Where do I even begin? I guess the best place to start would be to explain the significance of the date: June 7, 2011 was the day I tried to take my life for the first time. I’m not going to rehash all the not-so-pleasant details or any of what led up to this day two years ago…I talk about most of that in my “Pensieve Dump” post (about three quarters of the way down, the paragraph where I start talking about February 2011).
I brought this day up during my last session with M and it wasn’t because I wanted to talk about it, but because I couldn’t remember the actual date…I got confused somewhere. In talking to some people lately, helping them try to understand their friends who are going through some of the same things I have/am, I was telling them that attempt one was June 6th. And then I re-read something I wrote some time ago and I had written there that it was June 7th. So I was like fuck…you would think this would be a date I would never forget. I think I got confused while filling out forms asking about the date I had last worked, THAT was June 6th, the day before the attempt…and I’ve spent so much time writing down June 6th that my stupid brain got confused. I brought it up to M because I knew she could access my medical record and tell me the actual date of my admission to the ER. She was rather excited that I had gotten confused and had technically forgotten the date. “Isn’t that a good thing?” she asked. And I said, “NO!” And she asked me why, bewildered. And I said that, at least to me, that date is just as significant as a birthday or the date of the passing of a loved one. No, it’s not pleasant and something one would normally “celebrate” and as much as I would like to forget it, you don’t often forget such traumatic events. If we could, I’m sure we would put therapists out of business. Another part of why I wanted to make sure I had the right date was my OCD. For my own peace of mind, I wanted to know/remember what the actual date was even if I wasn’t going to write about it. People ask me all the time, if we talk about this subject, when I did it. I would like to give them the real answer and be sure of myself. I don’t even know if this is making sense…the OCD and just wanting to have my shit in order and know for sure rather than second guess myself/wonder if that really is the right date. But…the picture above is my actual hospital bracelet so June 7th is the “winner”…the actual date.
Why I even wanted to blog about this is lost on me now. Maybe I just wanted to pay homage to the date, acknowledge it and reflect on the two years since it happened. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different…” That pretty much sums it up. End post. Adios.
But seriously though…that’s what it feels like. I don’t feel any different than I did two years ago. I don’t feel healthier, “better”, stronger. I still feel like I’m in the same place. But when I pick myself and my brain apart, I can see some notable changes. I wonder what this blog would be like…what you and I would be able to see had I started this the day after I got discharged from the hospital… Since the last six-ish years have been preserved on my personal Facebook page, I can definitely see MAJOR changes there. (Word to the wise: don’t Facebook-stalk yourself at 2 AM.)
I suppose we can start with my “progress” in therapy. I’ve been with M for a majority of the last two years. She wasn’t the first therapist I saw when I was discharged but she was THE ONE when I met her a month or so later. (I had a different therapist at the time but it really wasn’t working out and I had no interest in continuing to see her.) Naturally, it took me some time to get to know M and trust her. Once I did, it was no holds bar. Anything and everything came out…tears, snot, laughter and all. I think M knows the real me more than anyone else, even better than my mom (though my mom would beg to differ and would scoff if I dared to suggest anyone knew me better than the woman who gave birth to me). M has seen it all…the good, the bad, the ugly and the REALLY ugly. We’ve had fights…not knock-down drag-out fights…but fights where I stopped seeing her for a period of time or refused to make a follow-up appointment. But we are (now) so honest with each other that we can talk about whatever upset me or her, dissect it if we have to and move on…and do it in such a way that it’s not something either of us has to bring up again or throw back in the other person’s face when upset in the future. That’s pretty awesome because I don’t know anyone in my life that can do that…not bring the past up when disagreeing/fighting. M, much to my chagrin, gets EXCITED when I’m pissed off at her. Her grin and the twinkle in her eyes pisses me off when I’m already pissed off! “Feelings are good!” “Let me have it!” And I’m like, “For the love…” I’ve probably been the most real and the most open and honest with M in terms of showing genuine laughter and genuine pain…genuine emotions period. Not many people can make me cry (not many people have even seen me cry). She can. Not many people can make me laugh without saying a single word. She can. And not many people can make me laugh and cry at the same time. She can. (And sometimes I hate that she can do that! I’m trying to be serious and she’s not helping!) And knowing myself and how I let people “get to me” and my heart, I think the fact that she can do all those things is a testament to the depth of our relationship and the trust and respect I have for her. I know of no one else in my life that can do the above things to me or bring out the above things in me…and I don’t care that only my therapist can…I’m just grateful someone can. With M’s prodding, she has gotten me to do things I would have never done if left to my own devices. The first major thing she got me to do was go to group therapy. THAT was a fight and I have to give M props for being persistent. I fought her for over two months about going and finally, I was just like, “If I go, will you stop nagging me?!” M said yes and off I went, dragging my feet, feeling defeated. M even said I only had to go once or twice and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to continue. And so there I sat in group, stubborn as hell, arms crossed, not saying a single word for about a good ten months (don’t ask my why I stayed because I still don’t know the answer). Mix K in there somewhere and refer to the “Boots of Awesome” post for how that adorable slice of heaven got to me. As stubborn as I was during my time in group, I still soaked up what I was being taught like a sponge…so much so that I actually had to be kicked out of group. M and K called it “graduating” but it didn’t feel so pomp and circumstance to me. M told me (and the group) on my last day (and continues to tell her fellow DBT cohorts) that if she ever calls in sick, call me because I can teach the group. (Knowing the material and being able to execute it are two totally different things but that’s a different post for a different day.) I learned a lot in that group and I continue to learn and practice the skills I was taught even though I’m no longer in the group. Graduation or not, using DBT skills will always be a work in progress and something I don’t feel anyone can master, without effort, all the time. That was huge…the group journey. Even other therapists, who facilitated with K before M even became a part of the group, who knew me in my early days of group and later filled in when M or K was sick or out of the office, have made comments to M that essentially said, “Holy shit…that girl is on fiyah!” I won’t poo-poo the change or “compliment”…I own it. My group journey was significant, especially when you compare the beginning me to the end me. I don’t give myself kudos often but I think I will when it comes to group.
M has recently started referring to me as her therapy baby because she’s learning right along with me, like a new mom. (For clarification purposes, M is only a couple years older than I am and is still a relatively new therapist. Lucky for her, she got the one patient early in her career that will test her patience, skills and everything she knows/thought she knew.) I have severely tested M and her fellow therapists and I’m not exaggerating. They have never had anyone that has been in such intensive therapy for as long as I have (and who was committed/persistent enough to never miss or cancel a single appointment), been in a therapy group so long I had to be kicked out, and stuck around long enough after “graduating” from said group. So now everyone is all, “Well now what the fuck do we do with/teach her?” I’m an experiment y’all. M has told me on countless occasions that I have taught her a lot…how to be a better therapist, what cues to pay attention to and how to get people to continue to see/talk to their therapist after said therapist pissed them off. I am, apparently, the exception rather than the rule when it comes to being a patient. I have never missed or canceled an appointment or group session and I have never been late. Most people give up and do not finish group therapy which is through no fault of the therapists…it’s the patient who said fuck it, gave up and stopped coming. It is not a therapist’s job to chase you if you run out the door and don’t come back. Also, I had no idea that such a big chunk of therapy patients only go to therapy and group when it fits into their schedule and/or when they feel like it. To me, therapy is (and always will be) a commitment…and if I don’t make the effort, how can I expect my therapist to make the effort? You get out what you put in. M has told me, and I’ve witnessed first hand, that a lot of people who start group end up quitting (often within the first month or two) before giving it (and themselves) a chance. It’s not instant gratification and it takes some effort if you want to get something beneficial out of it. I may have fought M about going to group and I may have wanted to give up and stop going more than once…but I didn’t. I kept going. It wasn’t a cure all and it didn’t fix anything, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get anything out of it…and that goes for more than just better coping skills. If I hadn’t gone to group, I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to meet K and let her join me in my journey and some days, just going to group and having it take up a good chunk of my afternoon was my therapy and was what got me through the day despite what was taught or said that day. I stuck it out and I followed through with it until I was told I had to be done. So to have someone so stubborn refuse to go to group, then cave and go, and then stay to the point where she had to be kicked out really threw M and the DBT team for a loop. They are now in the process of devising an “after treatment” treatment: what do you do/where do you go in therapy after a patient graduates? It’s never happened/gotten this far before. I’m a lab rat. They’re still trying to figure out what to do with me because by some fucking miracle, I haven’t given up yet and they’re apparently not about to give up on me, even if they’re not entirely sure what to do. We’re making it up as we go. I’m breaking new ground y’all! To future patients: you’re welcome.
Another big change I see, that maybe a lot of people don’t see or can’t see, is my attitude and my thinking. I’m sure someone reading this will call me out and say that of course people are going to be able to notice your attitude, especially if it’s changed. And for clarification purposes, I guess it’s more my attitude towards/about certain things and not necessarily my attitude as it relates to my outward behavior (though I’m sure to the people who are looking for it will see some change in that area too). I’ve always been a thinker. I prefer to think before I act or speak (though I don’t always do it) and I will over-analyze a situation/conversation/problem/person until there is nothing left to analyze. That hasn’t changed, much to my dismay. While I’ve always thought of myself as a thoughtful person (no pun intended), I think I’ve become even more so over the past two years and probably over the past year especially. I LOVE giving…and I don’t have much to give but people severely underestimate the power of a kind word or a simple, “Hi. I’m thinking about you.” in the form of a text message or card in the mail. (For more on this, please read my “Warm Fuzzies” post.) No matter what mood I’m in, you can be sure that I’ve tried to do something nice for someone at least once a day. I often do it anonymously, but not always…and I think it’s pretty huge that I can pull my head out of my ass long enough to shoot some love over to someone every now and then. It makes their day, makes them smile and in return, gives me warm fuzzies…and I like that…a lot. Win/win. I’ve also become much more careful with my words. I’m not perfect, so I do fuck up here and there but for the most part, I ask myself, before I speak, “How would this sound/feel if it were said to me?” Words are SO powerful…that sticks and stones ditty is a load of crap. I’m the type of person who can forget an entire conversation we had, yet hang on to one single thing you said and repeat it to myself over and over in my head. This goes for good things and bad things. For example, K called me one week when M was out and I was a sobbing hot mess and I remember bits and pieces of the conversation but what I took from it and repeated over and over in my head (and still do, to this day) is what she said to me at the end of that phone call: “You rock my world, J.” And I’m going to take a wild guess and say that K doesn’t even remember saying that. She might remember it if I brought it up, but without prompting, she may not ever give it a second thought. K isn’t nearly as forthcoming with her feelings as M is and that’s just how therapists are (K is also not my personal therapist and now that I’m out of group, I don’t see or interact with her very often)…they choose how much they want to share and say regarding their personal lives and feelings for their patients. So knowing that about K and knowing that she doesn’t say things like that often meant the world to me (obviously, if I still remember it like it was yesterday). And on the flip side, during a conversation (a rather one-sided conversation as M was doing all the talking and I was crying) M and I had, she said, “I don’t know what more I can teach you. I don’t know what more to do with you.” Forget the rest of the 49 fucking minutes I was with her and what she said, that is what stuck with me and that is what kept replaying over and over in my head. (For clarification purposes, M was not saying this in exasperation and giving up on me though that’s what I thought, heard and felt at the time.) I have a new appreciation for the little things people say and do and I’ve realized that people usually don’t give a second thought about them, but the person you did said action to or said whatever you did to may remember and think about it for a lifetime. That person you flipped off while on the interstate this morning? You probably didn’t give a second thought about it all day and won’t ever think about it again, but perhaps the person you did that to…maybe your action ruined their entire day and/or made them start their day off on the wrong foot. Don’t get all philosophical on me and say that that person you flipped off had a choice to let your behavior affect them or not (and even had the choice of not engaging in the behavior that led you to flip them off in the first place)…my point is that sometimes it’s not always easy to brush something so “innocent” off your shoulders and forget it happened or forget it was said…and the things you don’t give a second thought about are some of the same things others can’t STOP thinking about. In summation: if you can’t say/do something nice, don’t say/do nothin’ at all. (Thank you Bambi, Thumper and Walt Disney for teaching me that lesson, even if I learned it a little late in life.)
