T O P I C R E V I E W
James the Dark
Member # 32379
posted 01-22-2007 06:40 PM
Hello. My 'name' is James, and I am a survivor of abuse.
I am a twenty one year old male who has extreme social anxiety, to the point where I can barely attend university lectures, because crowds of people have given me panic attacks. I also am, fairly frankly, my own worst enemy. I have a fairly severe case of depression which has lasted at least nine years, and at my worst, I had actively considered suicide. Let me first say that I am thankful every day for my family. They were the one pillar of support, the lone ray of light in the darkness of my development. While my father was an advocate of corporal punishment (although he stopped entirely by the time I was six. He confided that he felt terrible about ever laying a hand on me or my brother), he was always a kind and caring man. And my mother was a demon, but a demon on my side. I couldn't help but pity anybody that thought they could browbeat her; she once made a school administrator cry. Needless to say, no matter what happened, as soon as I got home, I was safe. That was lucky, I guess. I was abused by my peers for twelve years, starting with my very first day of school, whereupon a pair of twelveth graders took my six-year-old head and smashed it into the pavement outside the front doors of the school. After that, the abuse was unceasing and crippling. My classmates either shunned or accousted me at any opportunity. The teachers were either oblivious or complicit in this; my second grade teacher actually dragged me out of the classroom by my hair. The principals of that school sided with the abusers, were completely indifferent to my plight, or only mildly interested in my problems. There was not a single peer who touched me without the intention to cause me harm. Eventually, the jurisdictions of the two local schools were rewritten, and it became feasible for me to go to another school, and I transferred out so quickly the yokels in that hellhole were left spinning. There, physical abuse was traded for emotional abuse. My attempts at forging friendships were met with ridicule, until I couldn't even force myself to try any longer. It was during this period that my social anxiety began to manifest, because social situations, by then, would upset me to the point of tears. I began to avoid people in general. In the end, I only only had one friend in three years I spent in high school, and I hadn't even gotten close to starting a sexual relationship. By the end of high school, my depression was hitting its lowest of lows, as I had serious and repeated suicidal compulsions. I believed with whole heart, at that time, that there was no way I was going to live to the age of 20. These problems persisted into my first year of university. To be honest, I didn't even begin to learn how to act in public, and society, until two years ago. Before that, it was entirely self-preservation. Things are slowly changing. I have friends again, albeit so few I can count them on one hand without moving past the middle finger. I've started on antidepressant medication, although it doesn't seem to help. My self-esteem is still catastrophically low, but it's higher than nil, where once it rested, and I've recently become able to admit to myself that I am not a fat, hideous bastard (I look pretty average, actually. I just really believed, that I was overweight). I still have enormous problems, though. I can't touch people. Think about that. I can't physically touch other people: Any time I even consider it, a primal fear wells up inside me and I can't even move my arm. Any time people touched me, it was to hurt me, and a part of my psyche won't let that go. Too, I have incredible problems meeting new people, and any time I'm in a group of more than ten people, I have to stay near the edge, or a door, or I hyperventilate and I have to leave. This makes classes difficult, and most social situations all but impossible. As well, I have the poorest memory of anybody I know. It seems that everybody else has at least a modicum of memories from their early years. I have almost none. The only reason I know now what happened then was because of the journals, and the things I told my parents. For all I know, I could have been sexually assaulted, and not even remember it. It's not aggravating; it's frightening how little memory I have. It remains compromised to this day. My long term memory is still dung-like in quality, as though it's actively struggling to forget any and everything. So, there I am. I've perservered, although by no real action of my own. Dr House once asked how tough we want our lives to be, and I'm fairly sure my own falls on the far end of the spectrum (although, admittedly, I haven't a shade on some of the other problems on this board. If I was ever a sexual victim, I don't remember it). So I'm alone, because I'm afraid to do anything else. I write, because it's the only outlet I have. I exist, because it's impossible for me to not, because I somehow keep on surviving. I've been hit by a car, drove off the road into a forest at high speed, almost drowned in a frozen river... I just won't die. Despite my every dire prediction, I not only survived to the age of 20, I've surpassed it. I'm tough. I've got a good heart. I'm creative. I'd look like Colin Farrell, if he were to bathe more often. No, really. I've gotten that compliment. I'm still here. And I guess that's all that matters. Sorry. I just felt I had to vent. [ 01-22-2007, 09:25 PM: Message edited by: James the Dark ]
Member # 3
posted 01-23-2007 10:31 AM
Hey, James, sounds to me like you've managed to do okay so far, and are clearly on the road to a much better place.
