Accepting Grief for a Lost Inner Child

 

grief

 

Grief; the one and perhaps only word that could invoke more emotions than the word love is near impossible to describe. It’s like a tsunami of emotions that suddenly overwhelm you to a point you did not know you could reach, while your mind is caught in the eye of the storm, spinning out of control.  It is a physical pain that encompasses your whole being, tightening every muscle in your body while sucking the air out of your lungs; even breathing becomes painful. The tears stream down your face uncontrollably and if it is possible, your heart physically hurts. Grief involves a major loss of something we are attached to, and is not limited to what it is most associated with…death. There is often grief involved with the loss of a home, job or even a friendship.

There is no timetable that comes with grief; it is completely individualistic and situational. There is no right or wrong way to deal with it, there is only what is best for you. Sure, there are common stages that the majority of people will deal with when it comes to grief; the denial and anger, the bargaining, depression and eventual acceptance, but each person will experience them differently. These stages may sound familiar if you have suffered a deep loss, like a death, as you may have passed through them on your path to healing.

We learn how to mourn for other people, great losses and even material attachments, but have we ever been taught, as survivors, that it is ok to mourn all that we lost?  We lost our innocence and our ability to trust. We lost our voices out of fear and shame. We lost the developing identity that may have been, had we not been violated. We became empty shells with no functional ability to process the trauma occurring. We could not fight, nor flight and so we froze, and the survival portion of the brain took over, to save us from the trauma we could not handle. In essence we lost our childhoods, and we need to grieve such an immense loss in order to heal.

Grieving for an external loss seems to come more naturally than trying to grieve for oneself. Trying to understand the loss of your inner child not only involves having to acknowledge that you still have an inner child, but also accepting the fact that the “little you” was hurt and violated and bears no responsibility for the trauma endured, which is something many survivors struggle with for years. We became experts at denial the instant we were defiled and we continue along that path until we are emotionally strong enough to deal with the truth.

Anger is almost innate for most survivors. It starts with the abuse and sometimes lasts a lifetime. We are rarely presented with the opportunity to express the anger we are burdened with to the source that caused our pain, and despite carrying it around for so long, we are often incapable of outwardly expressing it appropriately. When anger becomes internalized, as a child we act out in a multitude of ways, and as we age these behaviors can lead to self-destructive habits such as addiction and self-harm as methods of coping. We may be able to get help dealing with and properly expressing our anger and recognizing its effects on our present day lives through therapy, or a workbook and although I believe it eases up in time, mine certainly has, but I think it is something we shall carry with us to some degree through the rest our lives.

Bargaining is the normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability in a desperate attempt to regain even just a small piece of the control we lost as children. For years, we play the “what if” game, wondering  if we had only done something differently or if we had spoken up,  would things have been different?  As children we can’t do much bargaining because we are unequipped to do anything other than go into survival mode. As we age, beliefs depending of course, we sometimes try bargaining with a “higher power” in an effort to trade or give up anything we can think of if the abuse stops. Sadly, however most survivors do not end up dealing with their trauma until adulthood and by then, bargaining seems futile.

Depression, I would say, affects nearly every single survivor at various degrees, during their lives, sometimes sporadically sometimes never ending. It may have started when we were young but was not recognized until we were teens or adults and therefore it is often not until we are in our twenties and thirties or later that we can even begin to truly process and try to heal from the trauma we suffered as children. With the grief of any major loss comes such a heavy sadness and emotional weight not only at the time of the event but often for years after. Depression is certainly not limited to grief but is a true indication that something deeper lays beneath the surface.

Acceptance for survivors is multi-faceted, non-linear, and for some may never happen. It is difficult to accept any loss, but to accept losing a childhood that can never be reclaimed is a long and arduous process. It becomes further complicated because often our abusers are family members or friends making it even more difficult to acknowledge such a betrayal as our truth. With proper support and perhaps therapy we can to try and learn to accept the traumas that have melded us into the people we are today.

