Sometime’s we aren’t afraid to say what we’re feeling or how we are coping because we’ve realized that the events of life past has made us who we are.
The events in my life may have brought my glitches to the surface and shaped me into who I am.
In a perfect World, free of stigma, we would all be able to share our thoughts without fear of being judged. I’ve always been open about my mental illness but I certainly understand how a person would be afraid to open up. Even I get looks and uncomfortable silences after talking about depression or bipolar.
If my story will help others, I will gladly share.
Then there are people like Gina, who when, I ask over four thousand people to share their story(s), comes running at high speed to speak up about things that most of us can barely comprehend, let alone think about sharing.
Yet she did just that with me. In hopes that her sharing her story might help someone else.
So here it goes.
Yes Gina…here you go. Here’s your platform to speak and your audience awaits.
*WARNING* if you are easily triggered by sexual abuse, physical abuse and suffer from PTSD due to these events, please, please proceed with caution. Gina has graciously opened up her heart and shown us her wounds but would hate to trigger anyone.
I would always shy away from all but the most trusted males.
At first the only thing I could remember was one of them looking in my undies.
I was molested by three male family members before I could talk.
As I got older more memories surfaced. I became very reserved and stayed to myself at home and only had a very small group of friends. Anything boys or men said to me, meant sinister motives.
I tended to act out socially at times to the point of becoming a bully. My mom tried to keep me safe but the courts made it hard.
By the time I entered high school I only had one or two guys that I would call friends but even then I still never trusted them.
At 16, I started seeing a guy who eventually tried to rape me. I never told my mom about it. By the age of 19, I had been beaten and raped 3 times and one of those beatings almost killed me.
I was told I couldn’t have kids.
During that time, I had one decent male friend, and while his approach was not the best, it worked.
It was during my Junior year of high school and we had different lunch hours and he would meet up with me. He’d noticed that I would shy away from all guys including him. Suddenly he had grabbed me in one of the biggest bear hugs I have ever gotten and every fiber of my being tensed and wanted to run.
He kept saying, “I promise I will never hurt you, but you have to see that. I am not letting go until you relax.”
Part of me wanted to fight, but part of me knew he was right. To this day he is my second brother.
He held me the whole hour during lunch, missing his class to do the only thing he could think of to help me, and while it took the entire hour, it worked. He never tried to do anything but hold me like you would a younger sibling or a child. Beside a very select few male figures who had been around my whole life, he was the first one that I trusted completely. I knew that I would never have to worry about my safety. Like I said, his approach left a lot to be desired, but it worked.
At 19 I started dating my son’s father. My son was the only good that ever came of that relationship. He was abusive in every sense of the word. He committed abuse of every kind. He didn’t take no for an answer, he was jealous, hateful, controlling and just mean in every way. He was also this way towards another child he had, with another woman, as well.
Knowing all of this, I quickly moved back with my mom after my son was born. I was a broken woman, but had tried to seek help while I was pregnant so that I could be a good mom. This was in 1998.
I had been told that I had situational manic depression and that other than changing my situation there was nothing that could be done.
I had barely passed high school and flunked out of college.
Before I got pregnant I had turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the memories and thoughts. I had already tried to kill myself 6 times.
God, or whatever higher power you believe in, had other plans though and always found a way to stop me. The biggest kick in the butt was my son, my lifesaver.
The next serious relationship I got into was not much better than all my previous one’s.
He would do things he knew would upset me and if I ever said “No” to sexual invitations, he’d just wait until I was asleep.
I left him and he became a stalker. I also met my first husband during this time.
In the early days my husband was wonderful but he slowly grew more controlling and abusive. Not just to me, because if I didn’t fight like hell, to my son.
Finally in 2011, after learning I had lost my job, I sought help.
I started receiving the help I needed at the clinic I currently still go to.
I found out that I have ADHD, Borderline Personality Disorder and Bipolar, both with aggressive tendencies, along with a full range of Anxiety disorders. The least being stress induced OCD.
The OCD only rears it’s ugly head when I’m extremely stressed, am recovering from an anxiety attack, or really down.
(The exception to this type of OCD is the touching of ground meat of any kind…I still will wash my hands until they are raw over that.)
I have mild agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, social anxiety to the point of if there are more than 5 or 6 people in a room (less if I don’t know them) the situation will trigger a full blown anxiety attack.
The main trigger for my PTSD stems from the abuse from the men in my lifetime.
I started medications and was introduced to talk therapy that year.
I must digress here and add that, the year before, my ex-husband had been arrested for child porn and I recently realized that was the event that sent me to the point of seeking treatment.
