A Compelling Letter from Death

blog pen and letter

 

I have travelled the world from coast to coast, over and over since the beginning of time. I have seen the blessings and the sufferings of all of mankind. I have seen the souls of men, women and children through war, disease and famine. I have no sense of discrimination or bias. I do not judge.  I know not of religion, race, age or culture. It does not matter the riches you may or may not have had, or the tragedies and traumas you may have had to endure. It does not matter how much time you may or may not have had, or what you have or have not done, as upon the time of my arrival you are all the same. You are all on an equal playing field and at some point you all will have to face me, our meeting is inevitable; it is fate.

I am death.

I have a thousand faces, disguised in forms you recognize and many you cannot imagine. I am called to collect the souls that are loved and the ones who are forgotten. I pick up the leftovers of the damage mankind has caused to itself with war after war, century after century. I’ve gathered those of the innocent and naïve and those of people so heinous there are no words. I have watched the greed of mankind lead to millions of souls being stolen from starvation and disease, all for profit. I have seen the damage humans are willing to do to each other over the smallest of things and I am there to pick up whatever is left. I have forever been left saddened over collecting the souls of those who have departed too early; those of the children who never had the chance to grow and develop and live a life. Those who were not given a chance and their imminent meeting with me came long before it was due.

I have seen the beauty as well. I have seen the kindness and generosity that is possible.  I have seen things at their purest forms. I have watched strangers help one another with no expectations and loved ones support each other during the most trying of times. I have watched love bring together people whose paths undoubtedly would never have crossed had it not been for this serendipitous connection. I have watched the weak fight and raise above their struggles and the strong reach a hand out to help. I have watched the rich share with the poor and the poor share with the poorer. I have observed altruism from humans extend to every living creature, from one corner of the world to the next, and watched the innocence of children spread joy and laughter across the seas.

I am coming for you when it is your time, but I implore you not to call me early. I beg you not to take matters into your own hands regardless of the darkness that you feel, or the loneliness that seeps deep into your soul. I ask you to think twice, three times, or a million times if needed, before snuffing out the flame that represents your life. I will do that for you in due time. I have seen lives turned around in a matter of moments or a perhaps years, but the one constant is that everything changes.  Nothing remains the same. The seas rise and lower, the mountains shift. Your situation will change, the circumstances will change, your emotions will change and you will change, and what may seem impossible to face now will eventually be a memory; a stepping stone in your climb up to the light. You may not see it now but your life is a onetime gift and I plead with you to hold on to it like the rare treasure it is. I come for too many souls who have had no choice, but you do.

So, do not seek me out, we will unite when the time is right.

 

We All Just Want To Be Healed

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We all just want to be healed. Regardless of what type of traumas we survived as children or adults, or which illnesses we have been diagnosed with, the end goal is the same. We want the pain and the burden of guilt and shame that we have carried for a lifetime to be eased. We yearn to somehow lessen the effects of our traumas that we drag along like a ball and chain, be it with medications, therapy or a combination of both. We’re looking for our piece of happiness and a sense of peace, but it seems that at some point in time, we all hit our “breaking” point and perhaps that is what starts us on our journey down the seemingly elusive path of healing.

The road to healing is unpaved, unstable and full of unseen hills and curves, yet we trod along, often taking one step forward and falling three steps back. We may see some progress and then suddenly become overwhelmed with emotions which send us spiraling down into the darkness of depression, yet somehow with the lure of being healed, we eventually manage to claw our way back up to continue our fight. This cycle of ups and downs may slow down our progress but as long as we advance in a forward motion, we will get there eventually…or at least that is what my therapist tells me.

As much as healing is the ultimate goal, I struggle with two major issues down my path, the first being, what exactly is healed? The concept is not only completely foreign to my mind but also seems completely unattainable. I can imagine it would be like the weight of the world being lifted off your shoulders, or like being able to have days where your mind does not perpetually attack you and send you into a state of emotional frenzy for minutes, hours or even days. I picture fewer tears, less ups and downs and less fear. I imagine rising in the morning and not having those instant few moments of wishing I hadn’t awoken. I picture a more emotionally stable life with healthier relationships and positive choices. Is that being healed or a fantasy I have created of what I wish things could be like?

What is often forgotten on the path of healing is that in order to get there, I have to give up my two best friends, in my case, depression and anxiety, both of which have lasted longer than any one person or thing in my life. Even though I despise the depths of the darkness I am pulled into, there is a sense of comfort there simply because of familiarity.  I have been wading in those waters for so long I no longer know the feeling of walking on dry land. I would have to walk away from the safety of my passive suicidal thoughts, the one thing I can control. I may not be my illnesses per say, but they have certainly been with me long enough to become a small part of my identity, regardless of the obvious negative aspect, and I am supposed to just lose pieces of me and trade them in for the unknown?

The same applies to my negative coping mechanisms. I have been in weekly trauma based therapy for over a year and have been taught many new, positive ways to handle different situations. I have learned different techniques to recognize where my emotions are coming from, that perhaps they are a trauma response from the past. I have been shown how to try to regulate the impulsivity associated with BPD. I have listened, learned, read books and done worksheets and yes, have even taken a few steps forward. However, learning and putting into practice are two different things. When I am of rational mind I am calm enough to remember these methods and perhaps even put them to practice, but when I am emotively driven, the new habits are kicked out the door by the old ones which have become instinctual. They may not be the healthiest ways to cope but for me, they are tried, tested and proven. They have helped to get me through the hardest of times from the earliest of ages. They have kept me safe and alive until this very day, and again I am expected to surrender them and replace them with methods that in my mind are yet untested and unproven.

