I Am Who I Am

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Three of Me

I am not even sure that I know who I am, so how could you?

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Lizzie #1: I have heard that I have lived a pretty interesting life thus far. Some say that I am a slut who can’t manage to keep her clothes on, while others insist that I am a tease and a prude. The detailed stories I have heard astound me – mostly because I do not understand how someone has that amount of time to create such an elaborate story. About me on top of it all – I wouldn’t even take the time to make up a story to make my life sound more interesting. From bar fights, to destruction of property, to bribing a man to go out with me, and even to the extent that I was arrested at one point (though the reason behind the arrest was never revealed…). I would love to meet this Lizzie so I could listen to these dramatic stories about my wild and exciting life that I have lived.

Lizzie #2: And then there is this other life I have heard about. The life that includes excessive amounts of laying around doing absolutely nothing. I am worthless. I am lazy. I do not try – at anything. No values, morals, no motivation, no future plans. In fact, sitting around abusing drugs, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, and doing all that I can to gain as much attention as possible is not only my goal, but my specialty as well. In short, I am falling full speed down to the pits of destruction.  People view me as a ticking bomb; they never know what this crazy woman might do, or when I may completely lose my mind. Of course, no one wants to miss that epic show, so there is a full crowd of spectators waiting to catch a glimpse of the action. Personally, I would not jump at the opportunity to join the group of nosy people watching this Lizzie slowly deteriorate. I would instead like to talk to her and see if there is any way that I could help.

So who am I? Am I the wild, crazy party animal who never quits? Or am I the lethargic woman with no future? In case you didn’t guess it, the answer is neither. I won’t lie to you and say that I was born the perfect child who grew into an innocent, well-behaved teenager who blossomed into a mature, responsible adult. I am far from perfect, but I am giving all that I have to make the best of the life I was given.  I’ve made plenty of mistakes, and I will reflect on some of the ones that have affected me the most and made me into who I am today. So again, who am I? I am me. Love me or hate me; I’m the one and only me.

Accept me as I am, and I will do the same. Let’s explore the bushes that everyone likes to beat around. Let’s face life and everything it throws at us head on. Let’s do this together. We must believe that we can make a difference. We can make the uncomfortable comfortable. We can make stigmas disappear. We can change the world.

In the words of Heidi Wills, “We can choose to be affected by the world, or we can choose to affect the world.”

Nothing is impossible with a little bit of faith, hope, love, kindness, and determination.

I Can’t

“Can’t” is a funny word.
It means you CANnot do something.
Definition? “Not have the ability, power, or skill to.”
But have you ever said you “can’t” do the dishes?
Or you “can’t” run any farther?
Or you “can’t” clean right now?
The word is used so carelessly that it loses its’ power.
People take you less seriously when you said you “can’t” do something.
They assume you mean you don’t want to.
You have the ability, but you chose not to utilize the power.
But there are times when I really can’t.
I just can’t do life.
I literally just can’t.
When I say I can’t get out of bed, I mean it.
When I say I can’t get myself to shower, I mean it.
When I say I can’t remember to take my medicine, I mean.
When I say I can’t help my random meltdowns and episodes, I mean it.
But people don’t take me seriously.
They assume my depression and anxiety is an excuse.
That I am able to do these things, but simply choose not to.
I wish they could understand that wasn’t the case.
That I wish more than anything that I could do these things, but I can’t.
Some days, I just cant.

Random Thought One : Cure for Cancer

I have no plan.
I have no topic on which I will focus on.
I have no idea what I am about to write.
I simply feel as though I have a lot to say.
Not to anyone in particular.
Not to anyone at all really.
I guess you could say I have a lot of thoughts.
Thoughts that I need to get out.
I need to get them out before they consume me.
As they continue to do at this present time.
These things eat at my heart and soul
These things burn my skull with every breath I take.
These things that just don’t make sense.
Things that just don’t seem right.
Things that just aren’t fair.
So I am going to let my conscience pick one at a time.
One thought, one blog.
Let’s go.

