Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

When I feel autistic-like, exhibiting a lack of social skills, I become frustrated. Then I remember that there are a few obstacles I’m facing, namely being institutionalized for the better part of my young adulthood. Inappropriately, improperly institutionalized by parents who fail to recognize faults in themselves and find it easier (and it probably is) to put the exposed kid under constant supervision.

At the first place, I begged to leave upon my first phone call after 30 days of being there. Did I mention that this place actually did “allow” or rather force me to call my mother two weeks into being there, not to wish her a happy holidays or anything, rather to inform her that I had engaged in self-injury after 2 years of not doing such.

Did Anyone care to ask why I had performed the act? Nope.

My friend and I were talking and he was messing around on a fitness machine. He fell and cracked his head open and when I went to get help from staff, they began helping him medically all the wrong ways. I informed them what would be best to do in this situation and rather than listen, they shooed me away. If felt more than unimportant and an absolute waste of space and the sharp objects practically called my name.

Be it known that years later when I spoke with the admissions coordinator she told me she was really scared when she admitted me, knowing that there would be a break in treatment due to the holidays and I was extremely suicidal (just got out of what was supposed to be a 3-10 day hospitalization but turned into 17 days without any fresh or outdoors).
People are typically in the program for one year, maybe slightly more. Thanks to my formed dependence on the program, I remained there for 1 year and nine and a half months. That was the first one.

There were four subsequent placements and eight other hospitalization since that time. In total, I have been in mental health treatment (only counting residential and hospitalizations) nearly three years of the past seven years. Holy shishkabob, no wonder integration is a challenge

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When I was six years old, I went to the neurologist. It was a simple check up and ended neutrally-nothing better, nothing worse. For all intensive purposes, it was a good day, a reason to celebrate. It was also the day I had to grow up immediately.

Following my check-up, my mom, step-dad, brother, and some aunts, uncles, and grandparents from my mom’s side went out to lunch. It was a boring lunch and my brother and I were the only kids present. As such, we sat next to one another, giggling at my brother’s finger.

For some reason, unbeknownst to our six and eight year old brains, his finger had begun shaking really fast. We laughed throughout the meal. By the end of the meal, his finger did not cease shaking and it was at that point he declared, “I think I’m gonna go tell Mom now”. I shrugged my shoulders and continued on with my meal, while observing my brother walk over to our mom, show his finger and see my mom’s happy face go frozen, almost like “into war” mode.

She made a call somehow (this was before cellphones were common to carry though she may have had one since she’s been on top of that technological advance) to a doctor. Little did I know it was my doctor. All of thirty minutes later, back we were in my doctor’s office, and my brother was seeing the doctor with our mom while my step-dad took me for a walk around the neighborhood. I remember glancing up at the trees in that neighborhood, it was a beautiful autumn day. The sun was shining through the trees, and to me it looked somewhat like this:

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During this walk, I remember thinking to myself, “Today is the day I have to grow up.” I don’t know how I knew this, I certainly didn’t know what this would entail, and yet I distinctly remember knowing today was going to begin a new way for me. Already being robbed of a “complete” childhood (free from worry or despair), I knew childhood was now a thing of the past.

Coming back from our walk, I found out that my brother was to be admitted to the hospital that day. It took two years for them to figure out what disease he was afflicted with. Neurofibromatosis Type II was the catalyst in completely tearing my family away from me.

Every time I complained about having Cerebral Palsy and how kids would make fun of me or how I couldn’t make the Junior Olympics in gymnastics because I wasn’t flexible enough or my legs not strong enough to perform certain maneuvers, I was invalidated by my parents. My dad always yelled at me to pick up my feet (my loud shuffling embarrassed him). He insisted I didn’t have Cerebral Palsy (CP). Barbara always told me to not complain, look at my brother, he has it worse. Yeah I suppose spending the first two months of my life in a hospital where I almost certainly lost my twin to premature labor and birth and having three major reconstructive surgeries before the age of 7 just wasn’t severe enough in her eyes. After all, we’re talking about the woman who had breast cancer and made no big deal of it because my brother and I both had incurable conditions and she knew hers had a cure.

