A letter to my 10 year old self

Dear 10 year old me.

I am you.  You know, from the future.  First off wrap your arms around yourself and squeeze.  Nice big hug from me.  You deserve it.

I am writing this from the future, and let me give you a heads up.  It hasn’t been a cake walk in the park.  It is 2015 and I am 33 years old.  I am sitting here with the gift of retrospect and I have so many things I want to say to you.  Things that I wish you knew, things I wish you had learned at an earlier age. Things that are key to your survival.

The road behind you has been bumpy already.  Filled with potholes and speed bumps and uncertainty. I need you to put your seat belt on because the road ahead is even bumpier.  I know you feel like it will not get any worst.  But in all honesty it will get worst before it gets better.  But yes, it truly does get better.

By now I know that you are beginning to understand.  But at the very same time you are confused.  I remember the feeling well.  Feeling scared inside your own body.  A sense of the unknown tinging your mind with fear.

I know that the life altering events have already been going on for years, not constant years, but years from the start till now.  I know that you have been scared, hurt and alone.  But I need you to know that you do not have to be alone.

I am going to add this in here because I know how much heart ache, confusion, crying and praying this caused.  But you are NOT pregnant.  He will not get you pregnant.  So breathe a sigh of relief in that.

I need you to do something for me.  I want you to find your voice.  Use your voice.  I know that you do not know how to.  Go talk to D.  He will help you.  He will guide you. He will talk to you, help you figure things out.  Trust him, because he is trustworthy.  He will wait until you are ready to move forward.  I did not talk to him until years after.  After, I know right now the concept of after has not arrived, but it will come, you are almost there.  Just hang on a little bit longer.

I need you to know that it is not your fault.  You did nothing wrong.  You did not provoke it.  You did not ask for it.  You were an innocent child.  Stop worrying that you did this.  Stop worrying that you will be the one who will get in trouble when people finally find out.  Those things are not true.  Do you want to know why?  Because it is not your fault and you did nothing wrong.

When it is finally over you will never have to see him again, he cannot hurt you any more.  You are 11 the last time.  So just another year and you will be physically free.  Although being mentally free will take some more time.  You will work hard to become mentally free.   I can honestly say I am not sure when that completely happens.  Mental health issues will follow your for the rest of your life, at least up until the point I am now, at 33.  But we have ways to make them easier.

Talk to your therapists, open up to your psychiatrist, see your doctors regularly.  Write your victim impact statement and say everything that you want to say.  Do not hold back.  I know it is hard.  Believe me I wrote to the doctors instead of talking to them, if that still works for you that is okay too, but just make sure not to leave anything out.  Do not hide things because you are ashamed.  That is what the doctors are there for, they are there to help you.  To treat the problems in the right ways.  So just please, for me, and most importantly for yourself, do not hold back.  Bare it all to the right doctors.  Take your medications, do not miss any appointments, and just be honest.

You will get various mental health diagnosis’ over the years. I know that is difficult to swallow.  But please try not to be ashamed.  I know you will, because I was.  But there is nothing to be ashamed of. You will make some great friends through your mental illness.  You will get your love for writing from it, you will go on to inspire yourself, inspire others, and begin advocating for mental health rights through writing a blog.

To change the topic, and this is hard but I do want you to know, you will only have Dad for a few more years.  You are just 13 when his body gives up the fight he has been fighting since you were 2.  His entire life he used to say “If I can just live to see her grown up”.  He tries, let me tell you, he fights but he makes it to your teenage years and cannot fight any longer.  No one tells you he is dieing, so when he does it is such a shock for you.  No one prepared you.  I want you to know that Dad fought for you.  So please spend as much time with him as you can.  He loves you more than life itself.  You are Daddy’s girl, the center of Daddy’s world.  Oh how many times we sang that song together.

You will struggle with his loss.  Mom will struggle with his loss.  But you will all be okay.  Dad is without a doubt a guardian angel for ‘us’ now.  So many times when I should not have made it and something helped me.  I believe it was Dad.

High school is hard.  You find it difficult to concentrate on school work.  From depression to hypomania to mania, although at the time you did not know these words, only depression.  Retrospect…..in retrospect they are there.  You all but gave up on school.  I am here to tell you to please try.  Don’t give up and to try your very best.

Be selective of your friends.  This might sound bad.  But not everyone who smiles at your is your friend.  Pick and choose just what information you give.  You will make some great friends, in time.  You will know, when the time comes.

Graduation and Grad party are a hard time for you.  Things happen.  I wish I could change back the clock and make them not happen, but unfortunately I cannot.  So perhaps in telling you, you will not make the same mistakes that I have.   Grad is a very emotional time.  You wish Dad was there, it hurts but you will be okay.