For instance, cancer.
Cancer in its’ self isn’t right or fair.
But that’s not my point.
My point goes much deeper than horrors seen at the surface.
I am a believer that there is a cure.
A cure has been found.
Maybe even decades ago.
But the government would never allow the cure to be released.
They depend on naïve citizens.
They can’t afford to lose all that money.
The money that comes in for research.
The money that comes in for treatments.
The money that comes in as donations.
Peoples’ lives aren’t worth giving up those funds.
So people continue to suffer.
Children lose parents.
Mothers lose daughters.
Husbands lose wives.
They say money can’t buy happiness.
That statement couldn’t be more true in this situation.
In this case, money brings nothing but heartaches.
Heartaches that could be avoided.
But money always wins.
And heads are turned away.
Because there is nothing we can do.
No matter what lies we are told.
We just aren’t that important.

Gold Medal

I’ve never won a gold medal. 
I imagine it would feel great. 
But that solid gold must not feel like lei. 
Rather it would tug down on you. 
Like the numerous emotions pulling at my heart. 
I can physically feel the weight. 
Lonely. Depressed. Angry. Joyful. Offended. 
A twister of feelings battling for center stage.
A fight to the death. 
I cannot admit who I want to be victorious. 
But this war will not be over soon. 
The collateral damage will be upsetting. 
No amount of negotiation would cease this argument. 
I am forced to sit here. 
Sit here and try to ignore the chains around my neck. 
I long for someone to come and set me free. 
End this long-term nightmare. 
Take it all away. 
Impossible thinking is pointless. 
I don’t see the hurt ending soon. 
All I wanted was a gold medal. 
Instead I was given chains of painful thoughts. 
Thoughts that will haunt me. 
A sleepless night ahead. 
I wish I could say I will fight back. 
I wish I could say I won’t give up. 
But the future of my night is leaking eyes. 
Tears and a heavy heart. 
And if sleep shall come over me. 
Only traumatic dreams await. 
May peace find my soul. 
And I urge you to take my advice. 
Never lust over a gold medal. 
Even the most appealing things in life do not guarantee happiness.

Chapter 2: Checking In

The next few days were a blur.
Her friends, family, and roommates were worried about her.
She had decided to stay with her mother for a while.
She lived in her bed.
If a shower occurred, it was a huge accomplishment for the day.
Nothing mattered to her anymore.
Nothing would ever be the same.
Her mother was trying.
Trying to put all the pieces together.
Her mother went out of her way to try to make her happy.
But it didn’t work.
Nothing worked.
You can’t convince someone to want to live.

Her doctor didn’t seem to understand.
Months had gone by, and she still wasn’t improving.
He thought she wasn’t trying.
He didn’t realize she didn’t have anything left to give.
He stated that she wasn’t safe.
She was a danger to herself.
He suggested inpatient care.
He insisted that this type of care would help her.
Her heart broke when her mother agreed with his suggestion.
Reluctantly, she surrendered.

She felt like she was going to throw up.
Her head was spinning again.
She couldn’t breathe.
Her chest tightened as the hyperventilation began.
She hated that she didn’t have control over her own body.
She tried to concentrate on breathing.
Unfortunately, concentration was never a specialty of her ADHD brain.
The car ride seemed to last a lifetime.
Her anxiety attack finally ceased.
It ended right as they pulled into her new temporary home.
What a cruel irony.

More questions.
“Do you want to hurt yourself?”
(Yes…) “No.”
“Are you having any suicidal thoughts?”
(Yes…) “No.”
“Do you feel as if you are a danger to yourself?”
(I don’t know anymore…) “No.”
Tears continues to fall as she answered question after question.
Her mother, father, and sister-in-law were there with her.
They were doing all they could to support her.
They reassured her that this was the right thing to do.
This is where she would receive the help she needed.
They said this was all for the best.
She wanted to believe them.
But she couldn’t ignore the unsettling feeling in her stomach.
If this was the right thing, shouldn’t she feel different?
She wouldn’t feel so guilty.
She wouldn’t feel so sick.
She wouldn’t feel so alone.
Fifteen minutes of evaluation.
And just like that, she was officially checked into Pine Rest.

She could barely find the strength to say goodbye.
Her paralyzed arms were unable to return the loving hugs.
She couldn’t speak.
She longed to say something.
Anything.
An apology.
A thank you.
An I love you.
But her voice remained silent.
She choked back any further tears and she watched them leave.
A nurse broke her trance and led her to the unit.
This unit that was supposed to “fix” her.
It promised a new way of thinking.
A new way of coping.
A new way of life.

