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Archive for June 10th, 2010

We moved when I was 11 to a rural area outside of a major city, and – just like that – the abuse ended. No more being awakened in the middle of the night to be harmed. No more scary people, torture, or trauma. Just like that, it was over. My host personality stayed out most of the time. I started retaining day-to-day memories that I continue to have today.

I was in the 6th grade when we moved, and the aftereffects started when I was in 7th grade. I started binge eating, although I had no idea what that was. I just knew that I had an insatiable appetite, and I gained a lot of weight. I went from being a skinny kid to weighing over 100 pounds rapidly.

Seventh grade was a tough year for me. At my old school, other children had taken me under their wing (I have no idea why). At my new school, I did not have a single friend. I hated the cafeteria because I ate alone, and I hated gym class because we would frequently be told to choose a partner, and I would be the odd kid out who was partnered with the coach. This was the first time I started thinking about suicide. I was extremely depressed but could not articulate why. This continued into 8th grade.

In 9th grade, a new kid came to our school named C. She was instantly popular (as in well-liked) across all groups in the school – jocks, “freaks,” nerds, etc. She and I connected because we both have crazy mothers. I was enthralled by her ability to make people like her, so I “studied” and “mirrored” her. As soon as I started doing this, people started responding to me differently. As an adult, I have excellent people skills, and I owe them all to C. She is the one who taught me how to interact with people, and I was an excellent student. Faye became a mirror of C.

I had my ups and downs in high school, earning straights A’s while battling suicidal urges on and off. I even wrote my junior midterm paper on teen suicide. My father remarked that a lot of the warning signs in my paper sounded like me, but it never occurred to him that I was at risk.

I became very active in a youth group at our latest church, and I was finding my way toward a faith that I could embrace as mine. However, I struggled with a lot of seemingly unrelated issues, including major weight gain and loss, binge eating, depression on and off, and anxiety. I also struggled with panic attacks, although I did not know what they were. Out of nowhere, my body would start shaking, and the shaking would last 15 or 20 minutes before it ran its course. Then, I would sleep like the dead.

I reached my senior year of high school, and I thought I was going to be okay. Then, my father died.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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