So grieve. Grieve for your inner child and all the losses that you suffered, but show yourself the same support and caring that you would give to anyone else.

 

Do I Have a Fear of Fear

 

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A while ago, a friend of mine told me to write about what I am afraid of, and so I promptly wrote a blog on the first topic that popped into my head, abandonment, then I closed the topic on fear. Fear is individualistic and what makes me afraid may be nothing to someone else, but it was pointed out to me today, that perhaps I am afraid of a lot more than I think, or may be willing to admit. For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, fear is something that is deeply ingrained from whatever moment it was that forever changed your life. Fear is an emotion that is most commonly brought about by a perceived threat or danger and usually induces a reaction of flight, fight, or freeze.

As children, when we are being abused there is not the option of flight; if I could have run away, I obviously would have. Having the ability to fight back is also not possible given the average size difference between a child and a perpetrator. I am small in stature and always have been and I gave all the fight I had but could not hold off a teenager or an adult. That leaves only one option; to freeze. To be so afraid, you literally are physically and mentally frozen is our only way to survive the experience, and because we are most likely molested multiple times this reaction becomes habitual and becomes a repeated pattern throughout our lives.

I think I am afraid of fear, if that is even possible. One thing I do know is I’m tired of it. I’m sick of it kicking my ass at every corner and causing me to look over my shoulder both physically and emotionally. I am exhausted from being bouncing between hyper and hypo sensitivity. I blame it on my illnesses and convince myself there are other reasons…I’m too nervous to go there, I am too shy to talk to them, I’m too insecure to try that, and the list goes on. Sure, they are likely enhanced by my disorders but the common denominator, regardless of what I try to label it as, is fear; the root cause of so many emotions. Even as I write this now I find fear of what you, the reader, will think, lurking in the back of my mind.

When I become overwhelmed with life, or with my illnesses, the freeze instinct kicks in for me. I feel so inundated with thoughts and emotions that my mind can no longer differentiate between a past threat and a perceived one, so my habitual response is to shut down and become emotionally and physically disabled. My mind can’t handle the intensity of so many emotions, so the instinctual answer is to shut down all emotions, thereby removing the perceived fear which will lead to me being hurt again, while physically, my body becomes exhausted and numb from being riddled with tension. It is those periods of time, which vary in length that I find it difficult to focus or get anything done. I am in survival mode and whatever strength I have left is used to bring me out of that frame of mind.

The fear of failure is a big one for many people but it does not necessarily mean it will stop them from trying to achieve or accomplish something. Being a survivor with the added bonus of having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) takes whatever emotion, in this case fear, and enhances it to a level that feels like sheer terror. To step outside my comfort zone feels like jumping off a cliff with a parachute and not only convincing yourself that it won’t open but actually preparing for the disaster, with not even a glimmer of hope that it might actually open. So I spent most of my life staying within the confines that I had set and became very good at the things within those boundaries, but did not venture much outside of those lines, for fear of not succeeding. For fear of what not only others would think or say, but fear of my own inner critic which I already battle with daily.

The fear of being vulnerable is also incredibly difficult for survivors because as children someone took advantage of us when we were most susceptible. I think that is why so many survivors build such a thick wall of emotional protection around them, anything to avoid that feeling again. I know for me allowing myself to be emotionally vulnerable is a daily battle, like splitting the day between being a bricklayer and being part of a demolition crew. It involves stepping outside your comfort zone if you are to let someone in and that for me is incredibly difficult. I feel like a turtle extending its neck to take a look around and perhaps get a different view, which then suddenly gets spooked and reverts back into its shell, becoming more afraid to come back out each time.

