I had to write out my “life story” for treatment, that’s why I have this.  But I want to show that nothing “horrible” happened to me, it doesnt take a tragedy anyone can fall victim to depression. And once its got you, it holds on tight.

I know its long

 

My mom is what you would call “baby obsessed”, though not to the point where she stares down women with strollers or walks around Walmart picking out outfits for a non-exsistant baby. After my brother Adam was born mom would tell anyone willing to listen that she wanted as many children as god was willing to give her, I guess that’s part of the reason she has eleven. Anyway whatever her reasoning every now and then she’ll share with me an odd “birth story” from one of the “Large Family” message boards she belongs to. Babies born in the backs of cars, toilets and under a tree in the front yard while yours and the neighbor children play tag, weird I know.

I guess you could divide people into two categories, those with birth stories that leave you wondering if you should look around for the candid cameras and those who entered the world in a little more “ordinary” fashion, I am one of those people. I don’t know all the details, there not too important, but from what I do I know it was a Wednesday, “Ashe Wednesday” if it matters, March 4th 1992. There is not much more to it except that along with a baby my mom earned herself a week sitting inflatable doughnut” after ignoring the doctors orders and continuing to push.

I don’t remember too much from when I was younger, just random memories – racing my older brother Anthony on our trikes in the kitchen, wrapping barbie dolls in cocoons of toilet paper, painting myself along with my younger brother in red lipstick after watching an episode of the “Rugrats” – there all just strung together, in no particular order like Christmas tree lights.

From what I can remember my siblings and I have always been close, even me and my older sister. When we were adding the upstairs to our house all of us kids were crammed in one room, me, my sister and brothers, there was only five of us at the time. At night she’d sing to me, “Can you paint with all the colors of the wind” from Pocahontas. There are only a few memories that taint the others, like those of my childhood “friends” .  There where three girls my age who lived in the neighborhood: Kristen and sisters Rachel and Colleen. I don’t know why, maybe it was my blonde hair, blue eyes or the fact that I was too shy to stand up for myself, I still don’t get it but whatever the reasoning I always seemed to be the butt of the joke.

We were the only ones on the block who had a pool that wasn’t inflatable in their backyard, summer was the only time anyone came knocking at the door. Their bathing suits underneath there clothes and towel in hand. They played with me only for what I had, not who I was. I remember my sister and I walking up to Taco Bell one time after I came home crying, I was playing at the neighbors house and went home for something when Kristen’s mom went up to McDonald’s. I was the only one out of the other girls who didn’t get anything. She said she didn’t know I was there, but I’d been at her house all morning, the girls laughed as I walked away in tears.

When I actually got smart enough to stop hanging around them they switched to yelling their then cruel comments over the fence and I would sit on the top if the slide and listen, nearly in tears. I guess at the time I didn’t understand that I could just walk away. It was years ago but I can still remember the details, one time I was laughed at and told “We are brownies, because they all had brown hair, and I was a blondie”. I knew what would happen but even after the countless times I returned home angry or in tears I still tried to include myself in whatever it was the girls were doing. I wanted so desperately so fit in some where. I had more fight in me when I was younger. Just so you don’t get the wrong picture there were random times when I would be friends and hang out with one or two of the girls, this is when I got older but there were summers that I practically lived at Rachel’s and Colleens, and others at Kristen’s. In our “pyro stage” we would make mini fires in the backyard to roast marshmallows, or we’d scour the internet for recipes and cook anything from snicker doodles, to spaghetti and ignore her mom while she yelled at us for the mess in the kitchen. Our friendships were never consistent, and didn’t last long, usually all I’d have to do is blink and I’d be their target again. For some reason all of us could never hang out in a group, it was an equation that just never seemed to work.
Through elementary I stayed in my shell, I almost failed my first grade year because I was too shy to ask questions or for help. I only passed because the teacher had talked to my mom and was planning to have me in a split class the next year. As I grew older I had few friendships here and there but we would always drift apart until the friendship became non-exsistant.  My mom tried to enroll me in “Brownies” so I would have a chance to make new friends, but they never called back. I guess I read into things even as child and it hurt to think that even the people at “Brownies” didn’t want me.
Super hero’s weren’t the only ones with powers, midway through elementary school I had learned to be a master at invisibility, it’s a skill I would later use.
