Looking back on my life before I was diagnosed with depression, I can only describe my feeling as SHAME.
Drinking, self harm, men, blackouts, suicidal, and that’s all before the age of 20. Some may say “well that’s just being a teenager” and yes in modern society it’s sad to say that these are more and more becoming prevalent parts in a minor’s life.
In the small community I grew up in I did this to excess in comparison to most- but I think (and to be honest I am not 100% sure of my mindset at the time) I thought it was what I should be doing, what would make me fun to be around. In reality it just made me more isolated and exposed.
Key Markers in time:
Up until I was taken to a Dr (that I hated), I would never cope well with my parents going out- I have no idea when it started as I couldn’t tell you anything much pre age 13/14- my Dr’s think I have blocked out a lot of memories for some unknown reason. The only thing I do vaguely remember is getting so stressed at an Aunt’s house because my parents had gone out to dinner that I made myself sick. I don’t remember much but it had been going on for years and made my parents unhappy, my mum took me to a Dr who upset me so much that from then on all I could think about was not being in my home town and one day emigrating somewhere. That one doctor’s visit instilled a hatred towards my mother that would take a very long time to shake.
At the age of 14 I came close to dying from alcohol poisoning. The circumstances surrounding the situation scare me to think about. But I want to be brutally honest about what I do know- maybe it will help someone not make the same mistakes, or maybe seek help.
What I remember of that night was that I arrived at a friends for a house party (her parents were away I think) with other “friends” from school. Everyone was drinking, nothing really out of the norm with that. I was drinking breezers, I believe, and then at some point had some wine. I don’t remember anything after that. I woke up on my parent’s living room floor with my mum on the sofa watching me.
My parents filled in some of the blanks the next day. My dad arrived at the house to pick me up, but were told by the “friend” that I had set off walking home. My dad saw that alcohol was involved and was obviously worried that I was walking around on my own drunk in the dark, so set off to find me. Not having any success he had gone back to the house party and eventually found out that I was in fact passed out unconscious on the floor in one of the rooms. He took me home and him and my mum commenced feeding me salt water on the floor of the garage to pump my stomach. They were incredibly glad they knew what to do and that a Dr lived in the neighbourhood. Not surprisingly I was banned from seeing this “friend” and my phone was taken off me. As a teenager this all seemed “so unfair”, when really looking back I wish they had been harsher.
What I started to find out about that night makes me physically sick and only came in snippets over the following year. I had started to get visibly drunk at the party and some of the girls had started making coffee and giving me water to sober me up. Others at the party- girls and guys had decided to have some “fun” with me and were switching the coffee for whisky or spiking it and giving me other spirits instead of water. They then decided to use a speakerphone (yes we didn’t have fancy recording devices beyond that then) to record them asking me personal questions and inappropriate questions. I never heard the tape and now I’m not sure if I would ever want to. I am very conscious that I do not know what I said, or what dark secrets I released or even what happened to the tape. It frankly scares me that people can be so evil.
You would think my experiences at the house part would open my eyes- but unfortunately it did & it didn’t. By my mid-teens I was self harming and had moments of suicidal contemplation. The drinking built- I would be in the deeps of hell in my own head and then all of a sudden I would go to a party and for some reason decide I needed to attempt to be the life and sole- getting drunk, flirting etc. When I was 16 I got my first boyfriend, I found the relationship fairly boring but still said “I love you” when he did, I lost my virginity a few months in and when we broke up after 10 months that was when a new extrovert activity took hold. I had always been someone who just wanted to please people- now I thought the route to doing that was sex, more specifically getting blackout drunk and having sex with strangers.
I went on a girls holiday at 18 to celebrate the end of exams and the fact we would all be going in different directions to university in a few months. It wasn’t until recently that I finally told someone (my husband) what happened one night on that trip. I ostracized my friends that night and I couldn’t tell them the truth. We were drinking- a lot (fishbowls). I met a guy in a club that I vaguely think only 3 of us had ended up going to. Things about that night, like a lot of my nights drinking are a little fuzzy. I ended up going off with the guy after telling the girls where I was heading, we started having sex- I think I realised that I didn’t want it fairly quickly, but felt it was to late to say anything, and after all I was a “pleaser”. He ended up doing things that I definitely said no to. I was nearly knocked unconscious at one point. Afterwards I was feeling sick, sore and in a daze- I wandered back to the apartment I was sharing with my friends and had to knock to get in. The next door apartment housed the other 2 girls- one of which answered and was fuming at me, apparently one of the others had left the club as well and left one on her own- I had no idea! But it was all on me and it’s true, I do blame myself that she had to get home alone, it was unfair, unsafe and irresponsible of me. That night I spent the night on the floor of the shower crying, puking and shaking. But yet, I still didn’t learn!
I barely remember the first 6 months of university- I woke up hungover, got drunk and slept with randoms- that was my life, I thought that was how I would make friends- being a party animal. I was so wrong…
Things finally seemed to turn a corner at the start of my second term at University when I started a relationship, which went on to last 6 years. I still got blackout drunk, flirted, danced on bars etc. But no more strangers- thank god.
In that time I became codependent on him, something I had never really been- since early teens I had been very independent and withdrawn for the most part, despite my need to please. Looking back I realise now that the relationship was toxic from the start- he had broken up with his previous girlfriend of a year and started getting close to me in quick succession. It wasn’t for a few years until I discovered he had still slept with his ex in the early stages of our relationship.
I became blinkered by love and the need to keep him happy- paying his rent out of my student loan when he dropped out of school, hearing his colleague from work come to our front door and see me and say he didn’t have a clue he had a girlfriend… and then came the lies…. I should have walked out early on, but my insecurity kept me letting things slide- he would lie about where he slept only to be caught out, or he would go for day trips with a girl, which turned out to be dates. I let it all slide- for the first couple of years.
In the third year I think my bi-polar was coming out in more extremes again, I was back to blacking out and my moods took a more hyper approach- I couldn’t cope with anything, I would be hyper dancing on tables one minute and then screaming blue murder at my boyfriend the next. My insecurity and jealousy started to boil- snapping when his (then) best friend hacked his email account and sent me emails telling me I was not as good as his ex in bed, that I should just kill myself, that I wasn’t worth the oxygen- all written in my ex’s name.
I spent the remainder years of our relationship gradually becoming more and more unhinged, I started to become focused on suicide, drinking, doing anything to turn the thoughts in my head off.
Towards the end he started sleeping at another girls house under the pretence that they were just friends (she became my younger replacement).
Eventually he ended it, and the next day I got taken to the doctors to get help…
So to conclude, over the years my instability grew, it’s a shame that more wasn’t understood when I was younger so that I may not live with so much regret (the above examples are just some of these).
It has really inspired me to want to help people to understand that it isn’t always a bad thing to realise your different and you may need a little help to deal with things.