I am 30 and I survived Self Harm
Like many other stories, this starts when I was 8 and my parents got a divorce. I was a daddy’s girl and don’t remember a relationship with my mom prior to then. I was made to testify in the custody hearing. My little brother was only 3. Ultimately in 1995, my father received sole custody of my brother and I. I was to see my mom 4 days out of a month. Over the next few years, my father was remarried twice and my mother 3 times. My time with my mother never got better. She used manipulation and bought us things to try and win us over. She would humiliate me and disown me to try and prove her point. As far back as I could remember my mother was never someone I could talk to without feeling worse about myself.
The bullying started when I was in 5th grade by the most popular girl in school that lived in our community. When she decided to hate me, so did everyone else. When she chose to like me, I was right beside her. There were days I was called names, sat alone at lunch with other kids laughing at me, and stood alone at recess. In gym, the kids would gang up on me during dodge ball or any other physical activity that they could. By 7th grade, I was introduced to sexual acts and always had a boyfriend. Never had many female friends but was always talked to by the boys. In 8th grade is when it started to get to be to much. I was dating a high school boy and of course like all other middle school crushes we broke up. He started dating my next bully. This girl was 3 years older and would ride our bus to go to his house, call me names on the bus with my 5th grade bully, put gum in my hair, get off at my stop and threaten to beat me up etc.
At this point my father was single, and I was basically raising my little brother while dealing with no friends and no outlet. My father worked all day and came home and locked himself in his room or in our shed to get stoned. I would cry alone in my room. I had one friend at school, but she was into drugs and drinking and we didn’t hang out much at that time. That is when the cutting began. I was 13 and I always cut on my left arm. The internal pain, self-doubt, sadness, anger; it all became too much. The physical pain and seeing the blood was almost a release of the internal pain. And even for a minute I felt better. I was able to sleep. I was always scared to getting addicted to drugs and I didn’t care to throw up, so I was out of options. I thought about every avenue and played them out in my head. I wanted to go to college and I could see my future past high school, so I just needed a release for a few years until I graduated.
In 2001 my dad remarried, and we moved from our trailer to an actual house back in the woods. All of a sudden, we had an actual house that we all had dreamed of and my brother and I had a step brother. School got a little bit better in high school, but the older bully was still there. Her and her friends would mock the way I walked down the hall and would follow me to my classes throwing things at me. I always walked with my head down. Freshman year all I focused on was that I had one year and then I would go to vo-tech and only have to be at the high school for 2 classes a day. In the meantime, my only friend and I started drifting apart as she got more into partying and my dad wouldn’t let me hang out with that crowd and I wasn’t into drugs and alcohol. I create a hard exterior for myself, so the bullies wouldn’t see me hurting. I in turn started to bully other young girls to try and make myself look tough and to get other kids to laugh and like me. I occupied my time at school doing my school work and carving into my arm with a lead pencil. At home, I hid in my room with my door shut and locked, daydreaming, drawing and writing to try and occupy my time. When everyone went to bed that is when I would cry. I would cry myself to sleep almost every night. Usually cutting myself to try and calm down to put myself to sleep. I wore long sleeves and sweatshirts all year. When my dad found out, all he said was for me to knock it off and that I was only doing it for attention. I continued as it was the only thing that made me feel better.
The cutting continued until I was 18 and graduated high school. I moved in with my ex-husband. Decided to stay around home to go to school and was working 2 full time jobs along with going to school full time. In 2008, I got married and the cutting had stopped but the stress was overwhelming. I started gaining weight and resenting my husband. 13 months later we separated and were getting a divorce. Over the next 3 years I started self-destructing. I was with multiple men, drinking, and living a life that I never was able to before. I was no longer cutting but sex became my new addiction. In school, boys were an addiction. Their affection and always needing to be the center of a mans attention, then cutting, and now sex. In 2011 I got back with my middle school boyfriend as a way of revenge. With him the sex was amazing, I was drunk most of the time unless at work, I was physically fit and I felt like I was on top of the world and had everything that I wanted. Except every day I was catching him in lies and with other women. I started cutting again. Not regularly, but a few times during the duration of that relationship. I knew this was not something I wanted to continue doing and it started the self-doubt again. I had nothing but negative things to say to myself. I had actually seaked out some people that could get my drugs. I never actually went through with it as I knew my personality would only cause me to fall farther and drugs would be my new addiction. The only reason drnking didn’t become an addiction is because my drink of choice was $7 a glass and I didn’t want to spend the money. Cutting was free. I finally ended things and just put on a happy face trying to tell myself all of the things I needed to hear and I was still in the high of life actually. I met another guy that I had a lot in common with and ended up moving in with him. The cutting had stopped but by 2013 I was spiraling fast again.
