As members will know, I have a policy of encouraging members to submit unique, original and previously unpublished pieces for publication as a ‘Guest Post’ here on the guild’s blog. And I have always been delighted by the response in both the submissions that I have received and the feedback that these have generated.
Today’s ‘Guest Post’ covers a very important topic which comes by way of a personal story.
It is one which I think will resonate with a lot of folk – especially our younger readers. And, given my article of yesterday concerning Mental Health in Children and young people I am extremely grateful to ‘D’ for sharing this with us at this time…
I Don’t Know How To Make It Better.
Other people wear their scars on their skin. I wear mine on my mind.
My inner voice was my torturer.
Though to be fair it was only repeating the words it heard outside.
Words that stung the first time. Rolling over and over in my mind, and as it went, stinging just as hard as the first time I heard it.
You know, the usual:
– gross (like a porn star)
– this is why you have no friends
Perhaps nothing would have stung so badly if it wasn’t backed up by social proof. No one liked me.
I was invisible except when I was being recognised for something negative.
When a drama substitute teacher couldn’t control the class, I was the scapegoat. Not because I was acting as badly as everyone else, but because I was talking to two girls instead of being in my group, which were at that time rolling on the floor trying to use markers on each other.
The girls I was talking to weren’t in their groups either. No one else got punished though, but for me they had to bring back a special punishment that wasn’t even used any more.
I had so much social proof that I was worthless. They’d write all sorts on my report cards, and my mother would agree with them.
– everybody cannot be wrong
In fact even when I had managed by some miracle to stay out of trouble, my mother would read the unimpressed cards, the ones hinting at my unsatisfactory-ness, and she would make a big deal out of it. And I would die more and more on the inside.
And then when she was gone and my sister was gone, and I was alone, I’d hurt myself. Not physically. I’d just repeat everything I heard, everything implied but not explicitly stated, everything backed up by social proof.
She was right. He was right. They were all right. I’m not sure how the last of me died. I don’t know if it was from something someone did to me, or something the torturer repeated long after I had heard it. Or maybe nothing happened and I just gave way out of sheer exhaustion from all the sustained trauma.
Nobody said any kind words to me in those days. Not my mother, not my sister, not my father. And my friends? Well nobody liked me remember? I didn’t have any friends. Not really anyway. I was the side character at best. Hardly the friend.
So I started listening to music. Like it was some kind of drug. Even when nothing was playing I was playing something in my head. When people spoke I sang the words they said to the tune of a similar song. Of course I was called annoying, told to shut up, I can’t even sing etc. But at least I was sane. Sort of.
That holiday my mother tried to take my music away from me. A laptop has no place in the kitchen. I just wanted to listen to music while I had to wash the dishes. I couldn’t do it it otherwise. I couldn’t do anything otherwise. I had finally found a voice to drown the ones
torturing me in my head. If I didn’t have the music they would kill me. And not just on the inside this time.
So my mother “washed her hands of me”. She said she would never buy me another laptop. And I would regret wrestling with her for it. I shouldn’t have worried. Things were exactly the same. She never spoke to me when I was at school. Or maybe she did and she stopped. She would probably say that’s what happened. But it made no difference to me. I was occupied with fighting my demons.
These scars, that I have. They matter now. They still matter. If you could see the mind, you’d see large raised scars. And they can’t just fade away. They probably never will. Because the cuts were too deep. Because two or three or maybe four years after the laptop incident my mother told me I was ‘mentally insane’. Those weren’t the exact words she used, I’ve worked extremely hard to forget them. That mellows the effect a lot. If you manage to forget the words even when the meanings stick.
Because every time I have a goal to write something down I remember the time I was accused of cheating and disqualified from the writing competition. I remember that I’m not allowed to win at anything. That’s not for people who look like me, who sound like me, who act like me who walk like me who think like me.
Because I see the discomfort in the eyes of people who talk to me. They can’t really see my scars but they can see them. I can’t make new friends without lying to them. Without hiding from them.
Because every time I have a goal to do something or be something I am paralysed by an emptiness that cripples me. It’s like the emptiness has taken over the bad voices. The big deep gashes have healed. The blood has dried, the muscle connected back together. Yet there is a deafening silence where the voices used to be. A silence that was never there before. I imagine at one point they were saying kind things. But they’ve all gone.
So I can’t get out of bed if it’s not for class. Groceries? Forget about it. Gym? Sport? Societies? Hanging out? Ha. ha. ha.
Well things have gotten better now. Sometimes I write. Nothing like before but at least it’s something. And I go out to see friends. But I don’t hear the good things they say in my head when they’re gone.
And I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know how to bring the good voices back. I don’t know how to make my relationship with my mother better. I feel like I have to cut out half the things she says to me because they’re from the reel of the past era. Something the torturers would have repeated to me until I drowned in the blood from the gashes they made.
I can’t explain it to her because she doesn’t understand. Because she’s not trying to hurt me. Because my confidence is so easy to break down. Because she’s my mother and she loves me. Because (she thinks) she knows who I am. Because when I try to explain my sister gets angry that I’ve upset her. Because they both have logical reasons why they’ve said something that hurt me. I don’t know how to make it better.
[Editor’s Note: Again my thanks go out to ‘D’ for sharing this with us and I hope members will take time to comment on it. As someone who grew up experiencing mental health issues from a very early age – albeit at a time when mental health and mental illness were far less understood than they are today, and thus dealt with in an extremely poor way – I understand (at least to some degree) the challenges that they can present to anyone – especially they younger sufferers.
I feel this is such an important issue and I have to say that I believe this piece to be both a valuable resource and very well written. ]