I was a good kid. One of those chubby girls with a light brown side braid, a box of chalk and a thousand-times-over practiced smile. My parents divorced early –
one side couldn’t bother, the other just couldn’t –, I was taught to be quiet, diligent, calm. I always listened, never strayed from the path that had been laid out for me, I only spoke when spoken to and from early on I was a star student at Holy Family, the local Catholic elementary school. So, when week after week my father started drinking at nine in the morning, I smiled it away. When night terrors and panic attacks overcame me every night after he’d taken me back to my mother, I told her I missed daddy. When I stood in front of a closed door for hours after being dropped off at his place, I controlled my emotions and waited patiently on the doorstep for dad to let me in.
I waited for years.
They really do must’ve realized something wasn’t right when their daughter went out and about talking into void, getting frightened by emptiness, asking questions that shouldn’t be asked by a six-year-old. Why of course, all children have imaginary friends. Mine were just of a different caliber.
By the time children reach adolescence, their brain is in full growth. Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teens may rely upon the amygdala in their decision making. The amygdala is associated with emotions, aggression, instinct.
Psychosis involves a disruption to a person’s thoughts and perceptions that make it difficult for them to distinguish what is real and what isn’t.
My world first came crashing down around the time I was fourteen. The part of my mind that had been suppressing years of abuse and neglect started to crack open like a skull hitting a rock at full force. While life around me kept moving forward it seemed as if I had stopped in my tracks. I became a silent observer watching
someone live her life, meet new people, go to school, and the longer this lasted the more disconnected I felt from this girl with her light brown side braid. Rather than
run away from my hallucinations I became a part of their world like a wandering ghost, not knowing how to get back.
The two years that followed I lived in an antipsychotics-induced daze. To prevent getting admitted to a psychiatric institution for troubled teens and scorn the family name, I had to comply to biweekly meetings at the mental health hospital and a daily dosage of Quetiapine, an atypical antipsychotic used to treat mood disorders and schizophrenia. Memories from that time are vague, but I remember trying anything to feel again. The medication made me feel numb, more disconnected from the world than ever. Eventually I resorted to self-harm, resulting in scars I would later regret.
It took years to properly get diagnosed. Not that knowing I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder – a mood disorder sharing symptoms with schizophrenia – changed much to my mental state. It wasn’t a relief as much as it was a door to my sanity closing for good, and the one person keeping me on the right track I had lost years before; during a time I was easier to control.
After graduating from high school, I enrolled in Belgium’s most prestigious university to prove my worth to my family; the people who had bombarded me a walking failure and a ticking time bomb bound to explode sooner rather than later were going to be sorry for ever calling me a good for nothing. I was going to be the picture of ambition and success and I would show them that I didn’t need anything or anyone to reach my goals. Like Bukowski once said: I wanted the whole world or nothing.
Four months later I had dropped out of the course and I was on my way to Kobe, Japan. Getting there was easy, trust fund and all, but once I set foot on the artificial island that is Kobe Airport, I was on my own. With little effort I managed to get a job at a café. Being a gaijin – non Japanese – , I turned into somewhat of a local
attraction: people came in to catch a glimpse of the fair-skinned lady serving tables and I was okay with that as long as the tips kept flowing in. It allowed me to rent
a small studio in a rough neighborhood; a place where I could store what little belongings I had.
No longer seeing a shrink on a regular basis, week after week my pill supply kept shrinking until I had none left. You see, many people with an unstable mind can
perfectly live without medication. Practicing mindfulness and attending the occasional group therapy session, keeping a diary. I, however, need those pills to keep the monsters at bay. They’re like a pair of pink glasses filtering out the bad stuff, helping me see reality. So it’s more than just the high; they’re a tool allowing me to function in society without the help of others. To a certain degree. Now I bet you can imagine what happens when I run out: first comes an excruciating period of withdrawal symptoms, paranoia, sleeplessness. After that my mood becomes unstable, I start making impulsive decisions, the veil between what’s real and isn’t drops and life turns into a massive chaos, rendering me unable to leave the apartment without getting myself into trouble.
I found myself in Chernarus waiting on a connecting flight back home, Belgium, to rekindle old family bonds. No matter how cruel they were at times, I’d always loved my brother and cousins and I was willing to forgive aunts and uncles if it meant seeing them again. I felt remorseful for cutting all ties and running off without a proper goodbye, I really did.
I was also in desperate need of money.
We all know what happened next, no need to get further into that. I’ve been on my own all this time, keeping a low profile, getting my hands on antidepressants, painkillers, antipsychotics, anything that helps me separate real from not real. I use a camera I found to fill in the gaps when I black out, and I always have a notebook at hand to sketch the things I see but others don't. It's been lonely, but there's no one I can trust.
Not even myself.
Tell something more about myself? I only think in black and white, I’m impulsive, a little bit of a bitch but sweet around the ones I trust, I trust no one, I like dark indie music. I find the smell of meat absolutely repulsive, screaming freaks me out, I drink like a sailor. Love books. Hate liars. Not a good talker. People kind of scare me.