One of the questions I get asked most when talking about suicide with other people is, “Are you glad you were found/saved?” My answer two years ago and my answer now has not changed: “No.” A friend recently countered my answer with, “But J, you said you believe all things happen for a reason. You were found/saved not once, but three times…don’t you think there’s a reason for that?” Here is where I’m probably going to totally contradict myself and not make sense…forgive me in advance. Yes, I believe all things happen for a reason. I think I can say that yes, being saved three times means that someone thinks this bitch ain’t done here yet as much as she wants to be done. Do I know the reason I’m still alive? No…’cause Lord knows I shouldn’t be here right now. None of my attempts were half-assed. I should seriously NOT be alive right now. And then, of course, I sound like an ass when I say that no, I’m not grateful I was saved. I do think there’s a reason for it, but it’s never been revealed to me and to be honest, I’m kind of tired of waiting to be shown and whatever the reason may be, I really don’t want to go through all this shit just to find out what it is. Everyone can make the argument that you never know what you will do in life or the impact you may have. I could win a Nobel Peace Prize, I could find a cure for cancer…there are a million and one things I could be or do. I don’t have a degree in statistics, but they don’t look too favorable considering I’m nearly at the halfway point in life and have accomplished jack shit. And if you’re going to ask me what would make my life worth living, save yourself the e-mail and breath because I don’t know nor can I think of something that would make life worth living right now. I made a choice two years ago, an informed decision. Some people think you have to be off your fucking rocker to make such an insane decision like ending your life and do it while knowing all the pro’s and con’s…I’m here to tell you that it’s possible. It doesn’t happen with everyone nor does it happen all the time or with all suicide attempts but in a nutshell, I’m telling you that I did my research and I weighed the pro’s and con’s and made a rational informed decision. Whether or not I’m here for a reason, I’m mad that a decision was taken away from me (e.g. my life was saved). I was gone in attempt one…literally. I was found blue and unconscious and I was even told that had I been found a minute later, I would not be here writing this right now. That choice was taken away from me and I can’t tell you if that’s what upsets me about the whole thing or if it’s because, two years later, I’m still miserable and wish I had just succeeded (or been left to succeed because technically I DID succeed, I was just…not left to finish succeeding). Perhaps a bit of both? I am not pro-anything. I am pro-choice when it comes to pretty much everything. I may not like or agree with your choice, but I support your right to choose what you think is best for you, however wrong, sinful, immoral or bad others view your choice. I will not condemn you for the choices you make whether or not I agree with them. It’s not me that has to live with your choice; it’s you. No one but me has to live with three failed suicide attempts and no one but me has to live with all the other bad choices I’ve made over the last two years (and over the course of my whole life, if you want to go that far)…I have to live with it. I own everything I do, be it good or bad. I don’t blame my feelings, my problems or anything else on anyone but myself whether or not the blame should be rightly placed on someone else (this leads to many long nitty-gritty therapy sessions because I will own shit that isn’t even mine to own…but again, different post for different day). My mom thinks I am on some hell-bent mission to make her life miserable and everything I do and have done over the past two years has been some life mission on my part to make her life a living a hell. This boggles my mind when, in the next breath, she will call me selfish. Soooo…I’m being SELFISH by doing all this to get back at YOU for wronging me somehow? I don’t have a math degree either but 1 + 1 is not adding up to 2 here. She refuses to understand/validate that I keep trying to end my life to actually SPARE her the heartache and headache of dealing me with me for the rest of my/her life. Think of all the money you will no longer have to give me to pay my bills, think of all the worry that will be lifted from your shoulders when you won’t have to wonder why I’m awake at 3 AM or why I won’t talk to you or how the hell I landed in a psych ward AGAIN. I could go on but that mess is also a different post for a different day. I’m not here to convince you that suicide is right or wrong. I’m just saying that it’s a choice and it will always be a choice. Per M and K, it doesn’t have to be a choice…I know that but I choose to let it be a choice for me…that card is always on the table and has been for two years. I’ve been accused of not letting the choice of suicide go as if it were a security blanket and if you want to psychoanalyze me, that’s probably right…it is a security blanket…I always have an out if I keep the suicide card in my hand. And while that may be true, that’s not how I see it. The suicide card is one I want to play, but no one will let me…letting their choices and morals get in the way of and prevent any choices I want to make. Perhaps a better metaphor is that I want to play the suicide card, but per the “rules of the game”, I cannot. It’s not a joker card or a “draw 4” wild card in UNO that I can lay down and play whenever I want to…I have to wait to play it and/or it’s not a playable card at all (in terms of the “rules of the game/life”). Maybe it’s like the Old Maid card…it’s not a playable card and it’s not a card anyone wants to end up with. Am I making any sense at all? God I hope so… In summation, I don’t keep suicide floating around in my brain or in my hand of cards “just in case”. I want to play that card but things and people and “rules” prevent me from doing so. It’s never a last-ditch thing for me…it never has been. It’s never been a “fuckitallimdone” decision. I don’t hold on to it for when things get bad just so I have somewhere to run…so I have an “easy” out. In my opinion, things are already bad and I want out but y’all won’t let me. Yes, I know I can discard it and choose to not let it be a choice for me but I am actively choosing to let it be a choice for me because I want it to be a choice…no one is forcing me to keep that card in my hand. I’m sure we could throw this around and dissect it all day but ain’t nobody got time for that and I don’t feel like I’m making any sense…so let’s move on, shall we?
Something I roll my eyes at and blame voodoo magic on is the timing of this “anniversary” and how I feel right now. I don’t want to get into details, but suffice it to say that June 7th almost became an anniversary twice over…2011 and 2013. For clarification purposes, I have never actively chosen the dates I’ve attempted to take my life…the dates have no significance to me whatsoever unless I survive and they become a date like June 7, 2011. And also, don’t assume that just because I am still here and able to write this post commemorating the first June 7th to mean I’m no longer feeling that way. It just didn’t happen like it almost happened. Capisce?
I never put myself in a pessimist or optimist category and one of my major faults is that I tend to look at how much further I have to go instead of looking at how far I’ve come. If you ask me if I’ve changed, gotten better or healthier over the last two years, I will tell you no. If you ask M, K or a select few friends, they will tell you yes, I have changed/made progress. I concede that things are different…as in how I think and my attitude towards certain things (i.e. I’ve become VERY uncensored, especially over the past six to eight months, not caring much about what other people think about me and just being me and adopting a “like it or leave it” attitude)…but I don’t think things are better nor do I think that I am healthier. When I look at just the surface:
– Me two years ago: suicidal and done.
– Me now: suicidal and done.*
I see no difference. Do you? I will cave and give myself some gold stars in some areas but NO ONE can look at the last two years of my life and say I didn’t try. Some people think (and tell me) I didn’t/I’m not trying hard enough. I’m just at a point where a lot of people are saying, “I don’t know what more I can do with/for you.” And I am wholeheartedly agreeing with them…I don’t know either. I have exhausted the entire pharmacy, being on every kind of medication combination possible. I have been in intensive one-on-one and group therapy for two years. I have done (almost) everything M has ever asked me to do, even if I fought her before surrendering. I’ve never been one to do things half-assed. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to go above and beyond…that’s just how I do. My suicide attempts are no exception. Sometimes I think, “I can do this! I can win and live and be happy!” and other times I’m like, “You are so stupid for thinking you can win.” I feel like I am trying to win a win-less fight.
And it’s funny how I imagined
That I could win this win-less fight
But maybe it isn’t all that funny
That I’ve been fighting all my life
But maybe I have to think it’s funny
If I wanna live before I die
And maybe it’s funniest of all
To think I’ll die before I actually see
That I am exactly the person that I want to be
Oh this roller-coaster of life…it’s what drives us to keep going and it’s what drives us to give up. Some people can handle it and some people can’t. Some people can endure and some people can’t. I probably can endure…if I chose to…but do I want to? Is it worth it? What makes it worth it? Only time will tell, I suppose. I’ve been through a lot…others have been through more. There’s a difference between giving up and knowing when you’ve had enough. I can handle, tolerate and put up with a lot of shit…and not only can I, but I do…on a daily basis. But just because I am strong enough to handle the pain doesn’t mean I deserve it. Granted, I probably create a lot of it myself….but remember: I own all my shit. I don’t feel that the world is out to get me nor do I think that my hell hole is any worse or more miserable than someone else’s. I’m not here writing this to make you feel sorry for me. PLEASE, for the love of God, do not feel sorry for me. I just know my limits. If I’ve learned anything over the last two years, I’ve learned more about myself, who I am, why I do what I do and why I think what I think. I don’t necessarily believe that “that which does not kill you only makes you stronger” but I concede that I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for…stronger than I thought I was, even if I’ve whimped out a few times and tried to end my life. I’ve told people my story time and again and I’ve gotten a lot of “holy shit”‘s and “I would have never been able to live through that.” and “Oh my god, that’s a lot for someone your age.” I’ve gained more insight into what makes me tick, what I can and cannot handle, what I can and cannot do, what I want and do not want. The last two years have not been all bad. Just like a heart monitor in the hospital…each blip on the screen represents a heartbeat and each blip in my life is a moment of happiness or joy. I’ve had to let some people go and I’ve welcomed new people into my life. I’ve even welcomed some people back who left or that I lost touch with. I’ve experienced some amazing things…amazing good, amazing bad and amazing I-can’t-believe-I-lived-through-that. I don’t have any regrets. I love the people who are in my life and I love them even more when I turn around after falling and they’re still standing there. What hurts and what makes me push them away is that I don’t want to cause chaos for them. I don’t want to hurt anyone or affect anyone’s life while I ride my roller-coaster of ups and downs. I say shit I don’t mean, I shut people out, I get angry and I get hurt…and in doing that, I inadvertently hurt others…and I don’t want to do that…it crushes me. I realize that had I left this world two years ago, and even if I choose to leave it now, I will hurt people. But pro’s and con’s: do I hurt you now by leaving, knowing that that pain will lessen over time…or do I let you hurt/cause chaos for you as long as you choose to have me in your life? I don’t want to hurt you…I don’t want to hurt anyone…yet I know that I affect everyone who comes into contact with me…be you the person I flipped off on the interstate this morning or be you my therapist or best friend, who knows everything…knows my heart…and will do anything and everything to help me keep going.
I thought I had a point in writing this and as I get ready to wrap it up, I realize that I have no point. It’s been two years. A lot of shit has gone down and I don’t expect anything less in the next two years to come…and the two years after that…and so on and so on and scooby-dooby-doo-yeah.
A million different realities
A million different me’s
A million different “A”s
A million different “Z”s
A million steps forward
A million steps back
A million steps up
A million steps down
A million miles away
A million miles to go
A million miles walked
A million miles flown
A million things I want
A million things I yearn
A million things I know
A million things I learn
A million loves lost
A million loves gained
A million loves healed
A million loves pained
A million ways to live
A million ways to die
A million ways to laugh
A million ways to cry
A million ways to hop
A million ways to prance
A million ways to sing
A million ways to dance
A million things written
A million things read
A million things forgotten
A million things unsaid
* This is not a suicide note or me saying, “Goodbye cruel world.” I’m done leaving notes and even if I did leave a note, I wouldn’t post it publicly for a bunch of strangers to read. This is just a lot of nonsensical rambling, trying to put words to my thoughts/feelings and failing. This post didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to and I blame that on my current emotional state, which is probably very obvious if you read in between the lines. But I chose to post this anyway. It is what it is. This is water.
This is what borderline personality disorder feels like…to me…
It’s confusing. You never know exactly what you are supposed to feel.
The more I try to stop all the negative feelings, the more intense they get for me.
Everything is either black…or white; there is no gray.
I don’t know what to feel right now.
I may call you a lot just to make sure you’re still here, to make sure that you still like me. If we don’t talk, I fear that you are mad at me.
It feels like separation anxiety.
I’m always looking for the slightest sign that you will abandon me.
I know that you love me, but I don’t feel it.
I do whatever I can to feel your love when you are not here with me.
I read old messages.
I look through old cards.
I look through old pictures.
I can’t keep friends because paranoia and false assumptions chase everyone I love away.
I love you one minute and hate you the next and most of the time, it’s because of something petty.
Most days, I just feel really empty.
I’m sick of not fitting in…anywhere…ever.
I hate the rollercoaster of emotions I feel just as much as the people around me do, if not more.
Sometimes I’m broken and I don’t know why.
