My guest blogger today is Tea Jay. Tea Jay is a 24-year-old Mom, based in New England, living with BPD and PTSD.
She is best known for an absolutely spell-binding blog post When You're In The Gray Area Of Being Suicidal (Do check it out here:).
In her spare time Tea Jay works for NAMI - the National Alliance on Mental Health - and writes books about mental health.
You can follow Tea Jay on Twitter: https://twitter.com/helloteajay
And check out her mental health book here: www.amazon.com/Im-Sick-Mental-Health-Adults/dp/1521753199
It wasn’t so much the hitting that bothered me. He didn’t hit me that often, and during those fights I could fight back. I could protect myself when he hit me, even if it left me with bruises and fat lips.
Besides, when he hit me he would be so kind after, as if it never happened to begin with. We were our happiest 48 hours after he hit me. He would swear up and down that it would never happen again, and for a while I would believe him until his temper started boiling over again and the attacks would start again. It wasn’t the hitting that damaged me.
It was when he called me crazy for having a therapist and for taking medications that really bothered me. Because in a way he was right. I was crazy; I was mentally unstable. I couldn’t control my depression or the mania that was waiting for me on the other side. I was rapid cycling between highs and lows. I couldn’t keep up with my emotions; he certainly was getting whiplash. One moment I would be fine, then in the same breath I would be wild, crying uncontrollably. I can’t even imagine what I must have looked like to him.
He said he loved me though, and I believed him. He told me it was all in my head, I just needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I tried, believe me I tried. I wanted nothing more than to be stable, to be sane. I tried talking to myself positively. I tried practicing self-love. I tried telling myself it was all in my head, and that I just needed to get over it. I wanted so desperately to be the girlfriend he needed, the girlfriend he deserved. But I just couldn’t manage that with my Borderline Personality Disorder.
Eventually he wanted me to stop taking my medications. He told them they were silencing me, that I wasn’t my creative self, that I was slowly killing myself with Big Pharma pumping through my veins. I didn’t feel myself on the medications, and he knew best, so I stopped taking my medications. Then he told me he was afraid I was telling my therapist lies, so he asked me to stop seeing him. My parents pushed for me to stay in therapy, but I just couldn’t see how it was helping if my boyfriend and I were still fighting.
He started telling me I shouldn’t talk a certain way because I sounded crazy. He wanted me to focus in on a career, and to really settle down. He didn’t have time for my artistic endeavors anymore. He wanted me to get serious. I grew to be very depressed; he called me lazy during those times. It didn’t matter how hard I worked, or how much I tried. Whenever he came home to see me crying in bed I was just a lazy girl, and I was letting him down.
My parents pleaded with him to let me continue to get me help. They sent him articles about my illness. He disregarded them all and told me my parents thought I was crazy too. I stopped talking to my family. I didn’t want them to just think I was a failure, this crazy failure. I was humiliated to talk to my mother. I couldn’t look my father in the eyes.
My boyfriend started to tell me that I was crazy when we were out in public. I would start crying as we walked down the streets together. He would sigh and roll his eyes. There I go again, acting crazy. He was so ashamed to be in public with me. He told me the town knew me as the “crazy crying girl.” That made me afraid to ever reach out to anyone. It made me afraid when I was walking around with swollen lips and a discolored face. People would ask, “Who did this to you?” and I wouldn’t answer. Why bother? They all thought I was crazy anyway.
Eventually my mental health hit a low point and I had to be hospitalized. It was my parents who were there for me, not my boyfriend. In fact, he disappeared from my life, moved out of our apartment, and changed his number. I finally had done it; I had outdone myself. I was crazy enough to scare him off. I was so sad to lose him, spending nights missing his touch and days in therapy talking about how I lost my boyfriend. But it was okay; I was safe. I was able to go to therapy and get medication without feeling ashamed. I was starting to get better, even if I was heartbroken. I was starting to find stability.
