I MATCHED AT THE HEART-MINDBLOWN PROGRAM!!!!
I exploded. My parents (and the neighbors too) know everything now.
I’m waiting for some leftover pizza to warm up now.
I guess at least I’m not thinking about killing myself?
That’s good, right?
April 7, 2014: I wonder if I’ll ever be happy. I don’t think so. And that’s why I prefer to just go to sleep and never wake up.
Exactly a year ago, on April 8th, I voluntarily spent a week at a psychiatric ward. My diary entry the night before described suicidal thoughts, although not in extreme detail, and it ended with the sentence above. I didn’t have a step by step plan of what I wanted to do, just a general idea, and I had the tools and was more than willing to pull the plug on myself just to make the pain go away. I’m the type of person who can’t plan things to an extreme, or else I’ll never get around to doing them because I get stuck over-analyzing. It’s proven to be of use at times, though, and last year, ironically, it was useful as I ended up in the psych ward instead of….well, you know.
I flipped a few pages of my old diary to see what I had written after being discharged, and I came across the picture they took of me upon admission to the psych ward. I remember one of the nurses asking me if I wanted it on the day of my discharge, and without losing a beat I said yes. I wanted to see my progress. I’d seen dead bodies before. I’d been to funerals and took Gross Anatomy first year of medical school. However, nothing had prepared me for what I saw in that picture the first time I got around to seeing it. My face was pudgy from all the weight I had gained, my eyebrows lopsided, not a single trace of a smile was evident, and finally, my eyes were completely empty. There was no life there. I had never seen a dead person before.
And so, here I am, a year later, after encountering many bumps in my road to recovery and making a few leaps in the right direction. I have many moments where I have the wind knocked out of me again and again, but in general it’s been a decent climb uphill. I’ve come to accept having a diagnosis of severe major depressive disorder without psychotic features, recurrent. I don’t fight it anymore, but in my case that’s proven to be key in my recovery. Fighting it only kept me falling again and again in the vicious cycle. It’s a part of my life. I might have to deal with it more than I’ve already had to or I might get lucky and it’s the last I’ll see of this. I’ll just keep trudging on. It doesn’t stop me either way.
Meanwhile, I lost the Borderline label, saw my eating disordered tendencies turn into a full-blown eating disorder, and finally realized my suspicions of having been abused as a teen were more than just suspicions, they were fact. I feel like I’ve lived so much in so little time. Seriously, I feel older, and tired (but I think that’s just because my sleep sucks and I’m exhausted right now!).
Honestly, it’s been an interesting stage in my life, and as weird as this sounds I don’t think I would trade it for any other thing, ever. I spent 2 years just revving my engines alongside M, and now with R and G I feel almost like a seasoned veteran. Like I said, that’s not to say I don’t have my moments, like my crying yesterday with G (more on that later), but I think I’m finally finding a sense of who I am. I finally feel like I’m on firm, fertile soil again. I’m starting to get a sense of who that 15-going-on-16 year-old girl was, and trying to continue the life she wanted and deserved. And I’m excited to finally be able to make that life a reality. I’m scared, of course, but excited.
And so, today, I wanted to let you all know that in spite of my blog being mostly made up of the downs in this up-and-down journey, I don’t feel dead anymore. I have big dreams for the future and I’m in love with medicine again. So far I feel incredibly comfortable in my decision to specialize in psychiatry, so we’ll see if I actually get to become a psychiatrist in the near future. I think that 15-going-on-16 year-old girl deserves it.
I feel like I’m finally surfing those ups-and-downs in an acceptable manner. Sure, I’m still on Prozac, and I’m still having weekly therapy, but if a wave crashes down on me again, at least I know how to swim this time around.
It’s been about 3 weeks since I truly felt miserable depression-wise. Let’s see if I can keep it up. To be honest it feels a bit weird. I mean, it’s good….but weird.
