When I started writing this book, I was overwhelmed. Not just in putting it all together, but having to force myself to remember some unpleasant memories. The fact that my thoughts, experiences and inner torments would be put in black and white on paper seemed impossible at first. I was sure that I would disappoint myself and those around me, or even worse, fail.
My darkest secrets, my hidden life would be on display for anyone to read, and I was petrified of what people would think of me, my disorder, where I have been, and my world.
A big part of me wanted to reveal the true me. But I found a small part of me wanting to sugar coat everything. To down play some passages, and lie about others. I was craving to reach out to explain my life, yet I wanted acceptance.
I soon realised that if I was going to write this book, I had to be completely open and honest. If I wanted people to know, I had to be true. If I desperately wanted to help myself, I had to go through the pain. There were moments when I could not bring myself to write some memories. I didn’t think people would understand a mind like mine. But I had to put these concerns aside. I needed to do this for me. It was hard. Sometimes, unbearable.
However as I became organised, determined and sure that this was what I wanted to do, I found myself becoming less worried of what people thought. I reminded myself that this book had a dual purpose: to enlighten others about some people’s awful realities and to sort out the chaos of my own.
I found myself getting better. It was slow at first, but I noticed it. I still had my moods, my self-harm, my voices, but they were not as extreme. That’s when I knew that this book was a way forward, my therapy. That by having to remember memories that left me screaming, I had to accept them and deal with them. I could no longer block them out. There are still, and always will be experiences that I cannot, and maybe never will want to recall. And that there are some which are too hard for me even now to accept, let alone write down. But in time I hope they do not matter.
It was only when I was getting near to the end of converting my journal into a book that a recurrent nightmare started. A weird dream. Unpleasant; the finished manuscript is on the bedside table and a horrid looking midget steals it. He starts printing out copies and sends it to thousands of people. I wake up and go to the door, only to find several crowds of people shouting at me, each with a copy in hand. Before I can do or say anything I get the finished copies thrown at me. I get battered with them, while the midget looks on, laughing.
I have learnt more things than I had hoped in doing this project. I have learnt more about my self and have come to better understand those like me. I am writing this for those who are lost, alone and feeling as desperate as I had felt.
When I was in one particular psychiatric unit I came across a book. I could relate to every page. I felt less alone. I knew that there were others like me. Hiding in locked rooms, under long sleeves, behind anything that could damage them, and I smiled knowing that I shared my world with others. I hope this book does the same to those who are living or have lived in that dark place; then not only will I have at least succeeded at my writing but also in giving them hope.
Well, I guess you could say I didn’t have a great start. I wasn’t wanted even as an amoeba. My birth mother had no personal drug history, or alcohol history; she went to church, but also fooled around at around 14. My blood father also didn’t drink or use drugs, but was ready for love, not ready for a baby, though. I certainly was not an immaculate conception. My birth mother couldn’t handle having a child, being a mother at age 16. I understand that. She was a baby having a baby. Before I was two months old two grown men rejected me: obviously one was the rabbit, before I entered earth, at 20 he couldn’t commit. The other man who did agree and want me was my father who adopted me. It wasn’t that he didn’t want me, it was just that for most my childhood I didn’t think of him as a father. He was there, on weekends and late at night. But that was all. I have pictures of all my birthday parties; he is not in any one of them. I have pictures from school plays and ballet classes; again he is not seen in them. My most favourable memories from childhood do not include him. I didn’t know him. He was the authority figure who screamed at me at bedtime when he had received my school reports. He was the man who pushed me into activities that his friend’s children did. He could not understand that I was different. He thought that all my behaviour was due to lack of discipline. It wasn’t until my late teens that he finally realised that for most my life I had had a mental disorder. He wanted to control every aspect of my life that resulted in me rebelling. Now that I am older I am on better terms with him. Occasionally he tries. Occasionally I try. We try to get on better. Sometimes we even laugh. Old hurts like scabs leave scars. But at least we can still laugh. Sometimes.
