The majority of my life—say the first 31 years—I felt wrong. Like I was wrong. I hated myself. Simply put, I loathed every single thing about myself. I could never do anything the “right” way. I was never good enough.
Depression and anxiety have been my constant companions. I have viewed myself through the lens of Body Dysmorphia. I’ve been desperate, melancholy, sad, and aching for as long as I can remember. I could never trust anyone. I expected nothing good out of my life because there was nothing good in me. I had given up on ever wanting children because of this.
I was lost and fearful. No amount of prayer, church-going, and Bible reading—despite what my dad always said—ever remedied it. I was adrift, enraged, brokenhearted, full of despair. I was always searching and searching for something but I never knew exactly what I was searching for. I only knew that I had lost something important. I tried finding it in other things. But I would always find that those things weren’t what I was searching for either.
My earliest memories are dreams. I was 2, maybe 3. My dreams were strange. They started out in black and white, progressed to tones of red, and finally to the vivid colors I still dream in today. They were often hectic, frustrating, and I wore clothes too big for me. I was either running away from something or I was alone and searching.
My earliest real life memories were of me hiding. Slinking against walls, scurrying behind or under furniture, and gazing out at the horizon at the setting sun and feeling very sad. I felt this intense longing of wanting to escape. Like I didn’t belong on Earth. I climbed trees and traipsed all over my family’s mountainside which is part of the Pine Mountains in southeast Kentucky. I felt at peace once I could touch the rocks and trees and the rich mountain soil. I marveled at how the sun glittered through the leaves of the trees. I have a distinct memory of watching ants cover and consume a dead mole, feeling such pity and grief. That memory for some reason has stuck with me.
I don’t remember talking much my first few years of life. Only of me observing and feeling anxious about something; often feeling secretive and hurt.
Then something happened when I was around 5 years old. I was in an upstairs bathroom of my family’s apartment. For some reason I decided to climb atop the sink, all by myself, and look in the mirror, preparing to really look at my face for the first time. (Though surely I had seen my reflection before?) But I distinctly remember this being my main objective. I climbed up and looked at my reflection and felt…disappointed. I thought I was so plain and ugly. I don’t even know what I expected to see. From then on out, I had a laser focus on all of my perceived flaws. (Which everything about me was perceived as such.)
At age 7, I started having my first reoccurring thoughts of suicide. Suicidal ideation would plague me for the rest of my life. I kept hoping God would come down and sweep me up to Heaven so I wouldn’t have to do it myself. As I got older, I started detailing out how I would do it without God’s help.
I was an emotional preteen. I cried at a drop of the hat and always felt embarrassed over it. I was alone. A lot. I did play with my sister, who is 3 years older, when we were younger. My two oldest siblings (another sister and a brother) were there too sometimes. But they were all too old and cool for me.
I lost myself in books, in my fantasies, and in my mountains. I would draw characters and write stories and in my diary. I was a bit of a bully in elementary school. I was kept in for recess often. I started to get a little chunky at 10. I felt enormous, though. I started making myself throw up at 13. I would battle anorexia and bulimia off and on for the next 7 years. Entering middle school, I lost all of my elementary school friends. I had to make new ones. I became withdrawn and painfully shy. During my teens, I wouldn’t let myself cry in front of people. Doing so made me feel stupid and angry.
At 15, my anxiety became overwhelming, so I started homeschooling. At 18, I moved from my hometown. Throughout my young adult life, I held many jobs. Some as little as a few days to maybe a few months. I went to therapy at 20, diagnosed with depression, and was prescribed antidepressants. Two years later, my therapist (a sweet older man) moved out of state. I would quit therapy and my antidepressants altogether because I didn’t want to be on antidepressants forever, plus at the time I was about to get married.
In my early to mid 20’s and during the first half of my marriage, I was full of rage. I threw things, I threw punches. I screamed, I cried. My marriage was a rollercoaster. At 25, my then husband became deathly ill and hospitalized due to untreated Crohn’s. It shook me to my core and my guilt subdued my rage. I dropped out of college for a year to take care of him. He recovered. I drank a lot. By 27, I was an alcoholic. For years, I downed pills—prescribed or over the counter—mixing a cocktail that could make me not feel.
At 28 I went back to therapy, diagnosed with Bipolar II, and placed on medication. I gave up drinking. I filed for divorce. I lived with my sister and brother-in-law. I dropped 20 pounds. Even at 105 pounds, I still felt enormous. I maxed out credit cards.
A month after I filed for divorce, my husband admitted to cheating on me the year before. He was remorseful. I was quick to forgive. We tried again. My therapist decided I didn’t have Bipolar II but Borderline Personality Disorder.
I moved back in with my husband and experienced one the darkest bouts of depression I’ve ever had. Suicidal thoughts plagued me. I had to grit my teeth every day to not do it. Fought it tooth and nail. I spent most of my time high off of Gabapentin and hydrocodone and a lot of Benadryl. And I’d give myself quick little cuts to my arm, appeasing my longing to gash open my wrists.
By 2014, I was losing my short term memory. I weaned off of my medication. I quit going to therapy. In August of 2014, my then husband and I separated. I lived with my sister and brother-in-law again. I refiled for divorce in April 2015. We were divorced the following May.
I was numb and excited and relieved at first. But I started having panic attacks at work. I lost that job at the end of May. I sank into another deep, dark depression. I ached with it. I ached with wanting to die. I went on a week long road trip alone to clear my head. It “worked” momentarily.
But in July of 2015, the numbness, the hopelessness, the battle with wanting to commit suicide flared up again. I was bitter and broken. I had no self-worth. I despised myself. I was lonely, alone, guilt-ridden, and regretful. I was crippled by perfectionism and sickening low self-esteem. I felt like I had failed at life. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I felt like a wild animal clawing desperately out of a self-built cage.
I found myself stumbling back into therapy once again.
Continue on to Backstory Part II: The Cause here.