18 Years of Scars

When I was twenty, my parents got divorced, my father remarried, and I gained a sister and a brother.  Those were all good things (yes, even the divorce).  The big change happened in April of that year when dad, my brother, and I went to live in the (newly updated) house that my stepmother, Jill, lived in.  It definitely felt like a home.

A couple of months after living there, I noticed I wasn’t interested in things or motivated.  I withdrew into myself and kinda was just… there.  I brought all this up to my dad and Jill and they agreed they had noticed this.  Jill sent me to her primary doctor (since mine was so far away now), and when I left the office I left with a sample dose of Prozac and a prescription for when that was done.  Now, here’s the tricky part…  I had been diagnosed as Bipolar twice before I was prescribed Prozac.  I had even been on anti-psychotics before this.  I never told this to the doctor.

Thing is, the Prozac worked.  I felt happier.  I wasn’t as withdrawn.  I had motivation to do things that I previously would’ve ignored, etc.  I was even happy when my dad and Jill got married at the end of August, and got a little extra cash from a coworkers friend to help her understand MS office.  Nice, warm, fuzzy feelings.  They didn’t last.

Soon after their wedding at the end of August, I started feeling very hyper.  I stayed up all night and was still bright and chipper the next morning.  Then I became more manic.  My head felt a mess.  There were too many thoughts running through my head that I could barely function, and I started hearing things.  And feeling my brain itching.  That’s when I discovered the worst way to cope with these situations.  Self-harm.

I remember going to buy my first razors.  I didn’t pick up any first aid, which I learned I should have from the first cut.  I was so fixated on hurting myself to make the mess in my head go away that I didn’t think about my acting career.  I didn’t think about what if people found out.  I didn’t realize I couldn’t wear tank-tops anymore.  Luckily I only stayed on the upper arm.  And my legs.  Legs no one would see anyway.  The only person who knew was my sister… my newly acquired sister, who helped me more than I can thank her for.  And she was there the day I through all of my things out before I went back to college.  I swore I was done.  I wasn’t.

A few years later and a proper diagnoses with proper meds, I still found myself over-stimulated.  I had just graduated college.  It was 2004.  I had moved out of my parents house in October of that year.  And I started harming myself again for a few months… just on my legs.  I ended up telling my friend Andrea that time and she was there as I tried to stop.  Every time we’d see each other she’d usher me into the bathroom and make me show her my legs.  Eventually, I had stopped again.  No more.  Right.

In 2009, I had got tattoos on my upper arms.  One was really cool.  Bamboo.  The leaves being my scars.  But every once in awhile I would etch words into my skin with a razor.  They weren’t deep and they would leave minimal scaring, but I still did it.  Luckily from 2010-2012 I lived with some awesome guys who calmed me down enough to not hurt myself.  And from 2012-2017, I was so medicated that I didn’t even think about it.  But then there was last year…

Last year I noticed that the weight I had previously lost was starting to come back.  I cried all the time because I hated my body.  So I decided to do extreme restricting (that’s a whole other blog), and when I ate too much, I would hurt myself.  This time on my stomach.  And If I gained any weight I would put that many scars on my body.  I’m not sure how long this lasted, but, again, after finally telling someone, I tapered off and eventually stopped.

I still struggle to this day, though.  I can’t stand my body because when I quit smoking I gained a hell of a lot of weight.  I’m on medication that’s primary side effect is weight gain as well.  So I’m not in a good place right now.  But I’m trying, I really am.  This is the 18th year.  I haven’t yet this year.  But I didn’t put 17 years of scars as the subject line because I will always have these scars.  Always.  And it all started 18 years ago.

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The Letter

Years ago, when I was going through a fairly deep depression, a friend wrote me a letter.  It consisted of things that I would never have to go through and how much better off I had it than others.  It told me that I should appreciate what I had.  Now, I know this letter came with the best intentions because you could tell it was written with concern.  I never even got mad at this person about it, but I found myself replying to it with an apology because, well, it made me feel worse.

And that’s the thing, right?  Telling someone who is going through depression of any sort that they have it good and they shouldn’t be so depressed just makes the depression more all-consuming.  They feel like they’re letting people down with their sadness, and it pushes them down even deeper, and that’s what happened to me.

I was careful not to mention my sadness or loneliness around this person as much as I could.  Suppressing my depression, though, was excruciating and almost impossible for me.  I mean, it was “easy” to do it around co-workers, etc., but they weren’t a friend.  I counted myself quite lucky that I didn’t live with this person and that I had people I DID live with that I could legitimately talk to about it.  I also didn’t see this person as much as I could have, so I could breathe more often than not.  But those times I couldn’t breathe were horrible.

