Chapter 2: Big Brother

The sun was setting over the small lake side town in which the hospital resided. I wasn’t sure of how much time had passed as the only clocks were located in the commons. I could tell evening was approaching because it was getting darker and I was getting anxious. I found the lights and turned them on. Looking around the room, I noticed peculiarities about the place. The mirror in the bathroom wasn’t glass, the toilet paper was placed in a hole in the wall, and every hook in the room collapsed with just a slight amount of pressure. “These people really think of everything,” I thought to myself as I settled back on my bed. My stomach was telling me it’s time to eat something. The man that was packing the hall seemed to have stopped, so I figured now was my chance.

Slowly, I crept out of my room as if I was in a horror film. I walked on the far left side of the hallway looking in to every room as I passed. I got to the front desk expecting to be greeted with a million questions, however, no one said a word. Relieved, I went into what Nancy referred to as the “Day Room” and looked around. There was a large TV that was sealed behind a plastic wall. It hosted some sort of game show at the far end of the room. To the right of the tv sat a small book case. Couches and chairs surrounded this small area to give it a living room appearance. Behind the couch was the table. It was long and stretched the rest of the length of the room. A couple people sat at the table either coloring or reading. There were games and puzzles along the wall to the right of me.  Just above the games sat a large window that gave nurses and care providers a clear view of all of our movements. This made me feel like I was a child in a not so pleasant way. Behind me, stood a refrigerator. It stated that the contents were for patients only. I opened the fridge to ease my curiosity only to be disappointed by what I found. Cheese was my only food choice and it looks as if they had enough milk and juice boxes to start a school lunch program. I grabbed myself a chocolate milk and sat down at a secluded table that was separate from the main one. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone so I figured this solo table would be my best bet.

I continued to observe in silence all of those around me. The man previously seen pacing the halls now sat at the large table reading a newspaper. A smaller Latino woman sat kiddy corner to him. She was coloring some sort of adult coloring book page. At the opposite end of the large table sat a larger, unkempt, man that was mumbling something to himself. He frequently used hand gestures and threw his head on the table. At the time, I was more afraid of him than I was concerned for him as to what he might have been going through. The only other person left in the room was a man that was sitting in a chair near the television. Though he was near the tv, it was clear he wasn’t watching it. He was staring coldly at the floor. Sporting black hoodie with the hood up, he was puffing on his e-cigarette. Now, I don’t know if it was his sheer look of doom and dread or my growing curiosity, but suddenly I knew I was not the only one here that felt so alone.

Time seemed to stand still whenever I had a moment alone so I don’t know how long I was lost in my thoughts for, but eventually, the room started filling with more and more people. Barb and Nancy walked in, quickly spotting me. They sat at the only two seats left at my little table. I let them talk and ask questions. I had little interest in having a real conversation. I only paid attention when what they were talking was relevant to me, such as, what time meals come. I also quickly gained interest as they detailed out visiting hours and pointed out a wall phone I could utilize.

Our time talking was halted when a tall well dressed man with shaggy blond hair entered the room. I had remembered seeing him sitting behind the front desk earlier. He turned off all the lights and started talking about this thing called “mindfulness” and how we were about to practice it. I was skeptical of the whole ordeal. What made it even worse is he started the practice with a singing bowl. I was getting weird a voodoo vibe and I it made me super uncomfortable. The good thing was that during the practice, everything was quiet and still for once. The next good thing, was that after we were done, dinner was served.

Very slowly uncovered all my food. Bland chicken salad and wheat bread is what was on the menu for me tonight. I was definitely going to take Barb up on her offer of showing me the menu. I took a few bites but I just shoved the rest aside. I cleared my spot at the table and walked to my room.

I sat down on the bed, this time feeling a little lighter as I was growing more familiar with my surroundings. I looked out the window again to see the town alive. I watched out the window as if it was a blockbuster movie. I let my imagination drive the stories that popped into my head. From this high, I felt like this was the Sims in real life. The only thing is, out there– it was real life, but in this room, was some sort of nightmare.

