This is my story of my war with my demons.
My grandfather died when I was 10 years old. I don’t remember him very well, but what I do remember is a man who loved more than life itself. The week he died, I also lost my pet rabbit. That’s a lot of death for a child to go through. At the time, I didn’t really understand death; I remember at his funeral I kept waiting for him to sit up from his coffin and start talking. But no such luck. a year after that, my beloved grandmother (other side of the family) was diagnosed with cancer. When I was told, I felt it in my bones that she wasn’t going to recover from this. Lo and behold, after 2 years of chemo, she was in remission. 6 months later, her cancer had moved from her breasts to her brain. I’ve never lost anyone from Alzheimer’s, but I believe it would be about the same. The last time I spoke to her, she thought I was my mother, and introduced me to my father (her son), and suggested that he and I would “get along”. She didn’t recognize me, and by the end, the only one she did recognize was my grandfather. Part of the sadness that surrounds her death, was that for the last year of her life she was in hospice care. While she was there, clinging as hard as she could to life, the rest of her family was so on edge, we almost tore ourselves apart. I grew up really fast, and took the weight of caring for my three younger siblings on my shoulders, so that my mother could take care of my father. When my grandmother died, I was too busy taking care of my family and trying to take care of all of the other normal 15 year old girl stuff to take time to grieve.
Middle school for me was hell on earth. Between losing my grandmother, experiencing heartbreak for the first time, wanting desperately to be noticed and being brushed off by (it seemed) everyone, not really finding my niche…ever, fighting with and rebelling against my parents, lost spiritually and emotionally, and watching my grades at school plummet…it’s no wonder that in between my 11th and 16th year of life, I fell into a dark, deep depression. It’s held me hostage ever since. Some days, month, years, are better than others….but I know it’s always going to be there, waiting to sink it’s claws into me once again.
My struggle with anxiety started about 3 years ago. I believe it was stress and socially triggered, but once it grasped me by the ankles and dragged me down into the abyss, there was no escape. If you asked me what I would rather live with, anxiety or depression, I would answer depression. Because yes, depression sucks. Yes, it hurts. But, it’s a constant ache rather an unpredictable nerve flare up that destroys your whole day. It’s like you’re going about your day, chilling out and getting things done, when WHAM! It strikes from out of nowhere, hits you so hard it takes you down to your knees, shaking, crying, terrified, panicking…and you know that your panic and fear is irrational, but that doesn’t stop it from being SO powerful. And it knows your weaknesses, your insecurities, your fears, your doubts, and it takes all of those things, puts them on repeat in your head, and cranks up the volume until all you can hear are the screeching voices of your demons, never letting up, never giving you a moment’s respite, just torturing you nonstop, all day every day 24/7/365…there is only one person in the world I would wish this on.
Late January 2015. I was sitting on the couch with my fiancee and his daughter, watching The Perks Of Being A Wallflower…and having no idea that my life was going to irrevocably change. A few days later, images started surfacing, like pieces of a long-forgotten puzzle. I kinda pushed them to the side, not really knowing or recognizing their importance. Then one day in early February, the puzzle became complete, and I suffered my first flashback. The horror, pain, disgust, fear, rage, anger at being sexually molested by my pediatric dentist when I was 4 years old. It only happened once, and it only lasted for a few moments…but that was enough. Since then, I’ve been in counseling, and have suffered many flashbacks and nightmares related to the abuse. If you had asked me 3 years ago if I had ever been sexually molested or abused, I would have answered with a resounding “Hell, no!” Today, I know that is not the truth. It’s hard for me to trust now, especially men. It’s hard for me to read stories or see news of children being molested or abused. The whole issue with Jared from Subway…I can hardly think of that without being triggered. It amazes me how 5 minutes, over 20 years ago, has such a huge impact on my life today. One day, I pray to see my abuser behind bars, if not to get justice for myself, then to get justice for any other little girl he may have abused. This demon is one that I have some hope of actually defeating. With time, counseling, and support, I think this one is one that can be destroyed.
My other demons include Attention Deficit Disorder, which I was born with, as well as being an empath, and having a hormonal imbalance. ADD has made my life…interesting. never act my age – ever. This is because ADD people mature at a slower rate than most. When I was 21, my maturity level was about 17. I’m constantly about 5 years behind on everything in life, so I’m always playing catch-up. Add to that, it’s hard for me to concentrate on anything for very long. When I watch movies, I like to be doing something else – knitting, coloring, sometimes even reading. I’m addicted to Facebook, because it is a constant stream of new information streaming into my brain every second I’m on. Working by myself is difficult, because it’s hard for me to self-motivate. People think that it’s laziness, it’s not. It’s me not having the right tools to get things moving and completed. I’ve wrestled with this annoyingly frustrating demon for over 20 years, and I’ve learned a little bit how to tame it, but I have so much more to learn.
Being an empath is both a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because I can sense others’ emotions and intent. It’s helpful when I’m talking with a friend, or a child, because I can gather what I need to do to help them feel better. I can also sense when someone is lying, which is always a handy talent to have. But it’s a curse, because it’s easy to get overwhelmed in the sea of everyone else’s emotions, as well as my own, and not be able to distinguish the difference. And when something bad happens in the world (ie, celebrity dying, war, terrorism, etc), I tend to absorb all of that negative energy for a few days. I can’t even be around any type of social media or people on the anniversary of Robin William’s death. And I’ve been carefully avoiding people over the last few days with David Bowie’s death, as well. All of that negativity are HUGE feeders for my depression, which in turn triggers my anxiety, and produces flashbacks. Yeah, it’s just a giant barrel of laughs. The hormonal imbalance simply is the end result of everything. I hope that once I get things with my demons ironed out, my hormones will swing back to where they belong, and life will be a bit better.
Anyways, yes, there is the cliffsnotes version of the long involved story that is the detailed account of the war with my demons. I’ve gotten this far, I can get through tomorrow. And so can you, my brave warriors. Stay strong. ❤