Growing up I always knew I was different than other kids because of the way I didn’t deal with reality or because I felt awkward and withdrew from others (I still feel this way). There were times I; not knowing what panic attacks were, hid in closets just to be away from everyone else and in the dark until I felt like I could be around people again.
Another factor was that my parents; though court ordered, placed me in therapy because school officials reported my strange behavior to the state. I have been in therapy for as long as I can remember. However, I can’t say that I knew/understood what I was going to therapy for or what I was supposed to say and/or do. My parents always gave me a stern sentence before they drove me to my sessions,
Don’t you tell these people our business. What happens at home is none of their damn business.
If I find out you told these people our business, I’m gonna whip your damn ass.
(The whipping my ass comment was years prior to when hitting a kid was considered child abuse. That’s when anyone could spank your kid. I’ve had a few teachers and neighbors that have whipped my ass for my parents, but that’s another story.)
So, every week I’d go to therapy and act as if I didn’t have problems. As far as my parents were concerned, kids didn’t have problems. I grew up never telling my therapists about the dark moods I felt while other kids were happy-go-lucky. I never told how I’d felt; at times, like I shouldn’t be alive or didn’t feel like I was loved or wanted. I never spoke about the issues of why I acted out in school constantly; mostly to get the kids to like me, then get my ass beat when my father came home from work.
I never learned the art of true and effective communication in our house where the motto was,
Children should be seen and not heard.
So, I began to think and feel that my thoughts, feelings, and existence didn’t matter.
Suffice it to say, my true mixed feelings about therapy and its purpose(s) were revealed to me when I tried to commit suicide for the first time (February 12, 1985) when I was 14 by trying to kill myself at school. Fortunately, I was seen by the security officer as I attempted to slice my wrist who talked to me with compassion, cried with, and hugged me when she was able to talk me into giving her the knife.
When my mom was called to the school, she had no understanding as to why I’d want to do such a thing. In my opinion, she appeared to be embarrassed to be called there for my mental break down.
That was the day my whole personality and understanding about therapy changed.
My mom committed me to a psych ward for adolescents after taking me to the same therapist she told me not to tell anything to after she picked me up from school.
That was the FIRST time I’d ever opened up about my thoughts and feelings. It was also the exact day I became rebellious against my family, adults, kids, or anyone else that portrayed to give a shit about me. I started cursing my parents and adults out, started smoking and drinking, became anorexic and bulimic. I just didn’t give a shit.
In therapy it took a lot for me to feel comfortable to open up and once I did, there were times I felt relieved then felt embarrassed about what I’ve said. Then I’d shut down. I’ve been on/off different meds so many times.
My family and others that were aware of my mental illness teased me and made me feel awkward about taking the meds; much less being in treatment. So, whether I needed the meds or not… I’d stop taking it.
Therefore putting me more in a funk than I guess I originally was. Either I’d stay in bed; secluding myself from everyone, or I’d be overly aggressive, or I’d try too hard to fit in; therefore making myself too awkward around others.
I still do that from time to time. But I’ve improved, I’m more open in therapy now about how I feel and don’t care what the therapist thinks of me. Just recently I’ve admitted I need to be back on medication to help stabilize my moods, thoughts, and feelings.
I still deal with occasional thoughts of suicide, but I don’t try to act upon them. I am doing my best to survive my battle with mental illness and am grateful that I have a better understanding of therapy and know that I’m not alone.