As for food-wise, it’s a whole other story. The eating disordered thoughts are always there, and a behavior here and there keeps me on edge. This whole week I’ve been home alone and I thought it would be a fasting fest, but for some reason I couldn’t get myself to do it. Skipped meals or snacks here and there, but nothing serious; which of course, makes me feel like a “fat failure”. And just like my previous post I feel like purging my lunch now. *Sigh*
During my appointment with G this past week, she told me she wants to address the food issues on our next appointment. I merely rolled my eyes anxiously when she said that, but really I was terrified inside. I know what G is like, and I know that once she starts tackling food issues with me, things are going to get ugly. To a certain point, it was even funny when she mentioned that because she said she knows I drop a few clues here and there about my food issues but never get around to tackling them. I couldn’t help but laugh, the woman truly is listening to me after all. But honestly, when she said that, a monster kind of woke up inside of me and I got in instant defensive mode. I’m scared. I don’t want to tackle this. I just want to lose weight. Just let me lose weight and be thin. Let me manipulate my body and control….I need this.
Meanwhile, I was relieved of The Ex and memories pertaining to the relationshiT during this whole week. Even during my session with G I think I didn’t even mention much of it. Then yesterday *BAM* flashbacks, memories, disgust, guilt, anxiety….the whole package. It was all triggered by the “security measures” I took with the blog. Mainly I was thinking about my past as a child and how many things have just left me confused over the years and I have yet to understand myself fully.
There’s a lot I don’t remember from my childhood, but I honestly don’t know if it’s a normal degree of “I don’t know” or if it’s something I should be suspicious of. I honestly think it’s the former, and yet, even a bunch of things I do remember are weird to some degree or another. I’m not saying that something happened to me as a child, but I have always found it odd that I would, out-of-the-blue, engage in an abusive relationship with an older man during my teens.
Like I’ve said before, 9-10 years-old was a defining age for me. And yet, I don’t know why. I always just thought it was puberty, and that it hit me hard and relatively early, but somehow I think there’s more to it. Still, I’m really frustrated because: 1) I’ll probably never know if something actually happened, or 2) maybe nothing happened and I was simply a weird little outlier in the developmental sense. I try to piece things about myself together, and yet I always arrive at a dead end.
Then today I read this article. The similarities are just uncanny. Replace the name “Marcy” with “Dana” and you basically have my story. Even the disgusting things he said about not being able to control himself were the same with me….word for word.
I just don’t understand any of it. And instead of dealing with that, which seems so out of control and confusing, I prefer to deal with my weight, which is something straightforward and simple. Become smaller so you don’t grow up. Become smaller so you can remain unique and special. Become smaller so the outside can reflect the fragility of your inside. Become smaller so you can physically feel the emptiness and a weight being lifted off your whole body. Become smaller so you don’t become a sexual object. No boobs, no butt, no thighs, so they don’t look at you with lustful glances.
I’d lost two pounds the other day and was incredibly relieved and relaxed because of it. That same day was my appointment with G. I mentioned it to her, told her what my weight was and she could see my excitement. She kind of tagged along with the conversation but I could see it in her face, her thinking: “What the fuck is wrong with her? She’s already underweight!”
But I’d rather remain in that state of simplicity and control. I’d rather focus on that than trying to piece together a bunch of stupid memories that will simply lead me to the dead end of all dead ends:
That I am simply weird and there is no explanation for what happened or how it happened.
I took a few security measures to feel a bit safer in the big bad internets. Will now be known as Dana, or Borderline Med, from now on. I got a bit paranoid having certain personal identifiers floating around for anyone to see. Any comments containing my previous pseudonym will be moderated (sorry!). You can still comment as much as you like and email me, though.
I’m a bit torn about this, because I would love to be completely honest about my identity on this blog, but the reality is stigma is still very much alive and well, as much as I love to fight that truth…and also mean people will always exist. Nothing happened to trigger this sudden change, I simply didn’t feel safe and want to avoid future problems now that I’m entering that stage in my career where stuff gets really serious.
Also, I’m torn because taking these “security measures” is, surprisingly, a trigger. I’ve already had problems with this in the past, I’m not interested in dealing with this ever again in my life. I’m not talking out of my ass when I say I have experience with mean people and have had to be cautious with my privacy before. Back when I was in the relasionshiT a lot of ugly stuff happened and I saw my privacy disappear in a matter of seconds. Let’s just say it included anonymous phone calls, anonymous letters, personal detectives, borderline-stalking, being taken pictures without my knowing, facebook profile hacking, fake email accounts….stuff fit for a movie. And imagine an 18 year-old going through all that. No wonder I’m screwed up in many ways.
I don’t want to go down that road again, and simply remembering all of that is truly painful. I’m rebuilding my life, my career and my future are finally in my own hands, and I’m free to live my dreams.
