You know what I seem to have discovered recently? Much to my confusion and subsequent awe at the capabilities of the human mind… I figured out what caused me to start becoming suicidal before the age of 8 and why it developed into a pattern of chronic suicidal ideation throughout my adult years. ( spoiler – cliche childhood issues.)
You know what triggered the whole damn thing? Well, it was actually many little traumas over a short space of time that are super complicated and I won’t go into right now… But ultimately they culminated in the same thing – a lack of control and a fear of death.
Yep, being suddenly thrust into an unknown world I couldn’t control and then having a series of unfortunate experiences then a trauma that made me terrified of a particular type of death and then nightmares and flashbacks of said trauma, not being able to process that fear (due to the fact that I was 6years old and didn’t want to burden my mother who was going through her own stuff) is actually what slowly started me down this long and windy lesser travelled path of becoming chronically suicidal.
Short version: I choose when and how I die, then I can’t possibly die that way. = Control.
I also somehow figured out how to dissociate when I was frightened and got just good enough at it to block out my specific fear totally and as long as no 3rd party brought it up specifically (in any context, at any point over the next 27 years of my life) I could block it from my daytime thoughts adequately and had perceived CONTROL over it. Dissociation became something I would subconsciously use to varying degrees when I couldn’t handle or understand what was happening around me and I still do, but now that I know what it is I can be mindful if I notice it starting to happen and question the deeper reasons for it.
I got a little older (age 7ish) and a little plump and started getting bullied by other kids at school for being fat, I had no idea about the relationship between the extensive amount of junk food I ate and my weight gain yet so I took ‘control’ over the situation in the only way I could come up with and bullied myself first. I used my dissociation talents to not only watch from afar when I was being beaten or teased but somehow created an almost seperate part of myself that took the beatings. She looked at me as I believed the bullies saw me and could handle these punishments without crying as she fully believed I/we deserved them. I used her presence to tear myself to shreds emotionally until I believed everything she told me whole heartedly- she had control over my thoughts about my appearance and self worth and if I had no self esteem left, then none could be taken from me by anyone else – so I thought I had control too.
Another long story short, I used to hear voices – or more like hear random thoughts that didn’t belong to me. Mum thought they were spirits communicating to me because a.) she was into that type of thing and b.) some of the stuff I said that I couldn’t have known had actually happened. Around age 8 I heard a voice that told me I was going to die at a certain age, as my mother had told me I was psychic, I believed the voice and it scared the crap out of me, but of course I couldn’t tell her because I didn’t want to upset her. Around that age the bullying was bad my self esteem was non-existent and I fell into the first real depression I remember having, I decided for the first time that I wanted to kill myself. If I was dead the sadness would stop so repeatedly tried all I could think of at that age but of course I failed to hold my breath until I passed out let alone passed away. Around then my Mum was in a terrible car accident and nearly died. I remember feeling really scared that she could die and guilty because I was the one who wanted to.
Mum recovered, that deep depression left but every six months or so the depression fairy visited and the familiar overwhelm came back. As I got older and more knowledgeable, I became more and more comfortable with the idea of wanting to end my life until it became almost a fantasy, a security blanket. I would plan out the various ways I could do it without getting caught, how I would make it look like an accident so I didn’t upset my parents. Making the unnecessarily intricate plans was enough to fill my desperate urge to self annihilate without actually needing to go through with it. Plus I was terrified that I would mess it up and be labeled as an attention seeker – a fate I felt was much worse than death.
Age 12 – watched from a dissociative distance as I was sexually assaulted by someone I thought was a friend, my fix? Promiscuity, I guess subconsciously I thought if I put myself out there first then nobody could take my body from me against my will.
Age 13- Hating my teenage mood swings (what was unbeknownst to me bipolar disorder rearing it’s ugly head) embarrassed myself and my friends all the time and then hypomanically thought it was a good idea to shave my head *facepalm*, friends gave up on me so met some new ones, formed a misfits group and started wagging school, drinking and smoking pot – rebellious control.
Age 14 – Overweight, bullied constantly along with the rest of the misfits, with the self esteem of a dead slug I decided to finally take charge of my body and show the world what I was made of, who I could be. Result? Full Blown Anorexia – once again, control…
Age 15 – quit school, Age 16 – moved out, Age 17 – 1st baby, postnatal psychosis…
I’ll stop there, you can buy my book if you’re interested in the sordid details of my soap opera life (if I ever publish the damn thing!) Yeah, so I wasn’t exactly the poster child for a perfect teenager and it’s a bloody miracle I didn’t end up a junkie or dead, but now the point I was actually trying to get to when I started writing this post is just how spectacularly things can spiral out of control, and perhaps my life would have looked quite different if I had only felt okay about telling my Mum I was scared back when I was 6 or that I needed her to help me when I was bullied, or that I needed boundaries when I was a teenager or that I needed her to make the hard decision and get me proper help for my Anorexia…
My Mum and Dad were really nice, non-judgemental, loving parents too so realising that so many of my issues can in fact be traced back to not feeling able to share my fears in early childhood and a lack of boundaries in later childhood is confusing for me. They always seemed to hold me in such high regard and treated me as an equal and a friend so I carefully hid most of what was going on with me because I was so scared of hurting or disappointing them when what I really needed was some firm parenting. It scares me because I fear how much I have messed up my own children with all that I have put them through.
Sorry, this turned into a ramble rather than anything informative or helpful… Opening up Pandora’s Paradox if you like. I’m glad things ‘went wrong’ the way they did because otherwise I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband and children or all of you guys. Perhaps I just needed to think over things and vent today, but I guess it’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to 😉
Did childhood fuck you up?