Exercises to build self-esteem: #3. Personal positive experiences

Personal positive experiences…

1. Take out a clean sheet of paper and a pen of your choice.

2. Divide the paper into eight sections: Courage, Kindness, Selflessness, Love, Sacrifice, Wisdom, Happiness, Determination.

3. Under each section write about positive personal experiences that come under that category.

4. You don’t have to limit yourself to one example for each, the more you can think of the better!

5. Keep the paper somewhere handy so that (a) you can read it frequently and (b) you can add to it whenever you fancy.

 

  • I fought cervical cancer for four years, and I’ve hopefully won.
  • I underwent two surgeries for the cancer.
  • I underwent four biopsies.
  • I am going public with Lulu Stark.  I’m going to be courageous here and put my name out there.  I am actually Tiffany.  But, I prefer Tiff.  Please keep calling me Lulu though.  I like it.  I think it represents something in me.
  • In June 2011, I started As The Pendulum Swings, my first mental health blog.
  • I co-founded A Canvas of the Minds, a community mental health blogging site.
  • I supported Occupy Pittsburgh when they were camping in town.
  • In 2006, I lived without basic utilities in a dilapidated house.
  • I recently moved away from my hometown.
  • I had the courage to finally break ties with my extended family and put my parents at a distance.
  • I’ve finally accepted my son’s diagnosis of Pervasive Development Disorder.
  • In 2009, I sought treatment for bipolar disorder.
  • Before my surgery in 2011, I chose to live by my own hand.

  • I take late night phone calls for friends in need.
  • I used to volunteer for my family’s church.
  • I am fiercely loyal to friends, even if they don’t deserve it.
  • I occasionally give to charities, especially those for children.
  • I taught music in a youth program for underprivileged children.
  • I make it a point to comment on people’s blogs at least once a day.
  • I encourage online friends to email me when they are having a hard time.
  • I help my husband finish his work at home.
  • I leave love notes for my husband.
  • I once made a blanket for a child I was a nanny for.
  • I was a summertime nanny for two children plus my own.

  • I get up an hour and a half before my husband each day to get him off to work.
  • I always do without for my child.
  • I always make sure that my husband gets the big piece of chicken at dinner.
  • I cook, although I don’t often feel like it.
  • I take classes that my husband is very enthusiastic about me taking.
  • I make sure my child’s needs come first.
  • I am staying at home instead of working to take care of my son.
  • I am working hard to get my son services for his special needs.
  • I am always able to put my own stuff aside for a friend in crisis.
  • Over the last year, I have put off numerous appointments in order to accommodate my husband’s climb up the career ladder.  I still am.
  • Sometimes, as a result of my husband’s work, I find that I end up being the sole parent for most days.  I rarely ask for anything in return.
  • I lay my husband’s clothes out every morning because he’s colorblind.
  • I have forgone getting a new pair of glasses for two years because it’s not in the budget.
  • Sometimes, I make my medicine stretch just a little longer so that I can see everyone else is taken care of first.
  • I mentioned I help my husband finish his work at home.  I do so unpaid.
  • During Summer Semester 2011, I pushed a little girl around the wheelchair at the zoo.  If you knew the Pittsburgh zoo, then you know it’s very hilly.

  • I have never abandoned someone because they were “too much work”.
  • I put everything I have into my son.
  • One of the reasons we moved to the place we live in now is so we could take care of my husband’s family, all of whom are disabled now.
  • I write prose to my husband.  Sometimes, I stick cute notes in his work laptop.
  • I will do anything to immediately soothe my husband’s panic attacks.
  • I will hold my son for hours when he’s having an emotional day.
  • I am always telling my husband wonderful things about himself.
  • I am not hesitant to be affectionate with my husband, even when he is.