The hours passed slowly and I was excited to see my parents during visiting hours that evening. We cried and laughed. I told them all the strange things I encountered. They told me they loved me and that this is the best way for me to get better. And after what felt like only a few minutes, the clock struck eight and visiting hours were over. I hugged them goodbye and they reassured me it was all going to be alright. I put my brave face on and watched them leave, the secured doors locking behind them.

My parents had pick up some cloths from my apartment so I went back to my room to make it feel just a slight bit homie. I wanted to shower and change out of my jeans. I felt gross on the outside which didn’t help my internal feelings any. I walked down towards the nurses station to ask about shower supplies. I was realizing that almost every patient was wearing the same blue colored scrub pants. As they walked past me in the hall, I wondered if I could have a pair. I asked the people at the desk and they handed me a small cup that I could dispense shampoo into, a small bar of soap, a pair of scrub pants, and another pair of sock. It was the little things that made me happy. A nurse walked me to the linen closet showing me where I can get towels or extra blankets at night. She pointed out the shower rooms were located across the hall from the patients rooms. She left me as I walked into one and shut the door. The door didn’t lock for my own safety they said, but I would have felt safer if no one could walk in on me naked. Regardless, I tossed the cloths aside and stepped under the warm stream of water. I was washing away everything that had happened today and I wanted to walk out of there with a new attitude.

After my shower I pulled on the scrubs and threw on a dirty t-shirt they must have grabbed off the floor. I walked into the calm day room and went straight for the bookshelf. I picked one out and brought it back to my room. If I had to be locked in here, I might as well make the best of it. I was on a mental vacation and this is exactly what I needed.

After a short time reading I drifted to sleep. I had shut the door when I came into my room and I remember waking up to find it halfway opened. Every 15 minutes or so shoes would squeak into my room and squeak right back out. They were like big brother, always watching.


Check out the first chapter HERE

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Lukewarm Memories

So you know the feeling you get when you start reminiscing about years gone by? That warm gentle feeling of nostalgia that washes over you like a wave. You know, that feeling you get when you hear an old song, see an old item, or go to a place you haven’t frequented in some time. I generally love that feeling. Remembering gives me a warmth.

Unfortunately, tonight.. remembering feels cold.

I’m not sure how my brain came to this place. I was thinking of such good days and good times. Those memories life’s my head with joy. That is, until I found conflict in my memories. I found bad things in a good memory. Can it still be a good memory if it is filled with bad things? Should I still hold on to these types of memories or work to let them go altogether?

Here is an example. I remember spending many summers on Lake Michigan at my Grandpas property. I think so fondly of that place. I remember imagining growing up to take my husband and kids there. Alas, that never can happen. Now should this negative effect such a positive memory? No? Well here is a harder one.

One of my favorite things about high school was how extroverted I was. I loved being social, hanging out at friends houses, going parties, and honestly doing some things I know I should feel guilty about. However when I remember some of these times, I still find a sense of warmth. I’m glad I had those experiences because I think they shaped me into a well rounded person, I’m even thankful for some of the memories I have with some less than wholesome people. Shouldn’t I inherently dislike the memories if the I dislike the people?

Do you see why I’m conflicted? I don’t want to give up these parts of my past. I often feel like in order to heal, I must erase certain things completely out of my life. Problem is.. I don’t want to erase everything out of my life.

Of course I want to erase some terrible awful detailed memories that come to haunt me. However, to erase people, places, or things would take away a lot from what makes me, me.

I think I made some pretty poor choices over the years. I also think I have made some extremely wise choices over the years.

So, should I be in conflict? Should I let go of people who hurt me? Should I even let go of the memories we have shared (especially good ones)? Should I continue to hold on?

I don’t have the answers. I wish I did. All I can do is keep being strong and being the best version of myself.

Good and Bad Days

I honestly hate thinking about healing or being in remission. It terrifies me to no end. I’ve heard it described like a constant upward moving roller coaster. It has highs and lows but it is steadily moving up. The problem is a huge word that I hate to think about. Relapse

Relapse happens every time I think about grabbing a knife, crashing my car, or just a passing thought that I hope I never wake up. Each and every time I start to spiral, I feel like I am back to square one. I know this isn’t true, but if healing exists so does relapse.