As with the rest of my healing process, I am a bit impatient and would like to speed the whole process up until I get to the point that fear no longer rules my life. I want to just wake up and feel safe and confident enough to take on the world. I am, however, a long way from that, and so as with everything I proceed forward with baby steps. Starting this blog and allowing my writing to be put out there for others to see is a step in the right direction and as with anything although the first step is the hardest, the second is required to move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

Enduring the Emotional Drain of the Holidays

 

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I, for one, am glad it is all over. The hustle and bustle, the rushing, the stress, the pressure, the preparations and the nonsensical expectations placed on a single day. It’s not like it’s a once in a lifetime kind of day but rather the type that reoccurs as yearly as the seasons. It’s not just the recently passed Christmas and New Year’s but any other day of the year that qualifies as a holiday that often triggers survivors, and people struggling with a mental illness. Societal pressure to find the right gift, to spend the right amount of money, to visit the right people and act in the appropriate manner and to make the occasion perfect all add to the already heavy load we carry daily.

Society’s representation of the perfect family gathering for the perfect holiday occasion is shoved down our throats in T.V shows, movies and advertising. Take Christmas for example, the generations gathered happily around the extended dining room table, passing the stuffing and mashed potatoes with a smile, to be followed by an evening of family stories around the piano, filled with song, laughter and good times; the stereotypical storybook family. For survivors of trauma, just the very thought of the above scenario can send us into a downward spiral, as it is likely that for us, it is no more than a fantasy, since more than likely our fairytales were turned into nightmares long, long ago. It is more apt that our guards will be up and we will be walking on eggshells and protecting boundaries while the argument about the stuffing rages and Uncle Bob has already passed out on the couch. It is likely that the dysfunction will trigger our past traumas leaving us to revert to whatever coping mechanism we can grasp.

We hardly have time to open our gifts when the Christmas items are ripped down off the shelf and replaced with Valentines, then by the time we open our heart shaped box, the Easter Bunny has taken over, and this societal norm continues for every holiday, year after year. Marketing lures us into all the holiday hype when in fact, most of us have forgotten the actual meaning of the day. Does no one else wonder how a religious rebirth turned into chocolate bunnies?  The entire premise of Valentine’s Day is to show your loved one how much you care on Feb 14th with flowers and chocolates, but what about the rest of the days? Why can’t love be shown in random ways on days we don’t have Hallmark cards for?

Many survivors feel as lonely as I do on holidays. It doesn’t seem to matter who we surround ourselves with, what festivities we attend or how distracted we try to keep ourselves. There is a perpetual, nagging sense of emptiness and loss that is carried daily and entirely enhanced on holidays. Perhaps we wish for just one page from that book of fairytales. Perhaps we still wish for all the things we lost and cannot reclaim. Maybe we want just one family gathering where we feel loved and can be true to ourselves, free of judgment and shame. Maybe we wish for one Valentine’s Day where we are the recipients of the tokens and acts of love that we have never received, or did so with strings and repercussions.

So surviving the actual day is one thing, but the emotional crash that often occurs after the holidays can be just as intense for a survivor as the actual holiday itself. I know for me, it takes an immense amount of emotional energy to deal with the both the holiday build up, and the end of buildup. The depression tends to set in quickly and heavily afterward and regardless of my attempts to keep my hopes and expectations lowered out of instinctual self-protection, there is always a sense of disappointment;  a reminder of my loneliness on days when there is societal pressure for family, or outwardly expressed love.

So be good to yourself around any holiday. Surround yourself with the things or people that make you happy and bring you peace in the present moment, because no amount of hope will change the past. Remind yourself that despite the label, a holiday is just another day, another 24 hours, and that you have managed to get through all of them so far with strength and resilience, and the next one will be no different.

Words That Will Never Be Heard

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Some words, no matter how many times they are spoken will never be heard. Such has been the case with my Father and me since I can first remember. Regardless of the subject, my words are on a one way path, without a pause, to be inattentively listened to and immediately disregarded; the judgmental responses locked and loaded. The never ending tension wafts silently through the air as I tiptoe amongst the eggshells.

