News for January 2012

A Brief Autobiography – Part 1 (1972 – 1998)

 

Well, my life has been interesting to say the least. It’s been full of its ups and downs both. Pain and joy. Life and death.  Well more death than life really, I have no children, no brothers or sisters so no births aside from a few cousins. 

Growing up I had a pretty good life. My parents were married the entire time, we went on a lot of family vacations all over the US. We traveled to Canada and Mexico as well. They were always there for me and helped me with my school work and took good care of me. They also spoiled me rotten lol. While I was growing up, until roughly my junior year in HS, my family was pretty close, my Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Uncle,his wife and kids, my Aunt, her husband all were close. We would spend the holidays together, we would see each other almost every weekend at my grandmothers, I would often spend a few weeks each summer staying at my grandmothers house. We would all eat dinner at my grandmothers on the weekends a lot of times. My grandmother was a good cook. I remember being there making popcorn etc.

When my grandfather was still alive, it was even better. He died on his 60th birthday? or somewhere around then, of lung cancer. He was my best friend. We would play all kinds games together. I was only around 10 when he died at the age of 62 ,  we would watch the All-Star Game for baseball together and have root beer floats while we watched it. There was just a lot of happiness.

The worst thing I can remember from my childhood, was early on, the fighting between my parents. I remember hiding under the dining room table scared to death as they yelled and screamed and threw things at each other. Threw pots, pans, glasses, knives, everything and anything.

There were other traumatic events growing up, my mom was epileptic, as I am. I found her a number of times in the middle of a seizure. Two that I remember the most vividly are: she was sitting in her chair drinking coffee downstairs in the kitchen, every muscle locked up and bright red, the other was when I found her face down between my bedroom and playroom drool trickling out her mouth. A third one I remember well, was when the three of us were coming home from the shore, she had one in the car. We were trying to decide what to have for dinner, and she started smacking her lips,like you do when you are trying to decide what you have a taste for, it turns out she was having a seizure. I remember flagging a car down to get an ambulance.

Then roughly in 1989 my life fell apart. It all went to hell. Before I get there though I will rewind to 1986.  September 1986 is when I started HS. In HS I had my share of problems. Life started really being rough then, but I still had my family. When I started HS, I was picked on by everyone in the school, because I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t a nerd (because I didn’t study), I wasn’t a jock and my parents weren’t loaded, I wasn’t a metal head, I wasn’t into cars or chasing girls. I fit in with no one. Hell I didn’t even fit in well with the other misfits!

Everyday it was something new….I would spit at, have my stuff stolen passed around the bus, thrown out windows, destroyed, called so many different names, the one that I cant forget, “Oddo.” That was what they called me, Oddo, because to them I was so odd. It got so bad at one point that my father started taking me and picking me up from school, and it was about 20mi out of his way. That is how much I was being tormented on that damn bus. We complained so many times to school and nothing was ever done, and my parents were paying over 2000$ a year for the school as well as a few hundred for the bus. Nothing was ever done.

Shit one time a kid stole 5$ out of my hand so I chased him to get my money back and I wound up getting an in-school suspension for trying to get my own money back.!!!!!!!!! The good news is that I at least got one kid off my back. He went to the well one time to many with me. I grabbed him and slammed him up against the lockers and told him to leave me alone. I don’t remember the exact words but that was the meaning behind it.  He never bothered me after that.

The two most memorable problems I had were the time I got punched by a shot putter and the time someone tried to set my face on fire.

The first one, the shot putter, his name was Tom, punched me in the kidney on my orientation day! Talk about getting off on the wrong foot. He had said something to me, and I mouthed off to him because he was being a shit to me. I then remember climbing up on the bleachers and jumping down trying to punch him in the neck. I may as well have tried punching a brick wall for all the good it did. He looked at me as if to say…was that fly? He then punched me in the kidney and I dropped like a lead balloon.

The second was person tried to burn my face off. I don’t know why, maybe he was bored, maybe he didn’t like my face. I don’t know.  He started by taking some Binaca and shooting it through a cigarette lighter while aiming it at my face. When that didn’t give him the desired effect, he took a can of Lysol and used that the same way making a little flame thrower out of it. Of course we were on the STAGE by the LIGHT BOARD!…

Is it any wonder I am so screwed up? LOL
As this was going on, I fought with my parents at home over every little thing. My dad hated that I was listening to Ozzy he thought I was going to become a satanist because of it, he wouldn’t let me even think about playing D&D, again he thought I would either start worshiping the devil or become an axe murderer *rme*….