  • I recently passed up a job offer to stay at home with my son.
  • I have not pursued the last four credits of my Bachelors, because the money would come out of pocket.
  • In the summer of 2011, I taught summer semester while having undiagnosed walking pneumonia for over a month.  We needed the money.
  • In 2010, I had to surrender my dog Nikki.  She was too big for the house, setting off Beast’s allergies, and we didn’t have a big enough yard for her.
  • In 2006, I dropped out of college to work.  The man I was with at the time and I had some really wrecked finances.
  • In 2006 and then again in 2009, I took a job in a commercial bakery when I had two different Associate’s Degrees.  I was desperate for work.
  • Becoming a mother is sacrifice in itself.
  • I am holding off on having a second child for my husband’s sake.  I may not be able to have children as I grow older, and I take the risk that the cancer will return.

  • In 2012, I started Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon to help share my experience with others so they might not feel so alone.
  • I regularly give advice to friends and family.
  • Despite our rocky relationship, I counseled my mother while she had difficulty taking care of her own mother.
  • I know that I can only believe none of what I hear and only half of what I see.
  • Get me once, shame on you.  Get me twice, shame on me.
  • I realize that life is what happens when a person is busy making other plans.
  • There are some things that I can help, and there are some things I cannot.  It’s up to me to have the wisdom to determine which is which.  I am pretty good at that at this point.
  • I always remind others that you can’t change people.
  • I find that I always remind others that happiness and health are more important than anything else.  Money and duty sometimes have to take a backseat.

  • In 2008, I took a honeymoon to my favorite beach, Myrtle Beach.
  • Also in 2008, I gave birth to one of my sources of joy, my son, my Beast.
  • Also in 2008, I married the man of my dreams.  My other half, maybe my better half, Xan.
  • My family takes regular long drives through the country.
  • I adopted a kitten in 2011.
  • In 2007, my long time best friend, Xan (my now husband), got into our romantic relationship.  We had a whirlwind romance that ended up with us being married in less than a year.
  • I’ve had five wonderful years with my husband.
  • I have wonderful friends who would do anything for me.
  • I’m now living in the nicest house I’ve ever lived in.
  • I have so much land and I don’t live on a busy street anymore.
  • I’m in the best shape of my life.

  • I will finish my degree one day, and finish higher degrees.
  • I will find a good therapist and get on the right medication.
  • I will combat mental illness, and come out the other side better for it.
  • I will continue to get in shape and stay in shape.
  • I will belt up in Tang Soo Do.
  • I will continue to keep fighting cancer, even if the doctors are sure that it’s gone.
  • I will help my son catch up in his development.
  • I will help my husband be the best father, husband, and employee he can be.
  • I will never give up on myself, my goals, my dreams, and my friends and family.

 

All that I am, all that I ever was...

Send you negative thoughts to the naughty corner!

So far this week we have looked at what self-esteem is; the value we place on ourselves and how we see ourselves in general, what low self-esteem is; when we as individuals hold deep-seated negative beliefs about ourselves, and how we can work toward improving these beliefs through altering our perceptions of who we are.

First, by focussing on the things that bring us pleasure (rather than pain) and secondly, on how it isn’t narcissistic to love our individual gifts and talents.

Today, we look at our experiences.

As many people who suffer from low-esteem may relate to, I spend a lot of time living in the negative space of my life. All day, every day, I am constantly reminding myself of all the things I have done wrong; of when I let my friends down, of when I…

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With or Without You : 30 Days of Truth

Day 15 : Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

Most people would prefer to choose a certain special someone or an object to contain all of their affections.  Though my relationship with this is troubled, I have found it to be impossible to live without it.  Even if it’s so hard to live with it.

Medication.

I have made the attempt several times in my life to live without psychiatric medication.  My first was a psychiatric evaluation when I was thirteen, and I refused treatment.  What thirteen year old has the intense desire for repeated therapy visits and pesky medicine?  As a direct result, my symptoms progressed, and I wound up my own cutting board.  When it became concerning, no one was willing to take me back for actual treatment.  Instead, I unnecessarily suffered until I humiliatingly revealed myself and my wounds to an outsider.