Grad party.  Please don’t drink.  Or drink moderately.  Do not let the things happen that happened there.  You have spent a big part of your life struggling and not knowing things about that night.  Frustrations and wonders.  Only to remember things and have doctors tell you other things that will make your skin crawl.

The night after grad party you are literally picked up off of Dads grave and taken to hospital on ambulance.  In shock.  Incoherent.  When the doctors ask what happened, tell them.  Spill it all out.  Open the flood gates, it is the only way to ease the pressure.

You will go on to attempt suicide.  You struggled with that for a long time, wanting to commit suicide.  You were fortunate enough to realize part of the way through the process that you did not want to die. You just wanted the pain to end.  So please get help before this point.

There are some good things coming up in life.  You will meet your husband in college.  Yes I did say husband.  He will literally save your life, if you let him.  He is the first person you ever feel comfortable with.  You open up to him, and he knows pretty  much everything before you become a couple.  It was rough for him, hearing everything and trying to be there for you when you constantly kept pushing him away.  You did everything in your power to push him away, you were afraid you would hurt him, you were afraid he would hurt you.  And to be honest at that point in life you just wanted to die.  You wanted to lay down and not live.  It gets so bad that if someone put a gun to your head you would have been the one to grab the gun and pull the trigger.

But he saves you.  He truly does. And you will forever be grateful and you will forever love him for what he has done.  He will probably never know just how much or how deep your love runs for him.

You have another difficult time coming up, in a pregnancy.  You end up with a miscarriage at around 7-8 weeks pregnant, and inside your mind, you biggest fear of the sexual abuse and rape have hit home.  You think you cannot carry babies, and you hurt.  You blame him (your abuser) and your heart feels like it is going to break in two.

But rest assured you go on to have three beautiful babies, who are your whole world.  He did not take that from you!

I think I have spilled a lot of things into this one letter and I know for a girl of 10 it will be hard to read it.  But I also know that you have been ‘wise beyond your years’ for a long time.  And most of these things you already know and have dealt with.

I want you to know that I am proud of you.  You have fought through things that most people cannot even begin to imagine.  I want you to know that you are a fighter, you are strong, you are a survivor.

You survived, and you will continue to survive.

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Looking back

I have spent a huge amount of my life pretending everything was fine.  But the truth was: I was barely holding it all together.  Using glue to hold the pieces in place.  Plastering on a fake smile and going about my day.  All the while the rapidly drying glue was cracking in places and the plaster was crumbling.  No one else knew, no one else saw what was happening.  I knew exactly when to smile and where to hide so I could keep my secrets to myself.

I perfected the art of camouflage.

But inside, I saw what was happening.  I felt the storm raging on in the dark corners of my mind.  Pulling me further and further into the darkness.  I felt the tug from both directions at once threatening to tear me in half, to break me.

I was using all my energy trying to make sure not to show any signs of weakness on the outside.  But inside of me I was exhausted.  All I saw was where I went wrong, what I did wrong, and how very weak I really was.

For me the signs of mental illness were there as a child.  I had some very traumatic experiences at a very young age and the problems began not long after.   Anxiety, rapid speech, pressured speech, followed by severe depression then back full circle again.

I was struggling with who I was behind my dim soulless eyes.  I was changing, and I was not sure I liked who I was becoming.

My days began running together.  Wake, Eat, School, Sleep, Rinse-Repeat.

I was like a ghost at school drifting through the walls from class to class, teachers did not know how to speak to me, guidance counselors did not know what to do with me. And I had all but given up on myself.

My grades went down hill and I began loosing interest in school.  I lost friends and I most certainly lost myself.

I remember situations where my mouth kept talking where I should have kept it shut.  I talked and talked and talked.  At times people couldn’t understand me, I was constantly told to slow down.  Breathe.

I spent more time with anxiety and in depression.  I cried myself to sleep.  I was ashamed, I was afraid, and I prayed.  Boy did I pray.  I prayed for help, I prayed for guidance, I prayed for a savior.  But none came.

So finally I prayed for death….

….But that never came either.

Weird unbalanced month

I haven’t been what I call balanced for a month now.  I say what “I” call balanced, because my balance might be different from your balance and your balance might be different from mine.  Its been over a month now with sleep patterns that have been all over the place.  From one extreme to the next.

I use a mood tracker to track mood and keep track of things.  The following chart shows my sleep patterns in the green line.  The purple bars, are balance at the level part and the rest is either mildly elevated, moderately elevated and I believe a couple of mildly depressed.  The two colors or purple lines are because each day you can track two moods in case you have a mixed day.   The pink section of the chart is medications, it changes to blue on the date the doctor added a new medication.  The red are days I missed taking medications, maybe one or maybe all.  The yellow triangles are days I had mild anxiety, the yellow rectangles are moderate anxiety.  The blueish green triangles are days with mild irritability.  The dark blue are days with a period.