My temper back then was terrible. I would throw shit myself. I yelled and screamed, I would get in someones face screaming at them. Even worse though, I would punch myself as hard as I could, right in the head. I would slam my head against the wall, my fist against the wall. Leaving huge holes. Hell I even remember punching brick walls at times. All that would happen is I would grin and in a twisted way say…”Ahhhh that feels good.”

I remember the times I would just sit and cry and cry and cry. Times I felt that everyone in the world hated me, that everything in the world was my fault. Sitting there begging to die. To stop my heart, let it burst, anything just that I wanted to die. The feeling of being a total failure at everything. Feeling like nothing I did was right. Just hating everything about me, hating everyone. Thats what I used to say, that I hate people. 
My parents always worried that I would wind up getting killed or arrested because of my quick temper. It’s terrible to feel like the whole world hates you. I can’t even think how many times I felt that way. How many tears I shed. I remember sitting there holding a knife to my wrists just wanting to cut them, holding it to my throat…holding a bottle of pills…just wanting to kill myself, but something inside me always stopping me. I remember that make me even angrier with myself, feeling like I was such a fuck up that I couldn’t even end my own misery. At times even feeling like a coward for not have the “guts” to kill myself.

Back to 1989…

In 1989 my mom left my dad and I. She ran off with another man, out to Arizona. I remember sitting there at night with my dad both of us hurting, both trying not to show it. I remember he had to get a new checking account etc so she wouldn’t bankrupt him. Remember how hard that was for him. Her calling him to please come get her…him flying out and bringing her back like nothing happened. Then her taking  off again..not sure if it was the first or second time, the bastard started beating her…by that time she had maxed out her discover card and spent all the cash she had. My dad took her back again, she was diagnose during this whole ordeal as being bi-polar. She finally went into the Carrier Clinic, which was a mental health clinic. She was there for about a month or two. My dad would drive the 30 miles or so, everyday to see her. I went with him at times, I remember going with her and making things out of leather. I remember her making me a leather belt (I think thats what it was, or a leather bracelet). They put her on lithium, which just made her a zombie.

Once she ran off, it destroyed the family. Her own family, which is the one we were so close to her, 
shunned her. They never forgave her for what she did. At that point, I lost my family. All in one swift slice. There was one bright spot, my great-grandmother. She never gave up on us. She understood, and by this point she was in her late 80s /early 90′s. My mom and I would go to see her (she lived with her daughter though). My grandmother, my moms own mother, was cold and heartless to my mom, that’s when she acknowledged her at all. I swear the room would drop 20 degrees at least. It got to the point where I would just go to get my great grandmother by going in the back door and take her back to our house not even speaking to my grandmother anymore because of the whole situation. 

Around this time, I almost lost my mother. She went into a diabetic coma when her blood sugar skyrocketed to over 700. The doctors said that she should have by all rights died with a blood sugar level that high.

Then on Jan 30,1997 the “streak” began. M = Mother’s side , F= Father’s side

On  Sep 29, 1996 my uncle died at 82. (F)
On  Jan 30, 1997 my great grandmother died at 94.  (M)
On  March 16, 1999 my grandmother died at 77. (M)
On  Aug 26, 1999 my aunt died at 87 (F)
On  Nov 10 2001 my uncle died at 55. (M) 
On  Oct 28, 2004 my uncle died at 71 (F)
On  Dec 8, 2004 my mom died at 54. (M) 
On  Feb 20, 2005 my aunt died at 61.  (F)
On  Jun 25, 2007 my uncle died at 54. (F)

When my great-grandmother died, it was terrible on my mom and I. her and I were very close to my great-grandmother.  That funeral was the first time I ever remember seeing my dad cry. Not for himself, but because of what we were going through.

I remember it so vividly. Each step of the process, it got harder and harder on me. I remember I was involved with someone from TN, a hemodialysis nurse named Kim. Every step of the way I kept an empty seat next to me for her. I think everyone thought I was crazy, but it was for her because she was there with me, I remember clutching a crystal heart, something that had a special meaning for us.

I don’t remember how much later it was, a friend of hers from Spain came to visit her and they wound up getting married. She told me about it a month or so afterwards. I just smiled for her and told her I was so happy for her and her daughters. Never for a moment have I been anything but happy for her. I was hurt greatly of course but what could I do. 

