Lesson Learned: How False Spirituality and Toxicity Ruined a Friendship


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By Shermeeka Mason

 

The issues started two weeks ago when my former housemate, Kelleigh, told me that I had to move out.  And I was given two weeks.

The reason, she explained, was that I became too comfortable, that she and her partners, Alan and James, were enabling me by letting me stay longer, and that I was prevented from reaching my highest potential.

At first, I thought about what she said, actually believing to some extent that Kelleigh may be right. The time period I was allotted was, of course, not enough, so I asked if I could stay until August 1st so I could at least get everything situated.  “But will you be able to pay,” she asked with slight concern.   My unemployment ran out at the beginning of June so I was unable to pay the $300 needed to pay for the room me and my cat Tobias shared (I thought my benefits would last until October—around the same time I was terminated).  Until then, I was told that I could stay for an extended time as long as I paid rent every month—which I did until the benefits dried up.

Now I was given a two-week notice to “reach my highest potential.”

With very little money to my name, this sudden change caused me unnecessary anxiety and depression that made me emotionally shut down for the two days (I usually do this to process anything negative going on).  My coping mechanism instigated further tension that resulted in me and Kelleigh distancing ourselves from one another.

It all came to a head when I found out from a lawyer friend of mine that, because I was not served eviction papers by a marshal, then Kelleigh and Alan were legally obligated to grant me thirty days to move out—not two weeks as originally requested.  When I told Kelleigh this, that was when her true nature and feelings about me revealed themselves.

“So you’d rather stay someplace where you’re not even wanted?” she asked aggressively.

“It doesn’t matter,” I replied, feeling my own agitation. “I still have thirty days according to New York State law.”

“If you’re not out by Friday, your stuff will be on the lawn.”

“You can’t do that either because it’s against the law.”

“This is my fucking house and I can do whatever I want.”

When I stood my ground, her voice became louder and her tone more aggressive. She eventually declared the conversation over with and I left her room.  I retreated to my room, my entire body shaking as I began dialing numbers absentmindedly just to talk to someone.  The verbal assault and the feeling of being unwanted pushed right back into my childhood.  All this because she was informed of state’s tenant laws?

I was sitting on my bed when she opened my door and starting accusing me of yelling at her.  When I denied doing so, Kelleigh screamed:

“SO NOW YOU’RE WANTING TO PLAY THE VICTIM??  I WANT YOU TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE. YOU YELLED AT ME DOWNSTAIRS, YOU SLAM DOORS, YOU TALK SHIT ABOUT US ON FACEBOOK, YOU BANG ON THE WALLS–”

“No, I didn’t!”

“YES YOU DO!  I HEAR YOU ALL THE TIME DOING IT!  YOU’RE A VIOLENT BITCH!!”

She then slammed the door and pulled on the knob, preventing me from leaving.  “FUCK YOU!! I barked, banging on the door.  I’M NOT VIOLENT, BITCH!!!

Kelleigh quickly opened the door once again.  “SO NOW YOU’RE BANGING ON MY DOOR??  YOU SCARE THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF ME!!”  She then hurried to her own room and shut the door, leaving in tears and reaching out to friends and family on Facebook.

Fuck the thirty days, I thought while I frantically typed my vitriol S.O.S. call.  I wanted out and wanted out right then and there.  Whatever it took—job or no job.   A few minutes later, I heard a knock on my door.  I opened the door with a shaky hand and found myself nearly face to face with not one cop, but two.  Kelleigh told them that I lunged at her and because she’s blind, she feared for her safety.  What?  Last time I checked, she displayed very little fear while standing at my door calling me a violent bitch and hurling false accusations.  And now she’s playing the role the potential blind assault victim?

That alone was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

For the rest of the week, I was on guard and extremely standoffish.  If I did address Kelleigh or Alan, it had something to do with what I needed to take care of before I finally left.  Even as my friend Lilah and I loaded her car with my belongings, they displayed bouts of subtle disrespect—especially her husband Alan, who kept observing my every move while doing nothing to help.  When Alan did speak, he made comments like “At least you got the attic cleared out” or “How many more trips do you have?” in attempts to rush me out.

