Depression

Repercussions of my ugly reality

I smoked my first cigarette when I was 15.

I had this friend, her parents smoked and she would sneak a few away and hide what became a habit for her, and as it would turn out, for me as well.

When I was fifteen, I went to this high school football game to see the guy I was starting to date, it was a small town in the deep recesses of Georgia and high school football was where everyone gathered on a Friday night.

The popular kids, who were my friends from church, invited me up to their section in the stands. My smoker friend was excited for this, getting an invitation was the first step, so I went.

In the stands on that football field, the guy I was dating, and the girls I was friends with from church seemed thrilled to have me with them, I had this warmth in my heart that I was being accepted, when only moments before I had been scared that the guy I was seeing wouldn’t want to see me since I had confessed to him that I had been raped, but everything seemed so good in those first few moments.

Knowing what I know today, I should have known that they weren’t thrilled, the smile that Lizzy had on her face wasn’t excitement, it was treacherous and manipulative, but I was young and naive. I wasn’t prepared for her to come at me with a full blast of accusatory statements, there was no time for me to get a word out of my mouth. I was embarrassed, humiliated, horrified that everyone knew now and then they all turned their heads away from me. I reached my hand out to touch the arm of the guy I was seeing and he jerked it away, not even looking at me. I burst into tears and he moved past everyone to get away from me.

In shock, I walked down the stairs to leave. I found my smoker friend, she asked me what was wrong but I had already pulled back deep into myself to keep the wounds I felt inside from bleeding any further.

I was broken, she took me to her house, we sat on her bed and she lit a cigarette. I didn’t say anything, I just took it from her, I coughed, choked, but the pain that it caused made me feel better. It took my mind off of the destructive abuse of rape, the searing pain in my lungs momentarily made me forget the humiliation of being shunned by my peers, the high of it – that sharp pain it causes in my brain – filled the void that had been left behind when I felt like I had been stripped and beaten from the inside out.

Today

More than fifteen years have come and gone as a painful blur. I dissociated to save my thoughts from the pain that my body went through, even though the emotions live inside like a black mold eating my body from the inside out. I blocked and blacked out in order to try and survive just one more day.

The healthier the people I surround myself with and the healthier my life gets because of therapy, the more it hurts and the more I hurt myself.

When I would dissociate, I could have an argument and I wouldn’t be present for it, I would go to an inner place in my head while my mouth spewed words that I would later be sorry for. When I am present and I have an argument, the adrenaline spikes and the trigger that it is, causes my face and body to ache in the locations where I have been hit. These areas on my face, my neck, my back, my stomach, my arms, they ache with the hurt of the past.

The monsters of my past haunt me every day and without realizing it, I’ve been helping them.

I felt like I was the worst kind of garbage after years of rape and abuse. I became so broken that deep down I believed I deserved to be treated this way, even though outwardly I was smiling and telling people that I was strong enough to stand.

The repercussion of the physical and psychological monstrosities is that I treat myself like garbage.

I hide from people I love in order to sneak cigarettes because the pain I feel when I smoke fills an ache of pain from my past and I think I deserve that. I drink too much at night in order to make sure that I won’t lie awake in bed terrorized by memories of my past, the headache the next morning … I think I deserve that.

I have stomach issues, lactose intolerance, GERD, and an ulcer, but I don’t stop eating food that is bad for me, because the pain it causes affirms that emotional feeling that I deserve to feel bad.

As it is every day, my vision isn’t clear because I have headaches that build into migraines. My stomach is burning with pain from eating. My neck tension is so severe that when I turn my head I hear cracking noises and pain reverberates, shuddering through my brain.

I panic that every day will be my last because of the amount of stress and pain I feel. I used to think that I was going to die from this pain, suddenly and swiftly.

I think about stopping all of these vices. These vices which have not helped me, but have only monumentally added to the pain I feel. My inner struggle is worry, that without these vices and bad habits – I am afraid I will feel everything. Is the pain from these vices really worse than the ugly reality of what happened?

Is the pain worse than finding out I’m a terrible at keeping a clean house and it isn’t just laziness?

Is the pain and fear worse than tossing and turning for hours, trying to shut out the monsters that haunt me in the dark of night, when the world is silent, but my mind is screaming?

Is it worth the pain and fear of dying sooner in life due to my vices and habits, because they help me dissociate from the agonizing terror of dying at the hands of someone else?

With these vices of mine, I have perpetuated and continued the feeling that I deserve to be in pain and that I deserve to feel bad. As the black tar of cigarettes coats my lungs with every inhale and the bottle of wine half finished is poured into another glass, I tell myself that I will get better, that I will do better, ironically, that is the same thing I used to say when I was being abused.

