The Day I Lost Me
This article deals with sensitive topics. Please be advised.
Trigger Warning! This article deals with my experience in November of self-harm and subsequent hospitalization. If you feel this may trigger unhealthy feelings please do not read.
It started with a glass of wine.
One turned into two then three and then four. Before I knew it the bottle was empty but my thirst to hurt myself, to punish myself for all the things I loathed had just begun.
I stood naked in front of my bathroom mirror, the window still steamed from the bath. With my lipstick I began to write. "Whore." "Stupid." "Ugly." "Unlovable." a flourish of cursive script on glass.
It wasn't enough though. Not nearly enough to satiate the need I had.
That was when I saw my exacto knife. That was when I began to cut my skin.
I started first on my arm. Drawing it down into a straight line, watching with fascination as a droplet turned into bubbles that turned into rivulets that fell into my sink.
Next my chest, cut left then right then left again, leaving a morbid tic tac toe board on my flesh.
Then I started on my face. Wanting to be as ugly on the outside as I was feeling within.
By the time I got to my right cheek, the part of me that is me, the part of me that gets up every day and tries to find hope, tries to find reasons to move forward and move on had fallen fast asleep.
My alter, a loathsome, hateful bitch was fully in control and she wasn't even close to finished.
Even though it was November in the Midwest, I found myself walking out of the house and down the street, knife in hand. I made it as far as the park, all the while on the phone with a friend who was helplessly listening to me fall completely apart.
Luckily, this friend did the right thing and called the police for my safety but it would be a bit before they found me and in that time I had made it into the woods where I continued to slice at my chest, my thighs, my hips.
At some point, on my way there, I had thrown my phone into a ditch and it was just me, my alter, and the exacto knife for a time.
As I stumbled back towards my house, a voice called out in the dark. "Rebecca," it said, soft and soothing, like a bird that had interrupted the blackness of my thoughts.
I made my way towards the voice and that is when a light shown brightly on my face and I must have been quite the sight.
I had blood coming through my shirt, my eyes I am certain were glassy and unfocused and there were holes in my clothes from where I had been blindly slicing at myself as I walked.
For my safety and I'm certain they thought their own, I was asked to lie down on the ground where they took away the knife.
The next thing I knew I was in a gurney and in 4 point restraints, my arms and legs immobilized.
I don't remember much about what they said to me during the ride, only that I felt like a wild animal, completely trapped and unable to escape. I remember my sheet being pulled back and my body being touched as they examined me for more injuries and how I felt completely vulnerable and afraid.
Once I was taken upstairs for evaluation, I started to come around, to come back into myself and become more aware of what had and was happening to me.
I kept saying over and over "I'm not suicidal, I don't want to kill myself." Based on the 150 different cuts on my body though, they were not willing to take a chance.
You see I have DID (Disassociative Identity Disorder), and Complex PTSD. Both of these conditions are ones developed over years of repeated traumas that left a lasting and damaging impact on me.
I didn't want to die. Not in the way most think.
I wanted to kill the part of me that had been hurt so many times. That part of me that felt ugly and unwanted and alone. I was trying to make my outside match the pain that I was feeling on the inside. Mistakenly thinking that if I wasn't "pretty," or "desired," I would stop getting hurt. That people would leave me alone.
I'm a sexual assault survivor and prior to this incident, something had happened that had triggered me into disassociating. It was awful and took me right back to that 15-year -old girl who watched herself from above as she was gang-raped.
I am sharing this publicly for a few reasons.
The first is that Mental Health is once again taking the national spotlight. With athletes and movie stars and singers all raising a more visible platform on the fact that they aren't "perfect," that they are like everyone else and subject to worry and fear.
The second is that whether you are suffering a major mental health crisis like I did on that night or simply finding it difficult to get through the day-to-day, each and every person on this planet is worthy of being treated with dignity and respect.
I know that my experience is extreme.
Most people will never deal with the types of trauma or reactions that I have over my lifetime.
Regardless though, I feel confident in saying to every single person who might read this that it is ok to ask for help. It is ok to seek treatment and it is ok, to be honest about the things you've been through in life.
It's been 8 months since that night and I am proud to say I haven't had another disassociative episode. Going to the hospital was not a "magic cure-all" but it was the push I needed to get on the medications and therapies that would help me move forward and be safe.
What happened to me in November was terrifying. I lost myself that night. In my everyday life, I am genuinely a happy person who has more hope than sadness, more excitement than fear.
If you spent time with me on a routine basis, you would never know about that terrified little girl that is trapped inside and that is the point that I making here.
98% of the time I am wonderful to be around. I'm a great partner, friend, family member and parent. There is very little about me that would make you worried to spend time with me.
But when I'm in crisis, when I'm hurting to the level I was that night, my trauma, my shame, my sadness becomes this beast with a sword and it is me it wants to fight.
It's not easy to share these things. It's not easy to put yourself out there knowing there may be those reading this and will automatically label me as only one thing.
I feel, though, that I have to share. I have to use my voice. There are so many other people in this world who have been through bad things too. So many are using alcohol or self-harm or drugs as a salve to numb their pain.
They are too afraid to speak up. Too afraid to ask for help for fear they will be judged or made fun of.
I have those same fears but I know that in order to heal, in order to find peace from the chaos, then I have to share and reassure others that they too will be ok.
There is nothing wrong with getting help.
I won't write this and lie to you and say that if you start therapy or get on medication or even stay in a hospital for a few days that you will somehow, suddenly become aok.
It's a lifelong process. You will have good days and bad days and ones that fall somewhere in between.
You will have moments when you feel on top of the world and moments where you feel the world is on top of you.
None of these things are bad though because it means that you are forming awareness. That you are recognizing things in yourself and are willing to start confronting your pain.
Today, I have a few scars as a reminder of that night. One on my arm and one on my thigh.
While there are those who may say "how shameful" or "how sad," I say how proud I am that I survived that horrible, terrible night.
How proud I am that I can sit here on a write this. How hopeful I am that my words might reach someone who needs to hear them and they will feel a little less alone.
You see, there is no shame in getting the help you need. Only in knowing you need it and pretending you don't.
I am far from healed. I know now it will be a lifelong process, one I will have to work at each and every day.
But I am closer today than I was the day before and for me, that is a reason to celebrate.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Don't be afraid to say "I need your strength."
You don't have to have a crisis like I did in order to get on the path to healing. All it takes is the desire to say "I want things to change."
Be brave. Be bold. Be Unashamed.
The way the people who hurt you win is by you quitting on yourself. By you allowing their actions to dictate then determine your own.
I will always have DID. It is a protective mechanism that a little girl developed as a way of protecting herself from the monsters of this world. With patience, therapy, support and empathy from those who love me though, it is just another part of my puzzle and is not at all the sum of my whole.