Tobias and I are currently living with my friend Phill and his cat daughter, Princess, until I get on my feet again. He’s a fellow Nichiren Buddhist who immediately opened his home to the both of us and I feel a difference emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Now that I’m settled for the most part, I can finally process the debauchery that was the last week.  In fact, ‘debauchery’ isn’t the appropriate term for this experience.  It was basically an example of an immense abuse of power involving socioeconomics, economic abuse, disability-shaming, mental illness, the misuse of positive psychology, and religious/emotional manipulation.

That’s a mouth full, right?  But bear with me and I’ll explain what I mean.

Before I moved into their home, Kelleigh and I had already connected as friends and spiritual beings. By “spiritual beings,” I’m referring to the fact that we share similar beliefs regarding mediumship, energy, and anything pertaining to the paranormal. I do not speak about that part of my life often, so it was a relief to share that aspect of myself with someone.  It was because of this that I also connected with her emotionally, disclosing to her my distrust of most people while crying on her shoulder.  So I moved in truly believing I had found a kindred spirit.

They all knew that I had no job and living on unemployment, but also me and my cat to stay in the spare room because we were all under the impressions that I would be gone within two weeks.  But when my housing plans fell through, Kelleigh comforted me by saying that it was ok because she appreciated a having a spiritual woman in the house—even if only a for short period.

Eventually I was given the opportunity to stay there as long as I paid rent because I couldn’t find a place.  She told me that was a member of the family and became enmeshed in their household culture as far as helping around the house.

Though I was grateful for their help, there were some red flags—especially in regards to finances. They had more of an income than I did, yet took the majority of my benefits for rent.  I was initially supposed to pay $400, but that was too much, considering the other expenses I had.  I even said that if $400 was the price, then I will have to find another location.

“Where are you going to go where you can stay for free?” she asked.  I told her that I could reach out the Care Management team at Trillium, but no other immediate option other than a shelter.

We finally agreed on $300 a month—or $75 a week.  Though it was still a little steep, it was better than being on the street and it included everything. But I soon began falling behind on other expenses such as my cell phone bill and storage fee.  Despite me sharing this concern, Kelleigh and Alan still expected to pay the amount agreed.

Speaking of concerns, there were also a few times when Kelleigh criticized my use of mental health services.  She stated more than once that, though completely blind, she managed to maintain her independence without the services.  Therefore, she didn’t understand why I couldn’t do the same, wondering what I would do for myself once mental health services were no longer an option for me.

I became defensive immediately, explaining to her that this was my first time ever focusing on my mental health and trauma since graduating from college!  Noticing my distress, Kelleigh told me that she and I were “the same person” because “we are both emotional people.”  I want to point out that she made this comment a few times whenever I was upset about something she said or did.  In retrospect, this was classic gaslighting, a form of emotional manipulation utilized by abusers to make their victims question their own reality.

But I refused to internalize her words, knowing that they only reason why I became pissed: she compared her reality, her experiences, and emotion irregulation to mine when they were dissimilar.

For one, Kelleigh not only collects disability, but has two employed partners supporting her and the household financially.  She has enough income to pay a mortgage, care for a menagerie of pets, and buy spiritual books online.  I, on the other hand, was homeless and heavily relying on unemployment benefits to rent a room and care for Tobias—while searching for employment.  And until recently, I was not prescribed adequate medication for my mental illness and Inattentive ADD so I was dealing with suicide ideations, chronic depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms—in addition to not possessing the wherewithal to maintain focus and motivation.  I’m the complete opposite when on the right meds and I know this about myself.

So by making such comparisons, my fellow “spiritual being” was erroneously implying that I heavily rely on services as if they were a crutch. Even if that was the case, my receiving assistance—and what that entailed—was really no concern of hers as I was taking the initiatives necessary to better myself.  Therefore, Kelleigh’s assessment of me using social services I needed was inappropriate, extremely shaming, and psychologically violent.

Her need to give unsolicited pseudo-spiritual advice involving positive psychology soon put me on pause.  Two days after telling me I had to move, Kelleigh accused me of “having an attitude.”  “Either you can make the next two weeks miserable or it could be positive,” she said calmly in front of her silent partners.

