The Person Living In My Head

For as long as I can remember, I have always looked for aspects of myself that I should hate. These aspects are including physical and internal/emotional aspects. However, because I have been conditioned by my parents to criticize every detail about myself, I am just now learning how to validate these emotions.

Almost everyday of my life, I have changed my outfit multiple times a day. This was mostly because I had so much anxiety about what was appropriate to wear for certain occasions and what people would think of me. I have always found something about myself to be dissatisfying, in regards to the way I physically appear. This was an aspect my own mother made fun of me for. She knew the difficulties I had with my self-esteem and used it as a means to make me feel even worse about myself. She intentionally encouraged me to wear more revealing clothing. Along with this, she continuously tried to discourage me over the idea that I didn’t have a boyfriend. This recurring toxic shame caused a feeling of being unworthy of anyone’s attention, including my parents.

Furthermore, I also very clearly remember holding a smile back that showed my teeth when I was younger. My teeth were extremely crooked and I had always been self-conscious of it until I got braces in 5th grade. My piano teacher, at the time, had even asked me to smile for recital pictures. He also asked my mom about why I wouldn’t smile and in response, she would essentially tease me over it. I was self-conscious because of her.

As I continue to validate my feelings, I realize more and more about my self-critic. This critic in my head is always the voice of my mother. Until I recently removed her from my life, she deliberately tried to make me unhappy. For example, every year for Christmas/my birthday, she would give me something she knew I would hate. One time, she had gone to the beach and had come back with gifts for everyone. My gift from her was a razor with shaving cream because, at the time, I was in 5th grade and had expressed that I wanted to start shaving my legs. All of my other siblings received an actual gift and I received a necessity as a “gift.”

Recently, I’ve found it even more difficult to fall asleep. I’ve always had issues sleeping because of insomnia, but recently it’s because I am genuinely afraid of falling asleep. Typically, when I do fall asleep, I will have a nightmare with someone from my past who happens to make me uncomfortable. Most of the time this person being my mother. Although, she has been in my nightmares for years, my past few nightmares have included eye contact with her.

Due to the fact that I am still living at home and I am surrounded by past/current negative energy, it is particularly difficult to receive any kind of mental recovery. The past couple of weeks have revealed to me how serious depression is. I used to invalidate those feelings of emptiness and hopelessness. I’m finally learning to validate the feelings of my inner critic and my inner child. As a way to help cope with this, I like to place myself back into the mind of my younger self. I give myself feedback like, “You weren’t safe before, but now I will keep you safe,” or “you’re not alone.” Although, it has been particularly difficult recently, I know I can learn to protect and love myself more than what my parents have ever been capable of.

Neglect

As I continue to come to different realizations, they become more in-depth and detailed. I’m in the process of forcing myself to remember certain scenarios, along with how those scenarios made me feel. It’s brought up a lot of difficult emotions and becomes exhausting. Even though I’m fully aware that these realizations are a part of the healing process, it’s still one of the most challenging things I’ve had to work through. In regards to the recent flashbacks and realizations: they have all been centered around the idea of ‘neglect.’

Furthermore, as I’m getting older and continuing to mature, I’ve seen my childhood in a completely different light. In this perspective, I have come to realize how little my parents paid attention to me as a child and even more so now. I was taught for as long as I can remember that my feelings were invalid and I believed this to the point that I even began telling myself that my feelings were not real. Even as I work through difficult emotions with my therapist, they’ve had to stop me to tell me that I need to validate my own feelings because I’m still subconsciously invalidating them.

I remember growing up with health issues that were inhibiting me from reaching my fullest potential and I expressed this to my parents from a young age, but as I got older I learned not to say anything at all. Reason being, the invalidation from my parents, of what I was feeling. This goes along with physical health, as well as mental health. With that being said, my ability to notice these things from a young age has helped me mature and grow from the situation. However, it is still one of the most painful aspects about my childhood that I can recall so far.

