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I want to tell you a story.

This story begins years ago, but it flashes back and forth between those days and these.

I went to my doctor appointment on Monday, and had a meltdown. I went by myself. Usually Patrick goes with me, but he was unable to, and I am a big girl. I put on my Woman Pants and went my damn self. We were discussing what to do about my medications, and the doctor put forth a very reasonable suggestion (spurred in part by how artsy I am; he felt it would be neat for me, since I am creative) that I should videotape myself when I'm very depressed and suicidal, in an attempt to better understand that mood (or something like that, I don't remember exactly).

I didn't react well. I felt terror and revulsion welling up inside me, and began to have a mini panic attack. I couldn't speak very well anymore, and told him I couldn't do it. He said that was perfectly okay, and it was only a suggestion, and thanked me for hearing him out. I obviously couldn't have a productive appointment anymore, so he said it was okay for me to sit there and take as long as I needed. After he left, I sobbed and silently screamed to myself. I could not handle the idea. I wasn't sure why, exactly, but I couldn't. And I felt alone. Horribly, utterly alone. I finally managed to get my shit together enough to put my coat on and get ready to go. A nurse came in and asked if I was okay. I said I wasn't, but I was fine enough to get home. Then I left. After I'd gotten home, the doctor called me to make sure I was doing all right. I tried describing what was wrong with me, but I was still upset and didn't do a very good job, so I wrote this letter today to better illuminate my situation:

Hey Doc.

After I got home on Monday night and Patrick turned up, I regaled him with the tale of my meltdown. He thought of something I'd blocked out that might explain my reaction to your (very good) suggestion: many years ago, when I was married for the first time, my then husband pressured me into letting him take naked pictures of me. I wasn't comfortable with it, but I wasn't comfortable with much in that marriage, and I was young and trusting. Anyway, at some point after that, I did something (I no longer remember what) that he didn't like, and to keep me in line he threatened to post the naked pictures of me all over the internet. I freaked out and felt the need to warn my parents in case he decided to send the pictures to them. The following day I got home before he did and went through his computer, deleting all the pictures and the backup copies. When he came home, I told him what I'd done and he seemed shocked that I'd actually take the step of getting rid of them. He seemed even more surprised that I'd found and gotten rid of all the backups he'd made. I have never trusted anyone to do that to me again. That first marriage was full of Never Agains.

Making a videotape of suicidality isn't the same as naked pictures, but then again, it is. I guess I can't bear the thought of being caught somehow in such a state of vulnerability. I have done everything possible to ensure I'm never vulnerable again. Before I was married, a guy held me down in front of a bunch of people and tried to yank my shirt up. No one helped me, and they laughed. I finally got away and cried in the bathroom. Afterward, I kicked him in the balls and took up martial arts. I swore that no one would ever be able to do that to me again. I already knew my ex would never come back and help me, no matter what happened. He let the sensei from the martial arts dojo stick his tongue in my ear, which was when I quit. He left me on a cliff when I was trying to climb out of this ravine thing and was afraid of falling. He told me what a terrible person I was when I was huddled in a ball on the floor of my kitchen, crying.

I learned that no one will ever help you. You have to help yourself. And if you do tell people that there is something wrong with you, they will betray your trust, tell other people, call you a liar, send people to your apartment to try to break in, pound on your door and call you a fucking bitch. It is a terrible, beautiful secret you have to keep, when something is wrong with you. If you don't keep it, they will call you crazy. Or worse, insist that you are fine and they know exactly what you mean because they once felt sad, or like punching someone. They can deal with it, so why can't you, you weak excuse for a person?

I sobbed a lot in the room after you left, and that was both because of my reaction to the suggestion and my brain screaming at me that my supports were being taken away with nothing offered in their place but an abhorrent suggestion. You are alone in the dark, and no one will ever help you. I know that isn't true, but that is how borderline feels. It is excruciating and overpowering. We are so desperately afraid of being abandoned that we create abandonment where there is none, and we overreact to the imagined desertion. So, of course, I overreacted. Fine, if I'm to stop some drugs with nothing to help me, then I'll stop ALL the drugs. I will show you what fucked up looks like. Watch this. You can't abandon me, I'm leaving YOU! Anger keeps the terror away. Anger has always been my shield against fear.

I stopped taking everything and spent the entire night lying awake, staring into the dark, worrying someone was going to break into the house and smash my head with a baseball bat. I did not go to work the next day, and I didn't sleep then either, until the nightfall. During the day, Patrick got through to my sense of reason and made me see that stopping all the drugs cold turkey was a very bad idea. I knew that, but I was so angry and afraid that torturing myself was the only control I felt I had left. I didn't eat yesterday, either, until about 5pm. After he and I talked about it, and I'd had some food, I felt a bit better. I took my pills last night, all of them except cut the Lexapro down to 5mg, and I slept well. I feel better today. I've lost something like 15 pounds in the last few months. I like that. It makes me feel better about myself. I haven't had a drop of alcohol since I had that ghastly hangover episode on Lexapro, and I don't think I will start again after I'm off of it. It isn't fun the way it used to be, it's expensive, and it's a lot of unnecessary calories.

Anyway, I just wanted to explain myself. I hope you don't feel badly about my meltdown in the office. It wasn't your fault.


None of this is new. I've been like this since I was very little. I've always felt that no help was ever coming, especially at night, with the hellish dreams. What normal nine-year-old girl spends her chore money on ever bigger and sharper knives?

Mental illness is real. And, sometimes, it is terminal. I'm hopeful that it will prove otherwise in my case.
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