“You gave me two weeks and I don’t know what’s going to happen to me,” I snapped.  “So if I have an attitude, it’s because I’m scared.  I’m trying not to go off, which is why I’ve been silent for the past two days.  Ok?”  I then went upstairs to my room, suddenly feeling sickened by what just occurred.

I stopped believing in positive psychology years ago because its main purpose is to completely dismiss individuals’ negative emotions.  Practiced by many metaphysical spiritualists, this school of thought is not only detrimental to those struggling with mental illness and emotional issues, but there is no scientific evidence supporting its validity.  Not to mention that positive psychology is NEVER about the individual dealing with negative thinking, but ALWAYS about someone else’s discomfort.  And in this case, this “choice” pertaining to my emotional state was about Kelleigh and her partners’ discomfort with confrontation.

So telling me to “be positive” when I was being disposed of was nothing more than her slapping me in the face while praying for me.  This alone is why I’m officially distrusting of those practicing metaphysical spirituality, for Kelleigh was the third practictioner to show their true nature once realizing that they have no control over me.

Long story short, I am glad to have distance myself from such a toxic situation.   For the being, Tobias and I are living in a safe place until I find employment that will support me, my furry ball of a son, and my dreams of being a full-time writer and public speaker.  But living with Kelleigh, Alan, and James also revealed to me how I am too nice to individuals who are all too willing to dispose of me.  I experienced this with people I’ve dated, worked with, and befriended.  I wasted so much energy and time striving to prove myself to those who don’t deserve anything involving me.  So regardless of how hurtful and abusive the living arrangement was, I now know that from this moment on, I will give time and energy to not only care for myself and spirit, but support those who show me genuine love and support.

 

Author Bio:  Shermeeka M.L. Mason is a self-published author, blogger, and volunteer radio show host.  She recently published the political science-fiction novel, The One Taken from the Sea of Stars under the pen name Octavia Davis.  She is also the creator of and contributor for two blogs, The Possible World and The Chuck Taylor Buddhist (both available on WordPress.com).  In addition to being an active author, Mason is currently one of the co-hosts of The Bonfire Talks on WAYO 104.3 FM.  In her spare time, she reads, performs with the Rochester Womens’ Community Chorus, binges on Facebook, and spends time with beloved cat-son, Tobias.

 

 

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The Danger of House Bill 2


“I’ve been sexually assaulted, physically attacked, felt unsafe in my own house, and nearly killed myself because I’m transgender. Now I’m not saying that its the same struggle as racism. But what I will say is that if people are intentionally ignorant you can’t fight them with words. Sometims you have to fight back. Or scream. And you know what. That’s life. Despite the lies you may have been told no one won their rights by asking for them nicely. People fought for them. So ya I’m sorry if what I said may “offend” a few white people, but I’m going to fuking say it anyways.”

Adam Snowflake, Transgender author

 

On Wednesday, March 23, the State of North Carolina’s General Assembly meet in Raleigh for a special session.  That “special session” turns out to be one that greatly affects members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, queer, and agender community. One involving Republican Governor Pat McCrory signing into law the most pro-discriminatory bill within 30 minutes.

The Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, known as House Bill 2, completely overturns Charlotte’s anti-discrimination ban that includes those protecting the GLBTIQA community—especially those identifying as transgender.  Under this oppressive law, transfolks are now prohibited to use restrooms based on the gender with which they identify.  They instead are forced to enter the restrooms based on the gender printed on their birth certificate.  K-12 schools are no longer obligated to offer or even add gender neutral bathrooms.

For obvious reasons, there is so much wrong with this bill and the process it took to pass it. The special session cost taxpayers $42,000 just so the House could hastily push it through.  Every Republican backed the bill, stating that the Charlotte’s updated ordinance violated religious freedom and the safety of straight woman who have to share bathroom with transpeople (so apparently only straight women are in danger when using the bathrooms). Even after the ordinances are updated back in February in Charlotte, the GOP are very vocal about shutting down the laws before April 1.