Perhaps I like the idea of being sick and I hold on to my illness like a security blanket. Perhaps that means I am still very sick.

Regardless, I think that instead of thinking I’m getting better and hope I don’t relapse, I will start thinking in terms of good and bad days. So the past 3 days have been bad and today has been a good day. If I track everyday as a good day or a bad day, I feel it will help me remain more comfortable with my progress. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to have good days. This way of tracking my my health helps me take my emotions out of it.. which is obviously a a hard thing for me.

I judge myself so harshly. I think we all do. The problem is when I become paranoid about every single thing I do being wrong. It becomes this self fulfilling prophecy. I feel judged, I judge myself more harshly, I look for ways people could judge me, I feel judged. It’s a cycle. A deadly cycle.

What do I hate most? The never knowing. It’s like I’m constantly living my life on the edge. A good day could become a bad day at any second. Even this thought scares my to the point of wishing I could just give up. Today was a good day but I hate thinking that at any moment it could make a turn.

How am I supposed to live a normal life. How am I supposed to hold a job? Buy a house? Have children? I’m living in fear of my own brain. My own body wants me dead. That’s why I have to try so hard to take it one day at a time. When that is too much, one hour or one moment at a time. I’m tired, no… exhausted just trying to get through each and every day one moment at a time. But what other choice do I have? Certainly not a good one. I must continue this mundane existence because that’s what I am supposed to do, but why?

In 200 years, my name will only be a name on a gravestone is some cemetery. Hopefully, that gravestone will reflect many, many years of life. Even though “hopefully” is hard to say when I dance with the thought of death so often. Right now, I’m not living for myself. I’m living so I don’t hurt others. That’s a daunting fact to face. So I’ll keep thinking about my good days and bad days. I’ll live moment by moment. I’ll live. Even if I really wish I didn’t have to.

What’s the Point

I’m not going to sit here and lie about why I haven’t written in a while. This has always been a place I can clear my head space. Lately it’s not that I haven’t needed it as much as I have found other outlets. Not to say this isn’t also a great one. But hey, I’m not here to excuse myself. I’m here for one reason now.

I’m probably a freak right? Like what I’m about to say might blow some people straight out of the water. As some may know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Month and many are voicing out about suicide prevention. Let’s talk about that. Last year, I was right there with them, screaming with all my might. Now, I look at all of these stats and information pamphlets and it all just doesn’t click in my head.

Maybe it’s because to me, Suicide, is the most attractive word. I imagine most cringe when they hear it spoke. But me? I listen to it. I let it slowly waft into my ears and roll down my spine. If depression is a prison then suicide is my get out of jail free card.

I know all the things people will say when someone is thinking about suicide. I know. I’m not ignoring those things either. I don’t have a plan or even intention. However it’s something that I can’t rule out as an option. I wish I could but truthfully, I think that would make every single day that much more unbearable.

I don’t care if I make sense. If not one person reading this understands what I’m going through then the world is just that much of a better place. Denying my pain seems to be part of my treatment lately, but it’s not something I can do in my own time. I know my pain and my husband sees it. My healing is stagnant or progressively getting worse.

Why am I even writing this? Is their much of a point but to clear my mind? Perhaps someone will read it and relate. If so, please let me know because I feel completely and utterly alone.

Can You Hear Me Now?

It has been a while since I have posted publicly to my blog. At times I feel it is best my thoughts remain private, but right now, I only feel I need my voice to be heard.

I don’t know how many tines I have written about the invisible terrors mental illness causes. I have probably spoken on this topic far more than I could count. One thing I often don’t talk about though sexual assault. Now for those who may be triggered or have a hard time reading about these types of things, I do encourage you stop now. I would never want anyone else to relive trauma.

Now, every form of abuse I have suffered still causes me problems in my life. This very specific form of abuse however hurts me in ways I can’t even comprehend.

