. Funny, she wanted me to get help from a counselor or a psychiatrist but I was never allowed to actually talk about my home life so she wouldn’t get in trouble with DSS (what DCF was called when I was growing up).
How can one get help when they cannot talk about the root of their problems?
I blamed myself for the sake of protecting my mother. “This is just how I am and how I’ve always been”. She always threatened if I talked too much or said things about our home life that me and my sister would get taken away from her.
I was diagnosed with ADHD when I was fairly young, maybe 5 or so. I wouldn’t stay still for anything and my mind moved faster than I could keep up with. As time progressed (still in counseling and seeing a psychiatrist) I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, a touch of obsessive compulsion disorder and Bipolar. These diagnosis’ were just big words to me that meant nothing. I listened to my mother and took my medication and that was that for now.
When I was 16 I came out to my mother about being a lesbian. She was not pleased at all, In fact, she didn’t talk to me for weeks and when she did it was only to tell me how disappointing and disgusting I am. This was the beginning of a very toxic relationship for us. She put me in christian conversion therapy and eventually when I had enough of the bullshit I quit it and also quit taking my medication.
You see, my mother and I always had a very distant relationship. She didn’t really hug me or tell me she loved me. She barely spent any time with me and there was always a void between us. She also had the same diagnoses as I did from her psychiatrist and her mother suffered from schizophrenia. Mental health issues ran right down the bloodline. I never met my father and my step father (my sister’s biological father) was a piece of shit alcoholic who beat on my mother, my sister and I. He pretty much did everything and anything to terrorize our lives when he was drinking unless he was in some manic great mood where he wanted to act like a decent human being. When sober he kept to himself and was grumpy most of the time. My mother lived in fear and her priority was always pleasing him first and unfortunately my sister and I took the back burner. More so myself. Our family was miserable eighty percent of the time. The other twenty percent took place on holidays where my sister and I were spoiled regardless of the fact that my “parents” didn’t have much money at all. Bittersweet memories.
I started cutting. Not often but every now and again. Eventually, I was hospitalized because I cut a little too deep one day and started panicking. My mother saw what I did and brought me to the hospital. My first experience in the psychiatric ward and I was pretty much a testing rat with all the different types of medication they had me trying. Some had me feeling like a zombie and others had me scratching the skin off of my legs. In there was where I had my first panic attack. Of course my mom was displeased with me for my actions and this only proved to her just how bad I needed help. Again, what could I say? Nothing. I took the blame. “This is just how I am”.
I got my first job at a fast food restaurant and that’s when I noticed just how bad my anxiety was. Busy store, long lines and having to learn so much in such a fast pace. Every day for about a year there was a borderline panic attack experience. Fast forward a little bit until I turned 18 and moved out the very next day after my birthday. Of course, like most teenagers I ended up moving back in with my mother because I didn’t realize just how hard it was living in the real world and affording everything.
Shortly after I went through a pretty bad break up with “my first love”. It was a long distance relationship and I had only met her once when she came to stay for a week from Colorado to meet my family. I was going to relocate to be with her and the day before I was about to buy my one way ticket I had found out she had been trying to get back with her ex and even contacting her while she had spent the week with me. I was heartbroken. This was someone who I put so much love, trust and effort into. Not to mention I was going to move across the country to be with her. I broke it off and slipped into a deep depression.
One day I was crying to the point of no return and came across a few bottles of prescription medication. I decided to take a handful of each with the motive of killing myself. A few minutes after I instantly regretted it. I called my mom and told her what I had did and she rushed home to find me in and out of consciousness. Again, I was hospitalized. This time I did a lot of thinking. I didn’t want to be on medication again. I wanted to own my life, completely. I wanted to be “okay” because I had a handle on my mental health. I didn’t like the idea of “help” because every little thing I did since I was young my mother would say how much I needed “help” like I just wasn’t okay on my own.
Fast forward a couple of months later and my mother and I got into a huge argument. She pinned me down on the couch and put all of her weight on top of me. She punched and slapped me a few times until I was able to push her off of me and kick her to get away. I ran into the bathroom but she ended up busting the door in. She opened my mouth and poured a shitload of black pepper down my throat. I started couching and spitting up blood. I spent hours crying on the bathroom floor and of course I ended up going back to my old ways of cutting again. A couple of days later we got into another argument. She slapped me across my face and I snapped. I completely beat her ass and unleashed every bit of anger and resentment I had for her. My sister called the police at my mother’s command and next thing you know I was sitting in a holding cell. I didn’t start it but I also didn’t have any marks but a scratch or two and my mother ended up having a black eye and busted lip along with some bumps on her head. Was I right? No. Was I fed up? Yes. Over the years I had taken all of the beatings from my stepdad and even some from my mother and had never retaliated. This was years of bottling things up and eventually I had no more room left in that bottle.
I ended up getting off clean after a few days in the holding cell but my mother had a restraining order on me. I was homeless. Thankfully, my best friend at the time convinced her mother to take me in. My best friend and I were rebels. We didn’t listen to anyone about anything. Drinking, drugs, sex, fights and whatever else happened we were down for. I fell in love with ecstasy. It made me feel so damn good and gave me confidence I never thought I could have. I questioned my sexuality a couple of times and had my mother’s opinion in the back of my mind the entire time. Maybe if I had sex with men I could “make myself straight” or at the very least satisfy my mother. Nope, didn’t work. Like I knew deep inside I loved women.
I had a few useless relationships, nothing worth writing home about. Slipping in and out of depression, having random panic attacks and a few temper tantrums here and there were the norm. When my mother took the restraining order off of me I moved back home and added to the holes I had put in the walls and doors of her apartment. I was pretty much a loose cannon at this point and no one could tell me I was doing anything wrong.
I met who ended up being my wife and we had a very turbulent relationship. When we were good we were great but when we were bad we were horrible. It ended up being abusive in every sense of the word and we were trying to mend something for years that just wasn’t fixable. We both came from broken homes, we both had bad tempers, we both were stubborn and wanted to be the dominant one. We just weren’t meant to be. We both deserved better. It didn’t help that I stepped out on our marriage shortly after our honeymoon. We both deserved a healthy, happy relationship and our marriage wasn’t either. Should we have gotten married? Probably not. Everything happens for a reason though and the years after our marriage taught me a lot.
After our separation I was tested quite a few times and failed every time. I had drunk episodes where I ended up being hospitalized for intoxication. I had times where I cut myself into stitches. I had times I had panic attacks where I hyperventilated uncontrollably. I had times where I threw tantrums and broke things.
Now, here I am. I have two things keeping me sane. My drive to be a better person, using outlets to release my emotions in healthy ways and my girlfriend who I refuse to put through hell. Am I perfect? Hell no. Can I be better? Hell yes. I have finally made the decision to actively get a handle on my mental health instead of just waiting to get better one day. Writing/typing is helping, I am seeking a psychiatrist and my girlfriend never ceases to amaze me with the amount of love, care, patience and understanding she gives me. I deserve a healthy relationship for a change and I plan on keeping mine. I will never blame my mother or anyone for that matter for my mental health issues but I know my childhood definitely played a part in it. I refuse to take the blame for everything else though outside of my own actions. I didn’t ask for these issues. I didn’t ask to be mentally unhealthy. No one ever does. All we can do is cope.
Nonetheless, there will be struggles and I have the strength to pull through. I’m a survivor and I will always have that mode on.