But it doesn’t take much thought (or at least it shouldn’t) to recognize that House Bill 2 is targeting the transgender community.  From day one, there has been the issue among all the Republican and some Democrats about transpeople using bathrooms that corresponds with the gender they identify with.  For whatever reason, that topic has been the main focus of this bill and prompts members of both parties to undermine the state’s law.  But House Bill 2 goes beyond bathroom politics pertaining to transpeople.  It indeed causes more harm by doing the following:

 

1) It propagates misinformation regarding transpeople and sexual violence.

There are no reports or empirical data supporting even a shred of evidence linking sexual predatory behavior to being trans or of trans individuals victimizing children or women.  On the contrary, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known by the child victim that isn’t a family member (i.e. babysitter, coach, neighbor).  Furthermore, thirty percent (30%) of perpetrators are family members while 10% are completely unknown to the child.

In regards to women, they are more likely to be victimized by their intimate partner. Young girls are often raped or molested by someone they either know or have developed a relationship with.  There are no reports from them indicating that transpeople are out here searching for female victims.  Even if the girl or woman have been victimized by a trans individual, there would more likely be an established relationship between the parties involved.

Speaking of gender identity and sexual orientation, the typical perpetrator, the majority of them not only identify as heterosexual, but have dating relationships with women.  In other words, a child is more likely to be molested or sexual assaulted by a straight male they are already have a relationship with and there is no empirical data or research stating otherwise.

2)   House Bill 2 perpetuates mental illness and poverty.

Because HB 2 bans the anti-discrimination laws that have been scheduled to go into effect on April 1, transpeople are now at the mercy of employers who can either terminate their trans employees or deny them employment. This may ultimately lead to poverty and/or homelessness. Since there aren’t many homeless shelters exclusively for transpeople (if no family support is available), they will more likely have to live in a shelter, where they will endure transphobia.

Transphobia and poverty are known to cause depression, anxiety, and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Complex Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) and other mental illnesses due to no longer having the means to maintain their most basic needs such as housing and food. Many transpeople turn to sex work in order to pay for their medical needs, risking their safety and their very lives.  Studies show that transgender individuals are more likely to become victims of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or homicide—especially if they are homeless and/or doing sex work.

In is also reported that those living in poverty have a high onset of physical health issues as well.  Many transpeople not only have difficulty obtaining adequate health insurance but report facing discrimination from medical professionals.  This could one of the reasons why HIV has increased among transwomen who engage in sex work.  With HB 2 in effect, transpeople could be denied employment and housing and perhaps mental and medical health services as well.

3) House Bill 2 perpetuates the idea of Otherness through the politics of passing.

Going back to the bathroom topic, this idea of forcing transpeople to utilize facilities based on the gender on their birth certificate also plays into the politics of otherness.  If a transperson can “pass,” then they can use bathrooms and locker rooms coinciding with the gender they identify with—regardless of whether they change the information on their birth certificate of not.  However, if a transperson is unable to pass (or choose not to) for whatever reason, then they are forced to enter an environment in which they are not comfortable because they are deemed a threat to cis heterosexual social norms.  And by being labeled a threat, the transperson is now an Other when they only want to be their authentic selves.

As poverty and unemployment would, otherness also places transpeople at a disadvantage by increasing their risk of being sexual, emotionally, physically, and spiritually violated—especially if they have not fully transitioned (or choose not to).  This is all because of a law passed on the erroneous propaganda that transpeople are sexual predators when all they wish to do enter, use, and exit the bathroom with impunity.

 

Despite House Bill 2 being passed so quickly, this move may have been a huge detriment finanically.  The bill is deemed unconstitutional and major businesses are already boycotting the state’s oppressive law.  Corporations have been put on pause because the bill now jeopardizes employment and economic growth in the state of North Carolina–unless they withdraw HB 2.

Regardless of the decisions these businesses and corporations come to, the pressing issue is the fact that the lives of transpeople in North Carolina are in mortal danger.  With that being said, we must stand in solidarity with our trans siblings not only in North Carolina but those struggling around the globe.  We must be ready to fight alongside them by any means necessary.  And we must let members of the two party system realize that this type of discrimination is completely unacceptable because, if you’re paying attention, you know it is.

 

 

What Dreams Speak


Last night, I have a strange dream.

