My name is Alice and I live in New Zealand, and have lived here all my life. I am 24 years old, although I feel like I am still that small five-year-old girl going through horrid trauma. In one year, it seems, I endured quite a lot, and remember it so vividly as if it were only yesterday. Sometimes the flashbacks make me feel like it’s happening all over again.
After school one day, not long after I had started school, I waited for my father to pick me up. Instead a man came in the playground and snatched me up. He took me out toward the road, and tried to put me into his car. I struggled, screamed, cried, until I couldn’t breathe. He had me in the car, and was about to drive off, when two bigger kids from the senior class pulled me out of his strong grasp.
Another time at school, the caretaker (who is a member of my family) decided that I was very pretty and he had to touch me in ways I didn’t know existed. He decided to touch me a lot more after that, right up until I was about 13 years old.
Also when I was 13, my father had an affair and decided to leave us for her. That affected me a lot. I woke up in the morning and mum was crying in my baby brother’s room, and dad was yelling that he didn’t love her anymore. He walked out the door and drove off and left me screaming at the door.
The next two years are just a blur to me. Apparently I was like a zombie. In class I just sat there with a blank expression, but nobody did anything to help me. They helped my brother because of his anger issues, and mum got counseling also. Because I was so quiet and suffering in silence I got no help. Only now does my family regret me not getting help then. I came to when I was about 8, and my life started getting worse from then on.
All through school I was known as the freak, the strange girl. I was the favorite topic for rumors, and the favorite pick for school yard bullying. I found it hard to trust anyone to be my friend, and if I did, I was let down. I decided that no one could be trusted. Not even family. In high school I had one friend, and when school ended, she lost interest in me, and decided I was no longer worth her company.
I never did well in school. I just didn’t try hard enough, because I already knew that whatever I do will never be good enough. I thought I was tainted, dirty, worthless, unwanted and unintelligent. Although I got on with the teachers and I always followed the rules, I just never fit into school the way the other students did… even the misbehaving people seemed to fit… but not me. I felt like I was the odd one out.
When I left school I didn’t know what to do. I decided to try again to pass some exams. This time I did it through correspondence so I didn’t have to deal with people. I started to really learn and actually understand things, until the day I had a girl I knew from high school turn up at my door. She needed a friend and she thought I did as well, so we decided to hang out. She got me into alcohol and I used that as a way of numbing the painful feelings I have from the past. Then my marks went down and I failed school, again. After that year I noticed that this so-called friend was a thief, and a liar. I no longer trusted her, and made a stronger vow that I will never have another friend. People can’t be trusted. Not one single person.
I went through the next few years in a struggle. I did some childcare and teacher aide training. I drank every night until my mind was numb, and then I started to self harm in other ways too, cutting being a favorite. I knew I needed help then but could not bring up the courage to ask for it.
It wasn’t until late 2004 that I finally got the courage up to say that I needed help. Suicidal thoughts felt more urgent and I told my doctor this. He put me onto paroxetine (an anti-depressant) that first day. He said that it seems like I have post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, because of the flashbacks I experience every day.
My family were shocked but also tried their best to support me. Although at times I think they didn’t know what to do or say, and felt awkward around me.
I have been on a few other drugs such as amitriptyline, and dothiepin. None of those seemed to change anything. Recently I have been put onto risperidone which has been helping a little bit. I have also been given sleeping pills to help me sleep better. I really don’t like what these pills have done to my weight, but I know the doctor was only trying his best to help.
I was put onto a psychiatrist at the hospital late last year. She diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder. I was in denial at first, because I just didn’t want to have anything like that. My friend told me about borderlines. She told me all about the bad stigma that is attached to people like me. She said that a lot of people could turn me away because they think I just want attention, and that I would not get taken seriously. I understand that this may have been that way in the past within mental health, but now there seems to be a better understanding about us. Otherwise I am very lucky in the support I do have.
I have to go to a skills group called Dialectical Behavior Therapy. At the moment we are learning to be mindful and all about interpersonal effectiveness and how we deal with our relationships. Then we go on to learning about emotion regulation. My first thoughts in skills group were that it was strange. The mindfulness exercises seemed really different. Definitely not what I expected, but it has really helped me to begin building some skills to help me in stressful times.
My psychiatrist is nice, but firm. At first she was hard for me to talk to, and it seemed like she never listened to me. Now I can talk to her a little more, and it’s not so hard for me. She says the first thing we are aiming to do is reduce the self harming and suicidal thoughts.
I know that I would not be here today without the help and support I have been receiving. It does seem like a long process, but I feel within me a little bit more hope in making a better life for me to live in.