I knew I needed help. My relationship was deteriorating, my work was a place that tore my down and I couldn’t find anything in my life that I was happy about. I started counseling. In the fall of 2014 I was diagnosed Bipolar 2 and was told that if I didn’t get help I was quickly heading out of control. I kept with the counseling and tried different meds. Initially they put me on something that I like to call a horse tranquilizer. I was sleeping for 14-16 hours day. I started missing work and I gained a lot of weight. By 2014 my relationship was over and for the first time in my life I had to find a place to live, alone, that I could afford. I had never lived alone before. I was scared. My grandmother wouldn’t let me move in with her. I didn’t want to ask my mom for help and my father had always told us growing up that once we moved out we were not allowed moving back home. I found an apartment and moved out of my home town about 15 mins away from my family. No one came and visited me. I was sleeping with a lot of different men. Had no relationship. Extremely depressed. Cutting again. Spending my rent money on anything as shopping because a new addiction. It got me out of the house and I felt like I was part of the world. But I was angry. I was sad. I started having panic attacks when I thought about having to interact with others. The positive, I was still in counseling and working on my meds. Eventually I got FMLA through work, but it was unpaid. When I used my FMLA, my coworkers and manager made me feel guilty for taking off. My working relationships did not get any better and by July of 2015 I was being terminated with a payout. They couldn’t give me a reason why I was being fired and the only thing I was told when I asked was “It won’t change the decision”. I took the money and was on unemployment for 3 months.
Loosing that job was the best thing that ever happened to me. Loosing my job meant I also lost my insurance. During counseling I used that as a class. I always had homework and did my own research and had topics that I wanted to discuss with my counselor. When I was diagnosed I was told that I would never be off of meds and I would struggle the rest of my life. The meds were needed to stabilize me. When we finally got the meds right and I wasn’t sleeping all of the time I felt ok, but I was numb. I didn’t cry, I was still angry, but I did feel at peace when I was alone, and I was no longer cutting. I was still shopping and sleeping with men but not cutting. Now looking back I just switch self-harm to something people could see to just men using me and then self-shaming myself afterwards. In December of 2015 I got a temp job for a large company where I worked in a cubical for the next 7 months. That jo allowed me to work alone but start to build professional relationships again. I ended up filling in for a supervisor position that they had and the position was eventually opened and everyone wanted me to apply. At the same time, I had that opportunity along with my current admin opportunity with another company. In my personal life I was stable, off of meds, starting to loose weight, in a bigger apartment, paying all of my bills on time, getting my credit back on track and was at peace with myself for the most part. I was still sleeping with random men and doing things that I am not proud of but I figured out a way to hide it when I left the house and how to put a smile on at work.
Over the last year and a half my life has been a roller coaster. I have cut, I have contemplated suicide, I have been extremely happy, have slept around, tried online dating, continued to research and work on myself one thing at a time. I have gotten back into a lost hobby, painting, that actually helps calm my mind and racing thoughts. I have good relationships at work and my current position has taught me that I can trust my coworkers again. I am sleeping through the night, never miss work, enjoy work. I am slowly but surely losing weight naturally, and most of the time and ok being alone.
I have come to terms with my self and continue to work on things each and every day. People always ask my what my goals in life are and in the dating world if you don’t have big bold things usually it is a turn off to a potential suiter. My goals in life are to survive. To be happy and stable with myself. That is it. Yes, a lot of money, a nice house and being able to live all of my dreams out would be fantastic. But at the end of the day I would be perfectly content with just being stable, mind and body, and happy. People also ask me what I want as a career. I am working on a career that will provide me the ability to be financially stable. However, my passion, is psychology and helping others that battle the self-doubt, addiction, and depression as I have. I would love for one day to open a community center for teens that they could paint, play games, talk to counselors, etc. A place for kids that don’t have a great home life or school life to escape to. Completely free to them and ran on volunteers who want to give back and help others. I personally find that painting and playing games help me to escape and unfortunately there are many places that I can go and do that where I would feel comfortable. I am very open about myself, my history, my mind, my diagnoses and the beliefs in hope that if I can help just one person in my life that I have done what god wants me to do. The holidays are the hardest and literally am getting over probably the lowest point I have had in the last 2 years. With the help of my step mom I have been able to come to terms and heal a little faster this time. I over analyze every situation in my life, and have to consciously talk positively to myself as I naturally gravitate to all things negative. I have searched internally to try and understand my triggers and why I act the way I do in different situations. Working in HR, having the type of counseling I have and the way I think had provided me with the tools to lead a happy fulfilling life one day at a time. There are a lot of other details to my story. Different situations that have influenced my self harm and anger. Parts of the story that are told when they can help someone, or help me to get clarity. This is just a highlight of the bullying, self-harm, sexual addiction and destructive relationships I have overcame in the past 30 years. I am a better person today than I was yesterday and I will be a better person tomorrow than I am right now. Thank you for letting me tell my story and I hope I can help someone someday if even to just be an ear. No one is alone.
If you enjoyed Amanda’s story, send a bit of encouragement in the comments section below or share this story with others.