There is still a lot of mystery about my own life that it seems a bit odd to be writing about it, which is sad, I should know everything about my own life. It is mine after all. What I do know is that when I was very young, my biological dad left. The only explanation that I was ever given was that it was not safe for me to be a part of his family. So, I wasn’t. My family history is a massive web and is too much to go into in this post, so I won’t. To keep it short and simple; my family is fucked up. My Mom remarried when I was 3 years old. She had 2 more kids with him and is still married to him, 25 years later, despite the negative impact he has had on my life.
I can’t say exactly how old I was the first time. All I can remember is that it was at a time when one of my uncles moved into the spare room at our house. I would say I was, maybe, 9-10 years old. I had slept on the couch that night and was woken by a hand under my shirt. I was terrified, frozen in place. I wanted to scream, I wanted to punch him square in the face, and when his hand went south, I wanted to kill him. Instead, I lay there. Pretending to be asleep while he stole my innocence. I wish that I could say that it was an isolated incident. It continued this way until I graduated high school and moved out of my parent’s house. That is almost a decade of planning the most strategic way to wrap my blankets around me so his hands couldn’t get under them. They did though, they always did. Multiple nights a week he would come into my room, always coming to my bed, he never targeted my sisters.
It wasn’t until my daughter was born that I really started to worry. I confronted my mom about what he had done to me all those years. She refused to believe me. She asked him about it and he denied it and even tried to place the blame on my uncle that had moved in around the time it started. My family lives blind to his dark side, and then seems baffled by the symptoms I deal with every day.
I am only just figuring out what terms best describe my illness. I have symptoms of many different ailments. My therapist is sure that it is PTSD, though he is eager to run many more tests to figure out exactly what I am dealing with. He also had me take the ADHD evaluation, which came with surprising results. ADHD seemed obvious to me. I had never been tested, diagnosed, or treated for it but I had researched my symptoms enough to know I had it. What I didn’t know was that along with the ADHD test, the therapist could get a very good estimate of my IQ. Intelligence is something that I very much value and have often worried that I was lacking. The test showed that my IQ was at about 120 and my therapist informed me that it was a bit skewed and was more likely to be about 125-130. This blew me out of the water. I am smart! That was the first time I had ever been told that I was above average. That is all that I needed to give me the encouragement to get me through my nursing assistant course (I have been talking about doing this for years).
You don’t have to know what specific affliction you are dealing with to know that you have a mental illness. Hell, you don’t even need to have a mental illness to go see a therapist. Just having a place that you can go and unleash all the creatures caged inside of you can work wonders to improve anyone’s mental state; if not a therapist then at least a close friend. Mental illness is a parasite that feeds off all negative energy running through your mind. If you don’t release that energy somehow the illness will grow. There are many ways to cope with it, but if it is ignored it will take all that is precious to you. It is much like addiction. A recovering addict is still an addict because there is always possibility for a relapse. I will work to control my mental illness all my life. There will always be a possibility for a breakdown.
I am choosing to view my mental health as a mystery. My therapist is Sherlock Holmes and I am Watson, and together we will consult the list of suspects and narrow it down to the guilty culprit. In the mean time, I have been working hard to alter my behaviors and am taking an anti-anxiety medication that seems to be helping. I still have rough days, just not as many.
Kristina is 20 something mother of a spunky daughter. She used to write a blog called Mental Mom but got distracted by life. You can send her pictures of giraffes to firstname.lastname@example.org