I first met my father when I was adopted at 18 months old and although I obviously can’t recall, I believe our tumultuous relationship began shortly after that. Between me being traumatized by pre-adoptive abuse and his lack of patience and narcissistic behavior, I truly believe the relationship was questionable from the start. When I tell people about our history, the domestic violence and emotional and verbal abuse, I get questioned as to why I still attempt to maintain some form of a relationship with him at all, and the only response I have to give is “he’s all I have left”. After my mom died and I told my family I was a lesbian, they slowly all just faded away, like turning down the dial on a chandelier, and the last one standing was my dad.

I have learned over the years that you cannot change anyone else’s behaviors, only your reaction to them and I realized the pent up hurt and anger over the years was only doing damage to myself. Despite my attempts to express my feelings to him over the years, my words are invalidated and my past is swept away, hence the reason for this letter in a place of safety.

Dad,

I am going to start with the positive, something you failed to do for my entire life, and say that I do both recognize and appreciate the efforts you have made to try and become a better person. I can’t say I understand whether it is you mellowing out with age or if you actually had the intentions of becoming kinder and slightly less critical. Either way, know that it is very much appreciated. I would love to be writing a letter about all my fond memories of my childhood, but I think we both know the reality of the situation. When the bad is blocked out it takes the good along with it.

I am grateful for the times you have been there for me in the past few years, however that does not, and never will make up for the damage you inflicted to my developing personality. All I ever wanted was validation and for you to accept some sort of responsibility for the fact that your actions cast a shadow over an already dark childhood, and I say wanted,  because I am trying now to make peace with the fact that acceptance is not in the cards. Even a simple “I’m sorry” would indicate that you admit that harm was done, but those words still elude my ears.

The domestic abuse had effects on me you could not comprehend unless in my shoes. The nights of sleeping so lightly I could hear a pin drop; the fear that, if I fell sound asleep, I would not be able to intervene. The nights of having Mom take refuge in my bedroom in the hopes to avoid another beating, hence the desk propped against the door. The terror instilled in an already frightened and traumatized child ongoing through adulthood. You took my only place of safety, my refuge from the sexual abuse that occurred while I was looking for any excuse to remain out of the house. The still haunting visual memories of walking into a rape scene, the sounds of the cries on the nights I lay helpless or the nights I got between the swings trying to be the protector, all as crisp as the cold winter air.

The verbal and emotional abuse and narcissistic behavior, by far, caused the most damage; the words scarred so deeply they changed my very being and my perception of myself and of life. The years of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations led to the unsatisfactory feeling of never being good enough, not just for you, but for anyone or anything. The words failure, useless and no good bounce, among many others that bounce around my head like the ball in a pinball machine, with a ricochet that is just as tenacious today as it was back then. All the condemnations, judgments and passive aggressive sarcasm trampled my sense of self-esteem and crushed it into grains of sand, which never had the foundation to build a proper castle, then or now.

I’m saddened to say that I could continue on about this for hours, reiterating the broken pieces of my childhood and how you not only induced a great deal of my trauma, but enabled the rest. I wish you realized what it was like for me growing up…the loneliness, the lack of trust, the fear of both violence and words, and feeling like I was both invisible and silent. I question if I do exist in your eyes in any other way than being the “black sheep” or the sounding board for your slander. I wish you had truly listened to me when I told you about the sexual abuse and how it affects my life to this very day; instead you negated the fact it ever happened and invalidated all the encompassing emotions I felt.

 I have realized over the years, the things that are hurting me do not affect you at all and the only solution I can rationalize is to change my reactions to your words. To stop seeking approval and validation that will never come, and in essence to drop any and all expectations, is my end goal. The wall between us was constructed brick by brick over the years, and is far too thick to penetrate now. I will never allow you to hurt or affect me like you once did. I will set the boundaries this time and if you cross them, I will walk away, because at this point, I really don’t have much to lose.  That is what is best for me on my path to healing. It’s my time now.

 

 

 

 

 

If You Have Survived the Next Five Years…

 5-years-later

I have been, to far more than my fair share of funerals in my lifetime, ranging from acquaintances and relatives, to friends and family. Without a doubt the hardest one was my Mom, not only because she was my only form of real love, but also because of the age she passed. It seems that when a person dies at an older age, we can more easily rationalize their death…they had a good long life and that is just part of the life cycle, whereas the younger the person is, the less sense it makes; the more difficult it becomes to find a justification for its occurrence.