Things gradually worsened between the time of his arrest and when he was finally convicted and jailed at the end of 2012. I had been secretly seeking an attorney to divorce. In 2013, I asked my grandmother for help with an attorney.
2013 was a year of change for me.
In April of 2013, my job took me to the city where I had given birth to my son.
I had a complete breakdown. I was snapping at everyone, I was scared to death and all I wanted was to get out of there. It cost me my job and set me back farther than I had ever been.
I got to where I couldn’t even go into job interviews without being terrified. One gentleman who interviewed me was kind enough to explain why he wasn’t going to hire me. It was a blow all the way to my core.
I was so scared that it looked as if I was hiding something. He could tell that wasn’t the case as he’d already called my references, but when working with the public panic attacks are not beneficial.
I had also started self harm in the form of cutting my upper arms. I I had started pulling out ingrown hairs and I just couldn’t stop digging into myself.
My family found out rather quickly because I’ve never really hid my arms and my son and best friend brought me to my doctor and made me tell him everything.
My divorce from husband #1 was finalized at the end of 2013.
My mom came to court with me. She and my brother were always there to help me, to give me strength. I was terrified to be in the same room with my ex. To be honest I still am.
Yes, he still scares the hell out of me.
I also met the man who is now my husband that year. Something in me just knew that he was going to change my life. We quickly became friends and I started to share with him, my life, as it was.
Before we married, he moved in with me due to job loss and I think it really hit him. You know, just how screwed up I was.
I applied for disability because I couldn’t get a job. It was so bad I couldn’t even leave my house without someone with me and even then I had the horrible thought of all the things that could be going wrong at my house while I was away.
He came with me to my appeals hearing.
I was in a small room with only one other woman, two men and my attorney via video call. At one point I was shaking so bad that my whole body was vibrating.
The judge had to ask that I back away from the table because I was shaking everything on his desk. I was told that I needed to get a few more things from my doctors and social workers.
Two weeks after the hearing I received notification that I would be getting disability finally.
This wonderful man who had came into my life has stood by me through many ups and downs since the first day we spoke. He’s seen me at my weakest point.
He has been wonderful to both me and my son. He has helped me find my voice and only really fusses when I let my fears from the past prevent me from saying something or being me.
The whole time I have known him we’ve only raised our voices twice.
I’m still far from being able to get a job and work again. I still have to have someone or one of my animals with me to even go a mile up the road and I still have to have someone right by me when we are in crowded stores and even then I have anxiety attacks. The negative thoughts and major worries when not at home continue to plague me and I still have panic attacks even knowing certain people are near.
With the exception of my anti-depressant, I still have to take my medications EVERY day. Though I know if I ever need it again all I have to do is tell my doctor and I’ll have them on board. As for my anti-anxiety meds, I don’t have to carry them nearly as often. I still can’t go into that one city.
I still at time shy away from strange men or men I barely know which leaves my distrust in the male species at 99.9%.
I still have episodes of OCD, and panic attacks that last days where I can’t breathe. I still have flashbacks sometimes and feel caged and trapped.
That’s a lot of “still can’ts”.
Here is my positive out of this though, and this is for me the most important thing:
I know if I need it, I have a doctor and social worker who care and will be there for me when I need them.
I know that the ADHD, Borderline personality disorder, and bipolar will never go away, but that’s OK I’m learning coping methods and have a support system that is wonderful.
I’m even able to go up to the store that is a mile away with nothing more than normal anxiety levels most days. Slowly some of the anxiety disorders and even the major episodes of PTSD are not as bad, but when they are I have a wonderful son, who has many times found ways of helping me until I can get to my meds.
I have a stepson who has told me that I’m not a bad person.
I have a mother that while she doesn’t have much faith in “shrinks” has been there for me since the very beginning. I have a younger brother that has and will always be there for me even if it is just speaking long enough with me to calm me down.
I have a husband who sees the symptoms coming on and will grab my hand, become protective, and will hold me and talk me through whatever I need at the moment.
We talk things through not yell them out. I know his “tell alls” and he knows mine.
Although the causes are different, we know exactly what the other is going through during those bad moments.
We, by instinct, grand design seem to know how to help each other.
The key…the best thing…the one thing that I didn’t have before I started treatment and started booting the bad and accepting the good… the one thing that I hope that sharing my story is able to give to even just one person…is hope.
I have HOPE. Hope that one day I can work again. Hope that one day I can walk out my door without fear or need of a protector.
HOPE that even though I will never be “normal” or “sane” or whatever those not affected with “glitches”, yes glitches, are. (Illness sounds like something that you can pass onto someone.)
I will overcome whatever life throws at me.
Hope that the strength that is in me will fight its way out. Hope that while I will never be the old me, I will be the better me.