You Wouldn’t Like Me If You Knew Me

Taboo Word 9/9/16

Mental health is getting more attention today, than it has ever gotten before.  Why?  It affects something like 1 out of 3 Americans today.  More and more soldiers are coming back from war, forever damaged due to what they have seen and experienced during their service for their country.  It affects children, abused children, and these children, once they have grown are affected as well.

I was one of those children, and I was also in the military, and am now diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, MST or Military Sexual Trauma, anxiety, and depression.  Including medication for MS, I take like 22 different medications daily, and have been unable to work for two decades now.  

My symptoms, besides those due to the MS, depression and anxiety, include fear of abandonment, intense, unstable emotional responses like anger, anxiety, that are difficult to control, and often inappropriate to the situation, and chronic feelings of emptiness.  

I often have anger, anxiety and feelings of emptiness.  I went through many self-damaging acts such as unsafe sex, substance abuse, self-injurious behavior which includes self-harm, attempted suicides and even excessive spending.  I have caught myself more than once pouring through catalogs or across the Internet, looking for something to buy.  I went through an entire catalog yesterday, before I realized what I was doing and threw it away,

The image I look at in the mirror looks back at me with sallow skin and sunken cheeks.  Sometimes I go for several days, or even a week or two, eating maybe one or two meals a day, and not eating the foods I need to stay healthy.  

After running up several credit cards, hospital bills, and store card bills, I eventually declared bankruptcy in order to survive, financially.  Ten years later, and I was signing paperwork, agreeing to the conditions set forth by the debt-management agency that I turned to, cutting off all my cards and agreeing not to apply for any new ones.  Mounting vet bills led me to apply for a Care Credit card which is used for vet bills, etc, and even dentistry bills for myself.

Now, several years have passed and I have three, active credit cards, a store card and close to $5000 in debt again.  I sacrifice groceries, to pay more than minimum payments for these credit cards, trying to get the balances reduced and eliminate this newly acquired debt.

A service-provider calls in sick, the day of my appointment and I take it personally, which results in chronic fear of abandonment, and inappropriate anger, thinking that the appointment was cancelled because I felt it was because I had an appointment that particular day.  This has happened more than once within even just the last six months.

Relationships are something that are also affected, often very unstable and intense.  I have been through three such relationships, each lasting only five years, before I do something that ends the relationship.  This has happened every time, and I have spent more than 12 years by myself, avoiding another relationship that will inevitably lead to the same, sad end.

Today, we need to look into suspected cases of child abuse, and listen to our friends, partners, spouses and children, listening and looking for signs that all is not right.  I have managed to stay sober 17 years, and I quit smoking nearly nine years ago.  But that doesn’t mean that I am okay, because I am not okay.  

I experience irrational fears, go through sometimes lengthy periods of depression, and live in a constant state of anxiety.  I live alone, and can spend days, not leaving my apartment or seeing anyone.  No one comes to visit and I do not visit others.  I sit here with my laptop for the entire day, then spend all evening listening to the TV, still using the laptop.  It’s a wonder that I haven’t burnt the hard-drive, with all the constant use it gets throughout each day. 

Noises outside my apartment, I take personally, as though someone is deliberately trying to annoy me, and often do get very annoyed.  I get symptoms which suggest my MS is getting worse, that I have forgotten to take a dose of medication, or something has caused my blood pressure to shoot through the roof.  This often causes me to lie awake for hours at night, unable to sleep, with my mind racing a mile a minute.

If I had a choice, I would not choose to live this kind of life.  But I don’t seem to be able to do anything about it myself, so I suffer in silence, with only the words that come racing from the ends of my fingers and onto the keyboard.  This is my main outlet for these feelings I have to excess.  My search for others out there, who are living lives like mine, is something that starts my search through my email, looking for the emails about new posts, by those who are like-minded, and we share our experiences and help support each other through the trials we go through every day.  Yes, I am one of those who suffer from mental illness, and I no longer want to keep it hidden in the closet, the naked secrets I feel would be exposed if you really knew me.

You wouldn’t like me if you knew about all this stuff, and so I keep it hidden.

You can see today’s taboo word below. Visit Eric, author of the All In A Dad’s Work blog and creator of the challenge, for details on participating.

 taboo

Click the blue frog to read others taking part in this fun challenge 

Anger!! Who’s Really To Blame?

I would like to tell you I had an emotional week.  I wanted to get mad at everyone, due to my forgetting to schedule wheelchair transportation for an appointment Wednesday morning.  I assumed they were picking me up at 10:15, for an 11:00 appointment.