This past week I was at a funeral service for a beautiful 15 year old girl, tragically hit by a car. The outpouring of support was unlike anything I have ever seen before. There were hundreds of kids gathered to not only pay their respects but to provide a network of comfort and a foundation for  each other and the long healing process that lies ahead. The service itself was beautiful and the speeches touched the heart, one more so than the rest. A grade 8 teacher had handed out an assignment to his classes whereby each student had to write a letter to their future selves which he would then mail back out in five years, when they were in grade 12. Sadly Maddie didn’t make it to grade 12 but the letter was read and the irony of the words she had written to her future self “I hope you have found some peace” left not one dry eye in the crowd.

At the reception I could hear the murmurings of many a person talking about how not only a letter should be written by every student to their future selves, but how it had inspired them to go home and do so themselves, and so I thought I would give it a shot.

Dear future me,

If you are reading this, it means you actually made it another five years and for that you should be so incredibly proud of yourself. You were so close to running out of both hope and strength years ago and yet you somehow mustered up the courage to continue on. Make sure you reward yourself well for this achievement. I hope you are happier and a bit less emotionally heavy than you used to be. I hope you kept up with therapy and learned how to effectively manage these illnesses and you are at least a few steps beyond surviving, perhaps on the way to thriving. I hope you wake up in the mornings now without the heaviness of not wanting to be alive. I hope you have maintained the close relationships you had and that those people are still near and dear to your heart, and that you have continued to grow and allow yourself to love and truly be loved.

I wonder if you are still as insecure as you were, and if you are still letting fear and anxiety influence both your decisions and actions. I wonder if you still feel so alone or if you have finally found your place in this big world. I wonder if you have found a balance between being hyper and hypo sensitive and spend less time riding the emotional rollercoaster. I wonder if you have managed to forgive yourself and perhaps not silence, but shush your inner critic enough to have boosted your confidence a wee bit. I wonder if you have continued to keep your heart under lock and key or if you have enough self-love to let someone truly love you. I wonder if you kept writing or if this blog is buried along with your words.

I hope you continue to fight. I hope that no matter what happens you muster the strength and courage to face it and not to give in to the darkness that called so often. I hope you learn to love and accept yourself for who you are and continue to move along the path of healing. I hope that your BPD no longer controls your life and that after five years, mental health stigma is so much less than it is today. Most of all I wish for you some peace, in your mind, heart and soul. It is there for you if you keep digging. Don’t give up.

                                                                                                                                Love, Me

                                                                                                                                               

I Was In, Out and Diagnosed in 20 Minutes

Where has common sense gone in this world? Why has almost everyone in power or a position of stature lost the ability to see outside of their small circle of reality? We spend hundreds of millions on war, and space exploration; we have politicians committing hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud with no repercussions, yet our healthcare system is falling apart. Cancer patients waiting months for treatment, seniors waiting up to two years for surgeries, and as for mental healthcare, you would be lucky to see a therapist that is not private, within six to nine months. However, as with everything, the same problems do not apply to the upper echelon, and sadly those are the ones in power, and hence, nothing changes, or if it does, it’s a long time coming. Canada’s healthcare system is not what many may think.

My experiences in terms of the mental health aspect of healthcare system have been less than favorable, especially in the last year. I have been left on hold for over an hour, on numerous occasions, on several different crisis lines, as they are primarily unfunded and run by volunteers. I was turned away from a hospital before even seeing a doctor, but after waiting 4 hours, for “not being suicidal enough” and was then sent home with two valium and a list of crisis line numbers. I have had to carefully manipulate my way through the hospital system in order to gain short term access to a psychiatrist just to prescribe the medications I am taking, and of the psychiatrists I have seen, I have been diagnosed and prescribed medication each time in less than 20 minutes, and with the exception of one, left traumatized each time.

