druidspell: Me, bowling at a family reunion, with my username inset in the bottom right corner. The blurriness is intentional. (Default)
It's hard, sometimes, to not feel like I have to justify myself to the world. To not feel like I must fight and scramble for every last bit of acknowledgment of my basic human worth, my inalienable right to feel what I feel, when I feel it, and not have to justify WHY I feel the way that I do.

I answered a survey question earlier, asking what my favorite age had been so far. I haven't had one, if you're curious, and you skipped the quiz. I haven't had a favorite age, because you could not pay me enough money to go back and relive one of those years. If you offered me my dearest wish in exchange for going back and being any previous age again, I'd turn you down. Jay answered that her favorite age was 17.

When I was 17, I started cutting.

Not often, and not a lot. But it was so easy to "nick myself shaving," or "scratch too hard at an itch," or let the knife "slip" when I was preparing food--food that I would eat alone, in an empty house.

Sometimes I wouldn't eat at all.

***

The year I was seventeen (and the last half of the year I was sixteen), my father went back to working second shift at the distillery where he's worked for the last 40 years. My mother was still working night shift in the ER, but was beginning to alternate with day shift to ease back into the world of people who were awake when the sun was up, and asleep when it was dark. Stephanie had moved to Lexington in July of my sixteenth year; Jacynthia moved in August. Andrea was in Bowling Green, Shannon and I couldn't seem to coordinate our schedules for the life of us and everything I did was wrong anyway, and I had never felt more alone.

I soldiered through until around December, probably. With Jay gone, I didn't get out to Mommy's, and with her gone... I was lost, a little. And I understood (still understand) why she didn't return often to Bardstown. I do. But at the same time, I was stuck there.

It wasn't a good year for me; I've tried to kill myself, and felt better afterwards than I did the entire year I was seventeen.

***

I remember not realizing that it wasn't normal that Daddy'd get drunk and scream and yell and hit us, not until I was eleven years old. Both of my sisters knew; I'd never known anything else. My friends' families weren't exactly normal, and I spent most of my time at home with my family anyway. But even though Dad sobered up by the time I was four, I still didn't realize how abnormal my childhood had been until I was eleven, maybe twelve, and someone told me that it wasn't. Not until years went by between one beating and the next, and my father nearly shoved me through the banister and down the stairs because I hadn't cleaned my room. Not until I became the first child in the Newton family to DUCK when Daddy raised his hand to me.

I was twelve when that happened, by the way.

***

I remember being in the first grade, having all of my writing assignments (and we did them once a week) contain these two sentences: "I hate my family. I hate my life." I remember that my teacher was concerned. I also remember that my parents did nothing about it.

I remember crying myself to sleep 5 nights out of 7 when I was ten. I remember being so miserable that I drafted my first suicide note when I was not quite eleven years old.

My sisters found the note.

Guess how much they mocked me?

If you guessed "a lot", you win.

I remember my first physical before starting sports going into the fifth grade--my mom was in the room during the first part of it, and she brought up my planned suicide as "me being overly dramatic, not serious."

I didn't write the note(s) for attention. I wrote it (them) so that I'd have things in order when I died, so that my family and friends would understand why I'd been alive one minute, and dead by my own hand, my own actions, the next.

***

(continued later.)
druidspell: Me, bowling at a family reunion, with my username inset in the bottom right corner. The blurriness is intentional. (Default)
I want to take some time and go over what I talked about with Shannon (therapist Shannon, not [livejournal.com profile] nightly_path Shannon) on Monday.
Because it's my journal, and since I don't keep a written journal anymore, this all has to go somewhere.

Last Monday, I'd had a bitch of a week--the only thing I'd made it out of my dorm for was to go to Individual/DBT the previous Monday, and work on Tuesday and Thursday, and a trip to UK Clinic on Friday. Work was the highlight of that week.

Now, here's some background.

Over the course of my life, I've had five different therapists. The first was... Jenny? Jamie? Amy? (moving on, because her name wasn't the point) in middle school. I went to her intending to get some kind of help for my rage; we ended up talking about time management and turning in homework on time. We did this not because she was a bad therapist who didn't stay on topic; we did this because Laura was bad at being honest about her reasons for being in therapy. I think I freaked out before I could explain why I was there, so that when she asked, the thing about homework is what popped out.
Needless to say, I didn't get much out of those sessions.

My next therapist was Sr. Mary Ninette in high school. A lot of people didn't like her; I liked her just fine, by the end of things. I started going to her because I was having an emotional breakdown in the middle of class March 3, 2004. Within the first five minutes of being in her office, I'd blurted out that I was bi, that I was depressed, that I couldn't relate to my family, that I couldn't sleep, and that I hated being alone. All within the first five minutes. I continued to see Sr. Ninette for the rest of high school, until I graduated in May of '05.

