My story starts in Colorado where I had recently moved with my parents. We had come from northern California and I was a sophomore in high school. I remember being so utterly devastated about being uprooted from the town I had lived in since the 2nd grade. My sister and I shared a bunk bed that we were able to take apart because we had our own rooms in this new home. Our bedrooms were located in the bottom floor of the tri-level home. It was so cold in the winters that I remember the smell of the damp air even to this day. I loved to sit in “my room” enjoying “my privacy”, knowing that my little sister couldn’t and wouldn’t ever be part of my solitude…it brought me comfort.
I would lay pretty low in our new home. Trying to have as little contact with the parental units that I possibly could have. I was so quiet that even my parents thought I was acting strangely. I was so very, very bitter and angry about their moving me to Colorado but also because this was the second time they had displaced me from my safe haven…this time around they just happened to actually JOIN me. I never communicated with them much about the struggles I was having inside myself nor did I ever share the anything positive that happened.
School was not easy. Trying to find a place as a sophomore in a large school among a group of kids who’ve known each other since Kindergarten was pretty much a solid “not happening”. I ended up hanging out with burn-outs. Drug-using kids who often shared my pain but were bad influences on me. Sometimes the emotional ache inside my chest hurt so much it was everything I could do to avoid constantly crying. I started having conflicts with one of my teachers, I was struggling to make friends, and I had no solid foundation in my home life. I felt so deeply alone.
One day while laying in bed I started thinking about all that was going on currently in my life. I started to get angry with myself for choices I’d made to cover up my pain. Drugs, drinking, giving up on school, etc. I then started thinking of my small town back in northern California and the people I missed. With both regret and loneliness swirling around in my head I just exploded. I started hitting my left cheekbone with my fist. The harder I hit the more numb I began to feel inside my chest. The million thoughts gave way to just one. The pain. It was getting hot and traveling through the rest of my body. I absolutely loved it.
Because I felt unseen and unheard I had the idea of slamming my cheekbone on the wooden bunk bed posts that were no longer connected. I wanted a mark. I wanted to be noticed and I wanted unhealthy attention. I went to school with a light bruise on my left cheekbone. No one really said anything. I started to feel even MORE unnoticed. So knowing I got no attention from that self inflicted ass kicking I decided that I had to just understand I was not going to be noticed.
I continued however with the self harm but in places no one would notice. My arms and my legs. I would hold my curling iron on my arm until I no longer was crying about my inner hurt but rather whimpering about the pain on my arm. I took a steak knife from our kitchen and I would rub the blade back and forth back and forth on my leg or arm until I again felt no emotional pain. I continued on and off with this behavior until I was 27 years old and my life began to change. I became pregnant with my first child and got married. I now had a purpose and I was able to see it.
Taking control of my emotions and not letting them control me allowed for the formation of new, healthy relationships. Being honest with myself and getting all the emotions out that formed the basis of my faulted self-worth allowed me to recognize what was destroying my soul. Getting through this pain was difficult but with the help of my doctor I was able to identify my bipolar condition and learn ways to medicate appropriately. Finding a spiritual path also helped to keep me grounded and carried me through my dark days. The positive messages I received through my faith kept me from falling down that dark spiral of self-hate.
I learned that causing harm to myself was not addressing the deeper underlying issues. Once I cleared my life of toxic people and situations it helped me realize I mattered. That I was important and I was not focused on what other people thought of me. Once I made that call to my doctor I was able to be properly diagnosed and having someone tell me that I was bipolar, that medically there was a reason for much of this inner suffering. Hearing someone tell me finally after years of struggle that everything would be okay…helped more than I ever could have imagined. Being silent was not protecting me, but was hurting me. Damaging me even.
Is everything perfect? No, not even close. But everything in my life happened for a reason. It has made me a better mother able to understand my children when they emotionally struggle. I can raise my kids to be communicative to not hide or blame themselves for pain brought upon them by others or even brought on by their own feelings of failure. Life is a boiling pot of water, we set the temperature by who we allow into our lives. We determine if to allow the water to boil over and completely run out of control or we can ask for help and not clean up alone.
Fashionably Bipolar. Passenger on the mama roller coaster. Technology/Gaming Geek.
A mother and wife for 10 years, Shoannon continues to learn and recover from her past and present while trying to remain a loving wife, mother and friend amongst all the insanity.
Follow Shannon on Twitter at @thismamatweets.
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