She signed paper after paper.
She assumed she was just signing all her rights away.
Her room was introduced to her like it was a master suite at a fancy hotel.
Optimistically, she figured the room was ten square feet.
No drawers.
No shelves.
A desk, but no chair.
A small, thin curtain hung in place of a bathroom door.
The twin mattress was three inches thick at best.
The pathetic block of wood beneath it was nailed into the floor.
A sheet and a small blanket were neatly folded at the foot of her bed.
There was a small window above the desk.
Unfortunately, it was bolted shut.
It was even decorated with bars on the outside.
The nurse left her to get “settled in.”
She sat down on her bed, taking in her surroundings.
For the first time in months, she allowed herself to weep.
And she did not hold back.

She didn’t belong here.
She wanted to go home.
Instantly, she began to beat herself up for not trying harder.
It was her own fault she ended up here.
But she felt like a splash of gray paint on a white wall.
She couldn’t be like the rest of the people here.
She had seen the type of patients that stay in these hospitals on television.
They were all crazy.
They had all lost their mind.
They talked to dead people and heard voices, right?
She was just depressed.
A depressed zombie.
She knew she needed help, but this seemed so extreme.
She hadn’t completely lost it, had she?

“I have two staff members going through your belongings.
No clothes with any sort of string are allowed.
They will let you know what items you will be able to keep.
No cell phone, jewelry, belts, hats, mirrors, pencils, etc.
You may do your laundry during your free time.
Please ask a staff member to unlock the laundry room for you.
The nurses will dispense bathroom items as needed.
They are not to remain in your room.
If you would like to shave, a nurse will have to watch you do so.
No food in your room.
We have two fifteen-minute fresh air breaks a day.
This is the only time you will be allowed to go outside.
We have a gated area off the cafeteria.
There are groups daily.
You are expected to attend these groups.
There is a weekly schedule in this folder you’ll be receiving.
Physical touching of any kind is prohibited.
A staff member is required to check on at least every fifteen minutes.
You will be assigned a case worker and a doctor.
Both of which you will be meeting with in the morning.
Food is served in the cafeteria.
You simply grab a tray and get in line.
The server will ask your name and birth date.
After you provide this information, you will receive the meal prepared.
We have our main quarters and a quiet lounge down the hall.
You are welcome to utilize these rooms during your free time.
Do you have any questions?”

She stared blankly at the nurse.
She had no idea there were so many rules.
Was she accidentally put in prison?
“Do you have any questions?” the nurse repeated.
She shook her head, but blurted, “When can I go home?”
The nurse smile politely.
“That is something you will have to talk to your doctor about.”
Her stomach sunk.
What did that mean?
A few days?
Weeks?
She wouldn’t be stuck here for a whole month, would she?
She felt her chest tighten as her breathing rate increased.
She strolled past the nurse and found her room.
She slammed the door and threw herself on the bed.
Her tears began to soak her pillowcase.

She couldn’t hide forever.
The way to get out of this awful place was to play along.
Follow the rules.
Tell them what they want to hear.
She could do this.
She ventured into the main lounge area.
The first patient she passed stopped her.
She sat down on the couch across from this fellow patient called Katy.
Within a few minutes, she heard Katy’s full story.
Married with kids.
She had cheated on her husband, but didn’t tell him.
Katy continued with the details of her attempted suicide.
That’s how she wound up here.
Katy had been there for three days.

“So, what are you in for?”
A blonde-haired man and an older gentleman sat down.
Aaron and Ernest wanted to hear my story too.
This seemed like a common first question to ask the newbies.
What kind of problems could a twenty-one-year-old have?
What could be so bad that she ended up here, weeks before Christmas?
She looked up to see a fourth pair of eyes staring at her as well.
This man with eyes as dark as his hair was called Fish.
She felt their stares burning at her skin.
She didn’t want to answer.
She wasn’t here to make new friends.
She was just going to play the game and get the hell out of this place.
So, she gave the simplest answer she could.
“Overdose.”
She looked down at her fidgeting hands.
Aaron stated he had done the same thing.
She decided to share a little bit of her story.
An overly excited blonde girl, Kristy, interrupted her.
This girl was way too peppy to be in a place like this.
She seemed thrilled to fill us all in on her story.
This was her second time in a psychiatric hospital.
Kristy had depression and OCD.
She informed us that she was ultimately admitted for her self-mutilation.
Kristy continued with her 
story.
But she stopped listening.