At 10:00, I started questioning whether I had scheduled the transportation, and finally called to see if they had me on the schedule that day.  They did not.  First, I wanted to blow up at them (Really??).  Then, I called my therapist to cancel the appointment, why, and asked that she called me back.  I wanted to keep calling her, until she answered the phone and I could vent my anger and frustration (Why??).

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Photo: Google Images

When she finally called me back, I explained what happened and she asked if I would like to reschedule (Ya think??).  We made another appointment, and then I wanted to vent at her again, because the appointment was not for another two weeks (??).

After hanging up the phone, I sat here and I realized that the person I was really angry at was myself.  I had screwed up, forgot to schedule transportation, and I missed my appointment.  Did I really expect her to rearrange her entire schedule, to get me in earlier?  No.

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Photo: Karen Van Benschoten

I have MS.  I have mild cognitive impairment and some memory loss.  I know this, and I know that if I don’t put extra reminders in place, I may very well forget something.

 I wanted to blame my aide, as every time she arrives, she usually takes out my planner, checks for any appointments that she hasn’t already written on the (very) large, dry erase calendar, that hangs on the wall above my wheelchair desk.  She asks if I have transportation.  I call and make arrangements.  Once I’ve done that, I put a check mark next to the appointment in my planner.  But not this week.  I don’t think I gave a single thought to that appointment, and usually I never forget that particular appointment.

But who should I be mad at about it?  No one.  Not even myself.  Everyone makes mistakes, and I can’t be mad  because I made a mistake.

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Photo: Google Images

So I played Sudoku and then watched more episodes of “The Fosters.”  Really like this show.  Whatever did I watch before Netflix??

 

BPD – What It Means For Me

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder many years ago, and have been taking pretty much the same medications over this time. I have BPD. I know I have it. I recognize the symptoms when they get worse. I wouldn’t dream of stopping them, for fear of the consequences.

It has long been thought that BPD was caused by abuse as a child, or some other horrendous trauma experienced when young. It has been brought to my attention that in order for someone to develop BPD, there has to be one or both parents who suffer from this disorder. This disorder is passed on genetically.

Without the genetics, BPD does not occur, despite popular belief, because of chronic abuse as a child, alone. The gene must also be present. I realized a couple years ago, that my mother must have had the same disorder. Based on the way that she treated me, along with the sexual abuse from my father, I developed BPD.

There has to be at least five symptoms a person must have to be diagnosed with this disorder.

  1. Unstable or poorly regulated emotional responses – anger, anxiety, depression
  2. Inappropriate intense anger that is difficult to control
  3. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  4. Self-damaging acts such as excessive spending, unsafe sex, substance abuse, binge eating, and
  5. Suicidal ideation, acts, threats, self-injurious behavior
  6. Persistent, unstable self-image
  7. Paranoid ideation or severe dissociative episodes
  8. behaviors from most people, impaired social reasoning under stress
  9. Frantic acts due to chronic fear of abandonment, very intense and unstable relationships

To be diagnosed with BPD, five of these nine symptoms must be present.  When I finally learned about Borderline Personality Disorder, it was sort of an ‘aha’ moment.  Now, things that I feel or do, I understand why.  I suffer from eight of these nine symptoms.

I understand why I will do almost anything to prevent what I perceive as abandonment.  I understand why all of my relationships were either inappropriate, extremely intense and unstable.  I understand why I have a great deal of new debt, that has occurred after the agreement with the debt management program,  that I would not apply for anymore credit cards, and this new debt is due to three  new credit cards.  I understand why I became a chronic alcoholic (Nearly 17 years sober now).  I understand the cuts on my arms, the overdoses, and all the threats of suicide, and all of the psychiatric hospitalizations.

I understand now, why I am me, and why I still do many of the things on that list.  Do you now understand me?

 

Misery

Misery comes in different ways,
It can last for weeks, or just for days,
My misery started long ago,
Silent so no one would know.

When I was only just a child
When the misery would run wild,
Some causes came in dark of night,
Other causes during daylight.

But as I aged, learned how to shout,
I became able to let some out,
But there’s some that stays within,
It seems this war, I’ll never win.

At night he haunts me in my dreams,
During the light she always wins,
Now I’m trapped within these walls,
They know I’m here, but no one calls.

A test, they say, will let us see,
What is happening inside of me,
This misery I have had for days,
Bothers my life, in many ways.

But when all is said and done,
I pray I’ll once more see the sun,
That will be my very own way,
I’m going to live another day.

– van –

PTSD

PTSD, oh how hard it can be.
See things over and over again,
Some things, not remembering them,
Some things I’ll never do again.

