As a child, I often felt like the girl in the picture on the inside but even from a young age I appeared to those around me to be a sociable ordinary child. But my reality was skewed and I always felt like an observer of my life rather than a participant. I believe now that I was disassociating as a way of coping with the feelings of emptiness and sadness. As a child in the seventies, we were often not encouraged to express what were seen as “bad” emotions, yet I was feeling them with such intensity. With no way of expressing them, I turned inward and more often than not escaped to my fantasy worlds.
I don’t discount my entire past – there are times and memories that I have that I think as proof that I could engage in the world. But even those memories are tainted with the uncertainty of not knowing who I was. I adopted the characteristics of those around me so that I would fit in – rejection was intolerable to me.
Through my teen years I continued to feel like an outsider and I was desperate to fit in somewhere. I was the party girl with the party kids, the bookworm with the quiet kids, and worst of all the girl desperate for love and affection. My teen years were difficult and it’s when I first began to notice my preoccupation with suicidal thoughts. Again, I felt like an observer during those times – or even like a ghost.
When I became a mother, I thought that suddenly I would be like everyone else – I would engage in life actively. Sadly, I don’t have a lot of recollection of myself and what I was like during the time my children were babies because by this time, my illness was beginning to really make some noise and demand that I address it.
I felt like so much of my life was on auto pilot and I just did what was always expected of me. But that’s changing and although its scary, it’s also exciting. I hope to be a full participant in life.