If only it were that simple, to think oneself well. I want to think my brain damage will go away from her negligence of not seeking immediate medical attention when she began bleeding 3 MONTHS before her baby(s) was due. Whenever I had any sort of negative thought about my affliction with CP, I was told, “You don’t have CP, you have Spastic Diplegia”. What? I shrugged this off and it wasn’t until the internet became a common place to look up information that I realized that Spastic Diplegia is a form of CP. Really, who knew? Certainly not me…

Throughout my childhood, I formed the belief that my brother’s disease didn’t impact me and that I should be grateful I don’t have hundreds of tumors growing at will throughout my central nervous system. Thinking about it now I realize how irrational this train of thought is and how often my emotions were invalidated, how often I was invalidated.

I’ve been seeing a Somatic Experience Practitioner for a few months now (thanks to internet, I continue to have video sessions with her while I’m studying abroad). In our initial session she explained how the body stores trauma if there is no way to release it. She expanded upon this concept, explaining that we can react in 4 ways to trauma. 4? The conversation went as follows, with her asking me to list the ones I knew of:

Me: Fight, flight, freeze.

Her: There’s a fourth, can you guess what that is?

Me (very quietly with a smirk): Party?

Her: Nope

Me (again quietly): Dance?

Her (smiling): Closer… it is an action of sorts.

Me: (shoulders shrugging) I don’t know.

Her: Inquire. Ask why someone is doing something. However, kids don’t have the capacity to do this, they…

Me (interrupting her): No, no I did. One time I asked ______ (evil ex-step-mother) why I was abused and why ____ (brother) wasn’t. Evil ex-step-mother said it was because, “he’s too sick”.

The abuse I’ve endured, the hatred, and utter anger that has been projected unto me is something I’m able to understand now. The trouble doesn’t lie in my rationalizing this though because I believe there is no justifiable reason(s) people willingly choose to hurt a little kid. Back to basics for now though, at least to understanding defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanisms are often employed when a person’s capacity to cope is beyond his or her tool belt. There is no screwdriver to fit into the square peg, so what does one do? He or she tries another tool and another, until the tool that works is found. Sometimes it may not be the optimal tool, yet often at this point a person is overwhelmed and tired because finding the right tool is a difficult task. So, one takes what they have.

I think this analogy applies to the family dynamic I grew up in. Distancing myself from my family throughout the years, first physically, then emotionally, then pretty much all together, I have been provided with the chance to look inward and at the family dynamics, particularly while studying abroad.

The day before departing, I found out that my brother was to have surgery to remove a tumor from his brain stem in no more than four weeks from that date. There wasn’t much I could say or do as the only communication he and I have is the occasional text or e-mail. He’s essentially deaf and anything I relay to him immediately will be told to our mother who I have had no contact with in over 1.5 years after a messy ending. My brother and I are not close, and he sees me as crazy and not part of the family. I understand where he gets these thoughts from, though I must say I don’t agree with him. I simply responded to my environment the best I knew how to and my environment was not the model of Utopia, especially when it came to facing stress and dealing with emotions.

I recall at the point of my brother’s first hospital admission that Barbara lost a lot of weight and mentioned something about not being able to eat. Hmmm, wonder where the eating disorder evolved from (that’s a story for another time though, particularly because this is merely one of many factors that contributed to my animosity towards food).

You’d think it was clear that NF2 affected my life. My college application essay was entitled “My Brother’s Finger”. Barbara reviewed the essay as did some of my teachers. If I were asked even at that point if it affected me, I’d deny it, because denial and avoidance of emotions is what I’d become majestically acquainted with.

Fast-forward to present day and my first few weeks studying abroad. I wanted to prepare myself and have support if the outcome of my brother’s surgery was up in the air. During the time before and after his surgery, I somewhat relived my childhood and I began to unravel the intricacies of my past, one reminder at a time.

Prior to the surgery, I told my brother I couldn’t make it, wished him well and loved him. In an angry text to our dad, he wrote:

“I don’t know what you said to Laura, but she’s not coming to visit me. These games you play with your mentally ill daughter to get back at mom, have backfired and now have really hurt me, as well.”