And since I’m having a good day, and don’t want to get triggered any further, I’ll leave it at that. Might get around to posting later.
Thanks for sticking with me all this time, I’ve had experience with mean people but the best is when you have many more experiences with good people. Thank you for helping reestablish my faith in humanity, seriously. ❤
When I was a kid my grandmother taught me how to make origami boats. I loved making them. I remember being with her in my grandparents’ kitchen, making origami boats, then taking a tub of water and putting the boats in the tub of water. My grandmother would then sing this song to me, about a small boat that couldn’t set sail. And I would watch all excited, hoping the origami boats would stay afloat. Eventually I realized there was no way a paper boat would float for long in a tub of water, and they were always going to sink. Then my grandmother died…and I grew up…
I feel this story is a perfect mirror image of my life. I float for a little while and then I quickly sink. It’s predictable and it repeats over and over again.
As you can tell by now, I’m not exactly feeling marvelous. I have so much in my head, and I’m still feeling the residual stress from the pediatrics rotation, even if rationally I know it ended and I passed. I felt good for a little while there, and then I quickly sank again. I’ve been sleeping terribly, and obviously that’s the #1 culprit, but I’ve also been dealing with some difficult subjects in therapy with R.
Two weeks ago I went again into panic-attack-like mode during my session with her. We were talking about The Ex, and I was trying to tell her things I hadn’t told anyone before (things I’d only hinted at G and had never even considered to talk about with M). As I went into panic-mode she asked me to look at her, and when that didn’t work she told me to remember that “it” (the abuse) was not happening now, and that I was in my safe place. But I was drowning in panic and I wanted to run and scream. Instead I just sat there, glassy-eyed and staring into nothingness, afraid to move.
I really want to be able to say these things out loud, to address them in therapy, and so far R has been great at pushing my buttons but only enough to not send me running away. However, I just can’t say them out loud, period. She asked me to write in my diary, especially when I’m feeling bad, but even writing them down is difficult. I want to talk to G and R about these things pertaining to The Ex and the A-word, but I have no idea how to spit them out. I want them to know, but I don’t know how to tell them.
And then this week R told me to not be so hard on myself, because I only recently recognized that what happened was abuse. She’s right, but ugh, it’s so difficult when you really just want to get all of this out of your head and be able to live your life. I feel The Ex is like a tumor that keeps growing out of control and in the way is destroying me system by system. He’s the cancer that lies in my head.
And I have this vision of him laughing at me, just laughing hysterically at me, saying: No one’s going to believe you. No one’s going to believe your sad little story because you were just a dumb teenager.
I told R about this “vision” this week. I told her: “I’ve already established and accepted that it was abuse. I’m not in denial anymore…but I need some validation that it’s not just my crazy perception. Lately I’ve been falling in this trap where I keep thinking others have had it worse than me, why am I complaining?”
And R answered…she said that some children go through horrific situations that are more obviously shocking to society, and that my experience was maybe not as shocking because it was more easily camouflaged as something harmless. But, she said, it was as much abuse as the more shocking situations are.
“Yes, it was abuse. And I’m under the impression G agrees.”
I really needed that. I really needed that validation from an external source of wisdom. I needed that validation so I can take The Ex’s laughing face and crush him with the truth: you abuse teenage girls, you sick shit.
All of this and more is in my head these days. These are the thoughts my neurons come up with when I make an origami boat at 10pm on a lonely Saturday night. I really want to go back to simpler times, but no amount of origami boats is going to help me with that. Only facing the truth and dealing with it can keep me afloat and make things simpler…
In the meantime I just keep sinking again and again.
Had other plans for this post. Was originally going to leave an update stating I’ll probably be MIA for the next two weeks, as I have A LOT of studying to do (so much that I’m deeply afraid). But something happened and I think it deserves to be put out in the internet, even if it’s just in my little blog.
Previously, I mentioned how I have a lot of trouble making calls, how it gives me severe anxiety and I avoid them like the plague mostly (unless I’m incredibly relaxed, which almost never happens, or I’m under direct supervision of someone or a patient’s care depends on it and have no choice but to do it then and there). I mentioned, in passing, how I had to call a patient’s mother to set up an interview for a case presentation and how I avoided calling her for almost a month because it gave me such horrible anxiety. I had no problem having an impromptu session with the patient’s father and meeting with him and the patient twice. I was very anxious and it resulted in a “bad day” but was able to manage. Still, calling the patient’s mother was something I couldn’t get myself to do on time.
