21 years of trial before triumph

I came from a humble home with two loving parents who worked hard for their paychecks. I was the second child of two. I was given everything my parents could give. I was taught to be polite and grateful. My parents tried to do the best by me that they could. But as much as they tried to shelter me, I was born destined to go through many trials before triumph.

It all started for me when I was two. I remember going to a doctor who had a big room with all kinds of toys in it. I would play while we talked. Every time I met with her I felt guilty and for lack of a better word, crappy. I remember taking medicine everyday that my mom gave me with pudding. That medicine I now know was ridalin. I was taken to psychiatrists, psychologists and even the Yale child study but they couldn’t diagnose exactly what was “wrong” with me.

But I wasn’t the only one in my house dealing with issues. I remember when I was very young that my mom had to go away for a while. My mother suffered from severe depression. When she wasn’t at work or taking care of us she was in bed. My dad supported her through everything the best he could. I remember that she cried a lot. My mother told my brother and I that she had to go away for a while. She actually had gone away to a psych ward to receive ECT. Electric convulsive therapy, better known as shock therapy, a last resort for severe depression.

Fast forward to when I was in second grade, I remember my parents having their first and last psychical fight. I remember my dad was playing a song that got my mom really angry. I won’t go into details but I remember my brother on the floor crying and begging them to stop. We ended up leaving with my mom to stay at my grandmother’s for two weeks. There was an incident somewhere in my young childhood that I won’t forget. I had a friend over who was a good few years older than me. One day while my family was outside painting the fence she took me into my closet. She started humping me and touching me. I told my parents later what happened and she was never allowed in our house again. Around that time period was also when years of bullying started. In fourth grade the bullying was so bad I would come home everyday crying and I unknowingly started eating for comfort. From that I started gaining weight which gave the kids even more ammo against me. The summer before I started 5th grade we moved far enough that I was able to choose if I wanted to go to the other elementary school near me, and hoping for a fresh start I opted for the new school. Almost right away the bullying started again. I was teased about my hair, my shoes, my clothes, my weight, even my toes. Nothing was safe. Home life was not an escape either. I was abused verbally and psychically until I was about 14/15 years old. My brother and I didn’t get along and he often teased me too, which hurt the most because I’ve always looked up to him more than anybody. It felt like I was being put through a series of tests. At the time I could not understand why and shyed away from my religion which did the opposite of help. Everything really snow balled once I hit middle school. At the age of 12, when I was in the beginning of 7th grade, I started self mutilating. I remember that day as clear as if it was yesterday. I was doing homework with a friend, I had a yellow pencil sharpener in my hand and for some reason, I still don’t know why to this day, I got a screw driver to unscrew the razor and started cutting my arm. The next day at school, whether it was a teacher or a student, someone had “told on me.” I remember being called to the school psychologists office and was asked a lot of questions by her and the school nurse. The next thing I know I was brought into the conference room and there with the principal were my parents. I started crying and apologizing. My parents of course weren’t mad, they were very upset and worried. They took me out of school for that day and we went to get lunch. I remember my mom telling me over lunch that the school wanted me to be brought to the hospital for a psych evaluation. A few months later, at age 13, I was sent to the hospital and admitted to the psych ward for the first of many, many times for cutting and being suicidal. At that point everyday I would come home from school, lock myself in my room and cut myself while I sobbed. I remember after being brought to the psych floor that I had a few minutes alone with my parents to say goodbye. That was the first time I ever saw my dad cry. I was there for about two weeks. There were many more admissions to be had, for different lengths of time. I always went to st. Raphaels, I remember they had two quiet rooms which were padded rooms. I remember horrifically being put in there many times through out my admissions. It felt so inhumane, scary, lonely, and almost traumatic. I remember one of my admissions on the night before I was being discharged one of the girls Elaina, a little younger than me I had befriended during my stay, was having a breakdown and ran into my room for me. One of the male staff literally dragged her out and put her in one of the quiet rooms. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep well that night. The waiting in the emergency room there was the worst part. Forced to wear a hospital gown, you had to sit on a stretcher in a small room painted a nauseous green for days until a bed opened up. You werent even allowed to use the bathroom in the hall to stretch your legs. You had to use the bathroom which was a prison style steel toilet that had a door that didnt lock and had the bottom and top cut out. There was no age segregation, there would be much older than me men and women in there with me who were bought in for being psychotic, extremely drunk or high. You were served a ham sandwich for practically every meal. It was even worse than jail, at least in jail you get tv, phone calls and an hour outside.