The next time was in my late teens.  After being medicated for nearly five years with no result, I was ready to give up on $60 co-pays for a medication that just gave me heroin-like withdrawal symptoms when I forgot to take it.  (That was also the first time I became strongly inclined to start carrying medication on me in clever, cute containers).  I spent a gratuitous amount of time on weekends in a different county, an hour away from my home.  The bus services were shoddy at best, and if I forgot to take my medicine on Friday, then by Sunday morning, I was violently shaking and vomiting in front of my relatively new boyfriend.

This new boyfriend, Avi, convinced me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.  The medication was doing more damage to me than good.  It was a waste of time and money.  Psychiatry was a joke and a con for cash.  It would be in my best interest to get off of the medication.

The funniest thing about that was the fact that I became irreconcilably depressed when I weaned myself from the Lexapro, an SSRI.  I required way more than my typical six hours of sleep.  I could no longer party until dawn.  And mostly, my only desire was to scream and cry my eyes out.  After you’ve been hypomanic for so many years, having a crash like that was epic.  Coincidentally, it coincided with the very first cliff fall in our torturous relationship.

And resulting in that choice, I developed functional alcoholism prior to the legal drinking age in the United States.  It took several abusers, victimization, abject poverty, and becoming an abuser to take me down into the depths of a bottle.

I found that I had even given up on self-medication.  When Xan and I got together, it became obvious that he suspected I suffered from addiction.  Though our relationship was certainly not new, our courtship was brand new.  In order to not put him off, and make a show of my own self-control, I slowly ditched the bottle.  I was so addicted that I found I had to be intoxicated to make love to him.  At least a little.

A few years later, I started treatment.  I had managed to remain sober, however, I had completely lost control of myself.  Several months into treatment, I ran into every medicated person’s greatest fear.  My medical coverage was eliminated.  Every pharmacy reported the same thing; Lamictal costs a fortune, and if I can’t afford COBRA, then I sure as hell cannot pay for it from pocket.  I found myself soliciting every pharmacy within a 10 mile radius for assistance.  Finally, one came through for me.  But, not before I suffered cruel withdrawal symptoms.

A similar withdrawal happened over a holiday.  I was unable to see my Pdoc before Christmas, and he had taken vacation through the New Year.  The office had a policy not to call in medications, so I had to make an appointment to go in.  Catch 22.  For four days, I laid there writhing in bed.  Xan took charge, and I had a refill that same day.

The very last time was one of my own poor choices.  That is exactly what mania does – it gets your hooks into you and tells you dirty little lies.  I had decided to attempt to wean myself from medication slowly so that I could prepare to attempt pregnancy.  I did so alone.  Instead of consulting a doctor, I went ahead.  And instead of getting off of medications, I had psychotic breaks the likes of which I have never been remotely acquainted with.  The result was more medication and a lesser likelihood of having a second child.

I have been without by force, by accident, by coercion, and of my own volition.  Like it or not, I cannot live without medication.

Clarity of Chaos

We sat together, alone on a Friday night.  What an atypical Friday night, without people hanging from our rafters and music blaring.  A couple of cans of beer and a pack of cigarettes were the only occupants of the old grainy table with red paint peeling.  I chipped at it a little carelessly while watching him intently.  It was him and me, peacefully alone, deep in light, airy conversation.

I was mildly distracted by the clarity of his voice.  No ambient noise of idle chatter engulfed his words.  They slipped from his full pink petal lips, with the crispness of mildly intoxicated honesty, confessions from a fortress of a man.  He explained his position, the station in which he found himself in within his own self.  My ears perked up at the heaviness of the content, and I felt the weight shifting from a crushing burden of existence onto him, sliding onto the table, begging for me to grasp it.

All I had desired, each last truth and beautiful, intimate moment sat before me, ready for my embrace.  However, I failed to understand the dimensions of it.  He began to clarify, “I need you.”

Befuddled, “Need me how?”

“I need to be with you.  I want more time with you.”