Sometimes I am so angry at you and I don’t know why. I say things I don’t mean and I do things I shouldn’t.
I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough…but I tried to be.
I say that I’m sorry…A LOT.
But by then, it’s too late and I have hurt you. And now I hate myself even more than before.
BPD feels like shame…it feels lonely.
I need a break from the loneliness that is totally consuming me. The loneliness of being misunderstood, the loneliness that comes from not being able to express how I feel and from being unable to make people understand…not the loneliness of having no one around.
One moment, I feel completely happy, loving life, inspirational, creative…seeing beauty in everything…that the world is so beautiful…that nothing could ever go wrong again.
…I can feel it coming again and I just can’t stop it no matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run.
What would be a bad feeling for you, a ripple in the water…to me, feels like a crippling wave.
You want me to just be and act normal. For me…this is normal…my normal…and it’s all I know.
If someone doesn’t like me, I must be a complete failure and I am flawed.
You point out my flaws, like I don’t already see them. We all have flaws.
People have scars. In all sorts of unexpected places. Like secret road maps of their personal histories. Diagrams of all their old wounds. Most of our wounds heal, leaving nothing behind but a scar. But some of them don’t. Some wounds we carry with us everywhere and though the cut’s long gone, the pain still lingers.
I am in so much pain that I self-injure just to feel something…or to feel nothing at all. Dying is always in the back of my mind.
One minute, I can be happy.
The next minute, for no reason at all, I’m suicidal.
The dreams in which I’m dying are the best dreams I’ve ever had.
I know what it’s like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can’t. You hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside.
I spend way too much time over-analyzing and over-thinking everything. What you said and how you said it.
What are you doing?
Why are you doing it?
Is it a good thing?
What is its impact?
People tell you just to be yourself and then they judge you.
Trust me when I say that I’m doing my best.
You don’t know what this is like…what a day in the life of me looks like.
You’d never say, “It’s just cancer, get over it.”
I can’t just turn this off.
I didn’t choose to be like this.
“People with BPD are like people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.”
~ Marsha Linehan
If you are reading this, I’ll just warn you now that it gets a little erratic at times…jumping from one topic to the next. I’m literally just trying to dump all the thoughts out of my head…and I am all over.
When I tell some people about my first suicide attempt and how I was found and saved, etc…they tell me how lucky I am. Lucky is not a word I would use to describe that. Reflecting over the last year, I don’t see how anyone…myself or those around me…can be lucky that I survived. I have left a clear path of damage in my wake. For the last 18 months, I have been nothing but a problem or a patient. I fucked up my former employer…even if it was only a hiccup. Sure, I may not have been the first pharmacy employee to steal…but I highly doubt that they have had any other employee like me, who not only stole medication, but tried to kill herself with it. I’m sure I threw the HR and legal department for a loop, if only momentarily. I have done nothing over the past year except drain my mother of emotion and finances. I have done nothing but take up space, time, and money. My therapist tells me that she is grateful that she has the opportunity to have me as a patient…she may feel that way now…but I’m gonna fuck up somewhere…even more than I already have. She may be optimistic and see our relationship as a learning experience…I look at it and see all the time I have wasted…time that could have been given to someone else. She may see the benefit now…but by the time I end my life, she will wish that she had never met me. The same goes for K. She has tried SO hard to get through to me…and now, she finally has. She may see this as a good thing…and maybe I did too, at first…but not anymore. If she is not already regretting trying so hard to get to me, she will some day.
I just don’t understand how I could have been so blind for so long. I feel that I have always been insightful and knowledgeable about how I feel and why. But this recent discovery of the borderline personality disorder has seriously thrown me for a loop. Where the fuck have I been for the last 15 years? I can’t even tell you the number of psychology classes I took or how many books I’ve read…I cannot EVER recall covering BPD. I remember my first day in my first psych class in high school. The teacher, very bluntly, laid out a disclaimer on the class and any future psych class…don’t fall victim to the bullshit disorder. In other words, don’t read the criteria for diseases and disorders and think they all pertain to you. I’m glad I learned this early on because if I hadn’t, I would probably be thoroughly convinced that I had schizophrenia and testicular cancer. I remember my high school psych class, my college psych class, my abnormal psych class, my developmental psych class…all of them. But not once do I remember covering BPD. I remember covering multiple personality disorder…that lead me to read the book, “Sybil.” I remember covering bipolarity, schizophrenia. I remember the Oedipus complex and the superego. I remember Freud and Jung and Pavlov. I remember depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies. I was not ignorant of the fact that I had displayed depression and suicidal tendencies very early on…when most of this stuff first comes to light…during early adolescence. But where the fuck was the coverage on BPD? Did I turn a blind eye to it when we covered it? Did I put it out of my mind because it was so spot on that I chose to ignore it rather than learn about it? Did we cover it at all? The first experience I had with BPD, that I remember, was with the book (then movie) “Girl, Interrupted.” But my view of the disorder was very distorted because of it. By the time I read the book and saw the movie (1999’ish), I didn’t see any characteristics of the main character within myself. Through my recent research, I now know that there are 9 criteria that the DSM outlines for the BPD diagnosis…5 of which a person has to exhibit in order to “claim the prize.” That means that there are well over 200 different ways in which the disorder can manifest itself. I guess I get to claim one of those combinations now.
There’s a few conflicting emotions I have going on now. One is pure disbelief. Where the fuck have I been for the last 15 years? Why is this now coming to light and why didn’t I, or anyone else, see it earlier? Another is anger at having a legitimate “disorder” to explain away my disturbances. I don’t want to take this insofar where I blame EVERYTHING I say and do on BPD…yet it does exactly that…explain everything I have said and done. I also have anger at myself for affecting people the way I have because of the disorder. Anger for letting myself get hurt and anger because I have hurt others, intentionally or not. This is where my therapist and K come in. I want out more to protect the both of them than to protect me. I know how I will react when the ties are cut…I know what I might feel and where I might go. But I refuse to hurt either one of them…unintentionally or not. They are too nice and smart and amazing…I would never forgive myself for fucking up their career or affecting their personal life. I feel horrible for what I’ve already done and I feel horrible for what I think will inevitably happen…my death…and the mark that will leave on the both of them and their careers. I don’t want to do that, but I also feel like I have no other choice. So maybe if I distance myself and cut the ties now, before that happens…it won’t leave such a marked impact on them. I would be ignorant to think that it won’t ever affect them, because it will…no matter how hard I try not to let it. Even if I cut the ties now but don’t succeed in ending my life for another 10 years and they find out about it…look me straight in the eyes and tell me that that won’t have any effect on them. You can’t do it, can you? It might not have the same impact it would if I were to do it tomorrow…but it will still have an impact…and that is what makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot erase our relationship and the time we have spent building it. I can’t change that and I cannot take it back…what’s done is done. But as much as I want them and feel I need them…I refuse to pull them down with me. I will jump in front of a train to save my therapist’s life…K’s too.
I wasn’t aware of this last for a long time…but ever since I started going to Starbucks with some of the people from my therapy group…I have been giving them many opportunities to see my imperfections and get out while they still can. I have been saying and sharing things with them that I would normally withhold from someone so early in a relationship. I am trying SO hard to get them to see all the bad and to tell them, in not so many words, that getting involved in a relationship with me is a very bad idea. My obstacle has been the fact that these women are not stupid and have the type of empathy only other mentally ill people can have for one another. So while these things are horrible and bad and wrong, they understand…at least to a degree. They are willing to shift a couple inches in one direction or another because of that mutual bond of being mentally ill. “Normal” and rational people would have gotten the hint a long time ago.
I pick at myself, my skin. Some define it as self-mutilation and some call it dermatillomania. I can no longer have acrylic nails because I pick and scratch so hard and so often, that I was literally lifting the acrylic off of my real nail. I can’t seem to wear nail polish for any length of time because picking ruins the polish and makes it chip off. It may be easy for you to just tell me to occupy my hands…but it’s not quite that simple. There are times when I can do just a swipe of a scab or mark and just pick that one…but more often than not, picking sessions last for hours…sometimes an entire day…the entire time I am awake. It’s weird being in the midst of a picking session because it’s almost trance-like. Sometimes, I can’t make the time go by fast enough…but if I start picking…I can stare blankly at the TV and easily pass 6 hours or more…and not be aware of how fast time is going by. I don’t even think I can describe it to a point where you would understand. I’m grateful that typing takes two hands…I’ve managed to pry my hands away from my body long enough to hopefully break the hypnotic insanity of my picking today. I pick so hard and for so long, that by the end of a day, my nails and fingertips hurt. I lay down at night and my hands are throbbing, as well as my body…all the open wounds. It is very painful at times…especially picking at a sore repeatedly. Try picking a scab off of a wound that you have picked off ten times before and tell me that doesn’t hurt. The degree to which I do this and the severity is probably lost on you because you can’t see it all. You can usually see my face and forearms…but you can’t see my upper arms, my shoulders, my neck, my back, my breasts. There’s a reason I always wear my hair down. All the marks on my face are not acne. I actually have quite clear skin…but I have made a mess out of my face as well as other areas. I will never be able to erase all the scars I have created. I started picking in high school, I think…around the 9th grade. It came and went with the accompanying periods of depression and anxiety but I have never done it with the severity that I am doing it now. It surprised the hell out of me that I was able to leave myself alone after getting out of the hospital last June. I was able to leave myself alone for quite a few months, as I recall. But I have wreaked havoc on my body for the last few months…marks that I will never be able to erase…an insanity that I can’t seem to escape. I yell at myself the entire time I am engaging in the picking…telling myself to stop, stop, stop. I am screaming at myself…yet I cannot pull my hands away from my body. It takes everything I have to give into the drugs I take to help me sleep and lay down at night if a session has continued on into the night and past a reasonable bed time. If I can yell at myself loud enough to put my hands down for just a few moments, I will turn around only to find myself at it again, often without realizing it. It hurts…my body, my hands…it’s very painful…but I can’t stop. The picking would usually get worse in the winter because it was easier to cover up more…long-sleeved shirts and such. I used to be able to be better, or at least more selective, during the spring and summer months…at least to the point where I could wear tank tops. I wouldn’t dream of wearing tank tops right now. The only reason I wear t-shirts is because it’s too hot to wear a sweatshirt or jacket…even though the evidence of my destruction is obvious on my face and forearms. I tried to make more of an effort to cover it up…but I can’t cover it all anymore. Every mark you see on my face and arms is caused by me. It may have started out as a zit or a scratch or an ingrown hair…but I will make it into a scar in no time. I have a new scar on the back of my left hand that started out as a cat scratch…very small and superficial…but I picked at the wound and tore the scab off repeatedly and what would have healed over without a scar has now become a rather significant and permanent mark on my hand. I wish I could stop. I would love to wear tank tops. I thought acrylic nails would help because it’s harder to pick with those…but instead of preventing me from completing my task, it just made me pick harder. Sometimes, when I feel an urge to pick, if I can get to my blankets fast enough, I can become engrossed in snuggling with those and avoid a picking session. I’m just not always so lucky. I don’t do it in public or in group…or at least, I try not to. If a group session is making me particularly anxious…and you watch me long enough, you will probably see me trying to discreetly get at something. I hate doing it…I hate what I’ve done to my body…but I can’t stop doing it. Sometimes I wish someone would just come and tie my hands down until the urge passes.