It is stunningly clear to me today, that the monsters of my past have evolved into new monsters in my present, in the form of things that I can become addicted to.

My addiction is clear for me, I am addicted to not wanting to feel, not wanting to remember, not wanting to look at myself in a mirror and seeing who I have become.

I did not want to acknowledge how I felt about myself, my face, or my body. So I embraced vices and habits that made me numb to everything but the pain that they themselves cause.

I have come to a place in the last few weeks where the vices and habits are making life harder, the purpose they served in the past is missing.

I have nothing to give this world but who I am, if I am numb and my eyes are vacant, I am not living. If I am in pain from a hangover and smoking, giving my body and mind less oxygen than it needs to function, I am only hurting myself.

There is a great quote, unknown to me who said it first, but it goes … I will remember and recover, not forgive and forget.

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I miss the person I once was, I sometimes dream of the person I had hoped to become. This life, with all of the good, the bad, and the ugly, is my reality and I think it is time that I confronted it.

I think it is time I fight for me, for who I want to be, and for what I want out of this life.

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Consumed

I turned 29 about a week ago. Leading into this birthday, I started focusing on the future, I felt like a switch had been flipped, I needed what has been my life over the last “few” years to change. Then I started counting the years it has actually been, it wasn’t just a few… it has been 9 years, 9 years since I had a nervous breakdown and since that fateful day I have been consumed. Consumed with the horror of what happened, the fear of it happening again, terror of the unknown, panic attacks, and an inability to move forward.

I need this to change. I need positivity, I need hope, faith, strength, endurance, happiness, life. I made a decision on the morning of my birthday to no longer keep focusing on the past, being consumed by it. That has to end, I don’t live there anymore.

I wish I could write about happy things, but what I know, what I have lived, is dark and ugly.

So, final post on the dark truth before I start to shape my writings into something more positive.

I don’t remember my exact age when I was molested, but I was very young, and he had been a trusted family friend who was morbidly obese and could barely move. I never went near him again after the first time he touched me, he did end up going to prison (for touching/raping other girls) and he died there as well.

11, the summer that I stayed with my Grandmother and in those fateful months I lost all of my trust and faith in extended members of family. My cousin accused me of stealing her things, even after proven innocent, I carried the stigma of thief with *most of my extended family. I was a verbal whipping post for my Grandmother and cousin that summer. My sister was taken 75 miles away and I was left alone with them. Slapped every time I objected to being called names, I started to spend all of my time hiding in a room in the attic or outside in my Grandfather’s barn. Years later, I was still the one to blame if something wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

15, when I was raped by someone I met only hours earlier. My best friends and peers shunned me. He threatened to kill me and my entire family if I ever spoke out about it. So I didn’t.

19, when I broke up with a boyfriend who would go on to attack me physically, punching a hole in the wall when I ducked, breaking into the bathroom while I was showering to grab me by the hair and slam my head into the wall, raping me for leaving him.

20, when I moved in with a man who was so emotionally abusive that I would start my day by throwing up from stress, choked me and threw me into furniture when he was drunk and angry, and cheated on me with other men.

20, when I had a nervous breakdown. Which is ultimately what saved my life.

My life today is completely opposite of what happened over these years. My life is amazing, but I am only just starting to heal. That seems to unreal but at 22 I was safe and as each year has progressed I have made healthier choices for my life because I’m learning ….that I’m worth it.

Freshly 29, I see a future and I plan to focus on being the healthiest I can be for it, not on living in my past. Working through what happened instead of letting it consume me.

And removing my makeup every night. After all, it’s time I start behaving like an adult.

See no evil

The eyes are the window to the soul. – English Proverb 

Last Sunday, the Seahawks went to play the Broncos. Diehard 12’s, my husband, my family, and I were amped. At one point I really took notice of my husband’s face and he looked like a kid at Christmas, his whole face was lit up and his eyes sparkled. I took a close look at my mom when she came over and saw that her eyes sparkle too. These two people are the happiest and healthiest people in my life. They have a joy that they just wake up with every day, a great attitude, and a zest for life and you can see it in their eyes.

When I look into my eyes, I see pain, I see a vacant look on my face, and it feels so bleak. I don’t want this. I see bruises that aren’t there anymore and I see memories that I wish I could forget.