Those two sentences struck me with the force of a wrecking ball, crumbling every wall throughout each layer, penetrating me into a sweet surrender.  Simple words completely ravished me, turning my entire world on it’s ear.  And in this entire duration of the last six months, I had been none the wiser.

I wrote an article for A Canvas of the Mind entitled, “Disorder and Love: What We Do and Don’t Know” It went into a detailed analysis of relationships and how disorder can come to affect them.  I wrote:

Mental health disorders have a way of putting blinders on a person.  I have to say, there are a lot of things in this world that I miss.  Whether it’s because I’m wrapped up in my own head, or I have one of the different shades of the multiple pairs of glasses I don on, I know that my own perceptions are often distorted.  In short, I miss things.  Sometimes, I miss very important things.

I am not one to take a hint.  So, one of those subtle things, such as love, often slip past me or whiz over my head.

This admission was far beyond my own powers of perception, interpretation, and insight.  Riding a ten year roller coaster of various states and natures of friendships and romantic partnership, I came to expect that no further surprises existed.  He had seen me in the worst of lights, beyond any imagination of my own personal wreckage.  This is just as he had seen me in my greatest successes, radiantly reborn each time out of my own ashes.  And I witnessed him in his own pits, disheveled, yet hiding it well. With each crack beginning to show, every time pulling himself back into flight.  We ran our own cycles again and again.

People don’t change, they just become more so.  Murphy was sorely mistaken in this context.  And I had made some serious fallacious conclusions in this progression.

Have I folded into myself so tightly that I failed to see this?  Clearly, this desperate longing existed within him, stirring and quaking for eternities, extensively understated.  Had I walled myself into such complete introversion that existing within his own mind and heart was an impossibility?

It no longer mattered.  The blinders came off, and he had never been so radiantly focused though my own eyes.  We were unencumbered by the shackles of responsibilities and obligations.  In that moment, we were young lovers, engulfed in each other, professing each perfect droplet of affections in fine, caressing detail.  The purity of those exchange brought definition and order into our world of chaos and illusion.

That simple phrase was so multifaceted, in such a simple package with a little satin bow.  He had lost me, the pure, undistorted, unadulterated me before him now so many times.  He had lost me to our child, sacrificing so much time and energy that there was not much left to give.  Again, I disappeared into the abyss of postpartum psychosis, and dropped even further into the depths of bipolar disorder.  Each relapse must have been more inexplicably painful and confusing for him than it was for me.  A wild woman emerged in each episode of psychosis, severing him from me as reality slipped through my fingers and out of my grasp.  In the last six months, he had to have been suffering the same loneliness and mourning for the life and love we shared.

“I’m not going back there,” I assured him.  “I am better, and I will keep getting better.  We know what’s wrong with me.  And we can make me better together.  You don’t have to lose me again.”

“I just want it to be us.”

And it is.  And forever will be, us.

Up For Some Blog Tag?

I don’t know about some of you guys, but I’ve been coming up short in the writing arena lately.  Not because I don’t have anything to complain about (I don’t), but the Abilify is making my head unusually empty.  So, I’d like to toss around a game of tag!  Enjoy!

Da Rules:

Write ten facts about yourself, all true, and then pass it on to ten people.

Da Facts:

