So, before I get on my soapbox in this blog, I’m going to begin where it all started for me. I remember being 9 and thinking ‘9 years of age must be the hardest year when growing up’ – I think I was depressed already. Fast forwards 2 years, 11 years old. I got a job doing a morning paper round. I got up at 5am, rode my bike to the newsagents for 5.30am, sorted my newspapers and I went off on my round. It was a fairly small half an hour round that finished up right where I lived.
At this time in my life, my Nan (my dad’s mum) was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx, and I was extremely close to her. It had a profound effect on me. We spent weekends together while my dad went out getting drunk and my mum visited her mum for the weekend. There was a long period where I went with my mum to visit my other Nan too, but I had told my mum that I didn’t want to go with her anymore – I couldn’t. It was there that I was sexually abused for a long period of time (I don’t know exactly how long). It was at the hands of an uncle who still lived with his mum.
So, I suppose I was very stressed and it started taking its toll on me. Initially it was on my paper round. I found myself riding my bike over every drain cover and every manhole. I was swerving all over the roads and pathways and I realised that it wasn’t voluntary anymore – in fact, if I didn’t do it then my Nan would die soon from her cancer and it would be my fault. My paper round got longer.
The next thing that started was the counting. I had to touch the newspaper a certain number of times before I put it through the letterbox or I would count how long it would take me from when I first touched the newspaper to when I let go. Again it would have to be a certain number and if I got it wrong I would have to go back to the door and touch the letterbox and count until it felt just right. Again, if I didn’t do the rituals just right then I felt that my Nan would die from her cancer and it would be my fault. My paper round got even longer. In the end I would cry all the way round – I thought I had gone mad. I’m not sure if anyone saw me – it was dark and I was totally insular anyhow so I don’t think I would’ve noticed anyone staring.
The number system that began at that time and is still with me to this day is as a direct result of sexual abuse. 1 was male, 2 was female. So I felt that I couldn’t have 1 and 2 together or it would be male and female together which was something that I couldn’t cope with. So 3 and multiples of 3 were avoided. Odd numbers were not allowed as they do not break down into multiples of 2 without leaving a 1 (or a male) outstanding. 16 became my favourite number (I cannot remember why) and this was the number that became my number of choice for all of my rituals, making them all pretty lengthy. 16 is still my number.
I was sad. I cried in classes at school which was a new school that frightened me too. Again I don’t think anyone noticed. I managed to convince my best friend to jump on the drains and manhole covers with me – It was a game for her. My rituals extended to touching other things, counting more and more, always with there being a consequence if I didn’t do it (magical thinking I later learned).
So this is where it all started – The beginning of my relationship with mental illness. Its always hard to know what to write in a first post and later on I will most likely come back to some of the information. My anxiety and depression has now turned into a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) and as I said, I still suffer with OCD with intrusive thoughts and I have much to say on the subjects!