I grew up in a broken home with an abusive, drug addicted father, and a mother who only held on because she knew nothing else. When she finally found the courage to leave, we were gone for good. I never saw my father past age 6 until I was an adult. Soon after leaving I was put into counseling to “deal with my irrational behavior” that everyone thought was because of my parents divorce. Which in most scenarios is usually the case. However, mine was not.

After months of adjusting to a new life and seeing a counselor twice a month, they determined I needed a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed as having ADD. As the years went on, I noticed differences in myself. By age 10 I had become obsessed with my appearance., My mother was overweight and I grew fearful of becoming the same way, leading to years of anorexia. I was 4’10” and barely 80 pounds. My mother blamed this on my ADD medication. After switching medications 2 more times, my doctor determined that I was anorexic. I felt horrible that they knew, that anyone knew and I craved my perfect appearance even more. So, I hid it. I hid food and said I had ate it, or I’d spit it out when no one was looking. I would eat slowly so that I could be the last to leave and no one would see my plate still half full. No matter how thin I was, I still wasn’t “perfect” in my eyes. I wasn’t what I wanted to see.

When I started going through puberty, I became very obsessed with perfection in general. My belongings had to be a certain way. Toilet paper had to fold a certain amount of times. My handwriting had to be exact or I’d erase it over and over until it was. I couldn’t go past anything soft without touching it. My obsessions had become impulsive. I had entered the world of OCD and couldn’t escape.

Being a teenager and dealing with several mental health problems was not an easy task. I felt out of place everywhere I went. I felt so paranoid and scared. I was bullied for being thin, for being smart, for being on medication. I was put down by my peers constantly. I remember being invited to sit with the “cool kids” for lunch one day and feeling normal for the first time in my life. After I sat down, they began making fun of me for being different. By the 7th grade I could not function in a normal school setting, so I was home schooled.

Soon after high school I endured a traumatic experience. Every day I went to my grandmothers to walk her dogs for her. This day had been like any other, only this time she didn’t answer the door, so I used my key. I walked in to find that she had suffered from a heart attack and passed away. I immediately panicked and called my mother, who directed me to call 911 while she rushed over. I felt so guilty, if I had just gone an hour earlier I would have been there. I could have saved her. At least that’s how I felt. I spiraled into a deep depression.

I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I stayed up for days and slept very little. I barely left my bedroom. My mother began dating random men to cope. She met a guy and soon after, invited him to live with us. Then he began to sexually abuse me. I was scared, I didn’t know what to do. Finally I turned to my mother, her response, “Well, if he is, it must be your fault.” I was crushed. At 16, I was not sexually active or even close to being. I know now that it wasn’t my fault. He wouldn’t stop, and I became so fearful that I contemplated suicide. Luckily, my best friend asked me to stay with her, so I did. I stayed with her for almost 2 months. I had escaped, I felt safe and was functioning more normally than I had in a long time. Then one morning I received a phone call from my mother saying her fiancé, the man who had abused me, died in a motorcycle accident. Her words cut through me like a knife, “Are you happy now? You got what you wanted, he’s dead! It’s your fault that he’s dead.” How could I be blamed for this? From that moment on, my mother and I have had a very estranged relationship.

In 2008 I met the father of my first child. I fought my demons and prepared for my life as a mother. Soon after she was born, I couldn’t function. I had trouble figuring out how to go about my day and how to take care of my child. This didn’t go well. We broke up, he was granted custody and I fell into a dark hole. I had ended up alone, my baby with her father. It was 2011 and I jumped from job to job until eventually I was homeless. I started abusing drugs and became an addict. I was an alcoholic, practically living at the bar, because other than that I had no home. I slept around and I ended up pregnant. I tried to clean myself up, but I struggled to do so. I knew I couldn’t take care of myself, much less a baby. I gave her up for adoption. Soon after, my first child’s father and I worked on our problems. We rebuilt our relationship and have been together since 2012. It hasn’t been easy, but we make it through each day together. He gives me hope. He has helped me to realize that no matter how bad the day gets, no matter what goes through my head, I can make it to tomorrow.

My name is Katie and I am a Stigma Fighter.

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10676220_1566326070320740_3808762374202143516_nI’m Katie. I’m a 25 year old mother who has turned her suffering into advocacy. By the time I reached adulthood, I had been diagnosed with ADD, but also Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, and Cyclothymic Disorder, which is a mild form of Bipolar Disorder. I have always felt different and out of place, but seeking comfort through online communities has been my best outlet.

Katie can be found on Facebook and Twitter 

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