  1. I don’t like red meat.  I really don’t.  I am not a big fan of meat in general.  Except cheeseburgers.  I love cheeseburgers.  They are my downfall every time I attempt vegetarianism.
  2. I sleep in my contacts.  I’m so vain.  No, just kidding.  I just really love waking up and not fishing for a pair of glasses.  There’s something beautiful about waking up and being able to see the world without some plastic foreign object on your face.
  3. I live in Pittsburgh.  For those of you that might not know, I live in the City of Champions.  Most livable city in the US.  Six Superbowl Rings.  Four Stanley Cups (that I know of).  Jaywalking is a birthright.  The most disgusting rivers you will ever see, all three of them.  So bad that Bruce Willis said he will never, ever go in them again.  Most cloudy days of any major US city.  And more sets of stairs than San Francisco, believe that or not.  This city is the best.
  4. I was not born in Pittsburgh.  Unlike the rest of the natives, I was not born at Magee Women’s Hospital.  I wasn’t even born in this city.  I was actually born in a little town outside of Atlanta, GA.  I was raised there for several years and then hauled to Pittsburgh.
  5. I occasionally have a southern accent.  If I am drunk enough, surrounded by southerners, or actually in the south, I will slip into a southern accent.  The more time I spend in the south, the harder it is for me to get rid of.  I went down for a week for my honeymoon, and couldn’t get rid of it for three weeks, much to my husband’s disgust.  He’s one to talk; he has a mix of a Pittsburgh accent and a Brooklyn accent.
  6. I speak three languages.  Good English.  Bad English.  And Pittsburghese.  Look it up, it’s a real thing.
  7. I play more than one instruments.  I play most instruments in the woodwind family, and some in the percussion family.  I do not play any strings or brass.  It’s just not in me.
  8. My hair is naturally blonde.  Just not as blonde as I dye it!
  9. My son has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I know I don’t talk about it often, but my son was diagnosed with Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified in May 2011.  My brother has classical autism, so it was a hard diagnosis to take in.  I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Not again, God, I can’t handle this my whole life.”  The good news is that he’s coming along just fine, though he’s still delayed.
  10. I am on five psychiatric medications.  Lamictal, Abilify, Xanax, Wellbutrin, and Temazepam.  I hear that’s actually pretty tame in comparison.

Now, here’s the tagging.  If you come upon this, then TAG, YOU’RE IT!  I mean, if you really want.  I’m just not going out of my way to tag others today.

Antipsychosis

I find that I’m sifting through every corner and combing every shelf.  Typically, this is how the search for my marbles goes.  I have a bulging pouch, a testament to my . . . (I cannot find the word.  This is aphasia at it’s finest.)  To my bounty of sanity that I contain.  No, instead, I am frantically . . . hunting for my inspiration.

Is this dry spell the direct result of my lack of “a certain something”?  Certainly.  Am I what I would consider sane and stable?  Certainly not.  I am muted and docile.  No gusto.  No fire.

No original thoughts of my own, apparently.

There is a certain amount of pressure mounting the a point of bursting.  Unfortunately, I cannot seem to even see my own hand in front of my face.  That is how lacking in vision and perspective I am.  I am unaware if this . . . tension is a dam walling the roaring waters of content.  Silently, I pray it is.

Instead, I feel this tightness in my psyche so strongly it becomes somatic.  What lies beneath, within?  What could possibly be of such importance that it has created a friction that produces no heat?  In all honesty, what could I possibly say about anything?  There is a complete absence of thought.  It has all become a runny stew, too brothy to hold the meat and potatoes intact.

Brain Goop Soup.

. . .

And more nothingness.  Annoyingly silent, echos of almost, faintly mocking me in nondescript whispers.

. . .

I suppose that sometimes, a disconnect develops.  This disconnect . . . well, it is just as indescribable and inexplicable as the nonsense prior.  I find the disjointed nature of these thoughts to be the severing of one underdeveloped conscious thought to the next.  Reality has become too real, and I have become evicted from my own headspace.  Expelled into the real world, where time is near frozen.  Days are detached entities, and moments have no . . . a lack of continuity.

I have found that this is the polar opposite of psychosis.  This is the state of antipsychosis, where reality is overly dominant, and abstract thought . . . is a concept in which I have to make a concerted effort.  Never before in my life have I been so uninspired, so dried up.  My home was in my head, a comfy nest in which I resided.  Where do I make a home in reality?

My bullshit radar is going off.

I find the discovery that instead of tapping into something original, I am going through the motions.

I am needy.

Extroversion has become a monster that requires feeding.  I cannot find the willpower to stop myself from desperately searching outside myself for intellectual stimulation, self-affirmation, and creativity.  I do so with the intent to stir my own soup, but I instead crumple that little page of notebook in my mind and immediately discard.  Irrelevant, my brain determines.  It does not sustain my basic needs.  It is superfluous.