Until one day I received a call from a blocked number. It was him. He wanted to be with me, too. He didn’t mean to leave me, he even blamed my parents for his departure. How easily I believed him. I quit therapy and medications again and went running back into his arms.
We stayed together for another year after my hospitalization. Things got more intense in the last year. He found that he could manipulate me with my craziness. He would ask me to do things I was uncomfortable with, ending his requests with “You don’t want me to think you’re crazy, right?” I would do them, as if I was willing. I just didn’t want to hear that I was crazy. Crazy meant I was unstable. Crazy was the worst thing in the world to be called. He could call me anything else; ugly, fat, bitch. Just as long as it wasn’t crazy. Crazy was a nasty word to me. I think it bothered me so much because of the stigma that surrounds mental health.
My mental health got worse as his behavior grew darker. He started telling me, knowing I was in fragile mind states, that the world would be better off without me. He wanted me dead. He would tell me I was a coward for not killing myself sooner. In his darkest moments, upon telling him that I was suicidal, hoping to hear that I was needed, he pushed a handful of pills towards me. He told me to end it all. I swallowed the pills and he left. I woke up days later in an empty apartment, with no missed calls. That was when I knew I needed help.
I decided to not only get treatment for my mental health, but to leave the state, going home to my family. The more distance I was from him the more likely I was to answer his phone calls, his pleas for me to return home. I was able to ignore him, and I found my voice again in therapy.
It took me a few weeks to realize that I was just in an abusive relationship. It didn’t click when he hit me. It didn’t click when he called me names. But it made sense, almost immediately, that he was abusive when he called me crazy.
He made me afraid of myself. He made me question every little thing I did. He helped me grow out of love with myself. I was angry with him, for betraying my love and trust. But I was angrier with myself. I never thought I’d be the girl in an abusive relationship. I always thought I’d be strong enough to get out of an abusive situation.
But there I was, falling victim to abuse for three years.
Time passed, and eventually I met someone else. I didn’t plan on falling in love ever again. I was content by myself. I may have been alone, but I was seldom lonely. Falling in love with this new guy seemed to be effortless, out of my control. I decided to take things slower with him. I hesitated to invite him over. I kept to just talking on the phone for the first month we started talking.
Eventually he came over. I was starting to feel comfortable with him. He was touring my apartment when he discovered my giant pill box. He asked if I was sick. I replied with a “sorta.” He became concerned and sat me down to talk. I invited him into my world and told him everything. I was struggling with a mood disorder and childhood trauma. He nodded, and said it was okay. I half expected him to be running and screaming out of the apartment.
He never asked me about the pills again, only to remind me that I needed to take my medications before falling asleep. He only talked about my therapy to remind me of appointments and ask how they were going. I felt uncomfortable with him knowing I had a mental illness, but I was also uncomfortable with how calm he was about it. It threw me off. I thought every guy would just write me off as crazy. I wasn’t expecting to find love by being myself.
I started to think he was cheating. That was the only way I could justify how cool he was being with my mental health. I decided to check his search history on his phone; I was blown away with what I found. He had spent hours at night researching my mental health, looking up my diagnosis, reading books online to better understand what I was going through. He was researching me. I was blown away. He truly just wanted to understand. From that day on I had nothing but trust and love for him. He even ended up being the guy I married and started a family with. He has helped me understand that my illness doesn’t define me. He has become my advocate for when I need a medication change or a new therapist. He is by my side, constantly helping me conquer my episodes and find stability again.
It took me a few years to realize it, but having a mental illness doesn’t warrant abuse. You are not a bad person for having a mental illness. You are struggling! Not everyone is going to understand, but you can expect your partner to have an open mind to it. You don’t deserve to be called “crazy” and made to think less of yourself for having a mental illness. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment. Mental illness doesn’t define you, but it is a part of you. It’s something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. If you choose to share that life with someone, make sure they’re there to support you, in sickness and in health. Don’t for a moment think you’re not worthy of love because you’re sick.