I hear you with the murky memory issues any kind of abuse often results in: a LOT of survivors of all types of abuse find ourselves frustrated with it. Do you feel like you need some resolution? One reason I ask is that I'm wondering if a letter to the administrators at the school where you were bullied so badly might not give you at least one form of some closure: you'd be able to address all you want and need to, and possibly also do something in doing that which might help other kids down the road, should a more sensitive administrator than you had read the letter. Also, with the meds, are you getting any real therapy?
James the Dark
Member # 32379
posted 01-23-2007 01:37 PM
Counciling on a weekly basis. As I said, it's mostly to vent and for him to try to point me in directions my self-preservatory instinct would rather I not go.
There's not going to be much resolution, however. Most of the teachers, and the three principals who were in charge at the time have all retired, or been fired. The torturers have all gone away. It's just a building, now, free of the people who imbued it with so hateful an aura.
Member # 27276
posted 01-23-2007 04:22 PM
I hope this doesn't sound hollow, James, but I wish you the best. I also have very weak social skills, dislike being touched and was also the victim of abuse from my peers in grade school, though not nearly as violent as your experiences. It's no easy feat to keep on going after things like that, and I hope things get better for you.
Member # 13388
posted 01-24-2007 07:17 AM
James, my best friend of mine was harassed in high school. It was mostly sexual harassment-- she had gone to her counselor, etc. about it to have them say "oh, it's just what boys do when they like you!" She felt like she was silenced by them until she went to college to study psychology.
She returned to the school as a graduate student in community counseling, where she met with the principal to discuss her experiences. She wasn't completely happy with the session (what can I say, they didn't stop it for years) but she did receive an apology and felt a little better. She then worked on introducing anti-bullying laws at the local and state levels. I'm really sorry you had to experience this; it's horrible, and processing it isn't easy either. But as you say yourself, there's a lot of great stuff about you. Please don't feel alone, because people (whether here on the boards or people you know) really do care about you. Although I can imagine it's extra hard when you don't have much in-person support of people who've gone through the same. Are there any anti-bullying organizations in Canada? Would you like us to look for some for you? Talking to fellow surviors, be it online, could really help-- as well as potentially empower you to do activism. My friend said doing activism (in addition to therapy and trying medication) has helped her self-esteem and she feels like she's helping others avoid going through what she's gone through. You expressed your experiences really well here in writing. I second Heather'r recommendation about the letter. How would you feel about writing an open letter to your university newspaper or to your town's newspaper if not to the school? What about writing to the school's Parent-Teacher Association? While such actions carry the risk of people harassing you for being open, it could also make you and others get in contact and at least feel less alone. What do you think of it? What would your parents/friends/counselor say? Being tough, being goodhearted, having supportive family and friends may not change the pain you went through, but they are great to have when going through life. Which may have it's ups and downs, but does get better, or so I believe.
Member # 94
posted 01-25-2007 12:43 AM
Hey James, I really feel for you. I received a lot of emotional and verbal abuse during my school years-- not to the same extent as you, but to a far greater extent than most people, and although I managed to hide it, it crushed my self-esteem in some ways for many years, and if I'm not careful those old demons can come back (I am very careful though). I think one of the main things that got me through it was immersing myself in fiction as a substitute for healthy relationships with my peers, and in turn that gave me some interests that I could use to reach out to others once I got a bit older.
Anyway, I'm not sure how helpful this is; I just wanted to say that you aren't alone-- my experiences aren't as bad as yours, but I know where you are coming from, and I know that you can stay in there and get through it.
Member # 29534
posted 03-22-2007 06:05 AM
James, I really empathise with you. I also have minimal memory of my life until I was about 13/14, and major boundary and trust issues along with a supreme dislike of physical contact and some very antisocial feelings.