For one, I am not even my friend’s home where I live now, but in a house for the mentally ill.  I am in my room during the morning period talking to a man named Travis, who is one of the orderlies working the morning.  I can’t hear his voice, yet I can hear mine.  For some reason, I have this feeling that I’m something invisible is watching me and have been for a while.  I’m telling the orderly this and I tell that I’m not being believed—that whatever I’m saying to Travis is going into one ear and out the other.

Nevertheless, my tone is calm and I feel extremely comfortable in the house—in my room—wearing my pajamas.  When he leaves, I try to close my door, but I find that am unable to. Soon after, I hear a low rumbling demonic voice as the gap in my door becomes wider.  I attempt to push back with all the strength I have, but the invisible force prevents me from closing my bedroom door.

Suddenly, I feel my feet lift off the floor and my legs are floating in the air.  I’m calling for help—especially from a man named Travis. Next, I’m floating out of my room, levitating in front of three men—Travis included.

The Lone Gunmen
The Lone Gunmen–none of them are named Travis.

That is when I wake up.

I haven’t had a nightmare (if you can deem it that) in three months and before that for about a few years.  I will admit that my depression and anxiety has grown worse since the beginning of 2016, but even that doesn’t explain why I feel like an X-File episode waiting to happen.

Then I put two and two together.

Hours before, I have been envisioning my entire future, wondering what my next move should be.  For the past two weeks, I have been going through mixtures of danger, fear, and a sense of being overwhelmed after because I feel as if I have my back against the wall.  To make matters worse, I’m now exposed to the profiles of the couple who sexually assaulted me a year ago (I have blocked them in the past but because I have created a new Facebook page, they of course can easily find me unless I block them again). So I visit the male’s profile and become embittered because not only does he not care about the pain he inflicted, but will get away with it as well as his girlfriend.

I worry about my businesses—or whatever I’m trying to do—will have an impact on anyone one of these days.  Then I feel guilty for having such a selfish thought—for being ungrateful when I shouldn’t be.  I myself have no answers and I feel as if I am shutting down mentally, emotionally and even physically.  And, though I have choices, my brain is so befogged with untreated ADD and depression that every solution that pops into my mind is either unhealthy, illegal or just plain triflin.’

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Jesus…bail money doesn’t come outta thin air, Meeka.

Meanwhile, my cat son Tobias is lying at my feet paying attention to none of this.  So I pet him just to calm myself down.

As I write this post, I’m thinking about what every part of my dream represents.  Travis is my skeptic—the medical and mental health professionals who believe that I’m over exaggerating when all I want is help.  The invisible force is my Dark Passenger attempting to possess me and my entire life.  The levitation is the overwhelming feeling I experience when my depression takes over.  And the three men standing at the stairs watching everything represent the professionals seeing my truth for themselves.

The truth of the matter is that nightmares (or any sort of dream) is our brain’s why of expressing the unspoken. I personally feel as if I am not receiving the treatment I need in order to get better.  The PROS Program is amazing, but without the proper medication needed to help me manage my ADD, depression and emotion regulation, I will not be able to become the real me.

Which is the reason why I have to continue to talk to my therapist, chant, and do everything I can to reach out to people who struggle the way I do.  Because, if not, the dreams will only become worse.  And I can’t have that.

Not A Game of UNO: Zimmerman and the “Race Card”


Ladies and gentlecats,

I’ve been reading comments about the Trayvon Martin case and I am appalled.

I am not just talking about the fact that people (mostly White folks) who are defending George Zimmerman and his actions.  Nor am I just talking about the sick new trend called “Trayvoning,” which involves teens posing as Martin after his death, Skittles and a bottle of tea clutched in their “lifeless” hands.

No, Readers.  I’m talking about the “Race Card” accusations hurled at Black and Brown people.  According to many Caucasians (and even some African-American people), those angry about the verdict and expressing outrage are now playing the “Race Card,” that Black and Brown people are now utilizing race as an excuse to “be angry at White people.”  According to a FORMER Facebook friend, Zimmerman is not even White and he said so.  Therefore, why are Black people so angry about this case?

I have a few answers.

