Monday, February 6, 2012

A Little History

this was written in october, 1998 just after i began pastoral counseling for the severe depression and reemergence of self-injury. voices i had long been without had begun again and i was terrified. this was written in order to give a brief description of the years i could remember before marriage.
TRIGGER WARNING: some graphic descriptions of Self-injury

1981- Took a couple of dozen aspirin and planned to cut my wrists. Told a friend. She told a teacher. Was sent home from school for a couple of days. Assistant principal asked if I was aware that I would burn in hell if I killed myself. Came back to school an outcast and the butt of everyone’s jokes. Started pretending to faint and talking of suicide all the time. Took a couple of minor overdoses and made a few trips to the ER.

1982-3- Started carrying a knife to school and scratching my wrists. Took ipecac to feign illness and get out of school. Mom started taking me to the doctor to prove I was faking. Kept my grades up and my behavior at school was good but started taking overdoses of cold medicines and falling asleep in class. Kept gin in a thermos in my locker for the last 2 months and stayed drunk in school. Home was a waste of time so I focused my attention on school.
2 months into my first high school year I was smoking pot. Started writing poetry and short stories. Stephanie Anne Ross was born. An alter ego 3 years older and far less afraid of parents or police than I was.
Created problems at school. Set fire to my jacket in class. Principal reminded me that he knew who I was, hated Quintanas, and was watching me. Started disappearing for a day or a night. Spent one night on the roof of a building taking the skin off my left arm with a piece of glass. Got so cold I started walking. Was picked up by a couple of guys in a truck. They saw the blood and called an ambulance. Spent the night in the police station. Tried to refuse to go home. Parents decided to try family counseling. Counselor at Mental Health Dept. told parents I was a discipline problem and my attention seeking behavior was to be rewarded with punishment. He told my parents I was simply a liar and to treat me as such. Mum was ecstatic, Dad was furious. We did not go back
Cut my wrists in the bathroom during lunch. Ran from the ER. After I was caught the principal took me into a room alone and slapped me then threw me into a wall. I was then arrested for assault. My father threatened a lawsuit and charges were dropped. I was admitted to the first hospital that night. Stayed the week of Thanksgiving.

1984-5 Started seeing a Psychiatrist. Managed in a few weeks to convince him I was delusional and hallucinating. After running away a few more times and threatening to jump of a building I was admitted to a private hospital in Sleepy Hollow. After it was determined that my stories of dementia were untrue I was called a compulsive liar (true) and nothing was believed again. Was diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder and put on Lithium. After side effects continued to intensify rather than subside it was decided that I must not be Bi-polar. I was then diagnosed as being a Borderline Personality and put on a new medication. Learned how to break my hand from another patient. Learned about self-starvation and how to turn off the world and how many different everyday items can be used for self-harm. I also learned how to pull myself together when the insurance ran out and I had to go home again.
Was placed in an alternative school. Got caught smoking behind the school and when told to put it out I put it out on my arm. So burning was added to razor play. I spent most nights in my bathroom with a razor and cutting my wrist under the running water. Found that if I did a little each night it would leave a huge scar and that should I get caught, it couldn’t be stitched up. Also started burning myself with other things. A curling iron was effective if slow. After putting a 3-inch burn on the side of my face I was sent to a neurologist. He found nothing wrong aside from my attitude. Next several months are a blur of nights in the bathroom, drugs, running away, and overdoses.
Sometime during the summer I cut into an artery for the first time. I got scared and called a friend. She called an ambulance. I took off for the river near our house and hid until they found me. The EMT asked if I had been drinking and spoke to me about alcohol abuse. He told me about AA and gave me the places and times of some meetings. He suggested I try it. My parents were furious at the idea but allowed me to go with the understanding that it was only as a support system for me outside of the hospital. By the time I tried to tell them that I had a problem with drinking, they refused to listen or believe.