The damage I have done to my body isn’t solely from picking. I don’t know how it happened…but I’ve slowly gotten to the point where I don’t take care of myself anymore. I shower only on the days I go see my therapist or go to group. It is rare that I will leave the house voluntarily for any other reason…and if I do, I won’t be able to without showering. I used to be very anal about caring for myself…not being able to stand it if I had not showered within the last 24 hours. Now I just don’t care. I’m not sure about the effects this has had on me. If I were to submit to blood tests and a general checkup, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that I was probably dehydrated and malnourished to some extent. I don’t eat regularly. I do get hungry and my stomach will let me know…but more often than not, I don’t care enough to make it go away. If I do eat during the day, it’s usually dinner and it’s usually because someone else has made something. If my mom makes something like hot dogs…sometimes, I might eat it just to make the hunger go away…sometimes, I won’t care enough to eat it…especially if it doesn’t sound appetizing. I may not have eaten all day and my mom will come home and make spaghetti…and even though I usually love spaghetti…if I don’t feel like eating it that day and it doesn’t sound appetizing…I won’t eat. I go through most days without eating or drinking much. Sometimes all I drink is what I use to swallow my medication with that day. I don’t know how much I weigh…I don’t know if I’m losing weight…I don’t care…that’s not my goal. I just simply don’t care. It’s more of an effort to get up and find something to eat than it is to just lay there hungry. Some people can’t stand being hungry…that feeling in your stomach. I’ve gotten used to it. I still feel it, but I can sweep it under the rug…ignore it. If it’s not obvious to you…I usually don’t give a shit about what I look like when I go out, either. To me, I’m just glad that I’ve been able to get up and shower and clothed…I could really care less about looking good. I do enough to my hair to make it presentable…but I don’t take the time to do it like I used to…I don’t wear makeup anymore. You will usually find me in a t-shirt and yoga pants or jeans…that is a style I have adopted within the last year. While you would never find me on the cover of Vogue…I would like to think I had some sort of fashion sense at one point. I have some really cute clothes and a very full closet…but most of the things in there, I haven’t worn for over a year. I look at pictures of me taken prior to last year…and while I never think of myself as cute or pretty…I can at least acknowledge that I looked a lot better than I do now…I was a little bit easier on the eyes. I’ve never had much of a self esteem. That was stripped away very early on in life. I’ve never been small in terms of weight…but I have seen better days…and as long as I found cute clothes that fit, I never really cared about being bigger most of the time. I only had a problem when it was a problem to find clothes or when I couldn’t stand to look at myself…it was then that I would make more of an effort to change my ways. I have never been impeded by my weight. I am not very active now…but I used to be. I grew up swimming, playing softball and other sports. I found tennis later in my teenage years and I still love it today…but it’s not a sport you can play solo. I liked to walk and be active and I didn’t get winded just climbing the stairs…so I never really cared much about my weight because I didn’t see it as a problem. Was I a model? No. But I had no health problems because of my weight…and as far as I know, I still don’t…no high blood pressure, no cholesterol or diabetes issues. I am…or was…perfectly healthy…even if the scale wanted to tell you otherwise. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was found to be anemic again…I wouldn’t be surprised about having a thyroid issue either. I don’t know if I am still having high blood pressure issues because I haven’t been monitoring it like I was. I shake a lot and I still have tachycardia issues because I can feel it in my chest daily…the racing heart. I can only describe the sensation like the feeling of having “butterflies in your stomach”…that’s what I feel like most of the time. It’s probably rare to catch my heart rate below 110 bpm (normal is about 60-100…usually in the 80 range). It’s not a pleasant feeling by any means. Xanax never makes a difference, though I take it anyway hoping that it will. But like the feeling of hunger, it’s just a sensation that I have gotten used to…I would probably notice more if my heart wasn’t racing because THAT would be the odd sensation…not the sensation of a racing heart. I drug myself to sleep because if I didn’t, I would probably never sleep save for the occasional cat nap here and there. I also drug myself to sleep so I can pass time and so I can escape my own insanity for a while. I could raise a family of six children and work two full-time jobs with the amount of energy I spend on my depression and anxiety. Sometimes I just need the madness to stop for a while…I need an off button for my brain…and sleep does that…if only temporarily. Sometimes, sleeping is just as bad as being awake…what with all the nightmares. But most of the time, I do it to stop the insanity for a while. I need a break. My brain needs a break.
I feel so lost right now. I don’t know what to do with myself. My emotions are all over the place and I feel so confused. I open my mouth to say something and then just close it because I can’t make my words come out in a way that is comprehensible.
People think that because I spend so much time by myself, that I am lonely. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I don’t mind being alone at all. At this point, I get enough social interaction through therapy and group sessions to satisfy that part of me. I don’t need or want anymore…sometimes, even that is too much social contact. Just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely. I choose to be like this. One…my emotions are so erratic that I honestly don’t trust myself in most social situations. Two…people irritate the hell out of me…the tiniest infraction will set me off…so I choose to stay to myself. I want to like people but they’re just so fucking stupid. Some people are alive today simply because I did not want to go to prison. And three…I don’t want to spread my depression around and rain on other people’s parade. I don’t want to hurt anyone else. I’d rather sit here and hurt myself than hurt another person. I know I’m not very fun to be around right now…so instead of making people feel like they have to tip-toe around me…I just take myself out of the whole situation. The brief relief of seeing other people when I leave my room turns into a desperate need to be alone, and then being alone turns into a terrible fear that I will have no friends; I will be alone in this world and in my life. I don’t think I have friends anymore…and that’s entirely my fault and I blame no one for leaving or turning away…it is actually a very smart decision on their part. Trust is probably a bigger factor than I would like to admit. I am leery of everyone that comes into my life now. I waste no time putting them through tests of their endurance, love and patience. The most expensive thing in the world is trust…it can take years to earn and just a matter of seconds to lose. I’m tired of the effort I put into relationships I want so desperately to work out…so it’s easier to weed people out from the starting gate rather than waiting until too far into the relationship that it hurts when they leave. I’d rather watch you walk away now than watch you walk away in two years. It’s easier for me to let you go if I just said hi to you five minutes ago. It’s harder to let you go if I have told you that I have loved you for five years.
I never hesitate or hem and haw about getting up, showering and driving to see my therapist or go to group. You will probably have a harder time trying to stop me from going than you will have trying to get me to go. But I am almost always asked…at least once, over the course of a weekend, if I want to go out somewhere…go to dinner or a movie…and I rarely hesitate before saying no. I may want to see that movie or have a meal at a favorite restaurant…but it’s not enough to make me get out of bed and go. I never hesitate to go to see my therapist or go to group where my therapist and K facilitate…because I know what it means to me to see M and K.
I don’t know if people have ever questioned the lack of romantic relationships in my life. At Starbucks with some of the “groupies” one day, I eluded to the fact that I had had only one serious boyfriend and one consensual sexual partner in my life. The women looked at me in shock and could not believe that I had made it through 28 years of life that way. I don’t have an answer for why that is. For one, I don’t see anyone lining up to ask me out. Two, I can’t even make a platonic relationship work…how the hell am I supposed to make a romantic one work? I don’t know if it’s been an unconscious effort on my part to keep the boys away or if that’s just how things are. I don’t know if I’ve realized, subconsciously, that romantic relationships are even harder to work on and maintain than the platonic ones that keep plaguing me…and so it’s just been easier to not get involved in romantic relationships at all. I once had a dream of getting married and having children…but now, I couldn’t care less. If I can’t love myself, how the hell am I gonna love somebody else? I reflect back on my relationship with E…my only baseline for romantic relationships…and I can’t imagine ever being married. E liked to fall asleep while spooning and some nights, I would let him…but I think there were more nights where I told him to fuck off and roll over rather than fall asleep in his arms. I don’t think it had anything to do with our relationship…because this would happen even when we were at our happiest. I just wanted my space. He liked to snuggle and cuddle, even on the couch while watching TV, and there were times where that was exactly what I wanted…but there were other times where that was the last thing I wanted. I don’t know if that’s normal or not. I don’t have anything to compare it to. I relish sleeping alone…I can’t imagine ever sharing a bed with someone else again. If I do get married…I either want separate bedrooms or I want to revert back to the 1950s and have two twin beds separated by a nightstand. And you may think I’m joking…but I’m really not…I’m dead serious.
Sometimes I sit back and just look at my therapist and her life. I look at her and see the life I once dreamed of…the way I had planned for things to turn out. She is so much like me (apologies to her)…she is and she has everything I ever wanted at this point in my life. She is beautiful…she is married with a baby…and she has an amazing career…the one I once wanted myself. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ever jealous of her…but I don’t always feel jealous in her presence…it’s a fleeting thought and emotion that comes to light every now and then. Sometimes I hate Facebook…well…I probably hate it more than I like it. I see Facebook like I see Marsha Linehan‘s mindfulness train on the TV screen…just watching the train pass by in front of you…that’s what Facebook is like. I sit back and watch everyone else get married and have children and land successful careers. I watch the train leaving without me…and it kills me and often leaves me with the sting of jealousy. It’s hard to sit back and watch everyone else obtain the things you once wanted and become successful at life while you are battling for your next breath every single day. I don’t know if it’s the success and husband and children I get jealous of…or if I get jealous because I see these people living healthy lives and not battling a war with a mental illness that is hell-bent on making life as miserable as possible. I’ve tried so hard and for so long to make my illnesses disappear. I give up now. I give in. I don’t have it in me to fight anymore…it’s not worth it to me. I can’t envision myself being healthy. I cannot envision a life that is not plagued by attachment and abandonment issues, sprinkled with bouts of depression and anxiety.
My attachment and abandonment issues are so blatantly obvious to me that I don’t understand how I could have gone so long without seeing it. I knew, from a very young age, that my attachment issues were not normal…I just didn’t know why…and I still don’t know why…but at least now I have a name for the disorder that makes me this way…I just don’t have the answer as to how I came to have the disorder. What went wrong to make me this way? From what I’ve read…it’s uncommon for genetics to be a factor. Something went wrong somewhere in childhood and has managed to fuck up my entire life from adolescence on. I can probably count all of the relationships I have fucked up and/or gotten attached to in an unhealthy way. Growing up, I remember being fond of most of my female teachers. I was that proverbial teacher’s pet…the perfect student. (Well, from about 5th grade on. I was a bit of a handful until my 5th grade teacher figured out that I was bored in class because I was done with my work and had learned all they could teach me. I spent most of my lunches and recesses in detention in elementary school. I also spent a lot of time in a counselor’s office…both in school and outside of school…trying to find answers for my behavior. It took many years and a male teacher to figure out that all I needed was more of a challenge and more work to keep me busy. From then on, “extra credit” became a part of my daily vocabulary. Hell, sometimes I did extra work just to stay sane and busy…I could’ve cared less if I got any actual credit or grade from it. I can see you questioning my absence from honors classes. I will give you the answer: the other students. Yes, you normally find nerds and other over-achievers like myself in honors classes…but you will also find the popular girls and boys and the cliques that every other classroom has. I actually found the bullying, teasing, and ostracism worse in my honors classes than I did in my regular classrooms. So while my teachers insisted that I stay in the honors classes…because of the bullying, I chose to stay in regular classrooms and do a lot of extra work…oftentimes, without credit. Many of my A grades arrived without the annotation that I had achieved that A with a grade percentage greater than 100%.) The first instance of attachment, I think, came in the 8th grade. That was a very horrible year for me. Not only did I have the crazy hormones of an adolescent trying to learn how to walk…I had the added weight of the entire grade on my back. And no, I’m not exaggerating or trying to use a metaphor. From 6th grade through 8th grade, I was in a middle school (it was just before I entered the 6th grade, where grades K through 6 were still in elementary schools, that the district decided upon middle schools and moved the grades 6 through 8 into middle schools; a new middle school had just been built down the street from my childhood home and grade school…my class was the first class to go through all three grades in the new school). During the 6th grade, I had somehow found myself hanging out with the same three girls…SP, JM and ST. This was our group…through thick and thin…boy problems and sleep overs…the four of us were rarely seen apart. We let other people in and out of our group over the years, but the four of us remained a constant…until the 8th grade. I cannot pinpoint the exact day or time of year this happened…but it happened early enough to screw the rest of the year up for me…and probably set me up for what would be the rest of my life (friendship/trust issues…ostracism and being alone). SP was the proverbial bad girl…the one who talked back to her parents and did things she wasn’t supposed to do. JM was quiet and shy…a people/parent pleaser. ST had issues in her home life and was the goofy and cynical one. She was the one usually cracking the jokes, talking back