Continued from My Story – Part 5 (The Aftermath)
In glancing back over my old journals, I realized I may have my timeline a little confused in my mind. I rely on my journals to keep my memory in check because I wrote honestly and directly about the things that were going on at the time of each entry. Time has a funny way of distorting memories even for the most sane among us. When a person’s mind fragments in the way that mine always seems to during difficult times (this is very hard for me to explain, as I don’t even understand it), it makes life feel a lot more chaotic, leaving me to question reality and struggling to understand what feels like misplaced emotions. My emotions are very detached from my story because I simply compartmentalize emotions differently than memories. In my journals, however, the memories and the emotions are written together, in black and white, often times very raw with brutal intensity.
The particular journal I’m reviewing for this time period (the end of 2002 through 2004) is strange because the entries seem to lack any consistent order; and the entries are sporadic, at best. However, by November 2002, I had moved in with my boyfriend at the time, P.I., while struggling to attend classes at APSU. I dropped a couple of those classes early on in that semester. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I began missing classes and getting further and further behind in my school work. By the middle of November, I quit going to classes altogether which resulted in receiving an “F” in each one. Ten or so classes away from my Bachelor’s Degree in graphic design, I dropped out completely. I fear the debt that I incurred as a result of my mistake in going back to college will follow me to the grave. When I left college, I was a little over $20,000 in debt just on student loans. Even after making payments on these loans for much of the last 11 years, I still owe right at $23,000. I still struggle to understand how this is possible.
Sometime in September, I quit working at the beer bar where I had been working since May, following several instances of sexual harassment from bar patrons. One of these instances, I wrote about in my journal on August 11, 2002 (again, the day before my birthday):
I am getting so tired of working at the bar. Tonight Corona Bob pinned me up against the sink while I was washing dishes. He kept touching me and feeling me up. I got away from him and called [the owner of the bar] to close up early. Later, he did it again and I lost my temper after telling him to stop several times.
Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence while I worked there. Several different men who frequented the bar made similar advances. My guess is that this is fairly “typical” behavior in environments like these and even considered part of the job description. However, that does not make it okay (men, for God’s sake, look but don’t touch!!!). At the time, I really didn’t connect these experiences to triggers of PTSD, having very little knowledge of the condition (re-reading my journals, now, makes me realize that I was experiencing many of the symptoms of PTSD). In 2002, I was still in denial about having been raped in 1998. I blamed myself not only for the rapes, but also for these unwanted advances. I thought I deserved to be treated badly, confirmation that I was nothing more than an object. Looking back now, I can see why I was struggling so much to maintain my sanity and concentrate on college classes.
After dropping out of college that second time in 2002, the depression and anxiety continued to worsen. I became mostly nonfunctional through the remainder of the year. My therapist added either Schizoaffective Disorder or Schizotypal Personality Disorder. I just know I heard of both at different points in therapy with one of the two being added around this time. By this point, I wasn’t really keeping track of labels anymore because they changed so frequently. My psychiatrist continued to up the dosages of my medications and add more. At this point, I was taking a cocktail of Abilify, Effexor, Seroquel, and Lexapro. I found myself constantly exhausted with living, my mind in a hazy fog. I didn’t have the motivation to do anything, let alone find another job. I was also feeling extremely suicidal at the time, as expressed in a poem I wrote in my journal on November 12, 2002:
I pray that when I close my eyes,
Sleep will come and break the ties
To all earthly things that hold me here
And all the people I find so dear.
Never let me wake again.
Let my soul find freedom then.
Take me away from all the pain.
Give me peace, and break the chain.
By January 2003, my boyfriend, P.I. placed so much pressure on me to find a job that I ended up going back to work at the beer bar because I could find nothing else. This job was even worse the second time around. The sexual harassment from bar patrons escalated into my becoming very promiscuous again. As I completely lost the will to live due to the extreme situations I often found myself in, I gave-in to the pressures that surrounded me at this bar. Much of this time is lost with no memory, while other parts come back in frightening flashes. No journal entries exist, either. I completely stopped writing in my journal from June 2003 through December 2004. Because of the things I was doing to myself (self-harming through drugs and alcohol, starving myself, and promiscuity – even though I was in a relationship with P.I.), I knew that my lifestyle prevented me from having a relationship with my son. I had given up hope. I struggled through life the best way I could, the only way I knew how. Marijuana was my drug of choice, and I never had to pay for it because the patrons of the bar so often left it as a tip. I’m ashamed to admit that I also tried cocaine, crack, ecstasy, and snorting prescription drugs – each briefly, for the experience, hoping one would kill me. I self-medicated right alongside my alcoholic boyfriend almost the entire time we were together. (To be clear, I have absolutely nothing against marijuana. Honestly, I feel that it is far safer than prescription drugs and alcohol, and far more useful. The abuse of drugs and alcohol is in the mindset of the person using these substances in order to escape reality. And during this time period of my life, I was using anything I could get my hands on to escape reality.)