Seeing as I’m still living in my house, it seems almost suffocating. I feel a significant difference in my house than I do in anyone else’s. It feels as though there is a weight on my chest and I’m unable to speak freely. Its difficult to be around family members constantly while also working through flashbacks of things that occured in this house. Although, I have made a lot of progress, I find it most challenging that I am treated the same way I’ve always been and I have absolutely no control over it. This concept of not being cared for in the way that a child needs is known as, neglect.

The Benefits Of A Sensory Deprivation Tank

While being in Colorado during the month of February, I not only had the opportunity to experience beautiful exhibits of nature, but I had the privilege to try out a sensory deprivation tank. For anyone unfamiliar with this kind of therapy, a sensory deprivation tank is in the form of a pod/tube with water and an abundance of epsom salt. The epsom salt that is within the water, allows the body to float effortlessly, while also providing proper support and a sense of relaxation.

My first experience with a sensory deprivation tank, was a bit unsettling at first. I was placed in a room that provided a shower with shampoo/conditioner/body wash, a toilet, a couple towels, and the floatation tank. The tank was in the form of a tube and looked rather intimidating at first glance. However, after the process of removing clothes, putting in ear plugs, showering with shampoo/body wash, I climbed into the tank and prepared for one of the most relaxing experiences of my life.

This experience included a complete cutoff from any external stimuli and with the ability to float, the body is in an effortless mode of relaxation. As I had been practicing meditation for months leading up to this, I found it easy to ascend into a peaceful mindset. I focused only on my being in the isolation tank and found myself in a state of complete relaxation. With this being said, it did take a little bit to adjust and find the most comfortable position to float in. Another thing that was difficult, was the idea of being in a small space. But I was able to ease my mind by thinking only of the breath and the relief I would feel afterwards.

After a ninety minute session, stepping out of the isolation tank I had felt almost magical. I felt a sense of weight and pressure completely lifted from my chest. I could feel myself glowing and felt a sense of peace and contentment. After this session, I made it a priority to look into this kind of therapy in York, Pennsylvania. Seeing that I prefer natural remedies over any kind of medication, I found it best to invest in a monthly membership with an organization providing sensory deprivation tanks.

Furthermore, the benefits that the isolation tank had on my anxiety and C-PTSD, are unmatched compared to anything else I have tried. The sensory deprivation tank, after three total sessions, has improved the following: focus, insomnia, creativity, intuition, stress/anxiety/depression relief, and clarity. These are just examples of how it has improved my health, but it benefits people in many different ways. I highly recommend this to anyone struggling with anything similar to what I’ve struggled with. Seeing as medication is always a gamble, the sensory deprivation tank provides one with a sense of clarity in many aspects. But the most important being that medications are only crutches and true relief comes through natural remedies and realization.

Flashbacks: Remembering the Pain and Overcoming It

I am creating this post for two reasons, one being the idea that I am able to create a detailed image of what exactly happened during my childhood. The second reasoning, being the idea that I am still working through these memories and it is important that I understand how certain situations made me feel. The more I think about my childhood, the more dramatic & insane it looks to me. I want to make it clear that I am not creating this as a bashing against any family members, but simply as an outlet for myself.

As I continue working through C-PTSD and the flashbacks that come with it, there is a specific memory that keeps sticking out to me. It is certainly not the most violent and dramatic, but, this memory is one that includes my mom following me around the house while yelling hostile and hurtful words. This specific conflict arose over summer, when I began defending myself and siblings more often and confidently. My mother and I were already having several issues and I had communicated with her that I wasn’t going to stay silent about them but that I also needed space. Seeing as she is incapable of civil, intellectual conversation, she never understood these needs. What I write below is every detail that I have been able to pick out from the situation fully from my perception…

I remember earlier in the day I had communicated with my mother about something in regards to the well-being of my siblings, & she used this as a means to verbally abuse me. I went to work shortly after our argument and my mother texted me a long message, expressing how I needed to start being a better influence and that my negativity was affecting everyone in the house. At the time, I was working at Wyndridge Farm and when I received this text, I had to drop what I was doing then go to the bathroom so I could pull myself together. I cannot begin to explain how suffocating it is to have the urge to cry because of your own mother, while also being at work.