Towards the end of 5th grade I’d failed the vision test and had to get glasses. I was geeked, a kid before me had just gone to school the week before with a new pair and been the envy of every 5th grader with 20/20 vision. So when it was my turn I of course was expecting the same and walked proudly into class and took my seat waiting for the crowd of people my classmate had gotten, it never came. Not that day, not that week, nobody noticed not even the teacher. It was only when I went to her desk to ask for help that she remembered I was part of her class. She asked me if I had just gotten them but when I shook my head she looked surprised then told me I looked nice, she meant well, but her comment still stung.
 In my preteen awkwardness my life became me, a bowl of roman noodles and the computer, I started growing backwards, out more than up. I don’t know what year it was but sometime around the end of fifth grade and beginning of middle school I gained myself the nickname “hippo” from my neighbors cousin and my crush at the time. His comment was the first of many about my weight that helped shatter my self-esteem. There was a group of boys, ironically enough my brothers friends, who would grab my tray at lunch, eat the food and then throw it back at me telling me that I didn’t need it I was already fat enough. Their comments would slice through me and make a “bee line” to my heart. I’d cry in the hallway, I couldn’t and wouldn’t let them know they’d hurt me. My mom, dad and sister always tried to “nicely” make me aware of my size, everyone on my fathers size is large, quite large and my mom would make it a point to tell me that I shared her genes as well as his. When it wasnt my mom it was my sister, but she had a different approach she tried to be sneaky about it with trips to the park and offers to go up to the store or out skating. When I wasn’t getting the hint I guess is when they decided to just come out with it. I dissolved into tears and stuck a blown up beach ball under my shirt trying to look as fat as they made me feel. I got made fun of at school, home was supposed to be safe it wasn’t supposed to happen here too.
 My size was about the only thing that changed, at school I was still a square block trying to fit into a round hole but I had finally stopped trying to include myself in the groups that my neighbors belonged to, I got pushed out just as fast as I tried to get in. I started painting my nails black and caked on the eyeliner. I hid behind my make up but soon found a group that was willing to take me, they took everybody. They were what your parents would call the “bad kids”, they wore all black, rebelled against the “popular kids”, wrote dark depressing poetry and did something that was new to me, they self injured. But I didn’t care they accepted me and at the time that’s all that mattered. I was like play-dough in their hands and with time soon became a mirror image of the people I now gladly called my “friends”. Though unfortunately there “fashion mistakes” wernt the only thing I picked up on.
I would self-injure every now and then, nothing serious, scratches more so for attention. I would do it then try and tell one of my new “friends” about it, purposely making them visible for all to see. I wanted someone to be concerned, to look at me and ask if I was okay because if they did in my mind that meant that they cared. It provided reassurance that even if I didn’t someone did. I sank into what I though was depression, I joined a chat room poured out my feelings and told them my exaggerated thoughts of suicide. It was one time after doing this that I headed down to the basement, grabbed the bleach and filled the lid of it to the brim convinced I was going to down it all. I sipped it gingerly, barely touching my lips to the edge, it was horrible. I tried plugging my nose but it was no better. I gave up, fell against the wall and tried to cry, not because I was upset but because it was what I thought you were supposed to do. I was becoming numb.
Somewhere in the mix of everything I left my journal lying around for my mom to find, she read each self-loathing page then brought me up to her room to confront me when she was done. I admitted to everything, the self-injury, half assed suicide attempts and the sudden interest in the medicine cabinet. When she talked about therapy I freaked, I was upset but I wasn’t crazy. it took some convincing but I made her a deal it would stop, all of it, if she didn’t send me and against better judgement, she accepted my offer.
For the next few years I kept up my side of the promise and stayed clean. It wasn’t until Sophomore year that I went back on my promise. The three months leading up to this had been hell and my family been shaken to its core, but instead of pulling together, we pulled apart. My brothers were oblivious, sheltered in their world of video games, but I saw a different side to my parents – a strain in their relationship. Neither of them had any idea of what to do, not for themselves nor anyone else. We had never been faced with anything like this before. My mom would always say that she was blessed with healthy children, besides the occasional need for stitches none of us had ever been in the hospital. She should have knocked on wood.
My younger sister, Samantha was the start of it all; she started complaining of not feelings well but my parents didn’t think much of it, Samantha often faked sick for attention…we all did things for attention.