I asked our dad to not mention anything about me being abroad, as it is my life, and they are not involved in my life and them knowing wouldn’t affect the situation in any way. He told me he wouldn’t tell and broke his word. He did leak that I was abroad and even then, it wasn’t believed by everyone. My cousin who I don’t often speak with messaged me on Facebook:

Yeah we heard your randomly in Denmark

 Pretty shitty timing to be going there knowing your brother was having a major surgery
 
And from the female person I am progeny of:
I don't know if you really are in Denmark 

Please remember if I have hurt you in the past it was NEVER intentional
And this lack of communication you are choosing hurts me to the core of my being

 

It’s like my childhood friend said, it’s like deciding between manslaughter and unintentional murder, end result is that someone’s still dead, intentional or not. I’m still hurt. From the male I am progeny of:

“I can’t make the two of u work anything out. U r being to cryptic and secretive to pass it off as just not lying. U r putting me in the middle of the crap your mother started which is not fair to me… U can be a bit more empathetic to ____ (brother) considering what he is going through…

And something I can’t post on here as it was on the phone was Ken screaming at me for how selfish I am after I told him “I wish you would have told me that you were going to tell him that I’m here before you did; it’s your opinion that it was going to make things better, and you didn’t respect my wishes.”

It’s things like this that I realize that all they all know how to do is blame me, use me as the sponge to absorb the mess that they’ve created. Yeah, we got dealt a pretty challenging hand of cards. Many people have shitty cards, and many people still manage to have happy families. There is no need for them to bash me and yell at me and torture me because they can’t deal with their own shit.

Yet, I constantly turn the negativity onto myself in the form of some negative behavior, and sometimes to other, never daring to hurt another lost child’s soul. I do believe I can and will heal, without my family. All I need is love, a healing touch, and a compassionate heart. Hopefully I learn to provide myself with that sooner than later. The darkness is seeping in again.

 

Morgan, I so badly want to talk to you right now. I want to continue where we left off on existential questions. There was another plan for you and I surely hope we meet again one day. I’m glad to have met someone like you, a completely platonic relationship, just us the Idea Exchangers. We had the most amazing existential conversations. We understood each other, picked apart illogical thinking, sometimes letting illogical thinking flow. We got each other. I miss you Morgan.
I keep trying to find someone like you. Sometimes I can’t even look at any male with your skin tone, for fear they’ll remind me of you. Being reminded of you is bittersweet. Bitter because all I have are memories, sweet because they are awesome memories. I wouldn’t trade them.
Recently I divulged some of my past, the extreme parts to a peer, one who I thought I was friends with. This is such drama Morgan. I told her some of my biggest secrets, she hugged me said she was sorry I had to go through all that. I texted her twice over the the past week without response. Nothing urgent, nothing needy, just wanted to hang out, watch movies. Morgan, remember when we’d stay up late watching movies? Remember. How. You. Always. Wanted. To. Watch. A Beautiful Mind? Ironic that you died from overdosing and leave it up to my guessing that your drug use had a lot to do with self medication for the same disease that actor had. And that I found up you died eight days before I was about to post something to your wall. You didn’t tell me, you couldn’t and a social networking site is what notifies me of your passing.
I’m taking a Health Psychology class. Last week, the professor substituting for our class spoke in detail about eating disorders. being one of my recently divulged secrets, my friend kept glancing at me, and giving me they pity look. In class yesterday, I walked in and saw my “friend”. She looked odd. I asked her if she was ok. She said, “yeah that’s the second time you’ve asked me that”. Well first of all, friends check up on one another. Second, my reply: “I texted you twice.” She said she didn’t get them. A plausible and hard to believe response from someone attached to her phone.
This too was all before the major fallout. The fallout probably wouldn’t be such an extreme thing, not if you were here Morgan because I’d have more support. That’s just it though, since you died, I find it really difficult to make friends, especially close ones. I’m afraid they’ll die before their time is up. I can’t bear any more losses at this time. B is doing just that, killing herself, potentially quickly. She knows it, she knows it’s gotten to the point with feeding tube attached to her stomach, where she weighed the equivalent of a fourth grader and while three times their age. She was the one who gave me hope and now I have to try to somehow give her hope and put my jealously aside. I don’t think I’m strong enough. I’m glad I went to the support group last night because she went… And B stayed… The whole time which was more than she predicted. It was good for her, at least in that moment. I wonder how she’s doing now. I want to ask, I want so badly to reconnect with her, and yet I don’t. Because I’m afraid and jealous and those two entities don’t usually mix well together in constructing a friendship.
I guess there aren’t many people like you after all Morgan. People who are ridiculously, shamelessly non- judgmental. I wish there were more people like you buddy. Most of all, I wish you were here.