to the teachers, and when we called each other, she was often the one being yelled at in the background. I was the goody-two-shoes…the nice one, the dependable one, the one who got good grades, stayed out of trouble and the one whom all the teachers loved. I can’t tell you how many “pleasure to have in class” comments I got back when they actually wrote and sent out report cards. At some point during the summer before 8th grade, SP and JM had formed a tighter bond and while the four of us were all still close, SP and JM had a secondary bond. They would skip school together and do things they shouldn’t do…then report to ST and I the next day. Back before text messages were invented, we had ornately folded notes that we passed back and forth and were confiscated by some teachers. One particular day, SP and JM said that they had cut school in order to stay at SP’s house (without parental supervision) with some boys they met…and they lost their virginity. I am quite sure, if I dive into my box of notes that I (mistakingly) kept, I will find the notes where SP and JM dish out the details of this little excursion. We were still young then…12 and 13…but we knew enough to know what sex was and the dangers of it (STDs, pregnancy, etc.). Apparently, this wasn’t a deterrent for SP and JM…but I was profoundly disturbed and upset to learn that two of my closest friends had not only cut school, but did so to have sex…and not just with any two boys…two boys over the age of 18 at the time and both of whom had a criminal record. I remember writing notes to the girls, asking what it felt like, etc…the curiosity…but I also remember writing them notes telling them of the dangers of not only sex, but of getting involved with boys who were so much older. This is an age-old argument…5 years, give or take, is nothing to those of us who are 20 and older…but the difference between 13 and 18 is quite drastic, in my opinion. I let my thoughts and worries be known to the girls…warning them of STDs and pregnancy. (While I never gloated about it, I sat back in high school and watched SP become a teenage mother…by none other than the man she had skipped school to have sex with back in 8th grade. I have to give her credit, though, because she kept the baby and went on to marry the same man and have three more children with him. JM married SP’s cousin and has a toddler. ST had pre-marital sex and got pregnant…she was/is a Jehovah’s Witness and this was a big no-no. She married that man and went on to have another child with him. Guess who is unmarried and childless? All three girls have friended me on Facebook and as you read on, you will probably wonder why. I don’t have an answer. We have never discussed the events of 8th grade.) Instead of acknowledging what I was saying and giving their actions a second thought, SP and JM (along with ST) decided, instead, to start bullying me and teasing me because I, at that point, had never had a boyfriend, let alone any sort of sexual encounter…that’s, at least, what they thought. SP and JM started making a habit of cutting school to sleep with these two guys and it only made me more upset and concerned. That year, I had the most teachers ever. In elementary school, you usually have one core teacher…then the occasional PE or music teacher mixed in. Throughout 6th and 7th grade, we had two main core teachers that taught us four basic subjects, then we had our elective teachers…which usually amounted to a total of about four teachers over the course of the year. In 6th grade…I found myself uniquely attached to my PE teacher…of ALL the subjects I hated, it was PE…if it was cardio day, the groan always came from me…but if it was dodgeball day or softball day…I was all, “It’s on, bitches!” (I once hit a line drive straight into a male pitcher’s nuts…one of the best moments of my life.) I had my PE teacher, Ms. W, in my life throughout all of middle school. Nothing major, but a close bond…she saw something special in me and I saw the same in her. I was usually, at some point, either in her actual PE class, a teacher’s aide for her or helping manage any of the sports teams she coached. She was pretty cool…we never got too personal, but she fell victim to my sharp wit…and I fell victim to hers. Ms. W never gave up on me and was always one who could make me laugh, even if I was feeling prickly. We drifted apart as I moved up in school and I didn’t find out until a few years ago (after I found her online and e-mailed her) that she actually moved to where I had been living with my boyfriend E at the time (across the state I live in). I kick myself for not knowing this sooner because I would have been able to see her while I was living there. She is someone I will always be fond of. I have to give her props though…she pulled the best April Fool’s Day prank on me ever. I reported to her office as an aide one April 1st and she looked at me dead on, totally serious, and said we needed to talk. My heart stopped because I was like, oh shit…what did I do? She told me that it was concerning my grade in her class…I was failing. I don’t think I need to reiterate that the letter F was not ever in my vocabulary (I also need not tell you that I can be quite gullible at times). My face dropped and my eyes started to well up with tears…and after she saw the expression on my face…she lost it in a fit of giggles and asked how I could ever fail a class, being the kind of student I was, and just by being a teacher’s aide (a very easy A). She then hugged me as she wiped away my tears…of the near heart attack, relief, or laughter…I’m not sure. In the words of MasterCard: priceless. In 8th grade, I now had a teacher for each of the four core subjects (two for my math class) along with the two elective teachers, for a total of 7 teachers…and I had quite the combination that year. I hated my science teacher, who was a cocky young male that all the girls giggled and crooned over. I hated him because he was so full of himself and seemed hell-bent on making my life miserable that year…never mind the fact that I hated basic science as a general rule. (This was the teacher that I would later be accused of flipping off and suspended for two days. In actuality, it was SP and ST who flipped him off behind his back for splitting the three of us up during a group project. A boy saw SP or ST do it and tattled…I can’t remember who instigated the gesture, but it doesn’t really matter because they both did it. Of course, if one girl goes down, we all go down…so ST and SP told the principal I had done it, too…when in actuality, I had done no such thing. But I couldn’t convince the principal of this because he essentially had two eye-witnesses saying they saw me do it. I remember being in his office and he called my mom to inform her of what I had “done” and of my punishment. I will never forget…he had my mom on speakerphone and told her that I had flipped off a teacher…and my mom asked him if it was Mr. Science Teacher…and when the principal confirmed that it was, my mom actually laughed. The principal was not pleased and sent me home with a two-day suspension…I did not receive any further punishment from my parents. During this time, I was not supposed to be allowed to do any of my makeup work or get any of my assignments from my teachers. But either my teachers believed that I didn’t do it or I was really just in their good graces because I got my assignments anyway and returned to school, two days later, no further behind in my assignments than I had been when I left. That was the last school punishment I ever received…not a single detention for the rest of my career in the public school system. Looking back now, I wish I had actually flipped the guy off. I mean, if I’m going to get suspended no matter what, I might as well commit the crime I was accused of, you know? It would have let me get some anger out of my system. I mean…if I’m gonna go to jail for kicking the shit out of someone and I didn’t really do it…fuck that…I’m gonna go do it…at least then I would have deserved my punishment. Thank God for the ‘double jeopardy’ law.) I had a split math class…one teacher taught the first half of the week and another teacher taught the second half, alternating Wednesdays. I liked them both but nothing major. I did end up babysitting for one of them occasionally. I had a history teacher who I butted heads with like no other. We spent the first part of the year biting each other’s heads off. I did my work just fine…it was my attitude that was the problem…my filter and sarcastic remarks got out of line. It was my English teacher who became the referee and finally got us to get along with each other…how, I don’t recall…but I do have that history teacher as a friend on Facebook. It was my English teacher that made the difference for me that year…Mrs. S. Not only was she teaching my favorite subject up to this point, she did so with a panache that I fell in love with. I can’t tell you what made me like her so much or what led up to my attachment…I can only tell you that it happened. When I found out what SP and JM were doing on their “days off”, I was an aide as an elective for Mrs. S…and it happened to be my first period of the day. I would help grade assignments and make copies…anything she needed help with. Mornings, back then, were spent arriving at school and finding our cliques (we always met by the Coke machine outside the cafeteria) and gossiping until the first bell rang, signaling first period. One day, I walked into Mrs. S’s room clearly distraught. I don’t remember if I walked in crying, but I remember crying. Instead of making me work and doing other things that she needed to do in order to prepare for the day, we spent that period talking. I told her what SP and JM were doing…not because I wanted to tattle, but because I was very concerned for my friends’ health and safety…I didn’t like the idea of them cutting school and being alone with two boys who were clearly up to no good. I don’t remember when I started cleaning Mrs. S’s house and then, eventually, babysitting her two girls…but it had started before this situation arose with my friends…so I was already “in” with Mrs. S to a degree…but I was not at a point of attachment yet. I was thoroughly thrilled at getting a “behind the scenes” peak at the lives of teachers…seeing that they had children and homes and dirty bathrooms, too. I remember being told by Mrs. S to keep my house cleaning and child-rearing adventures under wraps, at least as far as talking about it with other students. I didn’t realize it at the time…but she was actually saving me from further torture and bullying and teacher’s pet insults…and she didn’t want other students thinking that I was getting the A+++++++ simply because I had scrubbed her toilet really good and got her youngest to use the potty before having an accident. The other teachers knew, but the students didn’t…and that was just fine with me. That year was also the year I learned about liability and how it relates to a teacher’s role in a student’s life. If a teacher was given information about abuse at home or other information that was harmful to a student, they were liable to report it. Neither Mrs. S (I will call her T from here on out…it took me many years to stop calling her Mrs. S and to start calling her T…I need not revert now) nor myself could have anticipated what would happen when she told the principal what SP and JM were up to. I don’t remember exactly how it all came about…but T received the information by the end of first period and I was taken out of my last class of the day before the bell rang and driven home by her (even though I was only a short walk from home) because threats on my life had been made. When I arrived at school the next day, I was greeted with great disdain and a lot of “fan mail” from the entire 8th grade class…notes threatening my life, telling me how horrible I was for tattling on my friends, how I had better watch my back because someone was going to “beat my ass” (I still have some of those notes…don’t ask me why). This was the end of many friendships that had taken three years to build and just the beginning of what school would be like for the rest of year. I spent the rest of the year immediately reporting to T’s classroom upon stepping foot on to school grounds (she was still my first period) and if she was absent or late, I was to report next door to my history teacher. I don’t remember having to do this for the whole year, but for a time…I ate my lunch in T’s classroom or in the teacher’s lounge; the cafeteria was not a safe place for me to be. This was not a secret to the other students and only gave them more ammunition. All of my teachers were on alert to keep me separated from the girls and to just keep a general eye on me at all times. After school, I was either taken home to my house, picked up by someone else, or taken home by T to clean her house or watch her children. Here is where the first attachment happened. Not only did I have a true affection for T and what she had done for me, we had developed a relationship that was very new to me and very comforting and reliable. I was never once mad at her for putting me in the position I now found myself in…the thought to blame her never crossed my mind, actually. I never felt that it was intentional. I felt safe talking to her about pretty much anything and I was grateful that I knew someone with “power” who was able to watch my back for me. It was at this point where the fantasies started…where I would envision myself upset, crying, in a bad situation of some sort and T “coming to my rescue” with hugs and tissues and caresses. This is what got me to sleep at night, imagining the scenario and the caring caresses. It still gets me to sleep today, only with different scenarios and different people showing me affection. My relationship with T continued through the rest of that year, into high school and throughout college. We only started to drift apart as her girls got older and she/they no longer needed me. We kept in touch through the mail and occasionally met for lunch or dinner…and while the abandonment was never intentional…it has happened over time. The girls are grown now; one just graduated high school and is in her first year of college and T moved on from being an English teacher to being a principal herself in a district further away. We just drifted apart, each of us tending to our own lives. I won’t attach abandonment to the relationship because it didn’t really happen. We just lost touch and got so wrapped up in our own lives. She is still a friend on Facebook and she cannot ever be edited out of my autobiography. At times, I wish we were closer today. She was the first person I ever idealized…at least to the degree where the BPD became evident. She was so much more than a teacher and a friend. My world revolved around her for a number of years. From 8th grade through high school graduation, I don’t think there was a single week where I didn’t see her. If you look at my high school graduation pictures…she’s in there with me. I can’t recall, but I think she came to my college graduation, too. There were other teachers that I attached myself to over the following years, including (ironically) my psychology teacher. Our relationship never went outside of the school building, but she was amazing and I loved her. We talked after school sometimes, and she really listened to anything I had to say…she made extra time for me. She even called my mom out of concern when I told her that I wasn’t trying out for the tennis team my senior year (I had played during my junior year but decided not to return because of bullying)…she knew I loved the sport and couldn’t understand why I was giving it up so easily. For graduation, she gave me a pin that was of an angel holding a tennis racket. I still have it. She watched me closely over the two years I spent in her classroom and always made the extra effort to spend a minute with me before or after school if I was especially down or if she became concerned about me. She is now also a Facebook friend and we have met a couple times over the past 10 years…including one meeting just a few months ago.