 

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The month has been full of restlessness, hyperness, crawling skin, talking fast, talking loud, rapid invading thoughts, mixed feelings, paranoia, back to little sleep, over to moderate hyperness, back to what I thought was balance, and well as you can see its just been a month of all-over-the-placeness.

Yes that is what I am going to call it:  All-Over-The-Placeness.  Because that makes sense to me.  That is how I feel.

Its been nothing too serious.  It was moderate for a few days right after changing medications.

It kinda feels like someone took my once balanced snow globe life and shook it making the snow fall.  They then let it settle for a day or so and shook it again.

It is almost annoying.  I am not sure if I want the snow to settle and stay settled or if I want someone to keep shaking.  I tend to like my hyperness and productiveness in the early stages of hypomania or mania.  But I do know that it can go to a bad place.

So the snow settling is my safest bet.

Anyone else having a month like this?

Caught in the grasp of Anxiety

It feels like something is squeezing my heart, and while it is doing so my heart is skipping a beat or two, all the while fluttering as if a bunch of butterflies were trying to escape a single cocoon at the very same time.

A feeling of doom, dread.  Surfacing or rather almost surfacing.  Trying to drown me just under the surface of a deep and dark ocean current.  Cold water pressing down on me, threatening to cause shock.

Eyes squeezed together, waiting for it to take me, but it never does.

Instead it continues to loom over me, threatening something it will never fully complete.  Squeezing my heart – putting fear in my body.  Showing glimpses of the chaos it can bestow on my life, tightening its hold on me with its many tentacles.

This is what anxiety was doing to me at 3:40 Am this morning.

Heightened Awareness

For about 12 hours now I have been extremely aware of many of my senses.  They are heightened in a way that I am not even sure I can explain.

This is not the first time this has happened to me, and I know without a doubt that it will not be the last.

I am seeing everything in a bright light. As if my pupils are dilated into large round saucers and someone turned the sharpen image filter up to its highest setting.  The colors are bright and vibrant like a kaleidoscope.  Each color sharpened with razor sharp edges and blinding light.

My hearing is magnified to a deafening level.  Like some super loud sonic boom.  The sound of a whisper, heightened so much it radiates through my ears with utmost clarity.   The slow and rhythmic drip of water sounding more like a horses trot.  The fan in my computer,  a windy vortex waiting to blow me away.

A feeling under my skin like a thousand spiders crawling just under the surface.  A knee jerk reaction to pull away from the slightest tickle, the littlest touch.

My thoughts are loud like echoes bouncing off some invisible cavern inside my head.  Like I am screaming inside myself when all I am trying to do is whisper.

Thoughts bouncing around inside my head like defined silhouettes against a light, but bright background.

All of these sensations together are maddening.

Half Butterfly – Half Wasp

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I know each of you who have read my blog have seen my half butterfly, half wasp picture that I use.   I thought I would explain why I use it and what the picture means to me.

I had it purposely drawn for me by a fantastic artist from where I live, a highschool student with more talent than I will ever have with art.  She is absolutely amazing.  I had a specific idea that I wanted her to draw and she did it perfectly.

It is going to be my first tattoo.  I am not 100% sure when I will be able to get it, but I have wanted it for a very, very, long time.  Financially right now, I have to wait.

I chose the design with a wasp and a butterfly to signify me.  It is how I feel much of the time, like I am two.  It symbolizes my Bipolar Disorder.  One extreme of my mood to the other.

The saying “Just when the caterpillar thought the word was over, it became a butterfly” has some meaning to me because it told me that even though things were so bad and even though I thought I was never going to get through something, I would, and I did.  Kinda like the phoenix rising out of the ashes (another tattoo I would love).  We all go through things in life.  Sometimes they are painful and we feel like we will never survive or get through them. This part of my tattoo deals with the fact that I have survived, I have flourished and I have spread my wings.

I choose the blue morpho butterfly because of its characteristics.  When the wings of a blue morpho butterfly are open they are a bright blue, colorful and full of life.  Much like my mania.  I feel like I can take on the world, I can accomplish things that I normally cannot.

But the blue morpho’s underwings (when they are closed) are brownish with spots that resemble eyes to ward of predators, they hide and blend in.

I have spent a huge part of my life hiding behind things.  Trying to camouflage myself into backgrounds, trying to sink out of existence and blend myself in so well that no one sees me.

The Wasp side of my tattoo will signify the stark difference in my depressive side in comparison to my hypomania or mania.  I spent a lot of time stuck in a sea of depression.

Either way, in either mood, weather it be balance, depression, or mania – I have wings, and those wings help me to fly.

And we all know…..

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