PTSD, makes me scared of life,
Growing up, filled with strife,
Used to get the great big knife,
But something keeps me clinging to life.

I see things over and over again,
They hide deep inside my head,
I won’t do this, I won’t do that,
But other things, keep doing this or that.

Programmed deep within my soul,
What will it take to make me whole?
Memories keep rushing to the top,
I don’t know how to make it stop.

~ van ~

Why Do I Feel Like This?

Woke up, thought things were ok,
The phone rang, upset my day.
Today I was to meet with someone,
The call came, things came undone.

My heart screams in a silent shout,
I do not want the things to come out,
I must keep them deep inside,
But sometimes it’s very hard to hide.

To hide the pain of being left alone,
I almost wish I hadn’t picked up the phone,
But that would not make things ok,
Just cause me a disrupted day.

I know that I am not to blame,
But I feel this way, just the same,
Feel that it’s because of me,
She did not want to really see.

My fear of abandonment is running wild,
But I thought it was under control,
Now the feelings have to stay inside,
The next two days I’ll have them to hide.

What Is A Mother?

A mother is someone who bore you with love,
My mother was none of the above.

A mother is one who takes care of you,
My mother had more important things to do.

A mother is one who watches you grow,
My mother didn’t even want to know.

A mother is one who cures you ills,
My mother thought you had to have chills.

A mother sits with you when you are sick,
My mother was more of a country hick.

A mother is one who will give you a hug,
My mother treated me like a bug.

What is a mother to all of you?
What is a mother, I wish I knew.

Two days from today, my parents would have been married 57 years.  But in the end, disease brought both of them down.  I ran away as soon as I could, to get away from all the abuse.  But already, at the age of 17, I had PTSD.  This led to alcohol, to failure of everything I tried to do with my life, just like my mother predicted.  Now I have a disease she knows nothing about.  This has turned my life around.  I found God.  I found other, hidden health problems.  I found a new way of life.  I found myself.

Sexual Abuse

Incest.  There I said the word.  My therapist read from a book about incest, the description of what it is.  She was using words that I was very uncomfortable with, but I was able to tell her that.  Words that describe sexual relations, and organs – words that I never utter.
I think maybe the reason why, is that even though I was very young when it started, those words put pictures in my mind that I don’t want to look at.  I am uncomfortable because they remind me of specific parts of the abuse, and I don’t want to remember them.  I want them not to have happened.  They changed my life forever.
As a young adult, not even 18 yet, I allowed myself to be ‘used’ by men, for the attention that got me.  If I did this, they would do that.  I was revolted during any encounter with members of the opposite sex.
The feelings were there, but I washed them away with alcohol.  Alcohol took me away from all the abuse, at least I thought it did.  But I remember crying in the middle of the street because someone didn’t come to the door.  I lived in the middle of anger, fear and revulsion with my life, but I did nothing to change it.  I was letting him to continue to abuse me, even when he was over 100 miles away.
I am starting on a journey, to specifically work through these emotions and feelings, and hopefully get to the point where they no longer control my life.  They cannot harm me.  He cannot harm me.

Sick And Alone

I don’t feel very well today,
It makes me want to go away.
Far from all that makes me ill,
Or else, win again, he will.
Every night as bedtime comes,
I’m looking all around for Tums.
Anything that will make me well,
Not a word, I will not tell.
At times I seem to be okay,
And then I don’t know what to say,First Grade
Anything that will make me well,
Not for years did I tell.
All the pain that he caused me,
Why is it no one else could see,
That something was wrong with my life,
I dreamed of sleeping with a knife.

I Would Grant Three Wishes, To A Four Year Old – Daily Prompt

If I were a genie, with three wishes to grant, to whom would I grant them, and why?  That is an interesting question, and my answer might be a little different from you would expect.

Karen at age 4
In need of fulfilled wishes.

Fifty years ago the child, Karen was in desperate need. She needed proper nourishment, to grow and become healthy. She needed to be taken away from the abuse that was happening in her home, on a regular basis. She also had the right to be happy.

All of this was denied her, in her situation. With first one, then two baby brothers, her mother had not time for her, except when she was in one of her moods, and took it out on Karen. Karen was abused physically and emotionally by her mother, who was another person who’s needs were never met.

The abuse from her father was unspeakable.

Karen needed to have her wishes for safety, health and happiness granted, and those  are the wishes that I, as one of those genies, would grant to her.

If truth be known, now, 50 years later, the adult Karen, would be experiencing less emotional issues, than what she now faces, and with those wishes, the issues today could be less than they actually are.

– van –