So, with the pediatrics rotation coming soon to a close, time is running out for the case presentation, which hopefully I’ll have ready for tomorrow. Now, I have to present this case to an attending who’s a big gun at my school’s pediatrics department. She’s a very strict person, but I honestly believe she has the student’s and resident’s best interests at heart. She told me, back in January, that she was probably going to want to meet up with me more than once for the presentation, so I had to give her time to fit me in her schedule.
This all was a huge roadblock anxiety-wise. The simple fact that she’s a big gun really freaks me out, and on top of it she’s really strict and serious. So, that got me off on the wrong foot. Add to that my inability to call the patient’s mother on time because I spent almost a fucking month working myself up to finally be able to do it, and things turned sour pretty fast.
I previously saw this attending in one of the hospital’s hallways and I pulled her aside so I could apologize for taking so long in preparing the case presentation. She seemed to accept my apology and told me to make sure I had the case ready before the end of the rotation. Fast-forward to yesterday and I have the case almost ready, so I emailed her to set up a date for the presentation and discussion we’ll have. In the email I again apologized for my tardiness. I am really embarrassed I had to do that, as it’s honestly never happened to me before. I’ve never before had a problem with deadlines in spite of having anxiety issues.
She responded this morning, letting me know that her agenda was pretty full, and that we would probably be meeting by the end of next week. Her next paragraph is what got to me:
“Remember it’s really important that you separate the dates for your case presentations a few weeks in advance during your rotations. That way, you can guarantee that both you, and your attending, can fulfill your obligations and dedicate the required time so that the case discussion can be a fulfilling experience. The ability to make plans with time in advance is extremely important in our medical profession due to the multiple responsibilities we have; it’s because of this that you should develop it during your medical training and make it a habit.”
Ouch. That really really hurt. Being responsible is something I pride myself in.
I’m still in shock, but I was expecting a response like that, to be honest. I know she’s going to make medical student soup out of me and gobble me up within 5 seconds of beginning that case presentation, whenever it may be. I just have to make sure I don’t break down crying, that I get a passing grade, and don’t get referred for a professionalism concern. That last one really scares the shit out of me because professionalism concerns can destroy your career.
What I feel is a mixture of frustration and anger, but not so much towards her, more towards myself. I know she’s right. However, I can’t help but feel this incredible frustration because if I hadn’t been dealing with anxiety this wouldn’t have been an issue. All because of a stupid phone call.
And to think, the course coordinator (who knows about my hospitalization), told me back in December to reach out were I to face a problem during the rotation. Does being so anxious I start thinking about ways to kill myself count as an acceptable problem? Unfortunately, no.
I wasn’t counting on realizing my being abused for 5 years would happen during this past December. I wasn’t counting on that aggravating my already present problems with men, aggravating my anxiety to sky-high levels I’d never experienced. I wasn’t counting on any of that happening, but shit, life has a way of kicking you in the ovaries. And I’m actually patting myself in the back, more than having self-pity, because I’ve made it this far with those issues in mind without breaking down into a mess like I did last year.
I’d love to excuse my behavior. I’d love to tell this attending, in colorful and unnecessary detail, exactly why I took so long. Not to gain some pity on her part, or her sympathy, but to defend the fact that I am NOT a lazy good-for-nothing medical student who doesn’t know how to plan things in advance and fulfill her responsibilities. Funny thing is, she probably wouldn’t give a shit either way, because as soon as you reveal your inability to be fully responsible was due to “personal reasons” and not some devastating illness like cancer, they don’t give a shit and simply assume you’re an irresponsible liar.
TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS OF ABUSE AND MENTAL ILLNESS, PROCEED WITH CAUTION
And this, people of the blogosphere, is what I would love to tell her in person….brace yourselves:
Hello Dr. Big Gun:
I wanted to address my seeming lack of responsibility recently. I don’t expect you to understand, I simply want you to listen intently to what I have to say, because I can’t accept your well-intentioned criticism without putting up a fight. Sorry, I’m a very defiant little person.