During the shift, I texted my best friend Sara and told her that I would be staying with her that night. I drove home from work in tears and I was only focused on going to my house, packing a few days worth of clothes and then leaving. However, this is not what happened. When I got home, my mom immediately followed me up the stairs and badgered me with questions, as to why I was so ‘unhappy,’ why I was so ‘cruel,’ why I wasn’t a better ‘influence,’ why I wasn’t more ‘put together,’ and why I wasn’t being more ‘helpful.’ Keep in mind, I was already practically parenting her kids at this point. As I continued moving to my room, I told my mom that I just needed space and that I wasn’t ready to talk.

Furthermore, it was at this point in the scenario in which she followed me into my room and continued to scream at me for starting so much drama and being so unhappy living there. I began hyperventilating and in between breaths, telling her to give me space. She stayed in front of me continuing to yell at me. I collapsed and my entire body was numb/tingling, while I kept my face in my hands. She told me I needed to get myself together and then left my room. I finished gathering my clothes and went over to Sara’s in a very distressed state of mind.

This situation is only an example of the kind of treatment I endured from my mother. There were many cases in which she was physically violent. Looking into her unremorseful face is what made this so damaging. My mother is the reason for the majority of my mental issues today and though I feel I have moved through a lot of it, I still have much more to work through. There are memories still to go through that cause me distress to think of. However, I find relief in sharing my experience and validating it. For the longest times, my emotions and personality type were seen as irrelevant and invalid.

When these flashbacks occur, I cannot predict how it will make me feel or for how long but it is typically unpleasant. It is mentally exhausting at times, seeing as I have no control over when it happens but I know that this is the single most important part of my healing process: remembering the pain & overcoming it.

The Mind of an Empath

The past several months, have consisted of a lot of self-growth and realization. For me, this brought up a lot of negative memories and emotions. But, it has also allowed me to notice the things that I may not have made connections for in the past. These thoughts and ideas that I experience on a daily basis, are ones that others typically do not understand. This is not to say that I am always misunderstood, however, it is to say that I have always felt that way.

In these realizations that I have been experiencing, is the idea that I am an empath. For those unfamiliar with this concept, an empath is one who has the ability to absorb energy from any setting and any person. The idea of empathy is experienced by many people, discluding narcissists and sociopaths. Empathizing is the act of putting oneself in another’s position, to better understand what they may be going through. However, an empath is able to involuntarily understand another’s emotions and state of mind, as they are literally absorbing that energy.

For as long as I can remember, my anxiety has consisted of the fact that I am unable to help people all the time. Through this, I have neglected to take care of myself and when I do, I often take my needs for granted and use them in trying to better someone else. What is difficult to understand about an empath is that they are not choosing to feel these things, it just happens. Because of this, empaths experience anxiety, depression, and helplessness on a completely different level.

Through learning more about myself, I have come to understand that whenever I would focus my energy on myself, I would be doing mentally well. However, this could all easily change once I was put in a negative space or confronted by a vampire (narcissist/sociopath). Empaths are known for the idea that they attract vampires because we are considered easy targets. Empaths strive to help others consistently and will always give people the benefit of the doubt. However, giving someone the benefit of the doubt is not always healthy in relationships. For example, the relationship with my narcissistic mother was incredibly unhealthy as she used all of my abilities in her own scheme to tear apart my self-esteem, just so she could build her own.

I have experienced anxiety on a level that is difficult for almost anyone to comprehend. While also dealing with C-PTSD, it has been incredibly difficult to only focus on myself. My siblings have always been my main concern and when they feel at a loss, so do I. When they feel to be in a better mood, so do I. This concept goes for anyone I care about and can include any kind of physical issue they may be dealing with. I am slowly learning how to take care of myself on a level that allows me to decipher my own emotions, from the emotions of others.

Although, I will never be able to have a choice in feeling the emotions of others, I do have the choice in how I identify and cope with them. In this knowledge, I am able to grow as a person and also show support towards those I care about. As I continue to learn how to identify what is healthiest for me going forward, I am also learning that I cannot control the emotions of others and how they cope with them. I have begun to accept the idea that every individual must fight their own battles whether it be mental or physical, and I can only be there as a guide.

