Taking Control of My Life
As a kid, I was always very spasmodic and different. The little things always bothered me causing me to break out in tantrums. I remember one particular incident when I was 10 years old. My underwear didn't fit the perfect way I wanted it to and it bothered me until no end. I had the worst break down and cried and cried and screamed and screamed. I could never let my food touch on my dinner plate- if it did, I would not eat it. Around the same time when I was concerned about how my underwear fit, I never felt fully clothed with just one shirt on. During my young ages, 9-12, I would wear not one, not two, but three undershirts under my regular shirt I would wear over top. I would hike the tank tops as high as they could up to my neck so that I could feel a sense of "security." I used to be so scared to shower by myself that I was always in constant fear (fear that would cause me to shake and not be able to relax whatsoever). I would always think something would get me out of the drain, or I would open the curtain and someone would be there. I would be so afraid that I would scream and cry to my mom begging her to let me skip my shower. It came to the point where I was so scared that I would put my head under the sink faucet and pretend that I showered- when in reality, I was way to scared to. I was also, and still am a little, afraid of mirrors. I am scared to look in the mirror and see something behind me or even scared to look because of the fear that I might turn into something. It was hese little things and so many others that my parents noticed were not really "normal." As a teenager, my anxiety grew. My fears caused me to not be able to sleep at all at night and make me have terrible mental breakdowns. My head would get filled with 1,00000 of thoughts at once and it drove me crazy. With a million things going on in one head, not being able to talk to anyone about it because you didnt even know what was going on in your head yourself, never being able to relax and sit still and enjoy peace and quiet, and always overthinking every situation caused great problems in my life. In my preteen years I was very socially awkward and was always afraid to be infront of people, let alone talk. I could never walk infront of a crowd in fear that I would trip fall or that people would see me and make fun of me. Soon enough the overthinking, the neverending thousands of thoughts, the fears of life and of being not good enough or hated caught up to me. I grew to hate myself. How come I had to overthink everything? Why? Here I was. I had an amazing life. An amazing family, great friends, an awesome home. I was going to a catholic school with great teachers, I had social media and posted about the fun things i've done on the weekend like every other normal teenager. My dad had an awesome job and made good money to support our family more than enough. From the outside- it looked like I had a perfect life. Little did the outsiders know, in my head was a deep dark pit of fear, hatred, and neglect. Fear of life, hatred of that fear, and neglect of myself. 7th grade approached and my life changed forever- thats when the addiction-the habit-began. I rememeber my family getting in a huge fight my Pop Pop had just died and I rememeber feeling that my family hated me. It is normal for parents to say things like "leave. im going to put you up for adoption. I wish i never had you kids." Well, for me, I took it all seriously. I over thought it down to the T. I blamed myself for everything- i truly and surley believed my parents hated me. Seems stupid, right? Well to me, during that time, it was the only thing that seemed true. My parents hated me. And so did I. It was 7th grade the first time I took the razor to my healthy beautiful skin. From that point on, whenever I faced a problem, or was just feeling down, my razor was the answer. Self harming became a habit. For years I continued to self harm- even in high school. In high school the social world took over me. I put everyone before me first. I loved everyone before me first. I remember always thinking everyone hated me and that I was important to no one. Why? Its just how my brain worked- and no one could possibly ever understand. I never ever felt wanted. Because of this, I always tried to please everyone around me. I tried to make them LOVE ME. I tried to make them happy in hopes that I would be happy to0. In the end, it didn't work out at all. In the end, I ended up trying to please people who just time and time again would cause me pain and hurt. When my "friend" would do something mean to me, or trash talk me, I don't turn the other way and cut them out- instead I would try to please them and get them to like me. I'd try to make myself someone they liked. I didnt care how bad they hurt me- i just wanted to be liked. This idea of pleasing everyone around me and never putting myself first caught up to me. Instead of making decisions for myself, I made every descision for the benefit of others around me- even if it hurt me. I put others happiness before me. Before I knew it, I was giving up on pleasing everyone. I changed tactics. Now, whenever anyone hurt me, made me feel awkward or weird, or treated me wrong (even if it was all just made up in my head) I didnt try to please them. Instead, I just took the anger out on hating myself. I gave up trying to get poeple to like me. Instead I fell into a hole- one that was so deep so dark that I became stuck. It came to the point where I was sucicidual. I had nothing to hold on to. I was worthless and thats all id ever be. In my head these negative thoughs and ideas of who I was built up. The idea of me being "no one" became extreme. In my head I was depressed. I wanted to die. I hated myself so much and felt like everyone hated me just as much. I felt like there was something wrong with me. I felt that the world would be better without me if i was gone. If i was gone, there would be no more 10000000's of thoughts going on in my head at once- no more overthinking and being crazy. But like I said before, from