She wondered if she should’ve said something.
She had never heard someone speak so freely about the subject.
She was fifteen when she began her destructive therapy.
That therapy had saved her life many times.
For five years, she has relied on her stash of razors.
Those razors gave her an outlet nothing else could offer.
Maybe she had finally found someone who understood what it was like.
Someone who knew what it was like to turn to physical pain for help.
Physical pain was the only way to get rid of the unbearable emotional pain.
She had something in common with Katy.
Maybe she wasn’t as alone as she thought.
She let that thought sink in.
Maybe she wasn’t as alone as she thought.

// I never thought about cutting myself.
Growing up, I was aware that it wasn’t uncommon for people to do.
Why would anyone purposely cut themselves?
I faint at the sight of blood.
I couldn’t imagine the feeling if it was my own blood.
I didn’t understand why some people chose to hurt themselves.
I discovered the reason on my own at the age of fifteen.
I was a freshman in high school.
Girls didn’t seem to like me.
It got worse when I started dating the athlete. 
He was popular. Tall. Built. Attractive. 
Just about every girl in the school was after him.
I was shocked when he asked me out.
Our school was small, with only about one-hundred students.
But he chose me.
When it all first happened, I was a giddy schoolgirl. 
We were perfect together.
He was the basketball star.
I was a cheerleader.
I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world.
Oh, how that didn’t last long. 

I remember coming to school following a haircut gone wrong.
My hair was down to my shoulders, and I was due for a trim.
After the scissors ceased their snipping, I gazed into the mirror.
My trim had turned into a four inch hack off.
My hair barely touched my chin.
To say it looked terrible is an understatement.
I cried for a long time. 
And then I had to face my peers’ judgments.
A few people made some comments throughout the day.
Luckily, I could shake off the sarcasm.
Most of it anyway.
However, I will never forget how one junior girl, Lily, went out of her way.
Out of her way to humiliate me.
To embarrass me.
To hurt me.
Our morning assembly concluded.
Lily stopped me as I was making my way to homeroom.
“Oh my gosh, where did you get your hair cut?”
I didn’t even have time to answer.
“I just want to make sure I NEVER go there.”
Lily and her friends walked away in a fit of laughter.
I stood there, alone.
I fought the tears as I was so used to doing and put on a brave face.

I didn’t have a plan when I got home from school that day.
All I knew was that I was hurting.
And I needed that pain to stop.
I didn’t care what I had to do.
I cried until there were no tears left.
But I could still hear Lily’s mocking voice in my head.
I avoided the mirrors in the house so I didn’t have to look at my hideous self.
I locked myself in the bathroom and rocked back and forth on the floor.
That’s when I saw it.
The nail file.
It even had a somewhat sharp point at the end.
I pressed the sharp end into my forearm and began a sawing motion.
Then it happened.
For an instant I had forgotten about what had happened that day.
For an instant my only thoughts were on the pain on my arm.
But it wasn’t enough.
I plugged in my curling iron.
I waited for the red light to stop blinking.
Once it was solid, indicating it was hot and ready to use, I picked it up.
I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing.
The iron burned through my forearm flesh in a matter of seconds.
The pain snapped me out of what felt like a false reality.

I looked down at my arm.
What had I done?
There were three noticeable marks.
Two sawed open wounds from the file and one burn.
I started to panic.
This was not how I planned to handle things.
I quietly walked to my room and gently put on a loose sweater.
I would just cover up the marks until they were gone.
This was just a one-time thing.
I falsely promised myself it would never happen again.
But I couldn’t ignore the weight that seemed to have disappeared.
I smiled as I concentrated on the searing pain.
I would take this pain over the hurt Lily had caused me earlier.
I didn’t understand it.
Maybe it was because I knew the pain would go away.
Maybe it was because of the huge sense of relief that enveloped me.
Maybe it was because I felt like I was in control of my own pain.
Whatever the reason was.
Whatever the reason is.
That day changed me.
And I will never be the same. //









 

Chapter 1: The Concert

Just one more drink.
That one more drink is all it took.
Her mind tumbled into the fog.
The spinning room taunted her balance.
She walked up to the bathroom mirror and tried to gain focus.
An unrecognizable pair of green eyes were staring at her.
She could see the tears fighting to come out.
But she promised herself she wouldn’t.
Not now.
Not here.
Not tonight.