When it comes to protecting myself, I have separated myself from larger social gatherings, as this is a trigger for my anxiety. Reason being, is the constant search for different energies whether I am fully aware of it or not. I can absorb any kind of vibe in a setting that is typically grown from the individual interaction in the room. It is also extremely necessary for me to spend time on myself and use tools, such as meditating, to work through difficult periods. I will never be exempt from feeling this much, but I can learn to use it to my own advantage, as well as an advantage for others. A constant cycle of self-loathing is not a way in which I will thrive.

The Effect Nature Has on Mental Health

The past several months, have consisted of one cold day after another. Personally, I love winter for the idea of snow and wrapping myself in layers. However, I find myself feeling down because the colors in nature have faded and I am constricted to being indoors. My mental health becomes an obstacle course through winter months as I struggle to find the best source of release. Seeing as my source of relief is being outside, I become distressed over having no control upon the weather.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had a great appreciation for nature and what it presents to us. It leaves me in awe, that our planet is capable of such beauty. I feel refreshed and free when I’m exposed to this environment. I am in my best state of mind and feel as if I could live in the trees forever. Along with these aspects, I am able to set myself apart from the daily distress of society.

As it is difficult to experience this feeling when enclosed during winter months, I expose myself to different sources of relief. Specifically, I enjoy going on car rides, as this brings me closer to the idea of being outdoors. I cannot begin to describe how it feels when the sun hits my skin. It feels as though I am being completely consumed with warmth and in that moment, there is nothing else to do other than smile and thank the universe for keeping you alive. To experience such moments as those, are an absolute privilege.

It is incredibly important to find a source of the nutrients that the sun supplies for us. Especially, on the days that we are unable to be physically, exposed to it. Our mental health depends on us to take care of it so we can grow as a person. When we take care of ourselves, it improves our state of mind and our self-esteem. Seeing the things our body and mind are capable of, make it all the more worth it to nurture it continuously.

Future Endeavors

Recently, I had my eighteenth birthday and though I did not want to celebrate the idea, it was a huge stepping stone in my life. This marked the day in which I was legally able to remove my mother from my life. Many would say this is an exaggerated & dramatic thing to do, however it has been a part of my healing process and I have felt significantly lighter since removing her. I had been waiting for that day for a while and it was incredibly liberating to have the confidence to do so.

Since turning eighteen, I have turned all of my energy towards the idea of moving out. As I continue to feel a sense of confinement in my own home, I find console in my optimistic view towards my future. I do not plan on going to college and because of this, I have received harsh criticism and discouragement. Though I do not have the support of many family members, I am beyond excited to start my life outside of my home, without the pressure of being in school. I am certainly open to the idea of going to college, but I know that as of right now, my main focus is simply being myself.

While I plan on not going to college, I also plan on eventually becoming self-employed. I cannot predict what kind of format this may be in but I have put much positive energy towards my future to the point that I am not concerned about what may happen. Many would say it is better to have a plan but my personality thrives off of change and the unknowing. Also, seeing as my house has been a place of chaos and belittlement on my behalf, being out of it will be the most influential and positive thing I could possibly do for my mental health.

Though I do not have a set plan, I am working towards my goal of moving out and thriving in every aspect of my life. I am so proud of the person I am and am eager to share this with as many people as possible. My self-esteem has grown immensely through all of the pain my mental health has been through and because of this, I will do just fine on my own. Despite discouraging comments, I know how much I am capable of. I know I am capable of making an impact. I am ready to move on from a suffocating environment to a mental space, in which, I can continue to thrive more openly.

Sibling Dynamic with a Narcissistic Parent

When an individual is brought up in a family in which the parent is narcissistic, there tends to be an incredibly different relationship dynamic between siblings. It is inevitable in this kind of setting, that a child will experience mental and physical health issues later in their life due to this abnormal dynamic.