The next major attachment I remember was L. I will come back to this post later (or make a new post) and write out the details…because there’s a lot. L not only came into my life at a pivotal moment (when my mom jumped off the deep end)…she was my anchor…even after I “found God.” I would tell her and her family that God was my anchor…but in all honesty, she was. She gave me everything I needed and wanted, even when I didn’t know I needed or wanted it. Her hugs were amazing, her dinners were good, her family was lovely and provided me the stability I was lacking at home. Never mind the fact that I was 20+ years old at this point…L became the replacement for my mom. I spent the night many times and she would rub my back or stroke my face to get me to wake up in the morning. She would play with my hair and hold my hand. I knew this wasn’t “normal” at the time and it was in no way romantic…but it felt so good and seemed to satisfy every want and need I had. I was so happy…yes, my home life was a mess…but I had another home to escape to. I followed L around like a lost puppy and honestly, I got into the church and it’s related activities just to have L. I highly doubt I would have ever set foot in a church beyond a funeral or wedding if I hadn’t been scrambling for L’s love and affection. It was kind of an unspoken deal, in my opinion. I had to follow Jesus in order to be in L’s life. And I wanted to be in L’s life…so what did I do? I followed Jesus…or at least pretended to. I wasn’t faking the entire time. The more I read and heard…I was honestly questioning if there was someone who would, in fact, be there for me and love me no matter what I did…because that’s exactly what I wanted…but I didn’t like having to “believe” in it. It wasn’t enough to just know or believe…it had to be tangible. I gave it a whole-hearted try for quite some time, honestly wondering if I could transfer my need for love and attention to someone who had never been seen and was, for lack of a better phrase, a fictional character in a book. But like I said, that wasn’t enough. It didn’t help matters any when L abandoned ship, quite literally. (She abandoned me during a cruise in 2006 and left me alone in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico.) My initial reaction was to think that God was punishing me for not turning to Him after my dad died and for not depending on Him to meet my needs and instead, depended on L to meet my needs. After L left, I pretty much said, to God, “Fuck you and the silver lining you rode in on.” I don’t see my dad’s death as an intentional abandonment. My dad was not an affectionate person and we weren’t close in a physical or emotional sense. We had an unspoken bond of “Daddy’s little girl” and when that was taken away…well…you can see the emotional mess that created. I don’t feel like anyone intentionally took my dad away from me or that my dad intentionally abandoned me…but I can see where my subconscious might see his death as abandonment. I no longer had a mom and dad to depend on…I was forced to depend on the one person I wanted to depend on the least…my mom. My dad’s death coupled with L’s intentional abandonment was probably what led me down the road I have followed up to now. L’s abandonment was the ultimate rejection…because it was intentional and it was from someone I held in such a high regard. I remember “getting in trouble” with L and her husband B once and I was physically ill with the remorse I felt and at the thought of losing her. I remember being in the shower, getting ready for work, and I threw up because I was so distraught. It was at that point that I knew I had placed L on a pedestal…and I think she and B knew, too…if not then, soon thereafter…because I was reprimanded more than once for putting L before God. And look what good it did me. My world crashed when she left. I didn’t think I could live without her. I didn’t know what to do with myself. L was my everything and was, in some way, involved in my life on a daily basis up until the day she left me alone on that cruise ship. I didn’t think it was possible to hurt more than I did after my dad left and she left. You probably could have stabbed me, shot me, punched me…done anything to me and I wouldn’t have felt more pain than I did at that time in my life. Well…until this last year. I don’t know how I continued walking after the L debacle…but my walk led me to other people I could replace her with.
At this point, I was still involved with the church and because of my volunteer work in the church nursery, I was #1 on many family’s lists of babysitters. Through this, I met some lovely women (and children, whom I adored). I never met one I didn’t like, but I didn’t attach myself to all of them. Some I held in higher regard than others, but nothing to the extent at which I held L. I don’t know if it was because I learned that there was no other L or if it was because I had learned a very valuable lesson in not putting all my eggs in one basket. Regardless of the lesson learned, it didn’t stick for long…because in walked S. I was thoroughly convinced, at this point, that I would never find another L…I would never find another person to love me the way she did and meet my needs the way I wanted them to be met. S proved me wrong. I met her through another family I was babysitting for and the relationship started when I started watching her two boys. I would make them dinner and get them into bed and when S and her husband would come home late, he would go off to get ready for bed and S and I would stay up and talk. She knew about my relationship with L and that it was over, but she didn’t know, at first, the circumstances surrounding it. Over a period of time, she learned it all. S, in actuality, was not much older than I was at the time…I must have been about…22 or 23 at the time…and during our friendship, S had her 30th birthday. I cannot tell you how many years separates us now, but I know that it’s not that much. Even though S was married and had children and was clearly at a different spot in life, we still had a lot in common and we quickly formed a great friendship. S was perfect in every way…the perfect friend. If I could have designed a friend myself, I couldn’t have come up with S on my own. Sherrie became my go-to friend…the one I would call when I was upset and I would become the same for her. She would vent her frustrations about her stepson and his mom (S’s husband had been married once before) and I never said no when she asked me to babysit. She never took advantage of me, but I wanted to be that ultimate friend for her…the one she could count on…the one she could call no matter what and the one that could be at her house in 5 minutes in an emergency where she had to leave and couldn’t take the boys. I was still dealing with my dad’s death, my issues with my mom and L’s abandonment…but L was quickly put behind me as S replaced her. At one point, I had suffered two kidney stone attacks just a few months apart. S never came to the ER (I had attached myself to a couple of females at work who lived close to me and drove me to and from the hospital) but one time, I remember being on the phone with S after I got home from a day in the ER and she insisted on coming over and just sitting with me, to comfort me and help me because I was alone, living by myself. I remember being adamant that she didn’t have to come over, but she insisted, so I let her. She came and made me something to eat and made me take my pain killers and she sat on my couch and watched TV with me as I drifted in and out of an opiate-induced delirium. She sat with me most of the night, her arms around me, stroking my feverish forehead…it was honestly one of the best nights of my life, even if I did have kidney stones…it was better than sex (even though I was still a virgin at that point…I should probably just take the “better than sex” comment out because, to me, most everything is better than sex…but I think you get my point about how amazing that night was). S was an amazing friend and was more than I could have ever asked for and I did my best to be that friend in return. But…I fucked up. There was no price I had to pay for S or her love and affection. She was everything I wanted and needed and I was never reprimanded for my obvious love for her…but one day, I found out (or she told me) that she had invited another young girl over to spend the night because she was having a hard time at home. I don’t remember the specifics but I became incensed. I was so unjustifiably jealous. I had spend the night at S’s before…so it’s not like that other girl got something I didn’t…but in my distorted view, S was replacing me and spreading her love to someone else…and that did not sit well with me. I hadn’t learned how to bottle my emotions yet…so instead of just keeping my mouth shut and ruminating in my own emotions, I let S know exactly how I felt…and she politely bowed out of my life and said she needed some space. I had been punched in the stomach again. I became mad at myself for letting another person like L into my life and for letting myself get hurt again. Part of me was mad at S, but part of me was mad at myself for getting involved in the relationship and for being so unjustifiably jealous of that other girl, imagining she was getting something I wasn’t. It wasn’t long after this that I stopped going to church altogether. It is very awkward to be in the same auditorium with someone whom you had such an intimate relationship with and were no longer speaking to. And I was so mad at God at that point that I flipped Him the bird as I walked out of the church for the last time. I don’t know how it happened, but S and I started talking again after I came home from living with E. I think we briefly talked before I even moved…she stated that she disagreed with my decision and warned me to think carefully about what I was doing. The move wasn’t wrong…but moving in with a man whom I was not married to was frowned upon by more than just S. I took the e-mails in stride and moved anyway. When I came home, S found out somehow and e-mailed me to say that she was glad I was back in town, sorry that things didn’t work out, and asked me to lunch. Despite all the rejection and hurt I felt when she left me, I didn’t hesitate to meet her for lunch and we have continued a relationship to this day…but it is very different than it was before. I’m not sure if it’s my doing or S’s, or both of us. We still hug and share our lives with each other…but it is very few and far between. I have watched her boys a couple of times since I’ve been home, but they are older now and don’t really need me anymore. I have seen S just a handful of times in the last 5 years…and I’m totally okay with it. I still love her to bits and would do anything for her, but my life and emotional stability is no longer dependent on her. She is still a great friend and one that I could easily talk to late into the night…but we’ve each moved on and have gotten lost in our own lives…taking a minute here and there just to say hi. One of which was just recently. I was changing my sheets on my bed and put on a cute sheet set which S had purchased for me years before. I smiled at the memory and sent her a quick message on Facebook to say that I was thinking of her. She, in turn, responded by asking me over to dinner. I haven’t done much socializing over the last year and it takes more than a crowbar to pry me out of my room these days…but I did not hesitate for one minute when S asked me over for dinner. I said yes, I’d love to have dinner with her. She knows a little bit about what has gone on in the last year, but she doesn’t know everything. I posted one note on Facebook about my initial suicide attempt…but I haven’t ever spoken of that again (on Facebook) or of the last two suicide attempts and countless ups and downs I’ve experienced over the last year…to me, it’s personal and not something that needs to be shared publicly. I wrote the initial note because I was getting inundated with people asking me what was going on (rumors spread like wild fire!)…so I wrote a general note and posted it for everyone to see, hoping it would answer everyone’s questions. I read that note now and laugh at the hope in my words…how stupid of me. S ended up getting sick and had to cancel our dinner date. Rejection yes, but I tried not to take it too harshly. It wasn’t her fault and she wasn’t one to cancel dates at the last minute. But I was still disappointed. I’ve left the ball in her court, telling her to let me know when (and if) she wants to meet up again and I’ve let the situation go, not wanting to appear too needy by incessantly bugging her about a time to meet up. Chances are, she will forget…but that’s okay. I’ve come to expect that and I try not to take it as a rejection…instead just trying to convince myself that she’s living a busy and normal life and that she has just honestly forgotten to reschedule…not knowing that I am literally biting at the bit to see her. Big deal to me…inconsequential to her. Again, something I’ve come to expect…not just from her, but from anyone who forms a relationship with me.
If I haven’t said it already, I have had many attachments over the course of my life…I am just outlining the major ones. My next major (although short) attachment came shortly after I started working at a pharmacy. This particular pharmacy was small, consisting of just three techs and two pharmacists (three if you count the clinical pharmacist…she opened and closed, but wasn’t IN the pharmacy working with us during the day unless we got busy). I liked my boss and all of my coworkers immediately. They were all very nice and patient with me while I learned the system. Their patience turned to amazement when I picked up everything so quickly and was doing a stellar job. I was just what that pharmacy needed and they loved me. I rocked that shit and I was the happiest I had been in years…all the rejections and abandonment, all the ups and downs…it was all worth it to feel like I was finally back on track with my life. I had returned to school, and while it wasn’t the psych degree I wanted from a four-year university…it was a means to an end in which I could be trained and licensed in a skill I could take anywhere with me and I could make more money than I was making with the mediocre office jobs I was taking. It also helped that I loved the work. A pharmacy is one of the best places to work if you have OCD…the meticulousness and attention to detail is a must. I also saw it as my ticket out of my mom’s house. That was my goal when I started working as a pharmacy technician there…to work my ass off and get back out on my own again. I knew being at home was a toxic environment for me and I knew I had to get out…but I needed money to do that. C and SH were my coworkers and were also technicians. SH was the lead and I immediately hit it off with her, sharing her dry sense of humor and willingness to make even the dullest tasks fun by cracking jokes. C was a little more…uptight. It took her a little longer to warm up to me and I later learned that she felt threatened by me because I out-shined her at work. My boss (and SH) was absolutely stunned that a new pharmacy student could come in, completely untrained, learn a new system and handle twice the work load and twice as many tasks as C could…after all, C had been there for over 20 years and she “knew everything.” It wasn’t long before I was getting more responsibility. C, at that point, decided to keep her friends close and her enemies closer. I was ignorant of this at the time, so I took her offer of friendship and didn’t question her motives. We really hit it off and despite the age difference (she could have easily been my mother), we seemed to have a lot in common. It wasn’t long before we were sharing long phone calls and dinner dates outside the work place. Work was going great for me…I was doing something I loved, I was doing great at it, and I liked everyone I worked with. C and I started sharing more intimate details of our lives. We seemed to have really hit it off and I took it and ran. Apparently…I ran too fast. Our friendship developed rapidly (I had only worked at this pharmacy for about a year and a half total and C transferred to another pharmacy within the company just 6 months after I started working there) and everything was going great until one day, C came into work and didn’t say much to me at all and proceeded to give me the cold shoulder. I was blindsided. I asked SH if she knew what was up and she had no answers. I later found out that this was C’s mode of operation…befriending coworkers and manipulating them to do her bidding, leaving people blindsided when she called it quits. I also found out, much later, that SH had actually thought to warn me about this when she saw that C and I were becoming friends…but SH watched from a distance…deciding, instead, to let me figure it out on my own. It was a hard lesson to learn…and an extremely uncomfortable one, too. We were too busy with work to talk and the pharmacy wasn’t really the place to sort out personal matters. I had tried calling and texting C to find out what was going on and when she finally called me back one night, she said I was too much for her and that we needed space. She said some other really hurtful things, too. I was stunned…and I hung up the phone with tears running down my face. While it was C’s mode of operation…I was not the first person she did this to…I was unaware of the attachment I had formed and the sting of the blatant rejection burned. But…I still had to work with her…at least for a while. I continued to do an amazing job and share an open and fun relationship with SH and my other coworkers. My boss, however, was being told a very different story…by C. C eventually transferred to another pharmacy and once we hired a new tech, things were back on the straight and narrow. SH and I were friends…we shared texts and lunches together sometimes…but nothing more than that.