In August 1997, I made one of my worst mistakes, I went to meet chance. She was the first one I was ever with and it was exactly one month before I turned 25. Turns out that she was using me, using me for sex. I had actually cared about her and had feelings for her so I got very hurt. For about 6 years, I did not speak to her. I didn’t speak to her again until after 9/11/01, at that point I realized how quick life could end and there was no point in holding a grudge or hating people. 

In May 2002, my wife and I stopped to visit her and her husband, we went out to dinner together. Then Chance and I spent hours talking about things. Which of course pissed her husband off because it was only supposed to be something very short. Chance and I were sitting alone talking, her husband was home and marcia was asleep in the room. Well her husband called the room furious, walking Marcia up asking where the fuck his wife was. Marcia came out to look for us. She found us outside by Chances’ car just standing and talking. Later on Chance told me a few interesting things: 1. That she almost kissed me that time because it just “felt like the right thing” I had to admit that i had felt a similar urge, 2. That she had used me (again) this time to make her husband, Gary, jealous and finally 3. that Gary hated me and would not let me see her ever again, that he even wanted to have a sword fight with me.

Chance would remain on the fringes of my life for a few more years until her and I started sleeping together again at the end of 06 into early 07. This time she used me as well, but this time not for sex, not to make anyone jealous, but for money. I once again became emotionally entwined in a one sided situation. Since I cared so much, I wanted to help her and her girls to try and take care of them as much as I could. Since she was in school , trying to make a better life for her and her girls and was only able to work one day a week since she was now divorced as well, I started giving her anywhere from 200-400 a paycheck to help her out. The times I went down to see her she took that one day of work off to spend with me. I was proud of her at that time because she was trying to do something positive for her life to take care of her girls and improve everyones life. She had seemed to change for the better, I thought she had grown up. Sigh..but like I said she was just using me for the money…as much as things change they stay the same.

Now back in February 1998, I drove down to SC to meet 2 good friends, one of them would become my wife. Marcia and I had talked for 2yrs online and become good friends. I drove down to meet her and Karen. While we were there I instantly fell for Marcia. I remember sitting there on the floor next to her bed the day I had to leave crying because I didn’t want to ever be away. Just sitting watching her sleep. Thinking how much the angel she looked like to me. When she came up to see me for memorial day, I asked her to marry me. We got engaged on the beach at Cape May, NJ at sunset. We then drove down to Washington, DC. Ironic, we went there after we got engaged, and got divorced when we were living there. On the way down, I called my parents to tell them, needless to say, they were not thrilled lol…I remember telling my mom that I was engaged and her saying , no you aren’t. lol…

We stayed engaged for 3yrs almost to the day. We got engaged on 24 May 98 and married on 12 May 01. We were married for 5.5 years until I told her she needed to leave in Dec. 06.

Edited: January 28th, 2012

Peer Support

One of the most helpful things to have when recovering from any type of mental illness is a good and strong support network. A network ideally made up of your mental health provider, loved ones, friends and others who share similar struggles.

The last group is also known as peer supporters. Peer supporters are an important part of any support network since they are people who can not only understand but even better they can relate to your challenges. Peer supporters can provide hope as well, depending on where they are on the path. Those who have gone through dark times and survived assure us that it is possible to get through these dark times.

Another great thing about peer supporters is that they do not judge you or look down on you. Peer supporters help each other. When you are able to provide another person with hope or help them feel less alone, it helps you as well.

Having someone to listen who has been there or who is going through it now, helps you feel less alone. It reminds you that there are others out there in the world. It is why I really like the #twitterbuddyscheme and #twitterpsychward. These groups are made of up wonderful people that genuinely care about each other and support each other.

I will write more about being a peer supporter and about being a peer support facilitator for groups in the coming weeks.

Edited: January 28th, 2012

A Brief Autobiography – Part 2 (2006 to 2008)

By the end of 2006, just one year after moving to Virginia with my wife, my marriage came to a screeching halt. My marriage had been declining for a few years by this point. Everything was gone, the only thing that was left was familiarity and a sense of comfort. The type of comfort that comes from knowing you are not alone. The love, passion, and everything else that makes a relationship special was long gone.

So at the end of the year we separated. My intention was that if the marriage was worth saving, we would realize we needed and missed each other within a year. At first I cried, but only for a short time. It is not a matter of my being a heartless bastard, rather it was that I had already come to terms with the collapse over the last few years as my marriage was dying.

