Abuse, Alcoholism and Mental Health

Like many out there, I am a product of a destructive environment. I got to witness drunken, inter-family murder attempts and have had to call law enforcement out a couple of times. Not fun.

It’s taken me many, many years to come to a point where I am ready to let go. Forgiving is the hardest thing to do when you don’t understand why such horrible things happened and why they were allowed to continue even when you begged surrounding adults (family, school) for help. Heck, I begged to be removed by CPS and was told I had to show up with bruising in order to be taken seriously.

Um, right. I – an elementary school kid – am supposed to stay still and let my ax throwing, shotgun-shooting-at-Grandma, table flipping, lit-votive-to-the-head smashing family hit me?! [Yes, I did see these things first hand!]

Moving forward a few years into the junior high/high school transition period, several major things happen. The death of my primary care giver (Grandma), some nasty stuff at school, corrupt school officials, the loss of our home (owned by Gran), and a few other things. I was diagnosed as depressed and anxious following an attempted overdose and placed on an anti-depressant and an anxiety med.

At that time, depression was something unpopular. Any kind of mental illness and they wanted to ship you from your home in the Valley to San Antonio for specialist treatment. My diagnosing person kept asking if I heard voices, etc. No. But do you hear voices in your head telling you to do something? No. Okay, but do you ever get the urge to do something, like someone is telling you to do it? I think he saw The Exorcist or something too many times but at any rate, Catholics don’t go crazy and don’t need mental treatment. You just have to get right with the Lord because obviously, you are evil if you don’t keep pretending to be perfect.

Flash forward a decade plus a few years and I’m now called bipolar/depressive and still have an anxiety issue. Interestingly, ALL of the 3 priests, 3 rabbis and multitude of counselors I’ve sought assistance from during my lifetime have flat out told me that they don’t know where to even begin to help/counsel me. Of course, everyone has a drug or five to suggest.

Seriously. I was on five medications at one point. One for depression, one for the sleepiness it caused, one for the high the anti-sleepy one caused, one for the low that I’d plunge to and one to sleep. So not going to cut it when you are also now a single mom.

This is NOT something I’d recommend to others but I tossed my medication. All of it. I did start praying more and researching alternative treatments. I was doing really well on the natural supplements I transitioned myself to until a couple of weeks ago.

My anxiety and low self-esteem were negatively impacting all my attempts at self employment. I was feeling overwhelmed by pressure to produce a ridiculous amount of income in a short time (family isn’t self-employment friendly), homeschooling, single-parenting, legal battles with the aforementioned family members, etc. etc.

In an attempt to reclaim my life after losing my job to the economy and get my family off my back, I got another job. Entry level management, training duties, etc. Two weeks later, I was crying in an unknown doctor’s office and being asked if my job was worth it.

Apparently, I was fine until I had to start leaving my son with my alcoholic family so I could work. Within 5 minutes of meeting me, this new doctor was accurately pinpointing things and asking questions that hit straight to the heart of the matter. She points things out I hadn’t realized (or maybe didn’t want to acknowledge).

The next couple of weeks are going to be crucial to me and my son. Although I know I’m going to lose my vehicle without that steady paycheck and that my “family” will continue to laugh at and belittle me, I drew a line in the sand.

It’s taken me all 32 years to learn and accept that I will never be able to change anyone but myself. I think about my son, being the age I was when all those things first started to penetrate my thought processes. I thought, never him. Yet, it is happening. Definitely not as intense as my childhood experiences but still.

Sadly, my Mom is still arguing that they are good people inside and if you just keep turning the other cheek, they will eventually be the peaceful, happy and loving family you want them to be.

Alcoholism, verbal abuse and threats of violence are NOT normal. No matter how much it happens around you. Seek assistance from supportive individuals (friends/family) and professionals. If you can’t stop the cycle because others won’t stop, then get out of that environment.

It’s what I’m doing, what I’m working on. You can’t save the world if you don’t save yourself first. You can’t save your child if you don’t get them out of the cycle of abuse you grew up with.

It isn’t just men who sometimes have to “grow some”. Women do too and it’s so much harder when you know you’re just a shell of the person you once were.

To be continued …

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