I was basically kicked out of middle school halfway through my repeat year of 8th grade at 15 and was sent to pathways, an alternative high school. In lamen terms, a school for people who had emotional issues, used drugs, etc. There they were allowed to use force by restraining a student. The school had extra male staff who were behavioral counselors, basically body guards who restrained people, sat with the kids (that were sometimes psychically) removed from class and other assorted things.  One time for example I got mad and punched a wall. One of the behavior counselors flipped me over, I landed with my stomach down onto the ground and he put his foot on my back.

 Eventually. the same year I started the alternate school at age 15, I was sent to yale and was admitted to the yale psychiatric ward for the first time. It wasn’t as bad as st. Raphaels because instead of everyone under the age of 18 it was just teenaged patients. There were no quiet rooms though, instead people were just restrained to their beds. After I was discharged I went to the Yale intensive outpatient program. I’ve been to five different IOPs through out the years. I also did DBT, Dialectal behavior therapy, three times because I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and DBT is what helps people with BPD. At the yale IOP there was a guy there that I liked and his feelings were mutual. We started “dating” but we only saw each other at the IOP. So sometimes we would kiss there, and eventually we got caught. They asked me to sign a contract stating that I would follow rules. I refused and so I got kicked out. However me and the boy started seeing each other outside of the IOP instead. The more we hung out I would find he would say something one day and then tell a completely different story the next day. In not so many words, he played mind games with me. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had problems of his own. He would constantly tell me he was a different age and had a different name. Sometimes he would get mad and just scream at me or break things and blame it on me. I remember the day I spent with him that was the worst day of my life. We were hanging out like normal when he asked me to walk to the pharmacy down the street with him. So I did and when we got there he bought condoms. He would always try and do stuff with me I wasn’t comfortable with like trying to take off my clothes or put his hand down my pants. I was young, innocent, and naive and so I thought that was what all guys did. That day after he bought the condoms we went back to his house. In his room he basically forced himself on me. I told him it hurt and I didn’t want him to continue but he didn’t listen. I didn’t realize exactly what happened until months later when I confessed to my mom I hadn’t had my period for five months. Eventually I got my period and it lasted a whole month. To this day we’re not sure if my period was gone from the trauma and stress or if I was pregnant and miscarried. I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for the 50 percent chance that I was with child and lost it. I didn’t fully understand what had happened right away. So we continued to “date” until one nights head game that was too much for me. We were talking on the phone and he told me he wanted to die. He said that he had taken a bunch of pills and was overdosing. He pretended to be feeling the effects of the pills and was slowly passing out, then he let the line go dead. I freaked out not sure what to do so after a few minutes I decided to call his house phone. I called and his dad answered the phone and said he was in the shower. That was finally enough for me, the relationship between us was over, but I will always carry a scar from that disaster.