Just pet me and tell me that I’m wonderful.

Not because I need the validation.  I have enough evidence to convince myself of that truth.  (Mania, maybe?)  It just feels nice to be acknowledged in the real world.  Because in the real world, I feel as if I am a wandering, translucent ghost.  Are you listening?  Can you see me?  Do my words count for anything?

Is there something wrong?

Is the theory of antipsychosis actually a manifestation of psychosis?  Are my ideas of eviction from my brain, but an absence of presence in reality a problem?  It is not distressing.  Okay, I find a tiny drop of distress, only at the idea that I may never have another unique idea again.  That this blankness, this . . . blockage will be my doomed fate.

Is my intense desire to be thought of actually neediness?  It is a tad distressing.  It is watered down.  I can live with it.  I find extreme boredom in everything.  Worse, I find myself to be the most boring of all.  I have not once before experience such severe boredom.

How do I reach out and make a connection when I have nothing funny, witty, inspiring, or provocative to say?

 

I Am Not God : 30 Days of Truth

Day 05: Something you hope you never have to do.

Decisiveness is not my strong point. I realize that certain choices can have long lasting effects. One choice can start a major chain reaction, cascading through many aspects of life, for better or worse. I have difficulty evaluating which decision will yield the best results, or do the least amount of damage. In fact, I’m sometimes so indecisive that mundane, daily selections become a challenge. What to eat? What to wear?

I hope that I will never have to be faced with a life or death decision.

I am not God. Nor can I ever pretend to be any spiritual deity that would be remotely qualified to render that judgment. I do not even have the capacity to make that choice for myself.

As a woman on a slew of medication and also of child-bearing age, this is a hot topic that remains fixed in the peripherals. I’m sure it’s something many women using pharmaceutical treatment for mental health think about. These are black box medications. What would I do if I got knocked up?

I’d love to have a definitive answer. In all fairness, this is a lot more complicated than your average abortion debate.

Yes, I’d keep the baby.
Taking a life is wrong. It’s not up to me to decide. If I took every precaution, and I still managed to conceive, then it was really meant to happen. I couldn’t imagine the heartbreak of losing a child, and the resentment toward myself for doing it purposefully. It would be an impossible decision to live with. Every life deserves a chance. Every child is a blessing.

No, I would abort the baby.
Sometimes, a woman has to do what is best for herself, the child in question, and her family. It would not be right to bring a child into this world that may likely have extraordinary special needs. It would be wrong for the potential child, cursing them to a life of physical and / or mental disability. It would be criminal to drain precious few resources from the rest of the family, such as time, money, and energy. And it may be extremely dangerous, if not fatal to both fetus and mother if I were to quit medication cold turkey.

This could turn to a very heated dialog. I have to cut it off at some point. We’ll cross that bridge if we get there.

That’s the only definitive life-and-death decision I can produce. There are thousands of scenarios.

I’m holding my husband by one arm and my son by the other from a ledge where they both slipped. I only have enough strength with both of my arms to save one. Who do I choose?

Life and death. It’s too big of a moral dilemma for me to ever want to handle. There are some moments where I could make a hard and fast decision. Giving my life to protect my loved ones? Yes. Taking a life to protect my loved ones? Only if absolutely necessary. Taking a life for vengeance? No.

Otherwise, leave me out of it.

The Friday Confessional : First Edition

Thanks to C, writer at Seasons Change and So Have I, I have taken on the idea of the Friday Confessional.  There’s something so cleansing about it.  I am not Catholic, nor have I ever been.  But, I can see why confessional is an important part of their Christian denomination.

October 25, 2000

It was quite an eventful day.  Not even a week earlier, I had come out to a teacher about my cutting that had gone on in secret for two and a half years.  I was on psychiatric suspension until I was able to see a doctor.  I suppose that was probably a punishment that was meant for my parents.  Their only respite from me was school.  It was likely intended to force them into seeking treatment for me, rather than ignoring the problem, as I confessed in that principals office.  They had known about it for more than a year at that point.  And it was my father’s taunts about it that gave me the little white scar with two teeth just under the freckle on my left forearm.  That was the nasty gash that led me to this very day.