1) The “Race Card” itself.

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Let me back up by explaining the concept of “race.”  Race is a social construct utilized to categorize groups of people based on physical attributes, religion, nationality and language. However, the concept of “race” was also used as a mechanism of oppression (i.e. biologists arguing that the brain of an African was smaller than that of a Caucasian) and continues to be so.   Many people of color (POCs) recognized the latter and have spoken out against injustice, how it is actually a detriment to ALL people.  In turn, many non-POCs and other POCs  accused those speaking out of playing the “Race Card.”  What the “Race Card” refers to is a person using the category in which society has placed him/her/them as an excuse to avoid…well…just about everything.  In other words, we POCs somehow “play victim” just because we are Black, Asian, Hispanic, etc. But this can’t be any further from the truth.  We are not fighting because we’re placed in a certain category, but because we endure adversity associated with those categories on a constant basis.  If anything, the “Race Card” doesn’t make any logical sense; it doesn’t even benefit me. It’s not like I’m playing a game of Uno and I just pulled a “Draw 4” from the deck. No.  This so-called card is only used by those who choose not to examine their own privilege and many POCs are tired of it.

2) Yes.  George Zimmerman is an Hispanic male. What people do not realize, though, is that he is light enough to pass as Caucasian (colorism is also a problem affecting POCs, but that’s a whole nother blog post). If he didn’t announce his ethnicity or make it known to the media, he would have been mistaken for White.  Unlike his victim (who was dark-skinned), Zimmerman’s skin color alone makes him seem non-threatening.  So, had his skin been a couple of shades darker (and if Trayvon was lighter or Caucasian), Zimmerman would not be receiving so much support and would’ve been placed under the prison.

3) The outrage and rage POCs are expressing isn’t anything new.  In fact, this rage have been brewing way before slavery and the Civil Rights Movement.  It began when rich European nations utilized imperialism, colonization, and globalization to cripple Africa and other nations to gain resources.  It began when aboriginal families were ripped apart and their children sent to English speaking boarding schools in order to strip them of their heritage.  It started when people of European descent categorized Black and Brown people as savage, unintelligent, violent, hypersexual and used these stereotypes to either oppress or scapegoat.  So when Zimmerman’s supporters accuse us of playing the “Race Card” and of being hypocrites because we’re not addressing “Black on Black” crime, then yes, there is going to be a problem.

4)  POCs are not angry at Caucasian people (or people who pass as White), but the very system that protects them.  Many Caucasian people do not recognize their own privilege and how it actually keeps them safe, secure and uninformed.  The government and the other systems set in place is/are not even conducive to the lives of impoverished POCs.  In fact, many of the social programs and public schools that lose funding affect communities of color.  There are other injustices as well:  the prison population is predominately African-American due to petty crimes (i.e. drug possession); racial profiling; young teenage boys being murdered because of their skin color; African-American women being coerced into being sterilized in a California prison.  The list goes on.

I’m writing all this because, as an African-American female, I feel like many people don’t see (or choose not to see) what is going on.  I’ve had too many Caucasian guys roll their eyes when I mention the lack of diversity or the injustice POCs face. I’ve been called the “N” word over a parking spot.  I’ve been stereotyped and accused of playing victim simply because of my skin color and my gender.  And the government believes I’m trying to deliberately “play the system” by “driving the Welfare Cadillac.”  People who are privileged–who say that I play the “Race Card”–are afraid of me and my revolutionary friends.

However, I also have hope that people are waking up.  This trial has brought racism and injustice to the surface and people are starting to ask questions.  Granted, racism has its supporters, but there are those–regardless of ethnicity–who are fighting and willing to fight the negativity.

In other words, a better world is possible.  But we all have to work towards it.

Blessing in Disguise: What I Learned While Living in Survival Mode


“When you are as a human being in survival mode, order disappears”
― Harry Kim, actor and director

Ladies and gentlecats,

I am glad the semester is over.

Extremely glad.

Of all the semesters I experienced thus far, this Fall semester was the most difficult. It is not because of the workload (in fact, the material was not mind-shattering hard).  However, it was the content of the material in each class and what that that content was doing to me.

Let me explain.

