There are many times in life where we are expected to be strong and do things on our own. We are taught that needing help is a sign of weakness. We’re told that we need to be independent and hold our heads high. But what about when things get too hard? Are we supposed to suck it up and deal with it on our own or reach out for help? Because it seems like the ones who reach out for help get labeled as weak or crazy. I know this for a fact because I have personally experienced it. So what happens when the person with a tough, take no crap personality finally has too much to deal with and try to tackle it on their own? They break…….I broke……..And continue to put all the pieces back together.
People like me tend to be thought of as tough because of my big mouth and willingness to tell people what I think. But being bold and blunt is a far cry from being made of steel. If you are like me and have allowed people to mistake your bold personality for unwavering strength, then this blog will show you that you’re not alone. Not only are you not alone, you may be at the tipping point and need a push in the right direction as to not end up in some of the situations I have been in. There are so many things that have happened that I have hidden from people up until they read this very blog. I am a strong believer in sharing your story, no matter how hard or embarrassing it might be. Because you never know who might really NEED to read your words to be able to help themselves. With that in mind………read on and I will tell you a little about my story.
As I’m writing this, I find myself stopping every couple of minutes and nervously wringing my hands together. Completely unsure of how much I actually want to reveal in such a public way. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have had some personal struggles in the past couple years. But not everyone knows exactly how bad things got. Or why they got so bad. A lot of things led up to my “breakdown”. Looking back, I can see that my mental health was an issue all the way back into my teen years, but I had learned a coping method and ignored the real problems. I remember being in junior high and high school and having such a bad temper that I didn’t know how to control my anger at all. I went from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds. This was always my personality so I just chocked it up to having my dads temper. There were random physical altercations throughout high school, college, and my mid twenties. I always seemed to get upset and the next thing I knew, I had been in a fight and didn’t even remember it. Blacking out from anger had become normal to me and, once again, I just thought I had a bad temper due to heredity. Turns out I was wrong.
I began dating the man who later became the father of my child, when I was 20 years old. I pretty much thought he hung the moon and that I was so lucky to be with him that I could get past all the cheating and emotional abuse. I had done such an amazing job of convincing myself of this lie, that I spent nearly seven years with him. I can remember times of catching him in lies, busting him for cheating, smiling in front of our friends when he would talk down to me so they didn’t see my pain. I was so insecure that he had pretty much convinced me that nobody else would want me. I am 5’8″ and was 125 lbs for a period of time that we were together, and he had me convinced, even then, that I needed to lose weight. I was told that he wouldn’t talk about other girls if I just looked like the girls at his gym. I was doing modeling as a hobby during that time and could be on the runway during a fashion show feeling so confident, but one word from him and I felt like I was damaged.
I had my son when I was 26 years old and was so insanely in love with my gorgeous child, that I finally had the strength to see my relationship for what it was. And it was an abusive mess. Abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. Being constantly cheated on and talked down to is abuse. Having an argument and sitting on a bare mattress because my boyfriend took every sheet, blanket, pillow, and cable cord in the house and left, is abuse. Being locked out of my own apartment. Being told that I need to get over the fact that the stripper that lived across the hall had been sleeping with him. Or having to drive myself to the hospital with contractions because he was going out to eat with his friends and didn’t believe my early contractions were an issue. Coming back to my apartment after being in my hometown for my dads funeral when I was five months pregnant to find an eviction notice due to all the rent money being blown on partying while I was away. All of those things are abuse. Finally, now that I had my son, I could see it for what it was and left. Six weeks in to being a mom and I had to transition into being a single mom.
I moved back to my hometown when I left my son’s father. I had family there and decided that is where I needed to be. I was fine being a single mom. I loved having so much time to spend by myself with my little guy. I was such a good mom. I was right on top of everything and was super protective. I listened to the doctors and did everything they recommended, which included vaccinating my child. Little did I know that I was injuring my child with every shot. He became sicker and sicker after every round of vaccines. Non stop upper respiratory infections, ear infections, colic, acid reflux, etc. Even though he was sick a lot, he was such a happy baby. Started talking at 7 months and was hitting every milestone ahead of target. Then, disaster. When he was 15 1/2 months old, I took him into his pediatrician for his last round of toddler vaccines. This round of shots was different. His scream was so intense and blood curdling. About 20 minutes after getting his shots, he slumped over into a seizure in the back seat of my car. I didn’t even realize at the time that it was a seizure. Over the next few weeks, without knowing it, I was saying goodbye to the kid I had been raising thus far. He regressed into severe, low-functioning autism within 2-3 weeks of that set of shots. He lost all his words, wouldn’t look at us, wouldn’t respond to his name, stopped playing with toys appropriately, self harming, etc. My world was completely torn apart.
About a year into dealing with my son’s autism, I decided to make a permanent decision to not allow myself to have any more children. Even if I wanted more kids, and I did, it wouldn’t be fair to anyone involved to bring a child into our lives. So, instead of having a tubal ligation, I opted for a complete hysterectomy. I knew that ovarian cancer ran in my family, so I figured it was safer to just go ahead and get it over with. At 29 years old, I was being wheeled into the operating room with tears streaming down my face. I cried all the way until I was sedated. The next thing I knew I was waking up in a lot of pain and beginning my long journey of surgical menopause.