I don't believe I was abused, but rather that I've suffered through immense emotional crises: my parents used to fight, my brother got thrown out, one of his friends that was like a second brother was murdered, brother had a child (and then two more also got married, nw divorced), my parents seperated then divorced, my mother lived with chronic illness, she died, lots of moving around, mother having a somewhat abusive boyfriend, my uncle (pathological liar) living with us, kicking him out... and so on. Also being homeschooled most of my life and living in really remote areas I didn't even grow up in a normal school environment, getting into highschool was a major shock for me because it was the first time I'd ever been in a "normal" environment which meant major angst and other issues. Now I'm recovering from major health problems, I live with my dad, who is pretty much neglecting, even though he tries really hard. I've had enough experience taking care of myself and others to be able to survive though. He also has a girlfriend, who hates me and I'm beggining to suspect may be abusive towards both of us... It's taken me nearly three years to figure this out after I've been through councilling and even a rehab/crises center. I've also considered and planned suicide several times, and not expected to live to/past 21. Not there yet, but we'll see. Anyway the point is, you're not alone, and I hear you.
James the Dark
Member # 32379
posted 03-23-2007 05:55 PM
Well, I've had a nervous breakdown. That just makes the day complete.
All throughout today, I had a feeling like my brain was sizzling. I was so scared of what I was going to do that I shut myself in my apartment. That way, I wouldn't be easily able to do something I'd later regret. It came to a head about an hour ago when I went fetal on my bed and cried like a lonely puppy for almost an hour. Right now, I'm feeling hollow, tired, and at least a bit hopeless. What can I do? The few friends I have are moving to Japan and Korea, respectively. My vocational outlook has all the potential of a bristleless toothbrush. I haven't been able to forge a new, lasting relationship with anybody in more than three years. Still haven't even summoned the courage or motivation to make overtures towards a romantic relationship of any kind. Just today, I was reading a story where everybody is literally having every possible thing in their lives go wrong, and at no point could I look at any one of them and say "Boy, I'm glad I'm not him". Worst of all, I'm really starting to worry about my mind. The entire time I was weeping, that little voice I assumed was the sound of me thinking was laying into me like was wearing black leather and had paid for it. Even as my body was heaving for air and my eyes were leaking fluidly, it felt like I was dead calm, like I could just stand up, stop crying, and get on with my day if I so chose. It's like I don't feel my emotions, even when I'm experiencing them. I'm just having an upsetting evening. Well, it should be upsetting. Emotionally, I couldn't give a damn about it.
Member # 13388
posted 03-23-2007 09:09 PM
I'm sorry to hear you're having such a hard time right now, James. Leaving friends can be really heartwrenching... especially when other things don't seem to be looking up. But they WILL be better again, it just might a little slodging through stuff for awhile. I think making new friends post/near the end of college is hard for everyone, but something that ultimately works out-- it's not just you here. And the romantic relationship will come with time. Could you look to finding something near your family, or at least look into something temporary there? What field will your degree be in? And, you know, sometimes days like this, when we seem to be at the end of our wits, for (us to notice) things starting to get better.
Member # 29534
posted 04-08-2007 02:15 PM
(Sorry for the late reply...issues) quote: Originally posted by James the Dark: Well, I've had a nervous breakdown. That just makes the day complete. All throughout today, I had a feeling like my brain was sizzling. I was so scared of what I was going to do that I shut myself in my apartment. That way, I wouldn't be easily able to do something I'd later regret. It came to a head about an hour ago when I went fetal on my bed and cried like a lonely puppy for almost an hour. Right now, I'm feeling hollow, tired, and at least a bit hopeless. It was actually something like this (with the psychotic twist of me seeing various unreal things) that ended me in the crises center and failing my end of year exams, which didn't help much as work is my life.
Everyone beats themselves up sometimes, some of us are just better at is than others. All I can really say to you is that it's going to okay, it's hard to get there but it happens. Everytime you fall you have to dust yourself off and get up off the ground. And remember, it's not just for you, it's for you to prove to the world that no matter what happens nothing will completely break you, to give hope for the rest of us who are with you and doing exactly the same thing.