I’ve been struggling with depression for most of my life, but most recently since 2011. I was hospitalized last year due to having a suicidal plan. In December of last year I went back to med school and had no problems dealing with all of this. However, also in December of last year, I finally admitted to myself that I was a victim of abuse.
Seeing as you deal with a lot of young patients who have unfortunately been victims of abuse, I would expect you to empathize and know that recovering from this is very difficult. In my case, the process has resulted in me having some really bad anxiety issues, to the point where I tape my curtains to my windows so neighbors won’t point and laugh at me sitting in my bedroom. I also still get triggered very easily, the most recent example being last Friday when an attending mentioned the words “sexual abuse” and I had to take a bathroom break and cower in a corner because I started having flashbacks.
This has extended to my difficulty with making phone calls. I have always had problems with this, but this recent development in my life has made it practically impossible for me to make phone calls. Thus, my inability to call so-and-so patient’s mother on time so that we could schedule an interview. To put it bluntly, I spent a month mulling over something you do fifty times a day from your office or smartphone with no difficulty whatsoever. Why, you may ask? Because in my case, making phone calls reminds me of all my deeply ingrained insecurities, thanks to past bullies and even my family’s lack of understanding from a young age.
Now, going back to the abuse…I’m sure you, as a human being yourself, have your own set of personal problems to deal with. Mostly, they don’t affect your everyday life, but sometimes they do, right? In my case, this has been a problem as of late, seeing as I was informed of three cases of sexual abuse in the ER while I was rotating there. That’s three cases in two weeks, and those are only the ones who actually file a report. Usually, I don’t have a problem dealing with this, but lately it’s been affecting me too much, seeing as I identify a lot with these patients and I am only beginning to process my own experience of abuse. In the future, I’ll be able to deal with it more efficiently, and responsibly, as you so eloquently put it, but not now. Right now, what I need is a bit of self-compassion in this recovery process.
TRIGGER WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS
I don’t expect you to understand my having a really shitty and anxiety-laden day after getting triggered and thinking of my abuser taking my hand and putting it down his pants so I could feel his disgustingly moist and erect penis at the tender age of 16, confusion and fear running through my mind as he tilted his head back in his egotistic pleasure trip. I don’t expect you to understand my being triggered and having flashbacks of little kids, big kids, and even adults, calling me ugly or a slut behind my back or to my face. I don’t expect you to understand how I was berated by my abuser for not being able to swallow his semen and how he made it a point to make me feel pathetic and insignificant for having feelings and emotions. I don’t expect you to understand what it feels like to not want to have sex but keep “going with the flow” because you’re afraid your abuser will hurt you emotionally. I don’t expect you to understand being completely naked inside a parked car in a parking lot while your fully clothed abuser fingers you, feeling incredible shame and wanting to run away. Unless you’ve been through the same things, there’s no way you’ll understand, and that’s ok.
What I do expect you to do, however, is to have a little bit of compassion and empathy for me, because I am going through the first stages of a very difficult process. I will accept your criticism graciously because I know I was wrong in letting this anxiety issue fester and not calling for help. What I will not accept is the not-so-subtle subtext of your email where you practically state that you think I am lazy and irresponsible and that is why I haven’t been able to keep up with the deadline. Sorry about that, I was too busy thinking about the times my abuser shoved his penis inside of me without my consent and I had to push him off.
I’m sure that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth. I am a responsible person, and I take deep pride in that. However, I am sorry for having faltered this one time and giving the impression that I was careless.
Trust me, “careless” is not a word that describes me at this very moment. Unlike your other medical students, I actually took the time to meet up with this patient and his parents twice, called his mother to make sure I had every detail about his history down to a T, interviewed his teacher and his nurses, and went through every page of his 4-inch wide record (outdated lab reports included). Unfortunately, much like the patient you assigned me who has a life-threatening “physical” illness, life has dealt me some shitty cards, and I’m trying to make the most out of them. I’m sorry in my case it took a little longer than you wanted.
We are all human, after all, and my current inability to fulfill your strict standards doesn’t give you reason to judge. I will not accept your subtly accusing me of laziness. If I were lazy I wouldn’t even have bothered with apologizing for my tardiness in person and via email.
I know you have your story too. This is my story.
PS: Like I said in the beginning, please excuse my random posting lately. Things will hopefully be back to normal the 1st of March, long-promised posts included.