I want the sparkle, I want the inner happiness, and I am willing to fight for it, I just don’t know exactly what I am fighting. Fighting ghosts is what we call it, depression, PTSD, night terrors, an inner feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen weighs on me and there is a part of me that is trapped inside, screaming to get out.

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Matthew 6:22  “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”

I don’t remember what day it was that the light left my eyes, but I know it was many years ago and I’m only just getting to a place where I’m fighting to get it back. I know what it has been like for me, but I am having an even harder time watching it happen to my sister. My heart hurts remembering that I saw the light and sparkle in my sister’s eyes leave on the day of her wedding. She carries the vacant look that goes along with the phrase “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Abuse sucks the life and the light out of us. With every fist and kick, the breath that is knocked out of you from a physical abuser can take away the sparkle and light that once was a part of us. With every tear that comes shaking out of us from the unkind words, slanderous speech, vindictive behavior, and negativity of an emotional abuser, our eyes cease to glow.

 

Skin deep

Ever feel like you have no idea what you’re doing?

My beauty regimen for the last seven years, at best, has been perfunctory but lazy. I haven’t bought nice things, even though my husband begs me to. I purchase the cheapest makeup because truly, I. have. no. idea. what. I’m. doing. My nails when manicured and with a full-set are awesome and I feel fashionable and sexy, but I do that once every blue moon. I don’t like to take my socks off because I’m afraid my husband will see the lack of pedicure and judge my half chipped away nail polish on my toes. He doesn’t judge me, but I do. Then again, I haven’t cared to purchase new socks either, so you’ll see a tiny toe peeking out every now and then.

When we moved, I really took stock of what I own in the way of taking care of myself and how I dress myself….mirror crying and it is minimal at best. I don’t feel attractive, therefore, I haven’t wanted to spend money on myself for nice things because I have this idea in my mind that one day I’ll get back to the size I was naturally. These extra pounds will be gone, my hair will shine instead of being frizzy and when I look in the mirror, I won’t cry.

I don’t know that I can keep waiting for that day though, for a couple of reasons – one is my husand, he deserves the best I can be. Another is that if I don’t love who I am today, will the person I’m hoping to be ever come to fruition?

That leaves me with this, I still don’t know what I’m doing. It’s amazing to me that women around the world know how to donoidea2 their hair and makeup to be stunningly beautiful and here I am with a glass of wine on the counter, a curler in one hand and mascara in the other wondering what I am doing wrong.

One of my best friends is a makeup consultant/stylist/Professional, seriously, with a capital P. When she taught me how to do my eyebrows it didn’t just change my face, it changed my world – that seems silly but it’s true. The shape of our eyebrows can dynamically change how we look and I was just letting mine do their own thing there – like Sasquatch.

I struggle with wanting my makeup and hair to look magnificent rather than as if I were a model for the Derelicte line from Zoolander, but that is just skin deep. There is more to this than floundering in the land of Sephora and Ulta, it’s clothes, it’s my weight and for the last year it has just felt overwhelming as I tried, really tried, to lose the depression weight but it just wouldn’t budge. When the pudge won’t budge … amiright?

In my family, my siblings and I are all pretty close and we talk openly about most things, but one thing that I’ve only taken notice of recently is that two siblings in particular, actually, they are the only fit ones… they talk to me about my weight, a lot. I know that their intentions are good, they know that I miss being slender and that I’m unhappy with my weight. It just seems that it is always being brought up and alternatives to my diet, or new fad diets are being mentioned. I hate fad diets.

I am a vegetarian and I do love the Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead method of juicing vegetables. I want to yell it to the world that I don’t eat BADLY .. I’ve just been through a whole hell of a lot and apparently my body decided it should pack on pounds in order to protect itself. Can a scientist or expert in some area vouch for this? Depression weight is not like over-eating weight. It’s stubborn and it’s vindictive. It taunts you in the mirror and getting rid of it feels like moving mountains.

Always afraid of failing, I observed and never did. Watching someone else do something well isn’t the same as trying and learning yourself.

Insomnia

I can’t sleep. Again. It seems like this is a constant.

My husband and I have a night time “routine”, if you will. We snuggle, he falls asleep, we flip over to the other side and my tossing and turning begins.

I’ve tried countless things to lull myself to sleep. Counting sheep, counting to 100, meditating (difficult when the sweet man beside you snores..), thought movement (the imaginative process of putting stresses into bins to organize and remove jumbled thoughts), etc. etc. I’ve tried tapes to listen to, rushing shores, jungle, rain, all of that makes me have to use the bathroom, inducing more stress on top of not being able to sleep. Melatonin, natural remedies, sleepy time tea, xanax, alcohol. Sigh. Why. Am. I. Awake.