Her eyes were glued to the ground.
She willed one foot in front of the other.
Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.
Her strategy didn’t work for long.
The world spun in circles around her as she fell to the ground.
Her knee scraped across the pavement.
Someone grabbed her arm and helped her up.
She thanked him as she tried to carefully walk away.
The police offer simply shook his head.
That wasn’t how it worked.

She lost control as her friends were called to the scene.
She felt the eyes staring at her rip her dignity into pieces.
Their silent judgments began to tear at her heart.
She’s heard it all before.
Loser. Crazy. Idiot. Insane. Stupid.
She was stripped of her flask, concert ticket, and pride.
She and her friends were escorted out.

Apologies and tears filled the car ride home.
Once again she had made a mistake.
Once again she had ruined something good.
Once again she had lost control.
Nothing she said could make the situation better.
Tonight was supposed to be a night of friends and fun.
Tonight was supposed to be all about seeing her favorite country singer.
Tonight was supposed to be a good night.
Her last good night.
Her last night.

// I thought I had the planned perfectly.
I had done my research.
I had picked what I imagined would be the perfect last night.
A concert with two great friends,Carebear and Smokey.
They would never suspect a thing.
I only allowed myself a few extra pills before leaving.
Just enough to help me relax.
I decided to sip on some alcohol to give the pills a little push.
Just to be safe, I stuffed two flasks in my bra in case I needed more.
I discretely hid my orange prescription bottle in the drawer next to my bed.
I knew they would be waiting for me.
To take me far away from this world.
To take me home.
It seemed like the perfect ending to a less than perfect life. //

Her plan was completely ruined.
Regrets and guilt tore at her heart.
Why couldn’t she just be normal?
She didn’t ask for this.
She didn’t want any of it.
She shouldn’t have to deal with the pain.
This life was not the one she asked for.
She let herself lie down in the backseat.
Her eyes closed as she let her world go dark.

The ride home was a lost memory.
Somehow she had ended up in her bed.
She instantly regretted opening her eyes.
The pictures on her walls blended into abstract art.
She sat up and her head went straight into the trash can.
Her throat burned as the poison came out.
She heaved and willed time to rewind.
But she was stuck in this moment.
This moment packed full of agony and heartache.
Feelings that never seemed to leave her alone.
She was stuck with these consequences.
And worst of all, she was stuck with this life.

She felt someone rubbing her back.
She didn’t need to look to know who it was.
She hated how much he cared about her.
They both cared about her even though she was undeserving.
A burden was a better way to describe how she felt.
Just a useless burden the world was stuck with.
She was a rose bush with only thorns.
They told her she would blossom someday.
But she knew the truth.
She would never be the rose everyone needed her to be.
She had nothing more to offer.
Nothing more to give.
She was broken, but they needed her whole.

It was around midnight when she insisted they go home.
They didn’t want to leave her.
But letting them stay was out of the question.
She needed them gone.
She reassured them she would be able to handle herself.
She insisted she just needed sleep.
She flashed them her perfected “I’m okay” smile.
Just like normal, they didn’t see past it.
They left her alone.
Walked out the front door without looking back.
They had no idea who they had just left her alone with.
She was alone with her own worst enemy.
She was alone with herself.

It didn’t take her long to find them.
She always kept an emergency stash in her desk.
She opened a new package.
The razor blade was cold between her fingers.
She pressed it firmly on her forearm and held her breath.
She felt a slight release as a crimson line began to form.
Just a few more, she told herself.
But it wasn’t enough.
The emotional pain was unbearable.
She took a deep breath and just started cutting.
Again… and again… and again.

Her entire forearm was painted red.
Her heartache was so strong that she felt nothing on her arm.
She was furious.
She tried so hard to run away.
But she always ended up at a dead-end street.
She needed the torture to end.
She needed the emptiness inside her to be filled.
She needed to heal her aching heart.
She struggled to breath.
The pain in her chest was unbearable.
Her heart was literally in pain.
Years of bottled up distress began explode.
They to began release surges of anguish throughout her entire body.