It wasn’t until my third treatment centre that I realised I had a mental disorder. It is called Borderline Personality Disorder. It is more common in women. One doctor has said I will suffer from it for the rest of my life another has said I will have it until I am at least forty years old. It comes suddenly but doesn’t go as easily. I used to have it to an extreme. Several doctors told me I was one of the worst cases they had ever seen. At the time I took that as a compliment. I didn’t understand what it was at the time. I do now after reading countless books on the subject. It was very hard to accept at first but after a while it was a relief.
I could finally give a name to my behaviour, my thoughts, my cutting and the voices inside my head. It gave a lot of explanation to certain childhood behaviours and why my mother had always said I was different from the other kids she had raised. Living with a severe mental disorder is hard to say the least. Some people are scarred of you when they find out that you have it, others think that you are nuts and live in la la land. I do but not all the time, and that is very hard for people to understand. It is not well known enough.
If I had cancer I would be accepted. It is something everyone has heard of. They can see all the physical symptoms and hear from doctors who specialise in the field. But with a mental illness you can not see what is happening in the brain. It is not talked about, and doctors have conflicting ideas of what is best for the patient. I have learnt to accept my disorder, and to accept who I am. Who I always will be and to deal with it.
So, theoretically, I hit the lottery by being adopted, by having agood mother who kept in contact with my birth mother for a while so, I haven’t the unresolved mysteries of being adopted like some kids have. I became part of a family; complete with brother and three years later another adopted sister. I felt that my brother was always favoured by my father, my sister favoured by my mother. Is it any wonder that I got lost?
Maybe that lost look is something that could be seen in my young eyes, and was taken advantage by by me being raped. Maybe that rape triggered the voices. Maybe the rape that triggered the voices triggered the cutting that triggered another rape years later.
I know all these maybes are true. But it is beyond some people’s understanding, especially my parents. In their hearts I don’t think they could admit to themselves that all these things that went on in my life could have happened to their child. To their family, without them knowing about it. Because by admitting it would mean that they were bad parents. And that they would carry the blame. I don’t blame them.
I did, but do not now. I believe that even if I had had the perfect parents, I would have still turned out this way. I would still have hated school and I would still have fallen in love with self-harm. Self-harming is what I am good at. I am an expert in the art of cutting and missing veins and arteries. It is a subject that most people feel uncomfortable talking about. But to help children and adults suffering with self-harm, it needs to be discussed. For me self-harming is a way of expressing my feelings. When you are depressed. When you are filled with hate, anger, rage, sorrow and sadness, it is a relief to cut or burn. To see blood is a way of releasing all emotions. A bulimic purges, an alcoholic drinks. It is a copping method that is hard to undo. Yes there are those that do it for attention, but I was never one of those people.
I hid it for many many years before confessing to my mother in a car on the way to school one morning. I was fourteen at the time and had been self-harming since the age of six. It started with pulling some milk teeth out with a hair clip. I then started scratching at my skin with a compass and scissors. When I was about eleven I started cutting to release blood. I only did it about once a month, that was all I needed at the time. I would use sanitary towels to cover the small one-inch cuts. They fit snugly under my school shirt. I could then dispose of them without any suspicion from anyone. I never wanted stitches, and never really needed them until I was about sixteen. I soon realised that without stitches the scars healed a bad way. They were red and puffy and wide. I liked the fact that they looked so big. When you get stitches they heal into a thin white line. By the time I was eighteen I was self-harming almost everyday. I was visiting hospital emergency rooms and doctors almost weekly for bandages, tetanus shots and stitches. I often had to go to different ones in case they started wanting to section me under the mental health act of being a risk to myself.
I felt ashamed of my scars, and still sometimes do, even though I shouldn’t. Several scars on various parts of my body will stay with me for the rest of my life. Others will fade and disappear, leaving just a distant memory.