Memories of Mental Health Disorders
A story about my Mental Health Disorders
People who suffer with mental health “disorders” have been misunderstood and even feared by members of the public for far too long. I hope to be a spoke in the revolutionary wheel of change. As the quote in the picture says "Those who don’t understand your silence will never understand your words". Maybe if I try and explain my silence, my words will be easier to understand. This is my story and these are my experiences.
The manifestations of mental health “disorders” are innumerable. Trust me when I say they can be fiendishly elusive. After years of not knowing what was wrong with me I was finally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, bulimia nervosa, panic and anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder at a psychiatric assessment in January 2010. Notice how the word 'disorder' is attached to all but one of the diagnosis'. The connotations of this word are negative; they imply that the individual hasomething wrong with them on a fundamental level. I believe that the word 'disorder' is responsible for the misrepresentation of people who suffer with mental health problems and it is also the reason why the general public misunderstands what having a mental health disorder actually means. I do suffer with mental health disorders but I not wear them as a fashion accessory: it is anything but cool, trendy, or fashionable.
I believe the word 'bipolar' has become over used in today’s society and instead of denoting the extremities of the illness it has become synonymous with depression and sadly over the past 10 years it has become "fashionable".
A lot of people think they know what bipolar is but in actual fact, bipolar disorder can manifest itself in more ways than one. I don’t even fully understand it myself but after meetings with qualified psychiatrists, psychotherapists and psychoanalysts one thing is certain: I do have it.
Before I was clinically diagnosed I was prescribed innumerable concoctions of medication in an effort to balance my unstable state of mind. I was classed as a danger to myself. I was fourteen years old when I received my first prescription for anti-depressants. When I think about it, I do so with mixed emotions. Did I really need to be medicated at that age? Was it definitely depression that I was suffering with or was it just a bad case of teenage hormones wreaking havoc? Was I a product of my environment or a consequence of my traumatic childhood? Maybe I had simply inherited my mother’s genes. She was diagnosed with a multitude of mental health disorders ranging from schizophrenia to severe depression. She was also an alcoholic and had an addictive personality. The older I became the cause of my 'disorders' became irrelevant: there was no denying the fact that they were real. I had some serious underlying issues that I couldn't suppress anymore.
I started self-harming at the age of ten. It was the only way I could find a sense of relief from the pulsating feelings that shook every fibre of my being. As the skin broke under the edge of the scissors the intense anger and tumultuous rage that was pounding through my veins and beating like a drum seeped out of the incision that I had made. The feelings that were responsible for making me feel physically sick lost there vice-like grip over me. Who would have thought that one little cut would be so powerful? It provided me with relief and it successfully calmed me down. One little cut. That was all it took. Please understand that I did not cut myself with the intention of killing myself. Yes, I did have suicidal moments but no, slashing my wrists was not an option. When the anger and hatred and rage consumed me, I couldn't control myself. I was dangerous. I wanted to hurt people, I wanted them to feel how I felt. More than anything, I wanted to hurt those who had hurt me. I knew that I had to find a way to calm the storm inside of me - it was clouding my judgement and intoxicating me with hatred.
My way of coping with these suppressed emotions that suddenly surfaced as tornados and tsunamis was to cut my wrists and then my legs. I didn't want people to know that I was harming myself - it was my guilty pleasure. Besides, if people knew about it, they would only try and stop me. I definitely didn't want to do that.
I was drowning in a sea of nonsensical feelings, irrational thoughts and overwhelmingly powerful emotions and the more I tried to save myself, the more helpless I became. Tired, afraid and lonely, I surrendered myself to the idea that I was like my mother; another lost soul doomed to an eternity of silent, segregated, suffering. This didn’t stop me from trying to escape the ensuing blackness that enveloped me in isolation and imprisoned me in my own torturous mind. However, after years of running, I realised that I would never be able to outrun myself.
Ever since the age of nine or ten, I felt like I was being stalked by this deep, dark, blackness. I even wrote a poem about it which my young mind entitled ‘Black’. I wish I could read it now and reconnect with my younger self.
There was a time when I kept every single song and poem that I wrote but, at the age of fifteen, my abusive boyfriend burnt them all as I watched helplessly from the side-lines. It broke my heart: it has taken me over ten years to recover from that living nightmare. I had written a poem about what he made me feel like and what he would do to me; when he read it he got so angry that he burned all of my writing. He then beat me up and after he'd hit me and kicked me and spat on me he forced himself on me. I had no idea that what he was doing to me could be classed as rape, not until a counsellor pointed it out to me. When I look back on the events of that day, I still struggle to use the word 'rape' but it was: the element of force made it so. I never pressed charges against him. I was too scared so I let him abuse me. I wasn't allowed to wear nice clothes, I wasn't allowed outside. He told me how ugly, useless, and pathetic I was on a daily basis until I genuinely believed him. He destroyed my self-worth, my self-esteem, and my self-confidence. Eventually the girl's mind developed into that of a young woman's: it caught up with her body. She made a decision to leave but the events of that will make another great blog!
Writing has always been my one source of painless release. Paper became my best friend. It listened to me and it kept my secrets. It never betrayed me. In fact, it was I who betrayed it. I should never have left my poetry and songs unguarded around that cruel and twisted individual. It will always be one of my biggest mistakes. At the time, I was incredibly young and I stupidly thought that I was in love. I gave my trust to an untrustworthy person and he quite literally screwed it up and set it ablaze with hellfire. Up until that moment in time, writing had provided me with a safe place to express myself. It enabled me to try and make sense of the complex thoughts, feelings, memories, and experiences that ceaselessly tormented my mind. A part of me died in that fire too: the best part. It was the part of me that dared to dream, to hope, and to believe.