What we endure, makes us what we are
Sometimes, strength is physical. Sometimes it is something more.
This is my blog post about my past, which I am sharing with you all, as mental struggles are still taboo in many places. It is important to shed light upon mentally ill people, to show the world, there is a future even when it does not feel like it. To show the world, that mentally illness does not mean, you are less of a person. And to show, that you are not alone.
I hope my humble post can explain a few things, possibly change a view or two, or be a support to someone out there. Feel free to comment, should you have any questions.
I was a regular kid. Growing up in an average family, two siblings, mum and dad. My family was a loving and caring one, and both my parents are educated teachers. I recall my first years as being happy. I read fluently at age 4, I had an easy start in school, and I believe I was lucky to be blessed with such a good start in life.
When I was seven years, we moved. I started in a new school, in a small village. I was told, I did not belong in the new class, as I was an outsider. I was beaten up a couple times, chased by the class bully.
I considered running away from home several times, I would hide clothes in the garden, prepare a lunchbox and plan where to go. My mood started being unstable, teachers spoke about a temper.
When I was ten, my parents got divorced. My father found a new woman, and we kids were told about this, after I accidentally told my father that I had already guessed it. I guess I afterwards believed, I had caused it.
I moved with my mother to a small ghetto-like suburb. She got a job at minimum wage, and kept strict supervision of her expenses to keep us kids fed and clothed. At age ten, I cooked dinner, got my little sister ready for public school in the morning, cleaned the house, and comforted my mother, when she was tired and sad due to the divorce.
I was not very popular in school. My teachers kept speaking of a bad temper and fits of rage. Around the age of thirteen, I started starving and cutting myself. I got more and more focused on my non-existent eating habits, and at age fifteen, I went to a boarding school, where it all got out of hand. I ran seven kilometers each morning, had scheduled twenty-two hours of athletics a week, and went to the gym in the evening. I still did not eat. At some point, I stopped going on the scale, as I “was too fat”. My BMI was 14,85 at the time. My school nurse called my mum, and informed her. My mum chose not to speak to me about it, as she was afraid to push me. She expected I would come to her, if I wanted to talk. Hence, I thought for years, that she did just not care.
I got home from boarding school, and my self-mutilation got worse. I got the food under control, instead binge eating and vomiting. I hated myself. I hated my voice and my reflection. I could physically slam my head into the wall repeatedly, just to cause myself harm, and pain. My thoughts spinned into a downwards spiral, running out of control.
At some point, I started believing, that I did not belong on earth. That I had been born by a mistake. That people would be better off without me. I felt people in the bus staring at me, due to me being so hideous. I felt like they could see what a freak I truly was on the inside.
I was extremely good at keeping up appearances though. I could be at work, smile, laugh and smalltalk, then return home to harm myself.
When I was eighteen, I attempted suicide. The thought had been on my mind for a long while, I had spent a few years considering how and when to do it. I ended up drinking a bottle of wine and eating 50 paracetamols. Then I went to sleep.
I have been told, that a friend, sitting at a party in the other end of the city, decided to call me. I answered the phone, but sounded blurry. She chose to call an ambulance, luckily. They broke down my door, and carried me out. I was driven to the hospital, I recall a paramedic in the ambulance, getting me awake at some point, I heard him ask, ”Why do girls like you do this?” I do not recall if I replied. I was driven to the hospital and had my stomach pumped. I had to drink active coal, and spent some days in the hospital, while they medically treated me for liver damage. Then I was transferred to a mental institution, where I spent a couple weeks.
A person I had met shortly before that incident came to visit me at the hospital. He supported me all the way, and we started dating. It was a bit of a bumpy ride, but I was very much in love. Most likely, I would have fallen in love with anyone, who showed me they cared. I was vulnerable, and craving to feel loved, as I could not love myself.
When we had been together for almost half a year, I went to an eighteen years birthday party with a classmate. I was outside smoking, and a seemingly nice and friendly guy talked a bit with me. I had a little to drink, was terribly young and naive, and in a good mood. I was freezing a bit, but the noise inside was heavy from the music, so when he suggested we sat in his car and talked, I saw it as a kind gesture, and nothing else. That is one of my biggest mistakes ever. Could I walk back in time, and warn myself, I would have. Sadly, I cannot. I have blamed myself for this decision ever since.
Inside the car, he was suddenly all over me. I froze, I panicked, I recall my mind screaming on the inside “This is not real, this is not real, THIS IS NOT REAL!” I do not recall much else.
