I’m your typical girl who went a couple of years to college, got married, put the husband through his college, and had two wonderful boys. I had the added privilege of being able to home school my boys K-12. Three years ago, my ex-husband divorced me after 25 years. At that time I had a nervous breakdown and was able to find Community Mental Health to help me usher in a very new type of life for me and for my good.
Throughout my life, I dealt with two main narcissistic people: a family member and my ex-husband, who was horribly violent with himself and inflicted his anger to the rest of us daily. From a life of Domestic Violence and hard physical work, I deal with pain daily. I have had 18 surgeries and breast cancer twice; but I think that all my physical pain will never, ever match my mental pain. Throughout all of this time, it has been my strong faith in God which has sustained me to keep on going in life.
It has been harder for me to deal with life the last three years than it was to home school my boys all their lives. If CMH wasn’t there, I know that I easily could have tried suicide a few times and now that scares me; but with the different medications that I was put on to help me deal with this world and literally my own ‘little’ world, I’m very pleased to say my future allows me another chance to live a totally different kind of life – one where I think about me and what my needs are, instead of 25 years of constantly being violated by my ex-husband.
I do have to say just how much I have learned about Domestic Violence, the severe depression that never seems to leave me, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Through my therapists, many different classes at CMH and the Psychiatrist, I can clearly see that I have been able to get a little better and that says lots for me! I have a saying that I use only at the lowest of my points, which is, ‘I am slipping into darkness.’ It’s a time which I know I’ll have to work much harder to keep myself going. One thing many people do not understand about P.T.S.D. is that it isn’t just the Veterans or people who witness a horrible event in their life, but it is also for a person like me who has been plagued by Domestic Violence and all the Narcissism I’ve dealt with most of my life.
I used to think that I would be selfish to allow myself anything in my marriage because of how my ex-husband treated me. How he treated me made me constantly feel guilty. I still deal with guilt, whether it is warranted or not. It’s like a hovering helicopter over my head that keeps me remembering everything. Here are the different types of ‘tools’ that I have had to acquire all of my life to help me pitch out the negative:
- Imaginary backpack in which I would throw harsh, horrible things knowing I would have to deal with them at another time. The fake backpack was my ‘safety net’ of sorts.
- My strong will and independent spirit along with strong convictions.
- My sense of humor. On the outside I just acted like all was well and my humor got me out of many different sad times.
- Labrador Retrievers. I don’t believe I need to say more, but, throughout the marriage I worked with a breeder and we would have 1-3 dogs constantly at home and I cannot tell you how much those dogs meant to me and were such a comfort constantly. They were beautifully bred and we did have the three different colors. I would say to myself sometimes, ‘Those dogs mean so much more to me than my husband.’
- My absolute wonderful way to help me cope was with my favorite – LAKE MICHIGAN! Whenever life was tough I would actually stop what I was doing, close my eyes and take five or so minutes just to think about ‘Sleeping Bear Dunes’ and the public beaches all around the dunes.
- SUNSETS. The sunsets are FREE and just magnificent to watch the sun slip down so slowly into the lake! There were so many different colors for just a little while and my mind constantly thinks of those beautiful sunsets. I would imagine staring at the delicate line of water meeting the sky while the sun constantly moved with the earth’s rotation. Nobody would bother me and it was worth at least a million dollars to me! I’m instantly happier and then I go back to whatever it is I was doing, knowing that my sad/bad thoughts ten or so minutes earlier were just a distant memory.
I have also learned that I’m not at all ashamed about going to CMH. The barrier of long ago (and even today) with the Psychiatric Hospitals and all of the negative things that happened at them is what many still cannot seem to get out of their minds and they are afraid to even talk about psychiatric things because they have been so misinformed all their lives. That stereotype needs to be changed into what is NOW ‘out there’ for everyone; how CMH is so much a vital center where anybody can go for mental help.
For me, CMH has been a major source to learn new skills to help me get beyond the thoughts that rule my brain and my old ways of thinking so now I can immediately think back to the different skills I’ve learned and get rid of the sad and frightening thoughts. Just three years ago I really wanted to be dead, and when I think of that now, I just shake my head in wonder. I think of right now and see how much I’ve learned and grown. It’s so beyond my imagination. Now is the time to go on, and I truly mean GO ON, with life, knowing what my strengths are. I want to help others try to cope with their own problems because I’ve had enough of my own. Each day brings about different kinds of success; I’m willing to keep on learning and doing because it all does work.
I have a long way to go and I have totally learned what it means to take ‘one day at a time’; I’m so much more aware that my future is very bright, all because CMH has taught me many new ‘tools’ with which to work.