Whenever there is a narcissistic parent involved, there is always the scapegoat of the family and the golden child of the family. Although the scapegoat and the golden child experience a more intense level of abuse, the other siblings involved experience some extent of abuse as well as neglect. These roles between siblings may change throughout the rest of their time living in that house. However, in my house, the roles never changed until my older sister moved out.

For as long as I can remember, I have been the scapegoat of the family. The scapegoat is essentially what holds the family together. The idea is that the scapegoat is willing to defend themselves in unjust situations, even if this means they will get in trouble. I was always incredibly worried for my siblings and when a problem arose, I would not hesitate to defend them. As I continued to stand up for myself and my siblings, I received a higher level of abuse. My mother saw me as the “troubled” child and believed I was capable of nothing other than being a “bad influence.”

My mother began feeding information to my siblings and outside family members that there was a point in which, all of my siblings turned against me at some point or simply bullied me. I specifically remember turmoil becoming more intense between my mom and I when my younger sister, Ali, was hospitalized due to anorexia. My older sister, Nina, and I had both urged our parents months before that they needed to get Ali medical attention. It was not until she was near death that they brought her to the hospital.

At the time of this occurrence, I was in eighth grade and Ali was in sixth grade. It was the start of a couple years, in which, Ali was constantly in the hospital or a rehabilitation center. There was a cycle of coming in and out of programs. Her recovery was made immensely difficult as my parents did not give her the support she needed. Anorexia is a mental illness which they refused to grasp and it was a devastating few years as my siblings and I could not do much other than focusing on being there for her.

It was particularly difficult for me because Ali and I began to draw apart. I was struggling immensely with depression and anxiety at this time and it became difficult to grow a relationship between her and I as we both felt helpless in aiding our personal needs. It was two years later when I realized that my mother had neglected the needs of Nina when she was near the age, in which Ali was struggling the most.

My older sister shed light on the fact that my mother neglected to give her the help she needed when she struggled with bulimia. Nina even asked her for help and my mother refused to support her. When I discovered this, I felt the need to speak up to my mother and confront her for the way she had treated Nina but also how she was currently treating Ali. This act of defense ended with my mother screaming at me while on the phone with Nina. She continued to tell me I was wrong and that none of it happened. It was the first time I had a panic attack to the point I was hyperventilating.

After this extremely scarring event, I grew more and more anger towards my mother but also pain. I would get into screaming battles with her but ones that always ended in her telling me how disappointed she was that I was like this. My panic/anxiety attacks became even worse, in which I would shake uncontrollably, hyperventilate, cry, black out, and nearly my entire body would go numb- which was absolutely terrifying.

As for my other siblings, I began to notice a decrease in their energy level and mood. I knew they were struggling and would try to be there for them as much as possible but I didn’t even know how to help myself. There were times when they would get incredibly angry with me in my mother’s defense which made matters even more complicated.

As far as the golden child is concerned, for a while it was my older sister. This made sibling dynamic in our household very tense because all of us were experiencing a different level of abuse but we weren’t able to get closure about it because we simply didn’t understand it ourselves. However, as I begin to learn more about this toxic way of living, it becomes more and more obvious how dire it is to work through this trauma.

Recently, I have been struggling with C-PTSD and anxiety on a level that I have never experienced before. The realization of the treatment I experienced throughout my entire life, has brought back a ton of flashbacks and put me in a mindset that feels suffocating. I have made it a priority for myself to work through this trauma and know that I will find peace.

A Glimpse Inside My Anxiety

As a child, most of my thoughts consisted of constant worry. Whether it be about what I would wear to school the next day or dwelling on a past conversation that seemingly had no significant meaning, my mind was constantly searching for answers to questions that were never there to begin with.

It is easy to think of anxiety as simply the feeling of being overwhelmed by worry, however, I can say from personal experience that it is much more in-depth. Even from the outside looking in, it was rather obvious how worrisome I became, considering the distressed look on my face. I was often asked if I was okay or if I was sad, simply because I always looked concerned. This observation from an outside perspective, made it blatantly obvious to myself that I was ALWAYS worrying about something. As I became more conscious of it, I realized how observant I was but also dwelled too much into “what if” scenarios.