It was an unintentional side effect of the letter.  The person who wrote it actually suffered from a form of situational depression at times, so that’s why they didn’t understand being sad when a person is in a good situation.  They didn’t understand being sad for “no reason” or how all-consuming this type of depression could be.  I forgave them for writing it because of this.  Because they didn’t understand.  The thing is, most people DON’T understand.  I, personally, don’t understand the depression that comes with MDD.  I suffer from bipolar depression and that’s completely different, even if it’s just the knowledge that it might end… that I might feel better at some point… remembering the happy times.  But that means it feels like my happiness was ripped away from me, which is crippling.

In the end, this person never knew how their letter affected me.  I didn’t feel as though I could explain how and why I felt the way I did, so I “became happy” and waited until I was away from them to fall apart.  Now, I don’t see them all that much, if ever.  But that’s pretty much true of most of my friends.  I don’t have to hide if I’m depressed or manic (which is pretty impossible to hide) or hallucinating (another hard to hide thing), or having a panic attack.  In a way it’s a relief, but I do miss seeing people.  In the end, though, the only thing I’d like anyone to take away from this is to think carefully what you say to someone with a mental health condition… it could affect them in ways you never even know.

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When Your Physical Health Messes with Your Mental Health

SO… since I’ve last been on here, I’ve gone to my primary doctor and had some blood tests done.  Technically I have diabetes and my vitamin D level was so low that she was surprised I was standing.  So after getting on some medication for both of them, I’ve noticed that the “foggy brain” I was having and trying to treat with psychotropic meds was lifting… especially with taking a ridiculous amount of Vitamin D.  So I stopped taking my one med and I’m feeling much better.  It had been so long since I had gone to the regular doctor that I was assuming everything that was going on was mental.

This is a great danger to us with mental health disorders.  If we, like me, just assume every bad symptom we experience is because of our mental disorder we could be ignoring something very bad physically.  So from now on I’m going to be viligent not just with my mental health, but with my physical health as well.  I need to be able to rule out physical reasons before I go and treat something with new medication.

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That One Good Day

I had it yesterday… that elusive good day.  The one where I didn’t feel like I was going to collapse from exhaustion and needed to take a nap.  The one where my brain didn’t feel like it was racing around itself.  The one where I didn’t feel a cloud of dread above my head everywhere I went.  The one where I didn’t have to pretend everything was fine.

And damn it felt good.

You see, I live in a perpetual mixed state from day to day.  I’m often torn between depressed exhaustion and an almost violent race of thoughts.  I go to nap because all I want to do is get away from the world, but my mind won’t let me have a moment of peace.  This is when I resort to melatonin in the middle of the day and pain pills that are supposed to knock you out.  I’m lucky if it works.

And then there are the days when I’m in a constant rage.  Nothing will satiate it.  I will put my earphones in and flip out when people want to talk to me.  My thoughts race so violently… causing my brain to have whiplash.  I don’t want to be online.  I can’t journal.  I cant do anything but stew in my own hatred of myself and the world.

So it’s hard… waiting for those good days.

Oddly enough, today seems to be shaping up pretty well just like yesterday did.  Perhaps I’ll have the rare two day in a row glow of happiness.

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I Hate Therapy

I never want to go to therapy.  In fact, I think if I didn’t have to, I wouldn’t.  Now, it wasn’t always this way with me, but in the past couple of years it has been.  I go around every two months.  I have absolutely nothing to talk about.  TWO MONTHS and nothing to talk about.  Things happen, they get resolved, and I forget about them.  Nothing is ever pressing when I have an appointment (but wouldn’t it be nice if there was?), and I find myself rambling about random shit.

Now, like I said, it wasn’t always like this.  I used to go every week.  I used to need it to survive.  I was either depressed or manic or hearing things, or more than one (and sometimes all three… THAT was fun).  She gave me great coping techniques, etc.  Then I had to switch insurances because I made too much on disability to qualify for Medicaid anymore and also had to switch therapists.  Appointments went from being free to being $40 a pop and I stopped going as much.  My new therapist wasn’t as good and I started using the coping mechanisms that I had been taught.  Which brings us to today when I have NOTHING to talk about because I deal with everything on my own.  And I’m finally on the right meds.

Which brings me to this.  Why do I HAVE to go to therapy?  It’s mandatory that we go at least once every 2 months if we’re seeing the psychiatrist for meds.  Regardless if we need it or not.  My therapist is so available that I can make an appt and have it right away.  And I can just text her about it.  So, like, maybe make it so if we NEED to see him/her that that’s the only time we have to see them.  It’s annoying an expensive.

That said, I have an appointment next Wednesday.  Joy of joys.

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