I have no issues with therapy, I go to therapy, and have done on and off for years, and I believe everyone should look for whatever type of practitioner works best for them. I personally have tried multiple therapeutic approaches, with social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, and I encourage everyone to search for what works best for them. I try not to use my blogs as a forum for a personal rant, but this time I am going to make an exception due to the level of frustration I am at with the upper echelon of the mental health society. Again, this is not against any one individual, nor is it a generalization of all psychiatrists, just my personal experiences.

                To: The Psychiatrists I have seen,

I understand that you consider yourselves at the top of your field, above psychologists and social workers, and your hourly rates certainly confirm that. I understand that you had to work hard to become an MD and then further that with another four years and I understand you believe you have earned instant respect because you are better educated than the average person. I also understand that you have trained to learn multiple types of mental illnesses and their corresponding medications, I wonder if there was a class on how to deal with actual people, and not just look at them as an illness. I understand and that you do indeed have the ability to diagnose what condition you perceive I have based on set guidelines that I can easily find online.  What I question is how you possibly come to any thoroughly conclusive diagnosis in under 18 minutes, which would be considerably less time than it took me to write this blog.

Your general demeanor does not emanate compassion or empathy but rather that of a judgmental human textbook. Your handshakes upon greeting are cold and businesslike. You started to judge me the minute I entered your perfectly appropriate office and sat down. You have noticed if I am competent in personal grooming and if I am dressed “appropriately” for the situation. You have taken mental note of whether I am fidgety or talking too quickly as you pull out you IMac to start taking notes. The questionnaire is basically the same regardless of where you are: Have I felt depressed for more than 2 weeks consecutively? Yes, 40 years. Have I experienced some sort of trauma? Well if we had spoken first before diving into the Q & A you may have your answer. Have I heard voices or am I paranoid? Have I been hospitalized? Have I had suicidal thoughts or behaviors and/or thoughts of self-harm? Have I thought of harming others?  Do I drink or use drugs? Do I have attachment issues? Am I reckless and impulsive? The questions roll on, yet not once have you asked how I am, or even what brings me to your office. You glanced briefly at the brief history of me you have been given, and still, not a question that is not on your form.

12 minutes have passed.

You finally peel your eyes away from your screen, close your laptop halfway and lean forward with a feeble attempt to make eye contact. You reach into a drawer to grab a notepad and pen, and proceed to diagnose me with multiple illnesses, which you jot down on the paper. You grab a small pink pamphlet that has basic information on Borderline Personality Disorder (one so basic I could have written it after my first diagnosis) and proceed to explain how I fit into eight of the nine criteria so that is what I have. Again, not once have I had a chance to explain anything about my past or how I am presently feeling.

16 minutes have passed.

You briefly explain and write down the types of therapies that are beneficial, and then proceed to tell me which pills will work best for my depression, or anxiety, or whatever the diagnosis of the day is. You finally make eye contact, and ask if I have any further questions…funny, as I don’t recall having been given the option to speak, never mind ask questions, and tears the sheet off the pad of paper to hand to me. By the time I can fold the paper in half, you are standing up with a hand extended towards me, thanking me for coming in and walking me towards the door…I barely remember standing up. You say thanks again, give my file to your receptionist, go back in your office and close the door.

20 minutes have passed; I have been diagnosed with four separate mental illnesses, and have been prescribed medication accordingly. In 20 minutes!! I feel like I have been sucked in and spit out of the eye of a hurricane. My mind is spinning, my heart racing and to be quite honest I am extremely pissed off. I don’t care what books you studied 20 years ago, or how much practicum you may have, you have forgotten the most important aspect. People are individuals, all of whom do not fit into your selected, in the box, criteria.