As I began high school, I noticed a significant raise in my anxiety. Reason being, there was so much emotional pressure on me due to the fact that my feelings were seen as invalid in my own home. I often came to school distressed and thoroughly unmotivated, due to the fact that I did not know how to channel my emotions. My emotions were constantly belittled at home, allowing them to show more clearly in a public area. This did not serve a benefit for myself, other than a self-realization.

I found myself worrying about how people looked at me, what I wore, and even how I talked in class when a teacher called on me. I felt incredibly uncomfortable in the classroom environment, because I was so obviously different than everyone else. My social skills were stunted due to the emotional abuse I continuously received from childhood to my teenage years. I normally kept to myself in class, I wouldn’t speak unless spoken to first. I found myself increasingly discouraged because I didn’t know how to socialize or feel comfortable at school.

At home, I experienced a completely different level of anxiety. Each day was like walking a tightrope; trying to find balance between a healthy lifestyle while living in a chaotic and abusive home. This is near impossible. I cried myself to sleep every night, simply because I thought there was something wrong with me and I just could not understand why. With my mom constantly belittling and blaming me and my siblings with each their own mental struggles, I found myself in a never ending anxiety-fueled spiral. I rarely even had the motivation to spend times with friends because I was utterly consumed in my thoughts.

In case anyone is curious as to what an anxiety/panic attack looks like, I will paint you a mental picture. At least for me, my anxiety attacks consisted of: hyperventilating, shaking, numbing/tingling in my arms, blacking out, and on a few occasions, actually losing complete consciousness. These attacks happened about every other day, if not everyday. They could be triggered by the smallest things because I had so much built up stress that I didn’t know how to cope with, so one small thing could set me off literally like an explosion. My thoughts took me to places I tried so intensely to get rid of. What made matters even worse was the fact that anytime my mom and I had a disagreement (which was often), it would end in her screaming at me and blaming me for whatever the topic of disagreement was. I would repeatedly beg her to give me space, as I am struggling to breath and crying to no extent. She showed no compassion, and emotionally tore my down until she was content enough with the result.

It wasn’t until this past year that I realized the intensity of my anxiety. I was diagnosed with a skin picking disorder. For anybody unfamiliar with this concept, I would basically pick the skin around my fingers until they bled. I still struggle with this and I have to wear bandages around my fingers to buffer myself from picking my skin when I feel so consumed with anxiety. Since my mom moved out, I have also struggled with flashbacks in which I will put myself into an anxiety attack when thought of too much. I am also incredibly sensitive to loud sounds and anything being thrown at me. I flinch incredibly easily, reason being my mother’s violent rages (smashing dishes, smashing pictures, throwing objects, etc). Along with this, I struggle being in public/crowded places and find myself incredibly apprehensive. This phenomenon is known as, complex post traumatic stress disorder.

In this past year, I have incorporated several new aspects into my life in order to find a peaceful mind. These aspects include: meditation, hydration through drinking tea, daily exercising, healthy eating habits, sufficient sleep, yoga, reading, and spending time outdoors. Through these habits, I have noticed incredible positive differences, however, they did not buffer my symptoms completely. My anxiety seems to have a mind of its own, in which it brings recurring, unpleasant thoughts. I began taking medication for this, and after a few months of being on the same antidepressant and being at the highest dosage, I was still struggling.

The thing with CPTSD is that it cannot be easily treated through medication, in fact, it worsens it in some cases. Although I have been seeing a therapist every other week, my physician urged me to schedule these appointments in a weekly pattern. Childhood trauma is not a concept to be taken lightly and needs constant attention. I feel at a loss occasionally, seeing as my anxiety still consumes my mind at times, but I am determined as ever. My anxiety does not define my being and though it is yet a long journey, I am steadfast towards my goal of having a peaceful mind.

For anyone that may be struggling with anxiety/depression or any other mental obstacle, it will become your greatest accomplishment one day. It will never disappear, but it has become a goal of mine to simply see my struggle as a reminder of my self-motivation. It is OKAY to ask for help. Thoughts are utterly consuming, and there is nothing more dreadful than feeling alone. You are not alone. You will be okay.