Then, on April 14th, 2004, my dad died from complications with diabetes. He had been on dialysis for many years, and his body finally gave out. P.I. and I were there at the hospital with him when he died. Everyone else had gone home for the night. I, honestly, did not realize how much my father’s death affected me until years later. His death truly devastated me. My dad always seemed to be the only person in my family who really understood me. We never really needed words because it only took a look to understand what the other was thinking or feeling. Daddy’s funeral was one of the few times that I actually got to see my son. In the years leading up to my father’s death, things between my sister and I became particularly strained. She blamed me for not helping her deal with Mom and Dad and their health issues. I had so much going on in my life (much of which I was too ashamed to even acknowledge); and I lived 5 hours away. Much of that time, I didn’t even own a reliable car, let alone being able to take time off from school and work. I know she became overwhelmed with caring for our parents, but I also couldn’t drop everything to go home every time she called. I did go home whenever I could manage it and when things became serious with Daddy, but I couldn’t go every time.
In May 2004, I quit working at the beer bar after a night of drunken brawls and an out of control crowd tested the strength of my courage. Life working at that beer bar became way too intense. I hated that job, more than any other I’ve ever had. It left me with far more emotional scars than I care to admit. The owner of the bar was furious with me for quitting (as was P.I.), threatening to report my under-the-table status to the district attorney who was handling my ex-husband’s child support case. I didn’t care anymore. I just knew I had to get away from the drugs and alcohol and sexual abuse that I was enduring while employed there.
The relationship with P.I. became increasingly unpredictable over the next few months, especially after his parents moved in with us. As he drank more and more, his words cut like knives. Our household became extremely chaotic. I began the disability process for the first time at some point in 2004 with his mother’s encouragement. I was denied later that same year. P.I. grew impatient with me, continuing to pressure me about finding a job. I felt I had no choice but to find work again; no one else would take care of me, despite my instability. The first job lasted no more than 3 days. The second attempt was not much better. I went back to work at Wal-Mart, only lasting two weeks. The stress of working with the public was too much. That evening when he found out I quit, P.I. was furious with me, scolding me like a small child. This scolding was reiterated the next night in a second round of beratements, pushing me over the edge when he basically told me to “get out.”
In an act of complete desperation (as is common in those of us diagnosed with BPD when faced with abandonment), I attempted suicide again (Suicide attempt #4 – overdose – and Hospitalization #6). The suicidal thoughts had been constant for the majority of 2002 through 2004. That’s a long time to feel suicidal. It’s difficult to explain the depth of despair and hopelessness that one feels at the moment of a suicide attempt, but this is the best description I have ever written of what I was feeling at the time:
Cold darkness fills my soul as death creeps closer to my inner being. Scratching, tearing, ripping away at the small amount of esteem that exists at my core. Swallowed by darkness, I feel ever so close to death’s grips, falling deeper, deeper into a hole of nothingness called Hell. The farther I fall, the less connection I have to this reality known as life. Life falls away as easily as leaves fall away from dying trees in autumn. Only, there is no hope of rebirth during spring. Mythical creatures loom in the darkness away from my sight, waiting patiently for the call of death’s screams. No light can be seen in this ominous abode, this destructive cavern of Hell’s inferno. Agony awaits my soul’s defeat. Perdition, the abyss of darkness, looms over me ready to devour my spirit. What affliction possesses me and won’t dismiss my pitiful essence to be free? Suicide is its name. Depression is the affliction. Death, the outcome of years of struggling to free myself from that spiraling hole that swallows me like quick sand. No hope left, I give in….
I think I’ll stop at this point today and continue my story in another post as this one has already reached over to 2000 words. I almost hope that no one reads this part of my story because it is very depressing, and I’m sorry for that. Unfortunately, suicidal ideation is part of my battle; and my story would not be complete without addressing it in this way.
To be continued….