At some point, I got out of the car, he went around, and got me inside, telling people I was drunk. I was shocked, and placed down on the floor, where I curled up, and started crying. He fled the party, and drove off in his car, while intoxicated.
The others at the party finally realized something was wrong, and called the cops. I was picked up, and driven to the station, where I was questioned, then to the hospital for a checkup. At some point, I got permission to go to the bathroom, which was when I realized my panties were upside down. I still did not fully realize what had happened. Early in the morning, I was driven home, and as the first thing, rushed out into the shower, spending a couple hours there, to get the dirty feeling washed off, without luck.
He was charged with attempt of rape. Later, the lab results confirmed sexual intercourse, due to DNA. He was questioned. He admitted to have heard me crying, whimpering, and proclaimed to have stopped due to it. The DNA results stated otherwise. Still, the prosecutor decided to drop the case, due to lack of evidence. Because I froze, I did not have enough bruises. Him fleeing the scene, or admitting to hearing my cry, was not enough.
Not long after, I moved in with my boyfriend. I was scared to be home alone. I was scared when a car pulled up next to me. I was afraid of the dark.
My boyfriend supported me. He stood by my side, and believed my story. Then he started drinking more. Over the course of a few months, he got more and more drunk, until he was drunk on a daily basis. He did drugs too, speed and coke, mainly. I preferred drugs above alcohol in his case, as they did not change him as much mentally.
He blamed me for the rape when drunk. His eyes changed, from the nice guy I knew, into the eyes of a total stranger. He would be cruel and hostile. Many nights, I ended up hiding in bed, hearing him getting drunk in the living room, playing loud Rammstein (How I hate their songs even today). I would be crying, and begging silently that he would not recall me, in his drunken state. Sometimes he did.
I isolated myself more and more, my friends went absent, as I was too busy keeping up appearances, hiding bottles and the shame. I heard a couple times, that he was cheating on me, from various sources, but even that was not enough to make me leave.
When I was twenty, I finally found the courage to leave him. He had been drunk as usual, and threw a chair after me. He proceeded to attempt strangling me, threatening to throw me out of the window on fourth floor. I managed to fight my way out of his hands, and ended up being kicked down the stairs, as I fled out the door. I returned one time after, accompanied by his father for safety measures. It was just to pick up my most needed belongings, it took about half an hour, and then I was out.
I spent the following years burying myself in work to avoid dealing with anything. When I was twenty-two, I found my second boyfriend, the one I am married to now. He was the opposite of my ex, and that was a big plus in my book.
At age twenty-four, I broke down. I attempted suicide again; leaving a suicide note on my guild website, of all places, and went out to jump from a bridge. A random stranger stopped me. My guildies had tracked me down IRL in the meantime, and contacted my boyfriend, as well as my father. They got to me, and I was hospitalized once again. I was ill for three years. At some point, the shrink would give me tasks like “This week; your goal is to shower” or “This week; try to get out of bed.” I would look out the window, and it was snowstorm, the next time I looked out, it was summer, and I had no idea where time had went.
World of Warcraft became my refuge. I played fifteen hours a day, every day. I was unstable, had panic attacks, and switched server four times, fleeing everyone, as I could not keep relations with others. I gained thirty kilos, mainly due to medication. Luckily, I was slim before, but I still struggle to cope with it.
Slowly and surely, with meds and therapy, I got better though. I have had fallbacks since, but it is still going the right direction. I ended up being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and emotional unstable personality disorder.
I still have a horrible self-image. Whenever I take a picture of myself for Twitter or Facebook, rest assured, I have an app, which takes multiple pictures. I usually take around 1800 pictures, and select the one picture, I do not find horrid, out of the bunch. I still dislike it. However, I choose one nonetheless.
I still speak about myself as fat, ugly, pathetic and other kind adjectives. I know I should not, but it is tough when you loathe yourself.
I do not have friends outside World of Warcraft. I get scared IRL, and flee from people if they get too close. My husband has friends, and I manage to meet with them from time to time. Usually I just do not try getting to know new people. It is easier that way.
I still have panic attacks from time to time. They are usually connected to fear of people abandoning me.
Thirty-three years have passed by now. Fifteen since my life was changed by a rapist. It will never be the same again. I will never trust people like I once did.
I am overall alright though, and should you have read this, due to feeling like I once did, then rest assured:
Even when you cannot see it yourself, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.