Allow me to diagnose you in a paragraph. You are neither, better or necessarily smarter than I am, you simply are better educated. You had a life that allowed you to follow your goals and you look down on people like me who have not had that same luxury in life. The pretentiousness of your office, with your degrees displayed front and center, with the appropriate text books on the shelf speak volumes about your sense of self.  Your lack of eye contact makes it uncomfortable for your patient and shows an apparent lack of sympathy.  You diagnose not based on the individual client in your office but by the textbook, or by the small criteria boxes you tick off as you ask your questions, without truly ever listening for an answer. You prescribe whatever the latest medication on the market is, without a true knowledge of what is best for that individual, and regardless of side effects. If I come back and say the side effects are too much, or it’s not working, your first comment is that I have not given it enough time to work, and if I continue to complain you prescribe the next thing on your list, having no idea what a medicinal rollercoaster you have put your patient on. Years of experience gives you hands on knowledge, but it would seem most of you missed the class on dealing with people. It is possible to keep a level of respect and professionalism and also have a sense of empathy. It is possible to actually listen, and to ask questions that are not listed for you. I don’t care how many degrees you have, or how long you have been in practice, you cannot properly diagnose anyone in 20 minutes, and certainly not without speaking with them, and actually listening. Not everyone fits into the preconceived boxes you want to place them in….and perhaps that includes you.

I am not a 20 minute diagnosis, and you are not a paragraph.20-min

When The Thought of Suicide is Paramount to Survival

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Despite the rapid increase in numbers in the past few years, suicide still remains a taboo subject, something we don’t want to talk about and generally don’t until it hits close to home. Despite the recent and ongoing efforts of the media to increase general social awareness on the topic, it is most often spoken of as a statistic rather than in terms of preventative measures, and those numbers will continue to rise as long as we, as a society keep looking away. Talking about it does not encourage it but instead helps to opens minds and lines of communication and promotes understanding and empathy.

As you may, or may not know, I have survived three suicide attempts, the details of which are irrelevant right now, as the causes take prevalence. I did not just wake up on three separate occasions and impulsively decide to kill myself, rather the combination of years of abuse and the consequent depression, BPD, dysthymia and anxiety wore me down to the point of seeing no other option to end the pain. That is the depth that some illnesses go, convincing your mind and lying to you to shatter and leave only a glimpse of hope, if anything at all, and without that, what do we have to hold on to.

Being a victim of childhood abuse, be it sexual or otherwise is the ultimate loss of control for a child. It is not only the trauma of the acts themselves but the sheer terror that accompanies it. In most cases the perpetrator is someone we know or at least are familiar with, and the fear of repercussions is almost insurmountable. This loss of control is one thing that has carried over into numerous areas of my life for years. No one likes things that are completely out of their control, but for the survivor, that is enhanced tenfold, to the point of becoming a trigger of the past, that is how it is for me anyway. Any situation that I have little to no control over triggers my mind back to the childhood traumas when I was also helpless, and amplifies the intensity of my depression and anxiety to a level I cannot explain.

The years of domestic abuse I watched was just another thing that was completely out of my regulation. No matter what efforts I put forth to try and interrupt or cause a distraction failed and with that another major loss of control in my life. When the domestic abuse stopped, the cancer began, and dealing with my mom’s six year battle and her impending death was the ultimate loss of control. Having to just sit helplessly and watch someone you love die a slow, lengthy death is a torture I would not wish on anyone. Even going through the process of recovery requires a relinquishment of control by having to “follow the lead” of a therapist. Often when I am trying to try to heal a past trauma in therapy, the resulting triggers bring your mind right back to the times when I had no control and that feeling consumes my present and adds to the fear of the future.

Suicide is in my control.

As unorthodox as this may seem to someone else, the thought of having complete control over whether I live or die has provided me, many times, with enough of a sense of comfort to make it through what may have been an otherwise unsafe night. While it seems like the rest of my world is turning into chaos and growing further out of my management, the fact that I can control something as essential to life as a breath gives me a sense of strength. I do realize in essence, everyone is in the same position, being able to end their lives, but being passively suicidal most of the time, I often feel that is truly the only thing that is in my control; and just knowing that provides enough hope and comfort to get through those nights, and live to fight another day.