But in August, just a week after her birthday she was diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes. It was a birthday present that for a while I foolishly though I gave her. During her stay at the hospital I was getting testing of my own done to try and find out why my hands and feet would turn blue. When they started to talk about it being something more serious I got scared and in tears prayed that, that wouldn’t be the case. Someone must have been listening because medically I was cleared; unfortunately it wasn’t something that was extended to my sister. It may have just been coincidence or perhaps karma coming back to bite me for being so selfish – whatever the case, it felt like I had gotten a sucker punch to the stomach when I found out Samantha was who I had pond it off on. I was supposed to protect her. It wasn’t asked of me, I don’t know if it was expected but while she was in the hospital I got a chance to play house and got to be “mom” to my five younger siblings. I watched kids, cooked and ran myself ragged cleaning. I felt I had to be my families rock, the stable one and keep everything moving as normally as possible.
My family had always been anything but scheduled, everything we did was spontaneous, true “fly by the seat of your pants” kind of people. We ate, came and went as we pleased, we were most certainly not the Duggers. Though the day my little sister came home that part of life was forgotten, I fronted that I was worried about her but in reality I resented my sister and the attention she got. It was only in my mothers eyes that I wasn’t invisible, but now I was. It felt like there was nothing I could do “good” enough to gain it back. It was always replaced with some aspect of my sisters illness. It was only ever talked about how difficult the change would be for Samantha, but I think what my mom failed to see is that it wasn’t much easier for us.
There was something starting to unravel inside me and at the time I couldn’t figure out why I felt the way I did, and it made me angry that I couldn’t control it. More often then not I even went as far as to feel stupid for even being upset, I wasn’t a big deal so what happened to me…how poorly people treated me shouldn’t have been a big deal either. My father would always tell me “how does such a young girl have anything to be upset about! You haven’t experienced any real hardships in life yet!” my feelings were made out to be silliness, never validated so in my head I began to believe that I was dumb for ever being upset and got mad at myself when I did. I didn’t know at the time though, that I shouldn’t have put so much weight in to the unwise words of my alcoholic father.
About a month afterwards while walking home from the bus stop with a group of friends they got into an argument that turned violent, three of them turned on one of the other boys. They threw him down on someones lawn and started kicking him in the head and stomach, without thinking I started screaming. They were friends and I was a girl but I knew if I got physically involved there was no doubt that they’d hit me too. I hurled curse words and insults at them, trying to get their attention away from him and long enough on me to give him a chance to run away. He ran but it didn’t end there, later that night the kids mom called the police and I unknowingly followed him to his house to tell his mom what I had seen. This kid had been a target of their harassment for awhile, they’ve stolen from him and both egged and keyed his moms car. I sat on his front porch talking to him and the police when one of the kids involved and his mother drove down the street and stopped in front of his house. I went home not too long after that but what I said had already done its damage, but not to the kid I helped or the kids who deserved it but to myself. Some of the boys I had told on were already on probation, for what I don’t know. But the next year and a half was like I was thrown back into elementary school where I was the butt of everyone’s jokes. even my own, I found a reason in everything to either make fun of or put myself down. Everyone spoke to me like they hated me, and at first I could deflect their venomous words, knowing them as lies but soon I got so accustomed to hearing them that their words held more weight and even I started hating me.
 My other “friends” sided with the boys who had done it and avoided me like the plague. I got called “Whore”, “Slut”and “Hoe”, things like wrappers, pens and whole oranges were thrown at the back of head on the bus, I got shoved up against lockers and pushed into trash cans. When they weren’t sitting outside my house they started calling my phone to make crank and threat calls. One morning they called and said that I was supposed to go out to breakfast with them, my mom answered but somehow after that I was longer “Rachel” but “oatmeal tits”. Their comments were stupid, but they ate away at my fragile self-esteem; they were attacking the part of me that I hated most, my body. I longed to leave my dorky outsider label from middle school behind but it had followed and was harder to shed then I thought. The worst of all is that these boys were also friends with my brother, he knew but still brought them around the house. So I got a “double dose” of the teasing at school and at home now too.
I seemed to be everyone’s target, people I had done nothing too but were friends with the boys joined in right along side them with the teasing. Being friends with me would have been like agreeing to give yourself a “social disease”. I never told, it’s funny but I didn’t want to be known as a “snitch” – so it continued and I folded more and more into myself until I became a person I didn’t know, but hated.