At age 16 I dropped out in the beginning of the school year after being taught one on one in the late afternoons instead of going to school during the day. I couldn’t mentally handle school anymore. In January 2009 I was at a friends house sleeping over when my mom called me and said she told my dad she wanted a divorce, packed her things, and went to my grandma’s. I knew this was actually going to happen and wasn’t just a problem they could fix. I stayed with my dad and brother in the house until halfway through February. My dad was miserable (deservedly so,) depressed and angry. We didn’t get along like we do now. So I moved into my boyfriend of 4 months house with his parents. My parents tried to call my dcf worker and the police to make me come back but at the age of 16 they couldn’t legally make me return home. I stayed there until April when my mom got a condo for her, my brother and I. After a few months my mom and I, who I also didn’t get along with at the time, butted heads too much so I moved back in with my boyfriend. Eventually my dad got an apartment for himself and I. In November of that year, 2009, I went for my GED and got it. I then proceeded to go to cosmetology school. I completed 500 of the required 1500 hours before my mental status deteriorated and I couldn’t continue to go to school anymore. After my 18th birthday I moved back into my moms condo. One day we got into a big fight, I called 911 and then got arrested. Needless to say I came back, got my stuff and went back to my boyfriends. Eventually I moved back into my mom’s a third time. My brother moved out because he said he couldn’t handle all my drama. In between all this I was racking up hospital admissions. After two years in April 2011 we moved to a 3 bedroom apartment, my mom was engaged to her current husband at the time so him and his 14 year old son moved in. I hated being apart from my boyfriend so he slept over a lot and ended up after a while just moving in. It was too small of an apartment for all of us and we all fought a lot. So we moved back to his parents house. Come March 2012 my boyfriend and I got our own studio apartment on the other end of town. It was great at first, we enjoyed the freedom and the feeling of being adults, he was turning 20 and I was 19 years young. I never got my license because at the age of 16 there was so much going on so I couldn’t drive myself anywhere. Then I developed severe anxiety on top of everything else. That continued to prevent me from getting my license so I couldn’t go out without my boyfriend. I became agoraphobic basically. My boyfriend would go to work during the day while I, who at this point was receiving disability because I couldn’t handle working, stayed home all day watching tv, playing video games and sleeping a lot. Eventually the only time I would leave the house is when I was with my boyfriend to go shopping or to his visit his parents. The new shine of having an apartment wore off and I became severely depressed. The two of us were fighting constantly. One day after a fight I was pretending to do the dishes and I grabbed a knive. I ran into the bathroom, locked the door and was going to kill myself. My boyfriend saw what I did and called my mom. My mom called 911 and the police and EMTs basically broke the door down and papered me to have to stay in a psych ward for ten days. After that I was assigned a nurse who kept my meds so I wouldn’t overdose on them. She would come to the apartment everyday to deliver me my daily dose of medicine. I was taking a high dose of clonapin twice a day. After a while I started hiding them away and taking multiple ones when I was very depressed. I was already addicted from having been taking clonapin for years but taking extra made me even more addicted. Meanwhile I was also heading down a bad road with alcohol. I started trying to get alcohol any time and way I could from people because I was underage. I would beg my boyfriend at 8:30 at night to call in favors from people who were old enough to buy alcohol. When I drank, I drank to get hammered. In my mind, there was no point to drinking and not getting drunk.
I wouldn’t drink all the time, mostly because I couldn’t get alcohol easily. But when I did drink I binged drank. August was approaching and I was to be the maid of honor in my mom’s wedding on August 12, 2012. I had a few drinks after the ceremony while we were taking pictures. I gave my toast to the newlywed couple and then I hit the open bar. I don’t remember much in between before I started drinking and being carried out. Later I found out I completely made an idiot out of myself and embarrassed my mom practically ruining her wedding. It was then I decided between popping clonapin and percosets and binge drinking that I needed help. So August 31st I flew down to Delray Beach, Florida. The night before I left, my boyfriend thought it would be a good idea for us to go to a bar for one last hurrah. We quickly ran out of money but wanted to drink more so we needed to aquire more money. I told him to walk across the street to the gas station and use their ATM. Instead he insisted on driving on the highway to the next exit to use his banks ATM to avoid fees. After a while sitting at the bar waiting for him to return I knew something bad happened in my gut. I called and called his cell phone until he finally answered saying he got pulled over and couldn’t talk. I ran out of the bar, down the street and tried to get on the highway to go find him, not that I knew where I was going, all while completely inebriated. I’m lucky I didn’t get caught and arrested for being drunk in public. I called my mom crying and she told me to stay where I was and sent my brother to come pick me up. Needless to say my boyfriend was arrested. My mom was going to bail him out for me but his Dad said no, to let him stay there overnight to learn a lesson. I was flying out to Florida first thing in the morning. That night was the last time I ever saw him.  