I’m going to tell you a true story that I have not told many people. It’s the truth that I’ve hidden from everyone, even those closest to me for as long as I can remember. I’m telling this story because my threefold is celebrating huge milestones in their recovery and people don’t seem to understand why I celebrate these milestones instead of just saying ‘I’m proud of you.’
Celebrating the milestone of three, six, and twelve months being free of self harm behaviors is a BIG freaking deal for my threefold. It’s a big deal because we’ve been through hell trying to reach these milestones and we have taken the path to healing. After numerous hospitalizations, thousands of hours of therapy, a lot of self reflection, and deciding to fight for the future we have reached these milestones. It’s been a hard and scary journey, but the end result is so worth the celebration.
So that big truth and that scary secret I’ve hidden from even those closest to me is that I was the 14 year old girl that took a blade to her body trying to escape the pain. I was the 16 year old girl who starved herself for days at a time and purged everything she did eat to fit the stereotype that the world told me I needed to be in order to be beautiful. I’ve been the 25 year old who held a gun to her own temple and fought back pulling the trigger to escape the pain. I’ve also been the 35 year old who sat on a bathroom floor with a bottle of pills that could only find three reasons to hold me back from swallowing the whole bottle and chasing it down with the alcohol in my other hand. That’s the ugly journey of self harm, suicidal ideation, undiagnosed, and unmedicated mental illness.
I’ve also been the person who thought so little of herself that she allowed others to inflict that same pain onto me. I’ve worn the bruises and still bare the scars of the many times I’ve allowed people to use me as their own way to feel better. I’ve allowed my body to be torn apart by the men I chose over my own self respect. From cigarette burns, to being pushed down steps, to being clocked and choked. It’s a reality I’ve lived in for far too long. It’s a part of me now that I can’t erase. The hate filled words and the demeaning labels I’ve been told are burned into my brain. The many times I was told what I was and wasn’t became the only words I could hear. Those negative identifiers became the voices in my own head long after the people were gone.
I’ve been accused of attention seeking, it being a phase, and that I was just being too much. I didn’t get the help I needed at 14, 16, 17, 25, or 35 because I was told it was a me problem not an illness in need of treatment. My mother didn’t acknowledge it. My father didn’t see it. My ex-husband told me the medications made me worse and the ‘head doctors didn’t know me well enough to know what they were talking about. I’ve allowed everyone in my life around me convince me I wasn’t bipolar, even when the symptoms were obvious. Even after being hospitalized for 6 weeks to treat the symptoms I allowed someone to tell me the medication made me worse and it belonged in the garbage. So that’s where that medication went. I waited over 20 years to seek help for my mental illness. It’s not a life I can stand by and watch my threefold suffer through for themselves.
I refuse to allow me to be the barrier that stops my threefold from getting help when I know the dire consequences of that choice. I won’t be the voice in their head that tells them that they are the problem. I refuse to stand by and watch my threefold struggle like I did and live a life they don’t have to before they find a better way. Not when I have the power to help them find that life now. Not when the help is available and they show me they need it. I can see it, because I too have been that young girl struggling to find a person who would help me. I didn’t get that, but I will make damn sure they do.
I’m not glorifying this behavior by celebrating my children fighting for their future. I’m celebrating because there is cause for celebration when you overcome the bad and the ugly of mental illness. It took me too long to share my journey. I don’t want them to feel like they should hide theirs. It took me far too long to find the help I needed and if I can prevent them from taking the path I did, I will.
I celebrate the milestones because I know the struggle to reach the milestones too. I don’t talk about my struggle through self harm because it’s ugly and it’s the hard part that most don’t relate to. I haven’t shared it because everyone has told me that I’m the reason my threefold struggles. My threefold doesn’t even know most of my struggles and how bad it was. I never wanted them to see me as that person. It’s not a side I wanted to share and I don’t want them to believe self harm or suicidal ideation is normal. It’s not normal! It’s a sign of mental illness and the statistics that come with it are scary as hell.
You can judge me, but I am my own worst critic in the parenting department. I question if I am doing it right all the time. However, because I see their growth, their progress and their fight I know that I am doing exactly what I should to see them to a better life than what I had. I’m making that life for myself and for my threefold. We create our own path forward and the future is too bright to live in the darkness of the past. Don’t live your life waiting for the good, find the good in life. That’s the only way! Stay positive! ☮️❤️😊~M