- Friends & Family
- Mental Health
- Other Addictions
I begin my childhood adventures in psychiatric hospitals and facilities when I was only eight years old. I’ve spent more of my life inside treatment facilities, foster care, or specialized care facilities than as a free and regular individual. I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder with severe depression.
Self-harm was a routine norm for me, beginning at age eight. I lost my super hero, my Daddy, when I was nine years old. When I was young, it began with social anxiety and severe PTSD with night terrors.
He blew his heart up at the age of 29 due to drug use and complete lack of self-care. We were like twins—we shared every gesture or little personality trait– it was so uncanny.
Later, I was sexually abused by my stepfather with my biological mother’s knowledge and refusal to stop it. After two years of abuse, I ran away at age 14. We were in Arizona and the weather was scorching hot. I ran away barefooted, on roads and concrete that burned my feet to the bones. After I ran, I was taken into police custody where my mother was allowed to come and talk to me. She told me if I recanted my story against her boyfriend, she’d take me home and finally be my mom like I wanted my whole life. So, I did recant.
Despite that, minutes later, she surrendered all parental rights to me and I became a ward of the state of Arizona. I went from respite home to care center to state facility until I just ran away. I kept running and hitchhiked rides and traveled in unknown trailers until I made it back to Texas to my grandmother.
My grandmother tried her best to get me the help I needed, but due to the traumas that had occurred, I was placed into long-term residential treatment facilities because of my constant suicide attempts and eventual drug and alcohol use and promiscuous activities. I was always cutting and burning myself, trying to harm myself however I could because I had no control I had no other release. It felt like I never fit inside myself and I just needed to make room enough so I could gulp in another breath of air to keep going.
I dropped out of high school, got my GED, and attended junior college a little. I always earned the presidential scholar award for my impeccable grades but I was not properly medicated. Remaining unemployed always seemed to keep me just out of reach from any medical assistance, so I tried to be as normal as I could and just stay out of sight and out of mind. When I would get to my lowest points, my suicide attempts would be foiled by an uninvited visitor or person who would find me and contact the police.
Now, I have two beautiful children who I credit with some of the bigger changes in my life. I refused to be the self-absorbed, unattached, or uninvolved person I saw in my biological mother. I refuse to hurt my children or let them see me in mental health crisis, so I voluntarily let their father’s sister have custody of them. Their aunt has been adamant about letting me stay involved as much as possible as long as I was not hurting myself or in a situation where my babies could get hurt.
I started using my intelligence to read everything I could from manuals to books about my different diagnoses. I researched different treatment options such as DBT therapy, CBT therapy, light therapy, art journaling, writing, one-on-one therapy, and group therapy. I looked into any workbooks I could find or autobiographies I could get my hands on and I read and took notes.
I began to realize that my diagnoses were not my sentence to carry out, like a prison sentence with no other way. I begin to feel hope and realize that diagnoses were only references as of where I could start putting my efforts. I had the power to dissect and rebuild to achieve whatever dreams and goals I had and that idea was powerful to me. I wasn’t helpless or hopeless anymore– I became my own hero. I just had to remind myself daily, even multiple times daily.
Suddenly, I could recognize rough days for what they were, and I began to stop viewing them as ending points or roadblocks. I began to use every free resource I could find to help educate myself and those around me who were in the dark like me. I found my passion: helping all people– big or small, popular unpopular, rich, poor, happy, or sad. Helping other people gave me more and more life. It seemed to help me get rooted and finally, at age 31, I began to hold employment and have my own residence and I was able to keep it even. Now I am resigning a lease for the sixth year I am planning my next visit out of state to spend with my kids for their 16th and 14th birthdays.
These days, I refuse to lay down and give power to all those who had spoken hopelessness or pity or pain into my life. I see that my kids needed me, their mom, to fight back and to be a mother they needed to see. I needed to be a person who did not let stigma handicap me, so I got back up and started very timidly stepping into the light.
I got help through reading books, asking questions, talking to anybody who would listen to me, keeping binders of all the resources I came across, calling 1-800 numbers when I was in crisis, and going to NAMI meetings when I could walk to them or catch rides to them.
It also helped me to speak in front of crowds when asked by my NAMI leaders to share my story. I hope that perhaps someone out there needed to hear something I had to say and that it helped.
I have learned the following:
- Diagnoses are not life sentences they don’t determine your life’s path route. YOU DETERMINE YOUR PATH.
- Diagnoses can be either placed into an “asset classification” and used as such, or you can chose to let them be liabilities and hinder the amazingness that you were born with.
- The bad things that happened to me don’t make me a bad person. They were bad incidents and harms that happened and I have used them to help others in similar situations instead of allowing the predatory attacks or harm be the boss of me
- I am worth the love and help I choose to share with others. I am loveable and I am beautiful. I don’t deserve to harm others, nor do I deserve all of the self-harm I inflicted upon myself. No scar on me makes me less than if anything. They serve to remind me of just how far I’ve made it and help me reground when I am in rough waters.
My life today is set in a strict routine. I have found I do better with structure; when I work a regular job. It greatly helps me to work thirty hours a week and attend daily 12 step recovery meetings. On Tuesdays, I attend NAMI peer support groups to address my mental health diagnoses.
I take active role in my psychiatric plan and I am compliant with my medications. Now, when I get the idea to stop meds or change things, I contact someone and go in and speak face to face with my doctor. I leave the big ideas and plans that deal with meds and therapy to be a joint decision for my treatment team and safe people.
I ask for help if I begin to struggle more than usual, and I journal physical and noticeable signs and symptoms daily so I can be on alert if I start to regress or need to have my meds reevaluated. I found my voice and I use it to the fullest because no one can read minds. (I can’t even read my own most of the time!)
Please don’t ever give up. Don’t let temporary pain or painful experiences or guilt or shame or the past be the reason you decide life is not worth living. Reach out and tell somebody that you need help. Somebody will listen and help until you can help yourself. Please don’t give up on this life, because it is so big that it’s unfathomable to some. It is a good idea to let others help you and help yourself get educated. Don’t limit your growth with refusal to learn and grow through the storms.