A damsel in serious distress.
Nothing mattered anymore.
She let her head rest on her pillow as her breaths shortened.
No matter how hard she concentrated, she couldn’t prevent the attack.
Her struggle to breath continued.
Flashbacks played in her head like a projection show.
She could feel his hands gripping her arms.
Trying to hold her down.
Her swarm of emotions held her back from screaming.
Concentrating solely on her breathing, she opened her eyes.
Just as she expected, she was alone.

She had no idea how much time had passed.
The pounding in her head quickly reminded her of forthcoming hangover.
The guilt and regrets flooded her mind.
Her chest began to tighten again.
Not again.
With desperation, she grabbed that orange bottle.
Her dissociated mind wouldn’t allow her to think logically.
She could think of nothing but the pain.
How she longed for it to be gone forever.
She opened the bottle.
The tiny white pills spilled into her hand.
No hesitation.
With a one sip of water it was done.

She draped herself across her bed and reached for her phone.
The brightly lit screen blinded her.
Her coordination was just about gone.
She had to make it fast.
With shaking hands, she started making those necessary phone calls.
Two voicemails completed.
She dialed the last number on her list.
After only two rings she heard a tired “Hello?”
Panic paralyzed her as she immediately hung up the phone.

It was supposed to go to voicemail.
Why did he answer?
This was not part of the plan.
Why do her plans never work out like they are supposed to?
It was supposed to go to voicemail.
Why did he pick up the phone?
Her phone started to vibrate in her hand.
One missed call.
Two missed calls.
Then three.
The phone rang and rang, but she was already gone.
Any coordination she had disappeared.

It wasn’t a question.
She knew what was going to happen next.
He was coming over.
Why did he have to care about her so much?
She needed to finish what she started.
The room was spinning.
She was spinning.
She wasn’t sure which way was up.
Stumbling, she attempted to navigate across the room to her desk.
Any control she thought she had was gone.
Somehow, she felt the corner of the desk hit her thigh.
Utilizing all the strength she had left, she pulled the top-drawer open.
She tried to reach for another orange bottle to save her.
But with a thud she hit the floor.

Someone was rubbing her back again.
She was lying in her bed.
He must have felt her move because he spoke.
She couldn’t understand the words.
But she didn’t have to.
She knew what he was saying.
She knew where he wanted to take her.
She begged.
She pleaded.
She didn’t want to go.
She wanted her nightmare to end.
“Please, just let me go,” she whispered as she began to sob into his chest.
Carebear stroked her face as he said, “You know I can’t do that.”

The automatic sliding doors in front of her opened.
The air was stale and dry.
The cold draft sent goosebumps down her spine.
She could recognize the smell of a hospital even in her sleep.
She collapsed into the wheelchair.

There were so many questions.
She just stared at them.
Who were these strangers acting like they cared?
The choir of voices bounced around in her head.
They sang her to sleep.
She woke up with the feeling of suffocation.
She arched her back with an attempt to take a breath.
She heard the beeping of her oxygen monitor.
The caring man called out for help.
She heard rapid footprints.
She felt someone’s cold hands adjusting her oxygen tube.
The cool air filled her lungs as she sunk into bed.
She turned her head and allowed a tear to hit her pillowcase.
The room faded out as her world went black once again.

She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light.
There was a woman beside her bed.
The woman’s eyes were wet from tears.
Her face was pale and filled fear and panic.
This woman looked broken, hurt, and lost.
That woman couldn’t be her mother.
Her mother was the strongest woman she knew.
Tears were not commonly found in her eyes.

// I can only remember seeing my mother cry on one occasion.
I remember listening to her beg as tears slowly fell down her cheeks.
She was pleading with my father.
Tears continued to spill out even though she tried to hide them.
I watched as my father turned his back on her.
He didn’t want to hear another word she had to say.
My mother had asked him to consider letting me transfer to a public school.
She wanted to help me escape HIM.
She wanted the bruises to stop reappearing more than I did.
Switching schools seemed to be the last option.
My father tuned my mother out as she tried to explain.
He stated firmly that I would not be leaving my Lutheran high school.
That was the end of the conversation.
Something inside me told me it was also the end of them.
Shortly after this incident, my mother began sleeping on the couch. //

That’s when it hit her like a train.
Her body went numb as it all started to sink in.
She was the reason her strong mother broke down.
She was the reason for her pain.
She’s been causing her mother pain since at least high school.
Her mother was currently looking at her like she was a stranger.
Her mother didn’t recognize the girl on the hospital bed.
This girl was broken and scared.
This girl was hurt and saw no other way out.
This girl had tried to kill herself.
She hid it for so long.
This was the first time her mother was seeing her real daughter.
They looked into each other’s eyes.
No words were said.
No words needed to be said.
Her mother embraced her and they allowed themselves to cry together.