As noted from my blog title, “I wish I was lying”, sometimes I really wish the stuff that occurs in my life was merely scripted.

Top ten events in the last 10 months of my life:

10. Getting a diagnosis of a tic disorder after realizing it wasn’t a seizure disorder, and rather, was acquired by mold toxicity.

9. Deciding to go to college where  I know an alum. Applying to this one college (this time around) and getting in with a substantial scholarship. Years ago, I applied to 14, got into 13 and wait-listed at the remaining one. Rewind the second time around, 3 colleges, got into all 3. Still concerned figuring out a way to pay the remaining amount of tuition/fees.

8. Having continued conversation with a doctor who believes in me and my abilities more than anyone else in my life.

7. Being “temporarily laid off on Labor Day (in FL), moving to CT for a job, only to quit two weeks later (they wanted me to do something that was outside of my scope of practice as an EMT), moving to NJ for two weeks, then CA. 4 moves in 4 weeks! Re-hired to Dom. Rep. three months later.

6. Working in the Dominican Republic with amazing people  and scenery for one month. Every day, I’d walk two minutes to work (lived at work), getting to be meters from an amazing view. The service I worked looked out onto Caribbean Sea/Atlantic Ocean. My favorite activity was kayaking with the kids on the water.

5. Leaving the Dominican Republic after developing sensitivity to mold, and respiratory difficulties

4. Leaving NJ after the DR, thinking that it was a long-term move to CA, not permanent. Having unnamed persons (relatives) flip out to the point of getting the cops involved.

3. Being homeless and living with a “good” (formerly) friend and her two kids in a motel room, watching nonsense occur. Deciding to call social services to try to help the kids. Receiving threats from her after the fact, again involving the cops in this matter.

2. Moving in with another friend and her family, sharing a bed with her sleeping opposite directions, thinking it wouldn’t be as long as it was. This person has an amazing family.

1. Moving (for a job) from CA to NC for what I expected to be the duration of the summer. Seriously, who would trade NC for CA? I however, sucked it up, knowing it was going to be for the summer only. Four weeks into the job, after a very minor incident (no one hurt), was told I’d be getting a write-up. Instead, on the day of the write-up, I was laid-off, without reason, less than two weeks ago.

I always knew that addiction ran in my family. That’s why I never tried drugs; figured I’d be hooked the moment I started.

Mental illness also lies thick in the blood, many people under or un-diagnosed.

I’m the “identified patient” here. The easiest way to term an “identified patient” is say that he or she is the sick one while everyone else is honky-dory.

I’ve had my fair share of diagnoses: Bipolar, Type 2 and 3 (very different), Borderline Personality Disorder, Situational Depression, Aspergers, Major Depressive Disorder, AD(H)D, Tourettes, Eating Disorder NOS, Pseudo-seizures, Exploding Head Syndrome (I swear it exists… it’s just REALLY RARE-look it up!)…  the list goes on and on. I practically use every page of the DSM-IV revised edition, soon to come out with the brand spanking new DSM-V-way easier to type!

I didn’t touch drugs and I barely touched alcohol after one of my professors says it kills brain cells, 10% to be precise, and hey it could be the good 10% I need to have an awesome, fulfilling life, right?

I gave up those chances two nights ago. I want to escape my reality. I’ve self-injured (cutting, burning, tricotillomania (hair-pulling), dermatillomania (skin-picking), lashing. You name it, I’ve most likely done it, and if I haven’t, I’m probably willing to give it a try. It’s not working anymore.

Drugs… I can’t control, I don’t actually know what goes in those, so no siree, not my cup of tea, thank you, moving on-next please. I wanted to save my brain (or what little is left of it after my brain-damaged premature birth).

Alcohol is rather easy to access, and for me, right now, it’s free. I started drinking last night; the self-injury wasn’t cutting it (no pun intended, swear) and I needed a new thing. My friend had a bad day, and we were supposed to go out together for a drink. Didn’t happen due to unforeseen circumstances.

Didn’t stop me though; I thoroughly enjoyed getting extremely happy with none of those “depressant” side effects alcohol usually causes in people. Disclaimer: My brain is special and unique as is yours-this may not be the case for you-This is my life, this is not about suggestions for yours (at least at this moment).

I’m slightly afraid of becoming that closet alcoholic and messing up my life even more so than before and yet, I feel happy when drinking and I like it.