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All My Neuroses #ThisIsMe

Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, OCD and recently Compassion fatigue are all things that I’ve been diagnosed with – and struggle with every day in my life and in my work. Without explanation, these terms often equal to “mental case.” I’ve endured psychological and physical abuse, abandonment, trauma and a lot of hurt. It’s something I’m open about – but usually only if the subject comes up.

When you look back at the great writers and minds of the past, most of them likely had serious psychological disorders. Ernest Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson, Spalding Gray, Sylvia Plath and one of my favorites, David Foster Wallace, are a few among the many brilliant writers and essayists who committed suicide. These were often combined with drug and alcohol problems – some type of escape from reality. Thankfully, I’m not in that place – but a long time ago, I was.

Me, forever blowing bubbles. Probably under 5 years old.

Me, forever blowing bubbles. Probably under 5 years old.

I had all the characeristics of a child who was perfect for being picked on: Glasses, boy-cut short hair, weight gain and early puberty. I also was thrust into the spotlight as a minister’s daughter – which didn’t help my self esteem but made me more shy than anything. And I had some emotionally abusive members of my family. All of these things contributed to a low self-esteem.

Short hair, pink sweater - still mistaken for a boy.

Short hair, pink sweater – still mistaken for a boy.

My childhood traumas – so many I can’t even list them all – eventually came back to haunt me in my young adult years. I had serious anger management issues. I remember yelling at my roommates for borrowing my cheese to cook something. Or withdrawing from them when they needed friends. I craved attention and made a lot of things about me. And if I wasn’t withdrawing, I was worrying too much about others. And I developed an eating disorder – bulimia nervosa.

In my mid-twenties I went through a lot of self-destructive behavior. Alcohol was my drug of choice, and combined with my antidepressants, it made me unafraid, but also made me vulnerable. I had joked about my many male conquests – even writing my experiences in dating and sharing them with my friends. But I was unaware that I was enduring a lot of emotional abuse by men who didn’t treat me like a person.  In the midst of  all these troubles – about five years ago, I was raped. By a stranger. At a friend’s house. When I was drunk. And when I told my supposedly closest friends about it, I suddenly became the Girl Who Cried Wolf. I wasn’t believed, I didn’t report it because I was a reporter and didn’t want my coworkers and colleagues reading about me – and I stopped trusting.

Don't I look foxy? Yeah, this was taken hours before I was raped. Is it weird that I still like this photo?

Don’t I look foxy? Yeah, this was taken hours before I was raped. Is it weird that I still like this photo?

Then, four and a half years ago, my mother happened to be moving up here the day I was being laid off from my reporter job. I soon moved in with her, and her already bad health became worse. I now serve as her caregiver; while she’s very independent in many ways, I struggle with balancing a social life with a life at home, where I often feel tethered.

So I have all these neuroses. I could put them in a giant book, but I’ve laid them all out here. And it isn’t easy. Each day I wonder if I’ll ever be “normal.” I wonder what “normal” even is. I wonder if a romantic partner will see me and love me for who I am, and be understanding that I have baggage and I can’t help but have it. And that I’m not going to be able to take vitamins and supplements and exercise all this pain away. I’ve found in my dating life that men just don’t want to hear about your drama. No matter how much they have of their own and have bottled up because that’s what Manly Men do.

My dog, Sebastian, dressed as bacon. No particular reason to put this here.

My dog, Sebastian, dressed as bacon. No particular reason to put this here.

So this is my job, and it’s also my outlet. And this is who I am. I can’t change it. But I can manage it. And I can be open and honest about it in the hope that others will realize they have nothing to be ashamed of.

This is me.

Lookin' like Nick Nolte's mugshot in the morning.

Lookin’ like Nick Nolte’s mugshot in the morning.

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  • JanetGoingCrazy
    Twitter:
    May 10, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I love that you are putting it all out there. I have many of these similar “neuroses” and my husband never understands them, but he empathizes and he loves me anyway. There is someone for everyone out there and when you find that one, you will understand. What you have to work on (and believe me, I’m still working on) is loving yourself as you are. The rest will come as it should… Keep at it!
    JanetGoingCrazy recently posted..What I really want for Mother’s DayMy Profile

    Reply
  • Jamie
    Twitter:
    May 10, 2013, 9:09 pm

    I’m one of the ones who has missed your personal anecdotes. It is even better to see the posts take a healthier turn. I’m so, so sorry that you felt that you had to hide your attack from your co-workers and that you had no solid place to turn when you needed us most.
    Jamie recently posted..#thisisme … the search for balanced authenticityMy Profile

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      May 10, 2013, 11:47 pm

      It’s okay. It was all part of my trauma, and I’m over it and can be open about it now. It gave me a much better understanding of why incidents go unreported, and why I believe that when someone tells you something wrong happened to them, the first thing you should do is believe them and offer help. There is always time for the truth to come out, but just believe them at first. It’s good to be back. :)

      Reply
  • Rebecca E. Parsons
    Twitter:
    May 10, 2013, 10:17 pm

    That is a lot on your plate girl. How strong you are. Thank you for sharing.
    Rebecca E. Parsons recently posted..Three Fun Ways to Serve Ice CreamMy Profile

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      May 10, 2013, 11:44 pm

      Thank you for reading!!! Can’t wait to see you next time I see you. :)

      Reply
  • Krista Berry May 23, 2013, 12:58 pm

    I admire you for putting everything out there. :) I have, and do still to some extent, suffer from depression and a host of other things that are not even remotely treatable. In the past couple of years I’ve kind of taken stock of my life and tried to figure out why some things would repeatedly go wrong. I’ve come to some self-realizations which are hard to deal with some days. I’ve also realized that there are aspects of myself that I’ll more than likely never be able to change and I’ve started to accept those things and try to live with them. The thing I hate most though, is when I tell a potential partner these things, that this is who I am, they seem to accept. Then six months down the road they can no longer accept me as I am. I’m not sure if they thought they’d be the exception or that they would be the ones that would ‘save’ me from myself. Either way, I’ve kind of made the decision that I’m done with all that. I think my mental health is better when I don’t set myself up for failure like that. :) I know though, that mental health is a daily struggle and I admire you for sharing it so others may understand what it’s like. Or possibly recognize it in themselves and find the confidence to speak our or seek help.

    Reply
    • Bellesouth
      Twitter:
      May 23, 2013, 1:20 pm

      I’ve had the same thing happen to me in relationships. It’s very difficult to find people who understand.

      Reply

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