The path to healing involves a whole lot of uncertainty and blind trust. It means being willing to lose those parts of you that have provided safety and comfort for all those years. It requires an open mind, an open heart and the aspiration to learn. Don’t get frustrated with not making instant or even quick progress, as it takes hours and hours of practice to replace a negative coping mechanism with a healthy one, which will take patience and dedication. All of these twists and turns on my path of healing have tested every emotion and reaction possible, they have pushed me back as I am struggling to step forward, yet I continue on. I am not yet at the point of replacing all of the old with new and have found that as long as I have the comfort and availability of the old tucked in the back of my head, then the new seems a little less frightening. It’s like wading into the deep waters but knowing there is a lifeboat within reach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Lack of a Blood Bond

 

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I always knew I was adopted. It wasn’t sprung upon me in my teenage years causing to question my upbringing, nor did I find some conclusive sheet of paper which would turn my life upside down. It simply was a subject that was open for discussion at any point in time. I was 18 months old and had bounced around the foster care system since birth, and by the time I arrived at my parent’s home, not only was I emotionally and physically scarred but I was also aware that this was yet another family who might get rid of me like the rest had. I know I did not understand the word adoption, or perhaps even the concept, but I knew it felt different.

My mom was up front with me from day one in explaining that I had a birth mom, but that I was chosen by them to be a part of their family. As I grew older she let me know that she would help me look for my birth parents if that was something I was interested in and over the years, curiosity popped in and out of my head…who did I look like? Who had the blue eyes? Who was responsible for my pudgy little fingers? While those questions were always at the back of my mind they never became much of a priority, unlike the constant nagging of the “why” question. All I knew at the time was my birth mother was young and unable to take care of me and given that none of my foster homes opted to keep me, there must have been something wrong with me, and the fear of being “given back” was a constant shadow in my mind.

Growing up, there was not a lot of time or emotional space to think about finding my birth parents, as the domestic abuse in my home started when I was five and ended when I was 13. My sexual abuse, which occurred outside the home also started at five and ended at 14 and my mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was 13 and lost her battle after six long years. I was 19 when my mom passed away and although over the years, the curiosity of my origins had grown bigger, the guilt about doing it after my mom died was overwhelming and once again I pushed the issue to the back of my mind.

In my early 20’s, I was given some information about an Ontario adoption registry that allowed both adopted children and their birth parents to register on a computer program which would then search for a match. I filled out the form, forgot about it and continued on with my life. Out of the blue, when I was 24 I received a big unmarked brown envelope which I proceeded to hand to my girlfriend at the time, told her to open it, thinking it may be a book from a college I had looked into, and ran in to get us coffee. Upon my return to the car, I find her in tears with the envelope in her hand saying “it’s your past”. To be honest I had forgotten completely about it and the shock set in as I started to read the first of the pages.

My birth mother was half black, half Irish and because she had died that year in a fire I was given her identifying information, her name and birthdate etc. She had indeed been a young mother with a history of addiction and mental health problems. My birth father was of Italian descent with blue eyes and darker skin and there was very little other information about him. My birth mothers mom was still alive, and I was also informed I had two half-sisters, and with my permission and a few exchanges of letters, a meeting was set up. It is a very strange feeling to be handed family and expected to have some sort of instant connection simply because we share some DNA, especially considering that blood relations had never been a part of my life.

As the meeting approached, I anticipated the many scenarios that could occur, and although I can say honestly that I wished for a close knit family, I went in with as few expectations as possible. It was odd to finally look at someone who has some sort of resemblance to me. My birth mothers mom was a kind, elderly lady who was just thrilled to meet her grandchildren, and like many people of that generation, was not willing to divulge much information about the past. My middle sister had actually lived with our birth mother on and off for five of six years, however following numerous suicide attempts, she was permanently removed and placed into foster care. My youngest sister has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) complete with minor facial and hand deformities and is mentally challenged but was thrilled to meet her sisters for the first time. All in all, the meeting went well, and with the promise to remain in contact, we all went our separate ways.

I noticed within the following weeks a sense of resentment and anger building up towards my birth mother. I get she could make a mistake and not have the ability or support to quit her addictions, and therefore would lose custody of me, but the fact is, she was given six months of after my birth to clean up and prove herself as a worthy parent. She was given supervised visitation rights which she repeatedly showed up high, or still drunk from the night before, and as the weeks passed, the visits lessened until one day, she just never came back. It started to eat at me, what type of woman could prioritize alcohol and drugs over her children, not just once, but three times. Why could she not have at least tried to get me back, not just wash her hands clean and get back to her routine, free from the burden of a screaming baby? How could the cycle just continue to repeat itself with no intervention until a child has to be born with mental deficiencies and physical deformities? Were there more than just the three of us? Perhaps someone who didn’t register, or did she finally figure out that birth control was not as rare a diamond?

As I aged and became more aware of mental illness and addiction and the effects they can have on someone’s life, I began to be able to make a sense of peace with the anger I was feeling. Yes, I will always feel abandoned, but in this case, perhaps it really was the best scenario. My birth Grandmother passed away within a year of the meeting, and I would love to say I have two sisters who I am super close with, but despite my numerous efforts to reach out, the reality has become Christmas or Birthday text, usually initiated by me, and often lacking a response. I have made peace with that as well. I have no expectations of either of them, and as I said, you can’t just put three strangers in a room and because of one common factor, a birth mother, expect a bond to form instantly, or in this case, at all. I care about them of course, but do I love them? Hard to love someone you don’t know.

A blood bond means nothing to me. A chosen bond means the world.

 

Accepting Grief for a Lost Inner Child

 

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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.

 

If You Have Survived the Next Five Years…

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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.