I want to tell a brief story. There was a young man who came to my work place looking for a home. Now, to everyone else, he probably seemed normal. If anything, maybe he seemed to be a tad bit conceited. To me, he was different. This man’s personality, his actions, & his mannerisms flipped a switch in my head. In my mind, I have seen him before. Even though I probably had never actually met him, my mind knew him. My mind recognized his mannerisms and set off a warning alarm. My body’s fight or flight defenses turned on because all of a sudden, It wasn’t a stranger. This man wanted to hurt me, degrade me, rape me.

I don’t know him and he probably is an okay guy, but from past experiences, my mind and body thought this man was threatening. It pulled to mind gruesome memories and details that I never wanted to think. Now, do you want to know the worst part? It was noon and I still had to work six more hours before I could go home and cry.

One of the worst feelings a sexual assault victim can feel is degraded and unheard. My mind screams internally and my body feels numb. Those same describing words could be used to describe several of the sexual assaults I have survived. I’m fighting this deadly feeling and I can’t say a word.

Why don’t I say something? Well, times like these happen more often than I care to admit and if I said something every time, I would surely turn into the boy who cried wolf. That is why I stay silent. I keep quiet until I get to a time that my body produces a physical reaction: sobbing, yelling, convulsions, hair pulling, etc. I wait until this happens because I know people will see something is actually wrong. They will be able to hear me. They will be able to understand. It’s like my mind is screaming “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!?”

I hate living life like this. I’m in constant fear. I wonder if anyone can relate. My therapist suggested I get a doctors note so if I feel unheard, people will believe me. My everyday life consists of trying to stay calm and trying to remain normal. I practice many coping skills throughout the day just to function.

Sometimes it’s even worse after I go to therapy because it brings things up that I would rather ignore. I have been hurt too much and I’m mad that it’s able to control me. I’m mad it can hold me hostage. I’m mad it can take me away from my work. I’m mad that it effects my intimacy with my husband. My mind is mad and now it’s screaming at all the men who hurt me “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?”

That is why I wanted to make this public. I want people that know me, to hear me. I want them hear the silent screams for help. I want others who read it to relate or to hear others. Think of the four closest women to you. Now pick one. Statistically one in every four women are sexually assaulted in their lives. Let our voices be heard. Because sexual assault isn’t just a “me too” Facebook post and then let’s all forget. Sexual assault is a monster that devours its victims daily.

So this goes out to those who feel like they can’t be heard. And I ask those around me, can you hear me now?

Waging The War Behind My Face and Above my Throat.

The war for the brain is a fight that is hard to win. For starts, you are fighting your brain by using your brain. How do you fight off the flu using the flu? I’m my case, my mind is constantly under the control of a mafia of sorts. This mafia has one goal, to destroy and kill. The Mafia stand guard at all hours though anyone that saw me wouldn’t know it. Their favorite time to attack is when I’m alone or at night. They see quiet and darkness as their greatest ally. My brain can put up a fight, but after a while the attacks drain me. Imagine being stabbed in the shoulder and it starts to heal a little but then you get stabbed in the shoulder again, over and over, and this open wound never has a chance to fully heal so it begins to fester and get infected. Now the simple stitches won’t work and you need to find medication and refuge to stay away from that damn man that keeps ripping your shoulder back open. The thing about the brain is no one can see the wound, no one knows what’s happening with it, and there is absolutely no way to turn off your brain. Trust me I have tried. I could sleep 18 hours a day to avoid thinking; to avoid feeling. I could distract myself for hours but the second I’m alone, the second I try to take a breath, I’m being attacked in all directions. Depression is not some “oh I’m sad, just get over it” Depression is a war. I’m not fighting sadness. I’m fighting a battle that has left me as good as dead This mafia will not give in until either they are destroyed or I am destroyed. Am I’d be a fool to say this is easy, but I’d also be a fool to give in to the fight. Not this time. No, this time, I have far too much to live for.

How Porn Helped Destroy my Life

This is a huge thing to talk about, shameful even.  Last night I read an article about porn destroying relationships.  I have read I lot of articles similar to that.  The Fight the New Drug campaign is raising awareness about how harmful Porn is.  I have a story that I think should be told, regardless of how ashamed I am of it.