A couple months after my surgery, I was hit with a curveball. My son was engaging in more than his normal amount of head butting. I became concerned and took him to the children’s hospital in our area. They admitted him to keep him from hurting himself and I began demanding answers. I told them I wanted an MRI done of his brain because my niece had Chiari Malformation (brain malformation causing the cerebellum to protrude through an opening in the back of the skull which causes pressure on the spinal column) and I wanted to be sure he didn’t have it as well. The doctors said no and I stood strong and said do the test or have me escorted out by security. Surprisingly, I didn’t go to jail. LOL. They did the test and to my horror, I was right. My son had Chiari Malformation and required surgery to fix it. A month later, I was handing my 2 1/2 year old son over to the neurosurgeon. The next few days were spent in the hospital helping my son recover from brain surgery. Thank God for my mom or I would have been there alone.
Over the next couple years, we had several things happen. A couple stays in the child psychiatric hospital for aggression, got married, got divorced, moved a couple times. Things just never seemed to calm down. I kept pushing forward and getting more and more tired with every day that passed. I kept trying to tell people that I felt like I was going to break, but I felt like no one really heard me. I didn’t even realize at that time, that I was about to have a complete breakdown. But, I came face to face with the reality of my breaking point in May of 2014. What followed next seemed like a bad dream that I couldn’t wake from.
May 24, 2014, I called my mom to tell her I needed someone to watch my son. I was so stressed out that I needed a break. I can’t remember the reason, but my mom was unable to watch him for me. I had already exhausted every other option for help and the respite worker that helped me 14 hours a week was off that day. I sat there with tears pouring while my son continued to head butt me and scream. All of the sudden, my logical thinking turned off like a light switch and I became another person. I became so calm and I could see my actions but was not in control of them. I called my son’s respite worker and asked if she could stop by my house for a minute on her way through town. I sat at my kitchen table with my son on my lap as I wrote out two letters. One to my son and one to my mom. The letters explained how sorry I was for leaving them and that I wanted my son to know that I loved him very much and was so sorry that I wasn’t able to be strong for him. The respite worker showed up, I pretended to need to use the restroom, stood at the sink at choked down around 40 nerve pills, and began to cry.
Laying in my hospital room in the ICU that night, fresh from the charcoal drinking fun of the ER, I felt numb. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything that had happened. How did I get to this point? I kept thinking about the ambulance ride to the ER. I remember laying there while the EMT called out my vitals as my blood pressure continued to drop. The lower the number got, the more calm I became. It’s almost over, it’s almost over. That’s all that I could think. In my warped, exhausted mind, I honestly thought that I was doing my son and the rest of my family a favor. I spent the next 4 days in a psychiatric hospital where I ended up signing papers to turn over temporary custody of my son to my brother and his wife. I had no clue that things were about to go from really bad to worse.
The doctor decided to release me and send me home, despite the fact that I kept saying I wasn’t ready. My mom and her boyfriend picked me up and went home with me. I cried for a while in my sons empty room and then decided to go to the pharmacy to get the plethora of medication the doctor had prescribed. Well, when I went to my car to find it had been broken into while I was in the hospital, my severe nervous breakdown officially happened. I became completely out of control. I punched dents in the side of my car, ran in my apartment and attempted to slit my wrist while my moms boyfriend wrestled the knife away from me. I sat at the table with him trying to hold me still and beat my head so hard against the table that I required a catscan that night. I was clawing my face, ripping my hair out, screaming. I could see myself doing all this as if I was watching a scary movie that had no stop option. I could see how crazy I was being but had no control at that point. Then…..just as quick as it started, it stopped. I became completely calm. Another ambulance ride to the ER for a catscan and x-rays of my hands since I had beaten them so badly, then straight back to the psychiatric hospital for another several days.
So, it turns out, I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar, severe anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. I spent the next year working to get myself straightened out and get my son back. It was the worst year of my life. I made so many bad decisions right after getting out of the psychiatric hospital. One of which included trying cocaine for the first time and subsequently losing a really good job because it’s all I wanted to do for the couple weeks that I was doing it. I soon realized that drugs are not the answer. I couldn’t rely on that to fix my problems. I needed to focus on my health and getting my son home. So, I worked hard learning coping techniques, going to therapy, getting a job, and spending as much time as I could with my son. After a year of dealing with the court system, I was awarded full, legal custody of my son again. It was the best thing that has happened to me. I couldn’t be happier to have my son back home with me. It’s a lesson I had to learn the hard way. I was very lucky to have family that loved my son enough to care for him for a whole year.
Through everything that I have gone through, I have found one constant amongst all the changes. That is God. I have recently made the choice to fix my relationship with God and have that peace in my heart again that I know I can only find in Him. I guess that is the conclusion of all of this. Things get hard. Things become unbearable sometimes. When they do, it’s ok to need help! Whether you believe like I do that God is that help, or if you believe more in energies, or what have you; turn to SOMETHING POSITIVE. Allow yourself to have faith in SOMETHING. I have found that it’s A LOT easier to have faith in the people in your life if you have faith in general. Don’t allow yourself to get dragged down into the depths of hopelessness and fear, because trust me, it will destroy you. Find something to believe in, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Demand it if need be. I am so thankful that I can sit here next to my sleeping child and have peace in my heart knowing God is with me through everything. I hope that if you are going through a hard time and have taken the time to read my incredibly long blog, that you can find peace in knowing you are not alone. There are people who really “get” what you’re going through. Reach out to them and remember that IT’S OK TO NEED HELP!