I started eating lunch alone, in the library or in the bathroom, anywhere people weren’t. I learned to hide my cuts, bruises and burns from self injury – I was on a mission to cover my entire body. I thought if I did it enough, then maybe I wouldn’t hurt so bad, maybe the physical pain would be something I could handle more. I was teetering on the edge. I couldn’t find it in me not to believe the things they had said. I heard them so often they were embedded into my brain and they often played on repeat. I needed control, I needed a say who hurt me and how badly, that’s when I started purging and restricting. Going without food made me feel something, it made me feel strong. With a distorted self image I viewed myself as weak for ever letting their words affect me as deeply as they had but few people could go without food and water for as long as I allowed myself to.
 .
Before I got a chance to rebound more was thrown my way, in October of that same year while my oldest brother was home on “leave” from the Marines he and my older sister got into a near fatal car accident. They had been out drinking and were only a few blocks from home when he ran into and wrapped his car around a telephone pole. I was awake when the police came to our door, to watch my mom fall apart and dad try to hold back tears. But i’d be there for them, I always was and now was no different. I call Dan, my best friend at the time to tell him the news – I was monotone through the whole conversation. Feeling nothing was starting to become better then feeling anything at all. I got a lot of practice at being mom that year, again for the second time I filled her shoes in her absence.
Trying to keep my emotions in check and now this, I was stretched to the limit. I screamed at anyone brave enough to talk to me and cried more times then I have fingers and toes. My self injury hit an all time high and I seriously questioned my sanity, beneath my skin and behind my smile I was falling apart – I no longer felt like I had any control over my thoughts or emotions. I blew up with anger one minute and dissolved into tears the next. It was bad timing, or maybe it was perfect but in the mists of everything my little nudging feelings grew to monstrous proportions. without anyone noticing.
That month myself wasn’t the only thing I lost, my one friend, my best friend Dan, he met a girl. I knew he had feelings for me but I didn’t think the denial of them would be something that would end our friendship. The day they started dating is when he stopped being friends with me, he said it wouldn’t be fair to her, but what I don’t see is how it was to me. Overnight he forgot not only my name but that I lived and breathed. I couldn’t stand seeing them together, but they were everywhere and no matter how hard I fought it or told myself I wouldn’t each time hurt just as much as the first and I would find myself sobbing in a bathroom stall.
That year was one of the hardest. My mom and I had always been close and I had never had to share her but now her time was divided up between me and my two sisters. My mom and older sister, Crystal had never had a relationship, they generally fought like cats and dog but now they acted as best friends and would go to her room and talk for hours.  I never felt invited to, nor was asked to join since much of the topic of conversation was me and my cryptic behavior.
As the months passed I acted out more and became a frequent at the psychiatric hospital. I screamed at my parents but my dad was public enemy number one. Once “daddies buddy” became “daddies nightmare”. We would argue our mouths turning into those of sailors. I would tell him I hated him and accused him of being the father I never wanted: a drunken, lazy, asshole. His replies almost always targeted my treatment, or lack there of. He even once told me to “either shit or get off the pot”, pertaining to my suicide attempts.
I turned to my psychology teacher and school guidance counselor to help save me from myself but all I managed to do was get myself further into trouble each time I got a call home. Issues within the family were supposed to remain just that, within the family and I had broken the rule.
 My mom never seemed concerned about what I was doing, just angry she didn’t understand me and what I was doing was taboo.. With their new found relationship my mom would vent to my sister about whatever it was I was doing. My sister would in turn use what she was told against me, telling me things like how pissed my mom was at me, how I made everyone have to walk on eggshells, the stress I was causing, that I was crazy and going to cause mom and dad to get a divorce. My younger siblings understood nothing that was going on but mimicked her behavior. my parents had their fair share of things said too. I became the role model of what NOT to be.
I was non-reachable at this point, I had tried to reach out for help in the beginning but my cries for help were ignored and I thus developed a “fuck you” attitude. I spent much of my days “up in my head”, staring off into space unaware of what was going on around me, no one existed in my world. I did what I had to, to get through the day but wouldn’t remember most of it. I was going to therapy but telling her nothing. I didn’t want to get better, I was afraid of being happy and I was too afraid of who might be underneath. I had turned into such an ugly person over the past couple months, what if that was really me?
As the year passed I began to broaden my horizons. When my sister got put on the pump she would get prescriptions for “numbing cream”. Though as she got better at inserting her site it was no longer needed, but my mom would still fill the prescription. As my emotions thawed out through therapy I became more and more aware of my emotional pain. For the first time self-injury no longer worked. I would have to hold my breath in an effort not to scream; my skin had grown sensitive and I could feel the sting of each new inch I covered. But I wouldn’t give it up, by now it had become a part of me, it was who I was. My mom closed her eyes to everything I did. Maybe she believed it was a bad dream and when she opened them, it’d be gone. But it was because of this that at my house I could get away with murder.