I know that a part of me doesn’t want to fall asleep because of the nightmares I have. Sometimes in my dreams I relive things from my past and I wake up terrified and screaming. Other times the nightmares can be something worse than what I’ve been through.

There is something else to this though. As I was laying in bed tonight I listened to my body, I cleared my mind and focused on what my body was feeling and what became apparent has startled me to an even more conscious state at…. 1:08 am.

I have a hard time breathing. My lungs feel like they are shaking and each breath is small. Taking a deep breath hurts.

My stomach an inner organs feel like they are quivering in fear, which is a sensation I usually only get during a panic attack.

My face has areas that feel like they are throbbing and swelling.

My neck feels like someone has it in a vice and it just will not relax.

My heart hurts, the racing, the panic, the dread, the hope, the pain, excitement…. it feels so tired.

I know this part of the cycle is what can make the next day harder. Good sleep, any sleep, is so very important to our health and state of mind. I just can’t fall asleep.

 

I need to get to know you

It’s been a while. I stopped writing because I felt like I was feeding anger instead of moving forward with hope and I needed to get my head straight on that point.

The husband and I moved to a new apartment, it’s newer, spacious, and peaceful. I’ve been running myself ragged the last two weeks for this move and trying to do more than I think my body could undertake. I started having massive panic attacks again this last week and yesterday I couldn’t get my heart to steady after one panic attack in the morning. I spent the whole day trying to breathe but labored with each breath, I could feel my lungs aching from the strain.

Because panic attacks are what they are, I of course think that I must be dying. This sounds like it’s funny, but it isn’t. It’s terrifying. This impending sense of dread and death is a stealthy stalker and when you’re having a panic attack, it can be crippling.

Before we went to bed last night, I told my husband what I was feeling and he did his utmost to comfort me and assuage my fears. As he rubbed my back in this steady motion that he’s learned calms me, I wondered how he knows just what to do.  It was at that moment that I realized how I am literally uncomfortable with myself. I wrote myself a quick email last night detailing all that I am uncomfortable with, like my appearance, my smile, the way I talk, the way I walk… the list was endless.

I went to sleep, trying to relax and breathe, thinking to myself and telling myself “I need to get to know you.” I need to listen to my body and take care of it, not hate it for what happened. I need to look at my face in the mirror and not imagine the bruises that aren’t there anymore. I need to let myself start to feel happy again without guilt. Neither my body or my mind has relaxed in the last seven years and in the last six months I’ve known that this needs to change, I can’t live like this anymore.

I have this recurring dream where I see myself, barely in my 20’s and the shower can’t clean enough off. I’m mute, paralyzed, and scared. There’s a party going on outside the bathroom and I just see the dirt trails going down the drain. Every time I have this dream I feel like fighting. Fighting for life, fighting for myself, fighting for happiness, fighting for this to end. All of it.

I need to get to know myself again.

Sigh.

Short and quick. Today is rough.

People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you, what you are about and what you value. – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

A changeless sense of who you are, what you are about, and what you value. I feel a little shell shocked thinking about this.

I really lost who I was/am through a series of bad relationships.

What am I about? I know I used to be about being happy, doing something, moving along in life, going somewhere, having goals for my career… but I’ve lost that too.

I threw my values away because I couldn’t stay in an abusive relationship if I kept them. If I had valued myself even, I could not have stayed, but for whatever reason I traded my values of caring.. compassion… dedication… devotion… honesty… hope… integrity… optimism… respect… unity… and love for a man who valued only himself. The default of giving up your core values for a person who won’t share them, is that the only thing left to value is that person and if their core values are me, myself, and I, there isn’t any room for you.

So, who the hell am I?

We need to think of ourselves as gifts to be given and to think of others as gifts offered to us. – John Powell

My twinsie and I both have a problem of considering ourselves a burden. It happened because of emotionally destructive people in our lives, as in, the man I dated, and the man she married. If we take these two destructive people out of the picture and focus instead on say, the family we know, we would see ourselves as loved, precious, and in no way a burden, but a blessing.

I try to focus on that in therapy and I’m getting a lot closer, but once someone has made you feel and enforced in your mind that you are a burden, it is a 25′ grave that you are struggling to get out of, if you struggle at all.

Today is hard. It is worse to watch someone you love be disrespected and disappear in front of you from the constant haranguing of the emotionally destructive spouse than to be the one it happens to.

It is like screaming to an empty room.

Why can’t they see it?

Why couldn’t I see it when I was in it?