After I dropped her off I drove to see a ‘friend’ the following morning. We began to ‘see’ each other every few weeks. Unfortunately, the relationship, and I use the word loosely, was a big mistake. Nothing good came out of it and it set me back a good amount of money over the six months or so we were ‘involved.’ Eventually, things spiralled into a lot of bad blood and hostility toward each other. When she asked me to come see her and get a room so she could sleep with another guy and use my room to change and shower, that was the end of it.

During all this I was still chatting away online with people and having my cyber romances. Between 2007 and 2009, I had about five or six relationships online and none in real life. The quality of the relationships varied as much as the length.

Oddly enough, the one that last the longest was the biggest mistake, caused me the most emotional trauma and the only one I regret. Conversely, of all the online relationships during that time, the shortest one was the one I remember most fondly and the one that impacted me the must in a positive way.

I will talk more about the relationships shortly.

During this same period, I started taking better care of myself. It was during this time period that I first learned about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), was diagnosed with my mental illnesses, first heard of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), mindfullness and started immersing myself in books by the Dalai Lama.

As I mentioned in part one, in 2005 I attended a public talk by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This event led to my eventual ‘discovery’ of the concept of mindfulness, even before I heard of DBT or BPD. In late 2005 or early 2006, I began to immerse myself in books by the Dali Lama as a direct result of the talk I attended in 2005.

These books helped me begin the process of healing emotionally and psychologically. They introduced me to the concept of mindfullness. I began to see things differently, I began to understand and learn how to better gain control of my emotions and feelings. The whole time supported by my sessions with my therapist. For the first time life was starting to come together. I was truly starting to feel better about life and myself.

In early 2008, I was finally diagnosed with bi-polar disorder,a condition I knew I had as far back as high school. I finally had confirmation from a therapist. This made all the difference in the world.

I remember when I first found out. I was so excited. The year started off like any other year, but around May I met up with an amazing young lady. We began a relationship online. It would turn into a very short relationship, but it had lasting effects on my life.

The relationship ended not because either of us wanted it to end, but because it had to end. It was because of this relationship that I first learned about Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). You see, it was while we were together that because of a near tragic event she was diagnosed with BPD.

When I heard what happened and what her diagnosis was I began to learn everything I could about BPD. I wanted to be able to safely interact with her. I needed to know how to help her and protect myself at the same time.

The more I read about it, the more I learned about myself since there are a lot of similarities between the two disorders. For example, both are characterized by problems with regulating emotions.

While she was in intensive treatment, we learned that there were components of our relationship that were toxic for her. Because of these components we had to end the relationship and go our separate ways.

I will never forget how I felt the day we said goodbye. I was filled with so much rage, pain and hatred. I wanted to share the pain with everyone. I wanted to just beat the hell out of people so that others could feel a small protion of my pain. But I knew I couldn’t do that.

I decided to turn that energy to something positive. I kept studying and learning about BPD, all the time learning more about myself, taking about it with as many people as I could. I started attending conferences on it. I started putting a presentation together on BPD. A presentation that I planned on giving at any local churches that would have me. I printed out flyers and posters from the NEA-BPD about BPD and asked businesses if I could post them. I left behind flyers for people as well.

Edited: January 19th, 2012

#twitterbuddyscheme

I was just going through my twitter feed and saw a tweet from @oxymoronic82 about a new concept they came up with called the Twitter Buddy Scheme  (#twitterbuddyscheme).

This is not an official service, but rather it is a group of people who share common challenges as they recover and heal from mental illness. The people are not trained therapists or psychatrists, they are friends on the same journey, the journey to wellness and taking back their lives.

Full details are at http://twitterbuddyscheme.tumblr.com/. I will take part in it myself.

Edited: January 9th, 2012

Decision 2012

The last few years have been rough for me. They have had their ups and downs, but overall they have been some of the hardest that I remember. The main highlights have revolved around my wife. They include getting engaged, married and our honeymoon. The biggest thing not related to my wife has to be our cat.

The low points include the accident that almost killed my wife, the stress of moving twice, the self-harm, the rage, and the deep depression, just to name a few. I am beyond tired of the rage, depression, pain and everything associated with it.

So, I have decided that this year will be a good year. I refuse to allow it to be anything but good. If 2012 tries to get in the way of me having a good year, I will kick its butt.

Also, I plan to update this site at least once a week. Finally, I will share more of my personal journey, both successes and failures, this year. These items will be located under ‘My Journey.’

If anyone has something they want to share related to mental health, drop me a line. You can email me at phoenix@rising-phoenix.us starting Saturday, January 7, 2012.

Edited: January 4th, 2012

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