The first path of my mental illness is the “Path of Not Knowing”. From my earliest childhood memories, I can recall always feeling “off” or like a ghost. Like I didn’t matter….and I cannot recall any specific childhood trauma event that might have impacted me so severely….so I believe that I was born this way. It didn’t help that my father was a distant man, who worked a lot and also partied a lot and my mother was young and also unknowingly suffered with mental health issues. (I know this now because she has confided in me some of her own experiences during my childhood) I grew up in a very chaotic and unstable home, and from a young age I learned how to withdraw into my own world to escape and survive.
Fast forward to my adolescent years and I’m still on this path. Along with coping with the typical teenage problems, I was dealing with suicidal thoughts almost all the time. I toyed with the idea of what dying would be like and I often fantasized about following through. There were times that I would slowly and deliberately take 10-20 Tylenol pills and just go lay down ….surprised and somewhat disappointed that I woke up. I often wrote stories and poetry about dying and I can recall one time only when someone reached out and asked if I was ok. It was my grade eleven English teacher and I guess I must have fooled her into thinking I was just fine….always a great actress at letting people see what I thought they wanted to see. I was like a chameleon, changing to be whatever I thought others wanted me to be. I drifted from group to group in high school, never maintaining relationships for long. I began to engage in risky Behaviour and alcohol and drugs became my new way to escape. I took a lot of risks when I was drinking and was extremely reckless. I had no fear or even common sense, but I managed to give off the impression to everyone that I was in control. My parents were occupied with their own lives and my relationship with my sister had been difficult from birth. I was alone and afraid and unable to stop myself. How I managed to survive is beyond me.
It’s a scary path, this one of “not knowing” because you are acting in ways that are dangerous and unhealthy but you aren’t even aware that there’s something wrong with you. You just keep living in this cycle over and over again – not knowing that this is not what life is supposed to feel like.
My late teens were characterized by lots of drunken times and promiscuity. I also began to recklessly run up my first credit card and it wasn’t long before I was in trouble. I always had a good job and was a dedicated employee. As I moved into my early twenties my substance abuse began to emerge that I was having a problem. I still didn’t see tHat I had problems – being with convicted felons, alcoholics and loser men in general. And then I got pregnant.
And so began my journey down the path of suppression.