1985 cont- Ran away to Vienna to visit a friend from the hospital. I thought I loved him. He didn’t feel the same way. Went to a July 3rd punk rock concert on the mall in DC. Got really drunk thanks to the beer provided from a mental health worker we knew from the hospital. Wound up in the back seat of our ride’s car with Josh. By the time I could get him to hear me saying no, it was too late. Went to another friend’s house in Fairfax. Told her what happened. She didn’t believe me. Called my Dad to come get me. Told him what happened. He went to hit me than told me it was my fault. Took me straight to a party at our pool club. Didn’t even let me go home and change from what I had worn the last 2 days. Spent that afternoon in the locker room getting drunk.
Ran away to DC for 2 days. Was picked up by a guy that offered me a way to make money. Stayed with him until realized what he meant then cut my wrists at his house and told him not to waste his time with me. Spent the next couple of weeks with a friend and then my sister.
Became a candy striper through a recommendation from my youth leader. After deciding I didn’t care to be around people, I started working in central supply. Found it to be a good source of blades, xylocaine, syringes, and suture kits. (Had learned to do sutures watching my sister practice) So now I could cut to my heart’s desire without feeling the pain that came from hitting tendons and arteries. I could also stitch myself up to save my parents the expensive doctor’s bills.
AA was of little help, as my primary symptom wasn’t drinking. No one could relate to my other efforts at self-destruction. I did meet a man named Jim who invited me to baby-sit for him and his wife. Jim became a very good friend and before long I was showing up at their door on Friday nights and staying ‘til Sunday evening. Jim’s house is where I met Charlie. We were not instant friends, but he was only person who could make me laugh. I started showing up at Jim’s and hoping to see Charlie’s Nova parked outside the house. I didn’t know then that he was coming over in hopes of seeing me. After treating him really badly for no good reason, he was the first person to show me what forgiveness was. I didn’t know it then, but see now that I had never had anyone put a wrong so completely behind him and never remind me of it again.
There were another couple of overnight hospital visits and another week at the local hospital psych unit. Then back to the hospital in Sleepy Hollow by police escort. My parents were told that I would need long term care and to start looking for somewhere that could take me for years rather than weeks. After discharge I refused to go home and moved in with Jim and Brenda. My parents gave them legal guardianship and paid them for my room and board. I became their live in babysitter. It quickly became a nightmare as I realized that I had moved from one miserable troubled house to another. I wound up walking away one night. Swallowing 150 aspirin and hitching a ride out of town. When the ringing in my ears was so loud I couldn’t hear anymore I made my way back to their house. At dawn I told Jim what I had done. He made me apologize to his wife. By the time the kids needed to get to school I was ready to go to the Emergency room. My parents were told I would probably lose kidney function altogether, if I was lucky. Another few days in the local hospital, then after convincing a judge I didn’t need commitment, I went back home. Within a couple of months I had had enough and spent several days saving up the meds I was supposed to be taking. Over 2 days I took 2000 mgs of Tofranil. By the time my mom realized I had OD’d it was in my system completely. I had a grand mal seizure at the hospital and I’m told, went into cardiac arrest. Again my parents were told I wouldn’t make it and was air lifted to Children’s hospital in DC. My parents brought Nora and Zac to say goodbye in ICU. I spent the next 5 weeks in the Psych unit of Georgetown University Hospital in DC. Before coming home I told my Dad about the sexual abuse in childhood I could remember. I made it home days before Christmas. (I don’t remember a Christmas morning after I was 10)

1986- January I was taking anything I could get my hands on. Punching walls, walking out of school, running away, cutting and burning my arms. Mom got desperate again and insisted I be committed involuntarily. I was able to convince a judge I could go under my own steam. Mum was furious, because a voluntary hospitalization meant she had to pay for it. She had for a couple of years been leaving the various bills I had incurred by my bedroom door so I would be aware of what I was costing them. Once more I was taken under police escort to a hospital. The only state run institution I had been to. It was scary and I’ll leave it at that. 3 days after admission, I got a call from Jim. He said Charlie wanted to see me and would I like a visit from him. Charlie started visiting a couple of times a week and I started spending my passes with him rather than my family. I was discharged in March. We were engaged in April, I moved in with him in June and we were married in August.
*note*: i stopped here because the pastor had known us several years and had already been filled in on the years after charlie and i married. will work on documenting that here.