My third therapist was Dr. Cohen-Archer. (I always called her Dr. Cohen-Archer, never Colby (her first name) or even Dr. Colby.) She was pretty good at getting me to talk about the important issues, the things I didn't even really realize were still bothering me until we devoted three sessions to discussing them.

Next on the list is Dr. Tabony--I always called her Becky. I started seeing her in September of 2006, and continued seeing her for the next three months. I started because I had these feelings of failure, feelings that I couldn't really place, couldn't find a cause for. We talked about invalidation a lot--it was the first time I'd ever heard the term in that context, and it really seemed to fit. I stopped seeing her just before Christmas, because I was scheduled to start DBT/Individual at the Harris Clinic in January, and it seemed logical to start seeing the same people for everything.
DBT is intended for people suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder. (No, not a borderline "personality disorder" like Anti-Social Personality Disorder; BPD is the name of the disorder, and is a mental illness all on it's own.) It's also for people who grew up in an invalidating environment (which tends to exacerbate BPD).

I'm seeing Shannon now as my individual therapist, and she's one of the group leaders for DBT as well. And she brought up something interesting last time. Last week was a much better week for me, as far as things like getting to class and enjoying my life went.

Anyway, because that line of thought leads to me getting sidetracked and not telling the story I want to tell.

When I sit down in a therapy session, I talk about events. I talk about stuff going on externally. I give great after-action reports, play-by-play analysis, but I don't interpret. I leave the facts as I see them for the therapist to interpret, and let them draw their own conclusions. If they verbalize their conclusions, I'll tell them if they're right or wrong, but I rarely offer any insight of my own.

I do this for a very simple reason: it's not that I want them to do all the work, just that... I live my life stuck in what DBT refers to as "Reasonable Mind". Unless you force me to deal with them, I hate to talk about emotions, because I'm bad at it. If you've ever had a deep IM conversation with me, then you already know it takes me a fairly long time to respond with articulate emotional analysis to something happening to me ([livejournal.com profile] duchesspariah, I'm looking at you here). (Case in point: I started this entry at 2314 February 21; it's now 0130 February 22, and I'm not even halfway finished with this post. It's not even because I'm not interested, or not paying attention. It just takes me SO LONG to find the words I'm looking for that will describe what's going on inside my heart.)

(went to bed and work. back at 1627)

I don't talk about my depression very often, and maybe I should, and maybe I shouldn't; that's really a discussion for another day. But I don't talk about it because, at the core, I don't know how. I mean, I know the words to describe what I feel, but... I don't know how to make people understand what I went through/am going through in a way that doesn't sound trite and melodramatic. (Melodramatic more than trite, honestly.) It's one situation where my ability and gift for writing fails me, because if I can't think of a way to say something original and still true, I won't say it at all. (In therapy, I resort to analogies and metaphor a lot, because those are the only words I have to express something I don't like to talk about.) Another reason I don't talk about depression is because yes, I am ashamed of it. I do feel like I don't have the right to feel this way, like I'm just being a sissy and a whiny baby who should suck it up and deal with it already. And I also feel like no one would really care. Like no one would notice. (This is not just me being dramatic--this is me coming from a place where I tried to commit suicide and NO ONE IN MY FAMILY NOTICED/CARED/TOOK IT SERIOUSLY.)

In addition to not talking about it, if you meet me in person, most people wouldn't ever guess that I'm depressed. I can't even begin to number the people who've told me "You don't seem depressed." or some variation on that theme. And I see their point; I don't seem depressed. I've created a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy and I'm caught in a Catch-22: People don't believe me when I say that I'm depressed because I don't act depressed; I don't act depressed because no one believes me when I say that I am.

The reason I do it is because I spent a good five years wearing my broken heart on my sleeve, and no one noticed, no one bothered, no one cared. I didn't know how to ask for help--I was only 9, at the beginning--and no one paid any attention to know that I needed it. And for five years, the pattern went on. Eventually, I got so tired of having all my cracks and breaks and wounds showing, being ignored or brushed aside, and I was exhausted from the energy I was expending trying to go on despite the pain. So I started to act as if it was all okay, act as if I was better, act as if everything would be okay if I could just pretend hard enough that it was never wrong in the first place. And since this coincided with starting high school, it worked. I was around different people, people who didn't know in the first place that I'd been so low, and they never noticed any difference. But it's just a mask. Unfortunately, it's a mask I've been wearing so long that the lie is easier than the truth. I don't remember how to be that honest about my feelings anymore.

It's a pretty big roadblock in the whole therapy thing; since I talk about events instead of emotions, most therapists decide that I'm better before I actually am. It's not their fault in the least; they aren't mind readers, and I'm not talking about the issues. It's a waste of their time and mine if the only thing I'm getting out of a session is 50 minutes of talking about my weekend.

So. Starting now, I'm going to try to act in a more honest manner, to actually talk about my feelings in therapy. Because otherwise, what am I doing there?

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druidspell: Me, bowling at a family reunion, with my username inset in the bottom right corner. The blurriness is intentional. (Default)
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