I started stealing Samantha’s “numbing cream” – now I wouldn’t have to stop and the less I felt it the worse it got, I was bleeding out the bad inside of me. I started going out, only on the weekends at first but soon it became every day. I had discovered a new friend – drugs – and we were getting along great.I was ever only a couple sips or hits away from the numbness I had grown so comfortable with. It let me escape from school, from family and from hurting, it quieted my chaos. Again my mom remained blissfully unaware. She thought I was getting better the whole time I was getting worse.
The truth didn’t come out until I got sent back to the hospital. My social worker, Marissa had called my mom to get permission for “substance abuse”. That’s the first time she opened her eyes, unfortunately it was only because she was forced. I made lies to get better, to keep myself out of trouble and out of the hospital. I would tell anyone what they wanted to hear, just to they would leave me alone long enough to do as I wanted. I turned into an actor and everyone was part of my play.
You know the song “looking for love in all the wrong places”? Well I did just that. I was detached, like there was miles of space between me and the person I was sitting next to. I wanted closeness and looked to my boyfriend at the time to give it to me. Our relationship was on and off more then a light switch, as were my feelings for him. but that didn’t seem to matter. I took pride in my virginity. I was something most girls my age wernt, it made me feel different – clean. Heavily religious at the time I made promises to myself to wait till marriage. Though in December of that year I gave up waiting. I was in a down ward spiral so I only remember parts of it. I asked him – it was impulsive, that much I remember. There was no talking, no feeling. I just lied there numb and let him use me till the deed was done. It took a few days for what had happened to “sink in” but when I came to the guilt gnawed at me. I was angry at myself and disgusted in what I had done. I didn’t mean for it to and wasnt ready for this to happen. It felt as if someone else had agreed to have sex with him that night. I tried to keep it from my mom, she didn’t need to know what I had done, to be disappointed in me too. I didn’t last more then a few days. We were at meijers picking out Christmas cards when mom made mention of “purity rings”. With that my secret was revealed. The words flooded out of my mouth between sobs and please for forgiveness. “Merry Christmas mom”.
My dumb decision was like the elephant in the room, everyone knew but no one talked about it, just like everything else. Until it all came to a head and sick of it all I tried to over dose. Its a move that left me vomiting through the night and one I shouldn’t have taken. When my mom found out the next morning she called my therapist and tried to pull me out of bed threatening hospitalization. We spent the whole morning arguing, but in the end i didn’t go. I spent half the day upstairs but when I came down mom told me what she had done. Since going to church she had grown close to a lady named Heather, whom she told of the events that had happened that morning and earlier that week. It started off small, they both shared a disappointment in me, since most Christians frown upon premarital sex – but when the topic of suicide came up all hell broke loose. Heather told my mom that the pastor would have to know since I was involved in their youth group. I would have liked it to but it didn’t stop there. Pastor told the deacons and my boyfriends parents; using words like “wounded” and “unstable” to portray me as the victim and Jon as the “bad guy”. They couldn’t have gotten it any more backwards. No matter what I said there story still stuck. It was like a big game of telephone and by service Sunday morning there wasn’t an ear that hadn’t heard the news. Though not what really happened – but pastors version. This new story put miles of distance between Jon and I. Each time we would talk our awkward words would evolve into those of anger. We fought over everything and nothing at the same time. He stood for all the anger and disgust I had towards myself and with time I grew to hate him. What self respect I had managed to scavenge over the years flew out the car window the night I said “yes”. In my mind  I was just a body, my purpose was to be used and abused.
Gradually I started smoking more and “experimenting” with others. At that point I was still getting it free from a boy I had known since kindergarten. Even though I was a girl, I knew it wasn’t going to last. I didn’t work, so I had no means of paying him – at least in nothing tangible. But I would give him something, my body. Though fortunately I never got the chance, before I could say “yes” again my butt was shipped off to kingswood, after cutting so deep that I needed stitches. “Nice” wouldn’t describe how I treated myself or anyone else there during my stay. I did minimal treatment, screamed, cursed and on a daily basis, lied through my teeth. My goal was the opposite of theirs. I had heard rumors of long term and was trying to save myself.. But they saw through every smile and carefully articulated sentence like I was made of glass to see me for what I was…or wasn’t in this case. In my attempts to do the opposite I guaranteed myself the next open girls bed at a long term residential treatment facility.
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