There was so much she wanted to say.
There was so much she needed to say.
But all that came out was “I’m sorry.”
She wasn’t even sure what she was sorry for.
Was she sorry she caused her mother so much pain?
Was she sorry she hid it for so long?
Or was she sorry that she didn’t succeed?
Sorry that she was alive?
Sorry that she was going to be an even bigger burden than before?
Her mother assured her that everything would be okay.
She reminded her that love was unconditional.
There was nothing she could do that would make her mother stop loving her.

The case worker came in and asked her to go to a room down the hall.
The case worker grabbed her IV bag and began to lead the way.
She tried to keep up, but the case worker was walking too fast.
She shrieked as she felt the strong tugging on her IV.
She decided at that very moment that she hated this woman.

There were so many questions.
She told them what they wanted to hear.
The last place she wanted to end up was at a mental institution.
Her acting skills were finally going to be put to test.
And she knew just what to say.
She told them it was a one-time thing.
She told them it was a moment of weakness.
She told them it would never happen again.
She told them she was fine.
She flashed them her perfected “I’m okay” smile.
And they believed her.
They believed her every single word.
She was discharged a few hours later.
She left with a forced, yet believable smile.

Behind the Scenes

I have been working on “My Story” for just about five years now. I have had only a hand full of people read it, but I have received great advice from each of them. Every time I read a section of my (hopefully) future book, it continues to be edited repeatedly. When I first started writing about some of the events of my life, I was doing it under the instruction of my therapist. The thought of ever sharing any of it with anyone never crossed my mind. Yet here I am. Willing to put my work out there. I am beyond nervous, but if I can reach just one soul with my words, it will be more than worth the possible embarrassment and judgments.

This is where I should warn you of what sort of topics my story will cover. I will tell you right away that I do not believe that it would considered as an “enjoyable” book. It covers mental issues, including severe depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety disorder, ADHD, panic disorder, conversion disorder, suicide, self-mutilation, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and possibly other psychiatric issues. There will also be situations where the topics of rape, abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, and mental), and abortion. Certain medications and medical procedures may be discussed as well. My story will also include topics that we all can relate to, such as love, relationships, and typical day to day struggles.

My story is not one packed full of cookies and rainbows; rather it contains much suffering, heartbreak, loss, pain, and feelings of overall worthlessness. I would like to guarantee that my story will have an over-extraordinarily feel good ending, but my story is not over. However, I don’t want you to think you’re about to read just another depressing story. My story is about how I have faced what life has thrown at me and moved on with my life. Once again, my goal in sharing is not to inform people of what I’ve been through, but to hopefully help others (even one person) who may be struggling with similar issues. I do not view myself as a victim, but as a survivor (I use that phrase quite a bit). I am in a much better place than I was five years ago, and I am extremely optimistic that my story will eventually receive it’s happily ever after.

I chose to write my story in third person – always referring to “she” or “her.” The reasoning behind this is simply that at the time I started writing, I felt safer writing about certain events when I could say that “she” went through it. At the time, I was not ready to fully face my past, but I think I am going to keep the third person outlook going. However, there are also points throughout the story where I have flashbacks and for these situations I chose to use first person and italicize the excerpt so readers will hopefully come to recognize a flashback when it comes up. I hope this is enough of a distinction that readers will not get confused.

I am completely open to your thoughts about the style and content of what I write. I have been writing this book in a unique way, as I didn’t feel like a narrative could ever give my life experiences the power to really make people think. So, my goal for style of writing is to make it seem like “her” story is happening as your read it. I attempted to achieve this style by using short, chopped up sentences to represent how fast life happens. You don’t always have time to think everything through, and sometimes you catch yourself thinking about everything all at once. Life can seem like it’s rushing you through each moment, and sometimes that results in not being able to get a clear thought developed in your head. With each short sentence, I want the reader to be compelled to keep turning the pages because not only is it easier to read and relate to, but also it gives the reader the option to feel every emotion that “she” is feeling.