On the plane and on the way to the rehab I popped almost a whole bottle of clonapin. To this day I don’t remember anything after getting out of the car at the rehab’s detox. Lucky for me they take your picture upon coming into the facility so I had that horrible picture of me looking extremely high and disheveled to haunt me the rest of my time there. Finally after detoxing I was oked to go to the apartments of the rehab. While there I made good sober friends, cried a lot, worked on myself, and even had sober fun. After a long time of thinking and a lot of advice I decided it was best for many reasons to break up with my boyfriend. After almost two months in rehab I went to a sober house. I was planning on staying at the sober house for a while so I had my mom kick my now ex out of my apartment and pack up somethings, but I had her throw out most of it. At the rehab they had taken me off of all my meds which for some reason I thought was a good idea. My mental status was getting very bad between depression and anxiety and I was cutting and burning myself with cigarettes. After about 5 days I called my mom crying and begged her to get me a ticket for the next plane home. Almost as soon as I got home I started snorting and swallowing clonapin. After a few days home I was sent to another Rehab in florida. I was there for about five or six days detoxing, and my birthday passed while I was there. You aren’t allowed to use the phone so I couldn’t even call my mom on my birthday. They eventually said I needed to go to a psych hospital but my mom wanted me to come home and go to one here. I went home but didn’t go to the hospital. Instead after a few days I was sent to a third rehab in Florida. I was there detoxing for about three weeks. I was completely losing it by that point. I was paranoid people were watching me through my rooms window so I put the mattress over the window. I was showing a lot of bizarre behaviors. In the middle of detoxing I was baker acted, which is the same as papered basically but florida calls it baker acted. The only difference is the police come get you. I was handcuffed, drove to a hospital somewhere in Florida I didn’t know, and was dropped off at basically what was a fast track to being admitted. I was brought in, told to sign some papers and all of a sudden I was being forced to go to the baker acted psych unit. The rooms were bare and depressing. There was nothing but a hospital bed. I had a breakdown shortly after being admitted and kept banging my room door closed over and over and over. About ten staff approached me and gave me an injection of tranquilizers by force. They then proceeded to take my bed out of the room and just left me the thin hospital bed mattress on the floor. The only “good thing” was that they had smoke breaks where you go out into this open space attached to the ward with just a bench, 15 foot concrete walls on all sides and chicken wire over the top. It wasn’t until the second day that I was able to use a phone and let my mom know where I was. I was given slowly decreasing doses of clonapin to help me continue to detox. Everybody in the unit had very serious mental health issues. It was stressful being around people who were even worse than me. There was an older man there who was in his 50s I think, that kept hitting on me the whole time he was there. I was “high” on a lot of tranquilizers and heavy drugging medicines while there. One of the times we were outside smoking the staff member who was watching us went inside to do something. I was so out of it and that man took advantage of that fact and molested me. The next morning I realized what had happened and told the staff. Police came in and questioned me about what happened then moved the man to another unit. That was all the justice I got. After about four days I was released back into the custody of the rehab and went back to detox. Finally I was brought to the actual rehab place on a Friday. Saturday was horrible, I hated it. By Sunday night I used a dramatic excuse as to why I had to get home immediately. Soon I was on a plane heading home again. I had learned a lot from the first rehab though, especially how to finally control my anger and find inner calmness. Right after the new year of 2013 I ended up in the hospital again for swallowing handfuls of motrin and had to drink a lot of charcoal. By this time I was 20 and was put on the adult psych floor. If left untreated mental health issues get worse as you get older. There were a lot of older people with scary mental issues. I had an older roommate there once who was so sweet, but she had schizophrenia and at night I would hear her talking to herself and “she” was whispering horrible things to herself. Once again I was discharged. My mom and stepdad were trying very hard at that point to find a nice house big enough for all of us. Change freaks me out, especially moving because at this point I couldn’t tolerate anymore moving. I was on the nutrisystem diet at the time and it consumed me to the point where I was just eating raw veggies and then not eating for days. I was in one of the worst depressions of my life. My mental health got so bad I became paranoid and became convinced there was a demon in my room possessing me. I even “saw” a demon in the walls. I started hearing voices in my head that were horrible and scary. The voices were telling me to do things and made me hide out alone in my room all day and night. After a while of it getting worse and worse I finally realized what was happening, that I was hearing voices, and I called my mom who was at the new house cleaning. By time she got back to the apartment I had been screaming at the top of my lungs at the voices to stop and was sobbing hysterically. It was so hard because they were screaming back at me not to tell anyone. Somehow I managed to get out what was happening to my mom. We went back to st. Raphaels and I got admitted the day we were moving into our new house. This was the first time I was there as an adult and I was sent to the adult ward. It was terrible there. You couldn’t walk around, they only put the tv on a couple of hours a day. There was a lot of down time to just sleep or be alone inside your head. While there I was restrained twice which is traumatic. The psychiatrist messed around with my meds, putting me on new stuff for the voices, upped doses of other meds, and took me off of others all together. One