I grew up pretty innocent to the world.  I knew a little about sex from some videos we watched, but I hated ever trying to talk about my curiosity with my parents out of embarrassment.  So when I was twelve or thirteen, with the internet now at my disposal, I wandered into a world that changed my life forever.

At first, it was pure curiosity.  I have to admit that figuring things out is probably fairly normal.  Things went wrong when reading story’s and seeing pictures turned to video. Knowing very little about what sex was, these videos were truth.  They showed me not only sex, but what a relationship between a man and a woman was like in private.  This is why several years down the road, when I was in an abusive relationship, I perceived it as normal.

I became obsessed with this idea that my worth came from what men thought of me.  It started out with just wanting to be liked.  When I perceived a man liked me, I became open to him.  Then if he ever did something that I now realize no man should do to a woman, I would accept it and move on.

The result of this was abuse and eventually the first time I was raped. You would imagine the after all that, I would see reality, but unfortunately, as Porn still continued to be I my life; I would constantly see unhealthy relationships.  I would crave the attention of a man, but I was unaware of how to actually obtain it.

Fast Forward a few years.  Now I am in the pit of an aweful bout with depression.  My faith in God (the only thing I held onto during my college years) was failing.  My life was deprived of its meaning.  I needed a way to feel better. I was completely and utterly desperate.

That is when I turned to men.  When I talk about my years of fighting mental illness, many are surprised when I say that my ‘rock bottom’ wasn’t even when I attempted suicide. That is because, it was in this period of my life that I actually felt dead.  Death would have been a lesser evil than the things I experienced.

So rock bottom started with this. Turning to the online dating app Tinder, I searched for love.  Instead of love, I found desperate men.  Some were straight about wanting a one night stand.  Others were more subtle. Like the first guy I invited over while I was home alone. (I’ll mention that at this point I was living with my parents as a way to control my environment to keep me from suicide.) All he said he wanted was to dance, I guess I was to blind to realize he insinuated so much more from those words.  He started kissing me, pulling on the bed.  This progressed quickly and before I even had a chance to understand it all, he finished pulling off the condom and drove away.  I was so unsure in that moment how I felt. We had sex, that meant he liked me.  I was on top of the world.  That is until, I tried to message him on tinder later that day and I realized he had blocked me.

After that, I quickly turned back to the thing that made me happy to try again.  The next couple weeks are an unforgettable haunting blur of hooking up with someone, being happy, then getting crushed to a new low when he left.  I started giving my body in exchange for attention.  I was a prostitute.  One after another, different men drained me of any true happiness and destroyed me.  Nobody even knew the trouble I was in because on the outside I was happy.

It wasn’t until a vey scary night in a sketchy motel room that I realized I needed help.  I arrived and he looked nothing like his picture.  He had a thick accent to which I still can’t place.  He reaked of whisky.  The moment I walked in he locked the door.  He started undressing me without even a hello.  That’s when I realized what was happening.  He grabbed my arm so tightly I was bruised.  He held me so I couldn’t move. He spat on me and degraded me.  I was fearing my life.  After two rounds with me I was able to escape when someone knocked on his door.  I cried the whole way home.

I told my friends who were very concerned and I got help.  My parents had to find out at the hospital, I could hardly face them.  I was angry they knew. I was angry at myself. I was angry with God.

Once I got out of the hospital a week later, I knew two things: I was lucky I didn’t get pregnant or have any STDs and more importantly, I was lucky to be alive.

Now, a few years later and I still know I’m lucky to be alive. I think back to how I thought sex meant love and how that ultimately drove me to do extremely stupid things.  Now after lots of healing from Jesus, therapy, and friends.  I can now tell the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship.  I’m able to look at my boyfriend and not fear him because I know the root of his love is not surface level.  I’m able to praise God for freeing me from what could have been my death.

So there is my story.  I dislike Porn for many reasons, but the way it destroys lives is why I believe we as a society need to fight it.  My story as horrible as it is, could be considered tame in comparison to many others. I don’t want my future children  to live in a world where a ten year old can access it.  That’s why we need to fight it.