There are a few things I am struggling with while trying to achieve the perfect style of this type of writing. I feel as though sometimes I use too many words, whereas other times I can’t find enough words to describe what’s going on at that moment. But maybe that helps add to the real-life feel? I mean, sometimes you can describe things so vividly you could paint a picture, and other times it’s as if there are no words to begin to describe what you are going though. You feedback is MUCH appreciated.

Another issue I’m not sure how to tackle is how to refer to each new character. I want to keep each character’s identity anonymous, so from the beginning I gave each person a little nickname. I’m not sure if this is effective or confusing, especially as more and more characters are introduced. It’s difficult for me to tell because I know who every nick name is referring to, but I would love your opinion on if this is a helpful tactic or if I should consider fake names for everyone.

I will be sharing my story slowly, one excerpt at a time, all while continue to edit previous and future points of the book. This is a difficult thing for me to do, even though I’m not quite sure who, if anyone, will even read my story. But any and all input is welcome. There are so many ways I could tell this story, but I would really like to try to maintain the unique style I began with.

So, if I haven’t scared you off, please read my excerpts as I post them, and like I stated multiple times – please give me your feedback! Positive or negative, I want to hear it.

 

 

The Question Mark

I feel like I should share a little background information to this poem. I wrote this poem in November 2012, during my first stay at Pine Rest. I had admitted myself into this psychiatric hospital voluntarily after an attempted suicide. I was struggling with putting the past behind me, as my physically, emotionally, mentally, and sexually abusive ex-boyfriend still haunted my every thought. I didn’t want to talk about what had happened; I simply wanted to forget. I knew that wasn’t the way to move on, and I was willing to admit that I needed help. So there I was, twenty-one years old, a complete mess, with a very uncertain future.

We were having an activity group, and it was one of the first groups I decided to attend. The instructions were to pick out a picture from a magazine and then write about what the picture meant to us or how it made us feel. I carefully selected my picture, and I wrote a sincere poem from the heart. Little did I know that the group leader was going to have us share what we wrote.

We went around the table as each person stood up while revealing their picture and read what they had written. Every single person who went before me had chosen a picture of the beautiful outdoors, a peaceful scenery photo, or pictures of smiling people. Each person read about a good memory their picture represented to them or a positive feeling their picture gave them or even coping strategies their picture hinted at that they planned to use to help them. My anxiety increased as each person read their optimistic writings.

Then it was my turn. I was the last person to go, and I begged the instructor to let me skip the sharing portion. She could not force me to share anything, but after some persistent convincing from the other patients, I gave in. I showed them my picture and read the poem I had written, all while keeping my eyes on my paper and avoiding any possible eye contact. I thought my heart was going to beat right out of my chest and burst onto the table in front of me. I had never shared something so personal, especially with strangers.

As soon as I was finished reading, I sat down and quickly wiped away the tears that were running down my face. No one said a word, so I forced myself to look up. Two ladies were crying, while the other patients looked at me with looks of complete shock and pity. The instructor looked me directly in the eyes and simply said with true sincerity, “thank you for sharing.”

So what was the big deal? Besides the fact that this was the first time I really spoke at the hospital, I had  taken the activity in a much more serious direction than everyone else. This was not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, looking back, I believe this moment was my breakthrough moment during that hospital stay.

The picture I had chosen displayed several engagement rings arranged in the shape of a question mark. And this is the poem I had written:

These rings make a shape,
A familiar thing I know.
A question mark it is.
Down the aisle will I ever go?

The past has been brutal,
On my body, mind, and heart.
I sit here and ask myself,
Is it even worth having a fresh start?

I bruises now have faded,
The words have left their sting.
I can't help but wonder,
Will I ever have my happy ending?

I wish I could forget,
I wish I could move on,
But the only thing I've ever known
Is this twisted love song.

I’m trying to get back
All the things he took from me.
Because maybe if I could forgive myself,
I would finally be set free.

Slowly then I could regain
My self-confidence and life.
Then I would no longer have to walk around
With my heart stabbed with a knife.

Trying to stay positive,
Trying to keep my head up high.
Moving on with my life is what I want,
To let it all out with a sigh.

I know deep down I can do this,
With my friends and family by my side.
Eventually, even from myself,
I will no longer have to hide.