All three of my classes focused on trauma and trauma-informed care, which stems from the mindset that everyone suffers from some form of trauma.  This also means that we focused on the extreme forms of trauma such as various forms of abuse and maltreatment. Even in my human rights course, the material focused more on trauma and what it does to a person’s psyche.

Now folks, you know my history, but I have to admit that I have only recently sought treatment to combat and overcome my past.  So with stories of sexual abuse (or any type of abuse) slapping me in the face, I found myself not even enjoying the learning process.  If anything, I just tried to do everything to hide my discomfort–all to no avail.

Over the course of the semester, I found myself becoming more hypersensitive to my surroundings by watching almost everyone who walked into a room.  If there were too many people, I left because I am no longer able to observe everyone.  I would become overwhelmed, start crying but then would wipe my tears and tell myself to “pull it together.” If I didn’t become easily agitated about something that happened at school or otherwise, I would shut down and not say anything at all.  Because of the research course debacle over the summer, I no longer trust the administration at the college to have my best interest in mind. That distrust only increased when one of my professors allowed a student to come into her office while she and I were having a private conversation.

Even my personal life began to fall apart.  I don’t have any income at the moment, so I am not able to pay bills and rent (though I will be working in January).  So I feel very overwhelmed with that and I noticed that my sex addiction is kicking up and have sometimes acted out on my impulses.  I felt like a complete failure at life, thinking that I never can be much of anything, let alone an effective social worker.  I, once again, compared myself to the “rock stars” of the social work program and found myself lacking.

I even didn’t want to be around people or tell anyone what was going on inside of me. I told myself that no one wanted to hear my sob story and I had to suck it up and function.  No time for tears.  It’s time to do that paper…about sexually abused African American children.

It’s no wonder I wrote that paper at the last minute.

The straw broke it when my friend committed suicide, only to find out about it a month after it happened.  I’m talking about my friend’s death in therapy, with tears coming down from my eyes and wiping them away quickly.  That was when she brought up the fact that I’m not allowing myself to grieve.  And she’s right.  Because I’m in survival mode and it’s catching up with me.  Even before the semester ended, I locked myself into my room and did not come out unless I had to use the bathroom or eat.  If I did leave, it was to hide my discomfort around the fact that I isolated to that extent.

And so is my emotional and mental state.  When I was talking to my friend Colleen on the phone one day about what was going on with me, she said something I couldn’t deny anymore:

“You may have PTSD.”

I have often suspected that something was going on with me, but did not know what it was.  I studied PTSD and Complex PTSD in my psychopathology course, but thought nothing of it. But as time has gone by, I wonder if I have Complex PTSD.  For those who do not know the difference between PTSD and Complex PTSD is that the former is triggered by one traumatic event whereas Complex PTSD is triggered by prolonged exposure to trauma in general.  The symptoms include (but not limited to) identity disturbances, avoidance, blaming and fear of abandonment.  There is also emotional irregulation and the tendency to isolate from others.  I am not the one to diagnose myself, but this information and my behaviors throughout the years prompted me to schedule a PTSD screening.  I set up an appointment with my therapist, who told me I was getting a screening soon.

I am telling you all of this, Reader, because if you suspect that you have PTSD, Complex PTSD, Borderline Personality Disorder or any other type of anxiety disorder, speak up.  Talk to a healthcare professional and have him or her to refer you to a specialist in your area.  Don’t hide what is going on out of fear of being labeled “weak.”  Hiding pain and emotional/mental distress not a sign of strength, but a meltdown waiting to happen.  I’m telling now, I was this a couple of weeks ago:

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And this:

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But I now know I don’t have to live in isolation any longer.  I’m beginning to realize I have friends and I can lean on them when I am about to have an episode.  I have Spirit with me always and I feel that best part of this semester is seeing that I can reach out and get help.  I don’t have to keep it together anymore and it’s not my job to do so.  I don’t have to live in survival mode and you don’t have to live that way either.

Ever.

References

Think Exist (2012).  “Harry Kim Quotes.”  Retrieved from http://thinkexist.com/quotation/when-you-are-as-a-human-being-in-a-survival-mode/648487.html