of the meds he took me off, seroquel, was basically the glue holding my anxiety somewhat together. I started getting horribly restless, I couldn’t sit in the common area. I had to lay in bed. It was like I had restless legs syndrome. In the groups I was able to attend my legs would bounce up and down at a million miles an hour. But after being there ten days I didn’t want to tell the psychiatrist and risk having to stay longer for him to fix it with meds. So I went home and it got so bad that I would sleep all day. Then I would get up, take my night meds and go back to bed. Obviously I ended up back in the hospital at yale because I couldn’t take it anymore. The leg problem was fixed with med tweaks and as usual after getting out of the hospital I was stable for a week or two. Upon discharge one of the nurses gave my mom and I a brochure to a conference about borderline personality disorder. One of the speakers at the conference talked about the hell she went through mentally and is now a renowned psychiatrist. It gave me a small slice of hope. I learned about the yale stress center and finally started seeing a psychologist and a psychiatrist again. However come the end of June 2013 I was doing bad again and was admitted to the psych floor at yale again for the 22nd time. My mom told them I couldn’t come home because just coming home after each admission wasn’t working. I unfortunately had to agree to that statement. There was talk of me possibly being committed to Middletown’s Connecticut valley. Thankfully my therapist at the hospital came up with one last option before that. She found this place called Timberline Knolls, a residential womens program on the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois. You may have heard of it, Demi Lovato and Kesha have both been there. On July 8th I was discharged, packed up and heading on a plane to Chicago. Upon arrival at timberline I was embraced with open arms by all the staff members and the other wonderful women residents there. I was only there six weeks but it was six weeks of life changing. We were doing groups and fun electives such as fishing, going to the art studio, and therapy dance movement all day everyday. When I first got there I saw someone wearing a timberline knolls sweater that said timberline knolls, changing lives one day at a time or something to that extent. I thought it was a joke. I remember the first day there I was outside on the smoke deck, and I saw chalk drawings and quotes all over. I remember seeing one that changed my whole perspective and to what I credit helped me get well. In bright yellow letters it said “secrets keep you sick.” I vowed then to finally be open and honest with the staff and my peers about the skeletons in my closet. Getting everything off my shoulders and out in the open made me be able to forgive and move on from all the things and people who had hurt me. It was so freeing after years of silence to finally break that sound barrier and let it all go. We had groups about everything from addiction,surviving rape and abuse, and spiritual groups. There was the first time I actually shared in groups and was able to get great feedback from my peers and know I wasn’t alone. We had family meetings through  webcam, and I had a personal nutritionist to help me understand my eating disorder. While I was there I cried for the first time since the rehabs, it felt so good to let it out. There was a lot of the DBT classes that I took serious for the first time. I learned so many coping skills and learned how to appropriately and positively have conversations. I learned how to reach out when I’m having a hard time also. When I was in rehab and AA meetings I’d always hear about the spiritual awakening you’ll have someday. I thought it was a crock. But one day some of the girls were having an impromptu bible meeting and last second I decided to join. When it came my turn to read, what I read was like it was delivered from gods lips to my ears. I finally felt so happy and at peace with myself. I also learned to be fully appreciative of who and what I have. After six weeks I “graduated” and was sent home in the middle of August. Since then I’ve been self injury free, depression free, my anxiety is a lot better. I’m finally making goals again like to get my license and to go back to college. I can now have appropriate conversations with my family and not fight. I get along with my parents almost all of the time now. All it took was opening up and not carrying all these secrets.

So many times I thought of or tried killing myself. I felt so alone and like there was no hope. Now? Now I’m grateful for everything I’ve been through because I’ve learned so much. It’s made me very strong. The saying what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger is so true. I never was able to see a light at the end of the tunnel, but somehow I made it.My mom would always tell me that I had to fight these demons for a reason so that someday I could help somebody else. Spreading mental health awareness and helping others pull through their struggle is what all my struggles were for, and honestly, I wouldn’t go back in time and change a thing.

A few facts:

Suicide takes the lives of nearly 30,000 Americans every year.

Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.

For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

15% of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide.

1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.

An average of one person dies by suicide every 16.2 minutes. (CDC, AAS)

On the silver lining,

It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS)

80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.

Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.

Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.

If you are concerned for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, call the suicide hotline; go to yellowribbon.org or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org

I know it sounds so cliche’ but please, reach out to someone. Don’t suffer quietly and alone.
There really is help out there and people who care.

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