My mother cautioned me before we left.  “Don’t say anything crazy, or else they’ll put you in inpatient.”  I was going to an inpatient facility for outpatient care.  It was twenty minutes away from my home, and filled to the brim with all likes of troubled kids, far worse than me, from all around the area.  I heard the horror stories of that place from friends that had complete meltdowns and whose parents were scared out of their wits.  “I roomed with this girl who had fifty stitches around her neck.  She tried to slit her own throat.”  Talk about cutting.  I was an amateur digging at my wrists with a dull steak knife.

My father was a bastard the whole way there.  I always hated being in the car with him.  It felt like I was trapped, forced to listen to him go on and on about whatever was grinding his gears, usually me.  It seemed like there was something I had done or not done that set him off on a raging tangent.  Today, it was the fact that I was going to therapy.  “This is a waste of fucking time and money!  I’ve been in therapy for 20 years, and do you know what it got me!?  A fat sack of nothin’!  So wish in one hand and shit in the other, girl!  See what fills up faster!”  At least I can say that he was memorable in those states.

It didn’t matter.  That day was about me.  It was the overdue response to all of my distress calls.  They took to prepping me in the car.  I was not to say anything about the family.  I was not to smack talk anyone, or else I was going to get taken away.  If I lied or exaggerated in any way, they’d go to jail, and my brother would be put in a home.  It would be all my fault that they broke up our family.  The fate of the family was in my hands now, and I’d better now screw it up, or else I’d never be forgiven.  They would leave me to rot in a foster home.  Eighteen was still two years away for me.  Two years is a long time in your teens.

We arrived, and I was greeted by a woman who looked to be about my mother’s age.  She was thin and had bright eyes.  Her name was Dr. H, but she preferred Ann.  I was hesitant.  It was impolite to refer to any adult by their first name.  It was a sign of disrespect.  She handed my mother a huge stack of paperwork and told me to come right in when my mother was finished.  My mother looked through the stack, and then started thoughtfully.  I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t signing my own consent, and then I realized I wasn’t of age yet.  It looked too large to be consent.  My mother leaned in to me and asked, “You don’t torture animals, do you?”

I was astounded that she even asked!  What the hell was on that form?!  She explained it was just an assessment, and that there would be ridiculous questions on there.  Some kids were a lot worse than me, she noted.  Clearly.

I went into her office, and it smelled like lavender.  The lights were dimmed, a candle was lit, and there was an inviting sofa with pillows and a blanket next to her desk.  “How are you feeling?”  I burst out crying.  I couldn’t stop.  I spilled everything.  All of my misery and isolation fell from my eyes and mouth into her lap.  I purged, like word vomit, until I felt empty again.

She told me, “This isn’t your fault.  You have a disorder.”  It was a relief.  All of these years, I had known that I wasn’t like other children.  Children aren’t sad and scared.  People don’t go around crying every single day of their lives, wishing they were dead.  She continued to explain was Major Depressive Disorder was, and assured me that I would see a doctor about getting medicine for relief.

“Will I have to be on this medicine for the rest of my life?” I asked.

“Sometimes, medication is just a crutch until you can get better.”

Famous last words.  (I’m on five psychiatric medications as of right now.)

I went home and went to bed.  Bed was home.  Bed was the only safe place there was in the entire world.

My boyfriend showed up later, and we went out to celebrate his eighteenth birthday.  When we came home later, everyone was gathered in the living room.  My mother announced to me, “We’re taking your father to the hospital.  We think he had a heart attack.  Your grandmother is coming to watch you.”

Fine by me.  My boyfriend and I went into the game room in the basement and had sex again.  He stayed pretty late, as my mother announced he had to go into emergency open heart bypass.  And all I could think to myself was, “Good.  I hope he dies on that table.”