04 February 2010

History with Mental Illness. Part 1: Childhood

I’m trying to force myself to do the things I am promising to do. I said I’d do a post about my history with Depression, no matter how little I like to dwell on that issue.

I’m doing this as I believe everyone asks themselves the question at one time or another. “Is this feeling normal?” “Am I normal?” “Is there something wrong with me?”

Those are some of the things I have been asking since I was a child. I started reading self improvement articles in magazines around the time I was 10, because I knew something wasn’t quite right.

Obviously my environment was slightly dysfunctional as is about 80% of Families.

So my first documented, recognised episode came when I was in Std 4 (Grade 6) age about 11, I think.

My home-room teacher was on Maternity leave, and her replacement did not like me at all. To be honest I don’t remember much about what was said or done to me, if anything, but my perception was of feeling threatened to the extreme.

I was an extremely shy child, quiet and good in every expected way, maybe slightly dreamy and unfocused. I always did my homework, was never disruptive in class.

Somehow I did upset this teacher, and her, me, like I said I can’t remember the details of the Why.

So one Monday when my mother dropped me off at school, on her way to work I lost it. I was hysterical; I refused to go to school. She forced me out of the car, and drove away, and I ran after her. She probably didn’t know how to handle this, and took her only option (She had to get to work, kids don’t get this) so she kept driving.

What did I do? I went into the class to my teacher, face a mess of tears, and still ever so obviously upset and uncontrollably crying, and told her I need to go home I feel sick.

There’s very little of what happened that day that I still remember feeling, but being unable to stop crying is the most prevalent feeling still. I just could not stop and I did NOT want to be at school. I wanted to crawl into a dark hole. I wanted my room, my stuff, my safety. I felt embarrassed by my actions, I felt scared of what my mother would do to me. Being unable to stop crying and the horror of having to go to school that day was stronger than anything else.

The teacher phoned my mom and she picked me up again. I don’t remember the consequences of my actions. I have no idea what happened after this or the next time I went to school.

This event has stayed with me though because it led up to my mother taking me to a child psychologist.
I don’t know if she told me what was going on, but I was clever enough to know this was a head doctor and if I don’t tell him what he wants to know, what “normal” people would say and do, then I would probably be put in an insane asylum. I just didn’t want anyone to know I was crazy, as I felt I was.

So when he asked me questions I told him everything I thought would be the “right” answers. I’m not quite sure how I managed to know what the “right” answers where, but for instance, when he asked if I really liked spending every break in the library, or if I would rather play with friends outside, I told him I like playing outside, but sometimes my friends aren’t there.

This was Bullshit; I didn’t like the other kids. I got teased mercilessly, I felt self conscious, and I felt different. It felt like I was an alien, mixed in with humans. I knew none of the rules, and I couldn’t please anyone, even though I tried. I had been asking questions about my school work, that the teachers couldn’t answer.

I always seem to notice discrepancies, and I guess they felt threatened that I wouldn’t just shut up and conform. This was done quietly though. I was a “Good” Child in school.

I loved the library. I could read comics all break long, I could read books, I could explore everything I wanted. The Library teacher also loved me, so I felt safe there.

So almost everything the psychologist asked I answered non truthfully. His diagnosis, there was nothing wrong with me, it was probably a normal childhood stage, I would outgrow it.

So obviously I started thinking, if the lies I told meant I was normal, would that mean if I told the truth, that I was not? See too clever for my own good.

Well this was my first look into the world of psychologists. It took me many years to return, more successfully to the world of Therapy. By that time, though, I was forced to get help as I was at the point of no return

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