The next part of my story starts in February 2011. I don’t get sick often, but when I do, it’s pretty bad. I got hit by something nasty in February and was in and out of work for about two weeks. I was the type of person who worked even when I was sick (I had never called in sick, real or not, before February…so for a year, I never missed a day of work)…but with a job like mine, I had to be pretty careful because more often than not, the higher-ups did not want you to come to work sick…especially if you worked in a doctor’s office. So while I tried, I struggled for about a good two weeks before I finally got back into a regular work routine again by the end of February. I had lost about 20 pounds in the course of those two weeks from not being able to keep anything down and throwing up (or the reverse) everything I tried to eat and drink. Upon my return to work, things had changed. My coworkers were now cold towards me. I had chalked it up to them being frustrated in my absence (it meant more work for them, even if they had a floater to cover my shift) and they were just tired. But things were never the same after that. I found myself very much alone and also, always getting into trouble. I wasn’t doing things any different than I had before, but all of a sudden, I was getting chastised by my boss for this or that…and I was like, WTF…I’ve been doing things this way for a year, why is it a problem now? I cannot honestly tell you what led up to my first psych ward hospitalization…I believe it was in March. I had never been to urgent care or any ER for suicidal ideations. I had thought about suicide before, but really not since high school and not with any degree of intent to carry it out. But by this time, I sincerely wanted out. I was done. And I couldn’t have told you why…then or now. So now, I was absent from work for a week here and there for a couple months. My ass was covered by the union and FMLA. The deal was signed, sealed, and delivered the day I found the e-mail. All the computers in the pharmacy were shared…we had universal logins to the main stations and individual logins for the program that contained patient medical records and the pharmacy program we used each time we helped a customer or did any work pertaining to prescriptions. One particular coworker had a penchant for window one in the pharmacy because it was in a corner and out of the view of the staff and security cameras. She could essentially “hide” and get away with doing jack-shit every day. We knew she did this and my boss knew she did this…it was no secret and she had been reprimanded many times for this behavior. Because of our constant change of work station, it was hammered into us very early on to log out of all programs when done at a particular work station. It was to ensure privacy and also left a paper trail if someone was up to no good…like if someone used the medical record program or another program under my login and was looking up things they shouldn’t have been looking up…I would get in trouble because I was the one technically logged in, even if I never actually committed the crime. All that to say that this particular coworker, who was a pharmacist, liked to waste time by being on the internet and her e-mail all the time. While the rest of us had a healthy habit of logging out of our e-mail and other programs when we were finished with them, this particular person did not. She was always leaving things open and logged in, no matter how many times she got reprimanded for it. One day, I was manning the front counter, ignoring my coworkers unless I had to communicate to finish a task. I was pretty much a pariah at this point (I never did find out what went wrong…what I did to make them hate me so much). So I was working up front, helping patients and bouncing between computers. I eventually ended up at window one and after finishing with a patient, I was logging out of the programs I had logged into and noticed that this particular coworker had left her e-mail open. Knowing I couldn’t be seen by anyone else or by the cameras…I brought up the screen. It was there that I found the e-mail exchange between her and SH and it was then that I realized what had been going on for the last 3 months. SH and this lady were trying to get me fired. I wasn’t being randomly chastised for my little inconsistencies and clothing choices…I was being tattled on by my coworkers and blatantly targeted. I didn’t have much time to read the entire exchange, but I remember reading, “We got her for the piercing…now let’s get her for the tattoo.” Around this time, I was becoming a little bit indignant and was getting tired of being reprimanded all the time…so I got a little cynical and defiant at times. One such incident occurred when I got my lip pierced. I knew that it was against the dress code and I knew that it would not go unnoticed (especially by my boss, the dress code Nazi)…but I did it anyway…purely out of impulse and defiance. Needless to say, I paid dearly for my behavior. But in turn, I became even more indignant and defiant. I purposely became lax in my work and chose to challenge the dress code (the tattoo the e-mail was referring to was the one on my wrist, which I often had covered by a watch…but I had become careless about covering it up) and at one point, when I had been called out of the pharmacy by my boss to be reprimanded for yet another infraction…she actually asked me if I was trying to get fired. Subconsciously, the answer was probably yes…but I don’t remember the actual answer I gave her. My union representative knew all of this was going on. She had been called in a few times to be witness to my punishments and was my “defense lawyer” of sorts. I was in constant contact with her, trying to save my own ass and wondering if what I was being subjected to was fair. The day I saw that e-mail…I stood agape for a minute because I could not believe what I had just read. My astonishment quickly turned to anger when I had finally pieced all the puzzle pieces together and realized that the last 3 months of hell were all because of these two coworkers. There were customers to be waited on, but I was in no mood. I grabbed my cell phone and flew out of the pharmacy. It was mid-afternoon at this point…around 2 or 3 PM and I believe it was also on a Friday. I shut myself in an exam room and called my union rep, telling her what I had just found and asked her if I would be okay to leave. I think I tried to call my boss first, to ask if I could leave, but I couldn’t get a hold of her and I was too angry to finish my shift. I had to know that my job was secure, even if I walked out that day. My union rep said it was justifiable and that she would do the same in my situation, but she told me to call my boss back and leave a message and also send her an e-mail about what had happened. I went back to the pharmacy, collected my things, and left. I didn’t say a word to anyone. I was seething. Suicide had not entered my mind at this point…I was too angry to think about much else. My mom wasn’t aware of everything that was going on, but she knew a little bit…I didn’t share much voluntarily. I don’t remember that weekend…I was either too blinded by anger or the amount of morphine I later ingested impeded my memory. I don’t know when I reached my suicide decision…but the discovery of that e-mail was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I know I attempted to take my life on June 7th, 2011…and up until recently, I thought that was a Monday…but it was actually a Tuesday. I don’t remember if I worked Monday or not, but I remember calling in “sick” on Tuesday. My plan did not take long to concoct and was formed the night before…it came rather easily, if I remember correctly. I worked in a pharmacy…I had access to the C-II safe…morphine is a C-II drug…morphine overdoses kill people…and I had access to the morphine. A few quick Google searches gave me all the information I needed to make my final plan. I knew it was illegal to steal medication and the consequences were severe, legally and beyond…but I wasn’t planning on being around to receive punishment. I got up at my regular time that Tuesday and pretended to get ready for work in order to fool my mom. I left the house and drove to the pharmacy. I don’t know what happened to my name badge (which was also my pharmacy key)…I wasn’t one to misplace things of such importance (I later found out that my boss actually had my badge, but I have no idea how she got it)…but I got the opening pharmacist to let me in the pharmacy on the ruse that I had to collect some paperwork from my drawer. I didn’t need my key to open the safe and the pharmacy wasn’t going to be open for another hour and the pharmacist left to retrieve the morning stock delivery. I was alone in the pharmacy and I knew I had just a few short minutes to get in and get out before I was caught. I knew there were security cameras aimed at the safe and I knew it wouldn’t take long for the alarm bells to sound. I opened the safe and took two bottles of the highest strength morphine we had (60 mg extended-release). I knew my tolerance was high and I wanted to make sure I had enough to get the job done. I took them and walked coolly back to my car. I drove to the store to get some orange juice, already knowing there was a bottle of vodka in the freezer at home. I had done enough research to know that the morphine itself would be enough to kill me, but alcohol would help in ensuring my demise…and I was determined. By the time I got home, my mom still hadn’t left for work. This surprised me and I got some butterflies in my stomach, but I went back to my room anyway. It turned out my mom wasn’t feeling well and was just running a little behind. Before she left for work, she made no effort to hide her disappointment and reprimanded me severely for staying home from work yet again, saying that I was going to get fired if I kept it up. She left the house angry at me…not knowing what I was about to do. I knew it would be the last time we spoke and I knew those would be her last words to me…she didn’t (she would later be upset that those could have very well been her last words to me). My original plan was to ingest the morphine in a parking lot somewhere in order to avoid being found before I wanted to be found. I don’t know why I changed my mind, but I did…and once I got home, I knew that suicide is what I wanted and while nothing was going to change my mind…I found that I wanted comfort…I wanted my blankets and my cat with me until the end…my only comforts in what I saw as my personal hell. I wrote a brief suicide note and I took all the morphine…all 200 pills…all 12 grams…and chased the pills down with a screwdriver. While the morphine I ingested was extended-release…unconsciousness did not take long. I was already feeling drowsy before I finished taking all the pills and when I finally laid down…I laid down on my back, grabbed my blankets, and just asked the Lord or whomever was out there that they just set me free and I said that I was sorry for all I had done and for what I was about to do. CE, a friend on the east coast, knew I was having a rough time and had recently sent me some flowers with a balloon that said “I love you.” The balloon was floating up around my ceiling and it was the last thing I remember seeing before I closed my eyes and gave in to unconsciousness. I was completely at peace as I closed my eyes…I had no regrets and I knew that this is what I wanted. What happened over the next 24-48 hours is here-say and the details were later given to me by my mom, her boyfriend, and my union rep because I don’t remember any of it. After giving in to unconsciousness, the next thing I remember is waking up…at least as far as being conscious…I never opened my eyes. I was confused at first, wondering if I was in heaven or hell…wondering if I was dead. I felt something in my mouth and throat and I tried to lift my hands to my face to feel what it was…but I couldn’t…my hands were strapped to the side of a hospital bed in the ICU. I was intubated…and alive…and I was mad. My mom was there…I heard her voice…and she knew, by my movements, that I was conscious. She was holding my left hand and told me that she didn’t care what I had done, that she still loved me and was here. Meanwhile, I was trying to yank my hand out of hers…but I couldn’t because of the restraints…I was livid. My mom later told me that I had tears running down my face most of the time I was unconscious. I didn’t find out until later that I was purposely sedated for my own protection and not unconscious because of the effects of the morphine I had ingested, like I originally thought. I was also told later that the security cameras had caught me taking the morphine the moment I did it and security did not waste any time informing my boss. My boss took my action as yet another reason, on her already long list, to fire me. She consulted HR who then consulted the legal department who, in turn, told my boss to do nothing. My boss wanted to contact our union rep, but was advised not to. After hours of fucking around, my boss was finally given the okay to call the union rep. After she was informed about what I had done, the union rep lit my boss’s ass on fire for not calling her sooner and for not notifying the police…because the union rep knew immediately that my gesture was a suicidal one, not a ruse to get my boss to fire me. Despite the repercussions she might incur, the union rep took it upon herself to call the police who where immediately dispatched to my home…three hours after ingesting the morphine. I was already unconscious, blue, and not breathing by the time two police officers crawled in through my mom’s bathroom window. I was told later that had it been just one minute later, I would not have survived. I don’t believe in God anymore…but I do believe that all things happen for a reason…that nothing is an accident. As much as I want to say it was an accident that I was found when I was, I know in my heart that it wasn’t. I woke up in the hospital angry. I was angry that I had been saved…that my decision was taken away from me. Even though I was found, I was angry at my boss and the company I had worked for for waiting so long to act. I secretly hoped that my boss felt really shitty for ignoring my obvious cries for help in the preceding months and nearly costing me my life, even if death was exactly what I wanted. (After the suicide attempt, the union rep told my boss to cut off all contact with me and that if my boss needed something from me, she was to contact the union rep who would, in turn, contact me. Despite this, my boss called me directly once to ask, point blank, if I was going to resign…I had to do this in order to avoid being prosecuted for theft from a pharmacy, which is a felony. I wanted to say, “No, Boss…I’ll see you at 8 AM on Monday.” but I kept my mouth shut. My boss never once asked how I was doing or expressed any relief that I was alive. Neither did any of my former coworkers when I would later go to the pharmacy to pick up the medications I now had to take to keep me sane.) My suicide attempt was never done to get back at those who had wronged me. It was not, and never will be, out of revenge. I wanted out…I was done. I had spent 27 years on a roller coaster that never ended and I was tired and worn out. I woke up in the hospital angry and I haven’t stopped being angry for 18 months. The intensity of my anger has waxed and waned over time, but it is high again as I write this because I see all the damage I have done over the last 18 months and I know that it could have all been prevented if I had not been found and saved. I am again angry at the people who saved my life because I see the path of destruction I have left in my wake. People don’t understand how much better everything would be had I just died. I have drained my mother of her financial resources. She also thinks I am hell-bent on getting back at her for wronging me somehow. She thinks I “continue to do this to her” because I somehow relish in her sorrow and seeing the effect each suicide attempt has on her. She couldn’t be further from the truth. I have done nothing over the last year except sink further into my own emotions. I have done nothing but sit here and rot in this room, wasting time and resources. I leave the house only when I have doctor and therapy appointments. If it weren’t for those, I don’t think I’d leave the house at all. While there will always be those who disagree with me, surviving was a mistake. Letting me survive…saving my life…it was all a mistake. We, as humans, will never know the far-reaching affects we have on people’s lives. This goes for good decisions and bad ones. Yes, my “bad” decision to end my life would have affected a lot of people at that time…but other people’s “good” decision to save my life has affected more people than my successful suicide would have…my family and those who have spent time working with me over the last 18 months have put themselves, unknowingly, in harm’s way. My therapist initially had the choice of working with me or not. I assume, that after the first time we met, she had the decision to keep me or pass me off to someone else. If she didn’t, she should talk to her boss about revising the employee handbook. If she did have a choice, I think she picked the wrong one.