an outside perspective, no one would ever guess this. I had the "perfect life" some people would like to say. At the time I had a boyfriend, was in "the cool" friend group, was excelling in both athletics and school, and still had an incredible loving family. BEcause of this, I never talked to anyone- in feat that I would be judged. How could this girl, with the perfect life, be depressed? I was afraid I'd be judged. I kept everything to myself- bottled up. I kept it bottled up in me for so long that it came to the point where it was time for me to explode. I was DONE with faking my perfect life. I was DONE with the pretending. So…It came to the point where I didnt want to deal with the overthinking, the fear of life, the worry that I'll never be something… I was tired of hiding it all. It was then, the night before my 17th birthday, one year ago, when I decided I didn't want to live a year. It was then that I attempted suicide. I remember grabbing as many pills as I could sleeping pills, pain killers, anything I could get my hands on. I remember crying my eyes out so hard to the point where I could barley breath or see (this was normal for me). I remember swallowing the pills and putting a plastic bag over my head and laying on the floor in my room. For once…for once in my life… I laid in peace. Not much longer did my sister barge in to my room screaming "what the hell are you doing?!?!" She ripped the bag off my head and started crying and right away called my mom. THe next thing I know my parents, noelle, and my sister are all in my room. I barley even know whats going on- i can't even talk. I remmeber being rushed to the hospital addmitted to the ER getting 6 tubes of blood taken. I remember laying in the hospital bed in my gown with my parents crying by my side. I rememebr laying in the bed, looking at the clock, and seeing it strike 12:00- my birthday. It was that very moment, that moment when that hour hand on the clock changed, that my life, the way I thought, who I was, changed forever. It was in that moment that I realized I survived- I made it to my 17th birthday. It was something so powerful, something so beautiful. I rmemeber looking at my parents- them crying- coming over to me and wishing me a happy birthday telling me how much they loved me. I rememebr it like it was yesterday. I remember feeling like the most thankful, lucky, loved person in the whole entire world. However, by the time I realized this, it was too late. The damage was done. I was sent (forced) to go to a mental facility- Brooklyn Behaviorl Facility. I remember an ambulence pulling up, me being still so weak. The paramedics came in and took me. Before i left the hospital, the nurse gave me a birthday gift. It was a bag of cookies, a brownie, and candy. It made me smile and for some reason it gave me courage. They placed me on a stretcher and wheeled me onto an ambulence. I was torn away from my parents- they werent allowed to come with me. I remember being strapped down, still really unsure of what was going on, on the stretcher and looking around the dark ambulence. Finally, I arrived at the facility and was placed in an empty room with a desk and two chairs. My mom came in and I was never so relieved. I remember a lady coming in and asking me questions- like an interview, like a test. Then, I remember having to leave my mom. Both of us bawling our eyes out refusing to let go. I shut my eyes, terrified, and when I opened them- she was gone. I was escorted down a hall and put into blue scrubs. When i entered the quarters where the teenagers stayed, the workers came to me and the first thing they did was take my birthday gift from the nurse away from me and throw it in the trash. I remember being freezing cold, sitting by myself in an empty long dark hallway on a chair with a single light above my head. I was crying. For the next ten days I would spend my life in therapy sessions, rooming with a schizophrenic (who talked to herself, hallucinated, sleep talked, and stared and watching me sleep), living with a bunch of girls who were raped, neglected by their family, suicidual, and troubled. I spent my days alone, with no contact to the outside world, not seeing the sun for weeks. I spent my lunches walking past drug addict addult, rapists, and thugs who would stare at me and give me the most terrifying faces. I spent my nights crying myself to sleep on the terrible plastice mattress with only one sheet just wanting to be home in my moms arms. For ten days I was living on the floor next to murdurers and psychos. Some nights sirens and alarms would go off throughout the whole facility signaling a distubrance with one of the adults (i never wanted to know what happened). My days I would witness the girls in my group fight scream and pull each others hair. I would witness lesbians in my group sexually talk about every woman that walked by. I wore the same clothes over and over and over and over. For those ten days, i only drank fruit punch. ANd now, forever, whenever I drink fruit punch, my mind goes back to the place where I never should have ended up.
I came out of that hospital a new person. I am no longer that scared, fearful, anxious girl from before. I am now strong, passionate, and brave. I love myself more than I ever have before. I dont rely on anyone for happiness- just myself. I truly found who I am and who Im supposed to be. I love my family, friends, and my life. I am beyond thankful for everything God has granted me. I have never been so full of life, love, and happiness. I always knew in the back of my mind I wanted to be in the medical field because I wanted to help poeple (which is why i am becoming a nurse). But now I have another, a differnt way, of helping poeple. I can share my story. I can encourage others to speak up- talk- to not be afraid. I can tell people, who are suffering just like I was, to not let that one moment of desperation, that one moment of weakness define who they are. Life goes on, and the only way to make it a happy one is to truly love yourself. My name is Bernadette. And this is my story.