I have never been “attached” to a therapist before. This a new one for me…but I also haven’t been through many therapists. The one I was seeing before the first suicide attempt made it very easy to be distant and vague. She was just there to listen, throw in some criticism and advice on how to “better my life” and sent me on my way. She did absolutely nothing for me and there was no relationship formed at all. After I got out of the hospital last June, it was mandatory that I see my psychiatrist and a therapist within my first week home. Having had trouble contacting my therapist at the time, I was assigned (by the hospital and/or my doctor’s) to see SS that first week. I might have been too angry to give SS a chance. I don’t remember much of the session, other than being angry and giving her very short and terse answers to the questions she was asking me. I didn’t want to see her again. I saw my psychiatrist later that week and after I recounted the events of that week and how my appointment with SS went, he expressed his frustration in trying to communicate with my other therapist at the time and suggested that I start seeing a therapist that was employed by healthcare organization in order to better care for me. If I got on that track, everyone would be connected and communication regarding my care would be a lot easier for everyone involved. I consented, figuring I didn’t have much to lose. I wasn’t attached to the therapist I had been seeing for the last few months. The only reason I chose her was because I could get appointments that didn’t interfere with my work schedule. If I had chosen an in-house therapist at the time, I had to conform to the 8 to 5 Monday through Friday rule…a rule that my coworkers and boss weren’t going to make easy for me to follow. They resented me more and more with each day or afternoon I took off for an appointment. It didn’t matter if my life was on the line. After my suicide attempt, I, of course, had nothing to lose and time constraints were no longer an issue as I was no longer employed. My psychiatrist asked if he could suggest someone for me to see within the organization. I said sure…and he sent me on my way with a note to make a follow-up appointment with him and to schedule an appointment with a therapist named M. I don’t know if he suggested her because he thought she would be a really good match for me, personality-wise…or if it was out of convenience, seeing that her schedule wasn’t packed and she hadn’t yet reached her maximum case-load. Remember, there are no accidents…so however flippant the decision was to place me with her, it was a very good match…maybe too good, looking back now. Even though first appointments with therapists are pretty routine and mundane, I liked her immediately. I liked her personality, the way she worked, the way she empathized, the way she validated…and I liked the way she answered my question when I asked her if it was okay to swear. She had no idea about the can of worms she had opened. From that first session on, 50 minutes flew by in what seemed like just 10. I always left feeling that I hadn’t even made a dent in what I wanted to say. Half the time, I felt like I wasted a lot of time by crying…it seemed, at least in those early days, that I rarely left her office without tears. Thinking now, I can’t remember the last time I cried in front of her. If I were to take a guess…it was probably the day I said goodbye to her before my last suicide attempt…her being oblivious that I was saying goodbye (although later she later admitted that her “gut” told her that something wasn’t right…I see that as a testament to the intensity of our relationship and our powerful bond). As I reread this, I will update the recollection of the last tear I shed…it was in group the day after. M, the optimist, sees our relationship as being really beneficial…not only to me, but to her as well…stating that she has learned a lot from working with me. While I don’t regret ever meeting her, I regret letting myself get attached to her and I regret the degree to which I have (and will) affected her and her career. It was never intentional. When I made my first appointment with M, I walked in expecting nothing. I walked in with the intention of just following my doctor’s advice…I planned on NOT getting attached and not investing too much time and effort into the relationship and just giving M all the answers she wanted to hear. I never expected to get what I have. I still don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing. I love her and our relationship and it’s one that I cherish…never have I been so vulnerable, honest, and trusting of a single entity. Don’t bring up T, L, or S…because while I was vulnerable with those people and didn’t build a relationship with them based on lies, I could have never called up one of those people and told them, point blank, that I was feeling suicidal and that I was angry at this or that. Even if I could have done that, it would have been met with a slew of advice and choice words about how “wrong” it was. M has never done that to me. While she doesn’t like or agree with the choice of suicide, she has validated for me, since day one, that that is a choice I will always have and one that she cannot take away from me…she can only teach me skills to use in place of suicide. She has never once chastised me for how I was feeling, however unjustified or inappropriate it was. People insist on telling me that I am lucky to be alive…that I have been given a second chance at life and I need to embrace it. M never once told me to just pull myself up by the boot straps and get on with my life as so many others were saying to me. And sometimes, what people DON’T say means more than the things they do say. While my friends’ advice may be dished out with the intention of being helpful…they don’t realize how invalidating it is. You don’t tell someone you’re angry or upset only to have them tell you to calm down and get over it. M has been ever-so-patient with me. I have now realized, far too late, how much I have attached myself to her and how much I depend on her. And this is where I question her knowledge…not her intelligence in general or of her chosen profession, but her knowledge of me, my disorder(s) and all that comes with it. Was she just as ignorant as I was up until now, or did she see it from the beginning? Have you ever wanted to ask a question, but you didn’t because you knew your heart wouldn’t be able to handle the answer? I don’t know how many of her patients, if any, are as self-aware as I am. It may be different for her, but I don’t know many people who behave or feel a certain way and can then tell someone why they do what they do or why they feel the way they do. I don’t claim to be all-knowing…because there are times when I feel certain emotions or act in a way I can’t explain. But I get more upset when I can’t find the answer than when I can. M has watched me desperately trying to find an answer for my behavior over the last three months. I was not content to just sit there and be “mindful” and just take the party I had created for what it was…I was hell-bent on finding an answer as to why I was acting that way. Perhaps, what I found was more detrimental than not knowing.
Pause for a moment and insert K. I fought M tooth and nail about going to group. I continued to fight, even when all my demands had been met and I could no longer find an excuse not to go. I went because M asked me to…and while she wasn’t facilitating at the time…K can probably attest to the fact that I made no effort to cover my disdain and irritation. It was no secret that I didn’t want to be there. But I have to give her credit where credit is due. Shutting the door in her face didn’t make her give up and stop trying to reach me. She was in no way forceful about it…she didn’t force me to talk or participate…and that, perhaps, is how she got to me…by being patient instead of pushy. That says a lot about someone…when you try your hardest to ignore them and push them away…yet they never falter or abandon their mission. K never pushed, but she never backed down either. Nothing I could do could make her go away…and believe me, I tried…hard. I still don’t know how the hell she did it…but she did. And while I love her to bits and don’t regret getting to know her, it upsets me that I have also let her into my heart and have now affected her life and career.
I look back on the last 18 months and I only see one constant: M. While I was bucking up and down with emotions, M was always there…she was stable and constant, never wavering. She was exactly what I needed…stability, compassion, validation. But I feel horrible for what I’ve done to her. Not only for taking her on this roller coaster ride with me, but for putting her on a pedestal and affecting her life (and K’s) by being placed in her path. I have made no secret about the reason I am alive right now…because of M. I can almost guarantee you that I would not be here right now if it weren’t for M. I’m just not sure if I see that as a good thing or not. I’m sure M and others see it as a good thing…but I see all the damage I have done, not only to me but to M, too. It’s damaged me because I have let M (and K) into my heart and have depended on them to get me through each week, sometimes day by day, sometimes hour by hour. Yes, I’ve learned skills and such…but none of them replace M or K. So I’ve damaged myself by letting them become my anchors. And it probably wasn’t a bad thing, initially…since it was quite obvious that I needed something to hold on to as I had nothing left to hold on to at that point. But now that I’ve been through the DBT material at least twice and I have learned some skills…I see that M is still my anchor. And unless M has something to say to the contrary, I don’t see that as a good thing…or at the very least, a healthy thing. Yes, the trust and relationship we have built is a good thing because I don’t hide anything from her…I sugarcoat nothing, even if I’m mad at her. But the relationship has gone beyond a typical therapist/client relationship. And that’s my fault. This is again where I question her. Did she let me do it or did I manipulate my way into it?
It’s hard to wait around for something you know might never happen; but it’s even harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want. It has been a true test of my patience and perseverance to hang on this long, giving M the slight validation that life might get better if I can just hang on long enough. But people think suicide is a cop-out…that it’s the easy way out. I disagree. It was and is so hard to take that step to end my life…but it is even harder knowing the impact it would have on M and K. That is what I can’t let go of…that is what stops me right now. I can’t let go of M and her desperate attempts to assure me that things will get better…I want to believe her but I’m tired of waiting for something that may or may not happen…yet it is hard to give up because it is exactly what I want. It is so hard to let go and give up because M is everything I want and everything I feel I need. I know suicide is what I want, hands down. But what I can’t do is say goodbye to M and then leave her behind to sort through the mess. Don’t bring my family into this. I don’t have much of a family left…a mother and brother. I don’t count extended family for reasons I don’t feel like writing about right now. My feelings are not those of a daughter…and it’s a confusing place to be. My brain tells me that she is my mother and therefore, I am supposed to love her. I tell her I love her because she gets upset when I don’t say it back. I hug her back because her feelings get hurt if I don’t return the gesture…and it’s a lot easier to give in to the hug than it is to deal with her emotions and guilt trips. I am sure that there could be some Freudian investigation as to why I feel this way…but it’s not a concern right now. But what I care about right now is the attachment I have to M and K. Again, I am more concerned for their feelings than I am my own. It would absolutely…and probably quite literally…kill me to walk away from the both of them. But I’m weighing the pro’s and con’s…if I stay, I risk sustaining the attachment and deepening the relationship. I risk M’s feelings…K’s too. Also, if I stay, there might be a slight chance that things change and I get to a healthier place where I am not so distraught at the thought of leaving M and K and am actually able to say goodbye to the both of them without it being detrimental to my sense of self. But what if that never happens, or at least doesn’t happen before they are ripped away from me and the choice to see them or not is no longer mine, but is determined by insurance or some other force? What affect will that have on me? If this happens, it is probably going to be quite one-sided. I will take the brunt of the emotion. I will take the fall. M and K will take it in stride, chalking it up as part of your career…people come and people go…life goes on. Meanwhile, I crumble. So I weigh my options again…is it easier to walk away now, making the choice myself, rather than have someone make it for me? Or is it best to continue on with M as long as I can in hopes that I can get to that healthy life they keep talking about? Is it okay to have two anchors right now, because that’s what I need? Maybe I’m supposed to take it right now because I need it…then I’m slowly supposed to continue to work on getting better, so I can sever that attachment in a positive way and in a way that is not quite as traumatic and detrimental. I don’t know.
If I ever make it through this hellish journey, I think I probably have enough material to start my own book…or at the very least, M has enough of her own material to write a book about me.
If you took the time to read this, thank you.