I’m fine with Vulnerability – Yours, not mine. Gross.
Content warning right up top. This entire post is about my life with mental illnesses and every awful thing that goes along with that. If you're thinking it, it's probably mentioned.
Get ready for way too much information about me that no one asked for or needs.
Also I’ve never really talked about this. Only because it just does’t exactly come up in conversation.
Buckle up friends!
Let's dive into the most chaotic and poorly edited autobiography entitled:
“I’m fine with Vulnerability – Yours, not mine. Gross.”
Part 1 (There's only one part): Diagnoses 25 years in the making:
I’ve known this about myself since I was a kid, but only dealt with it this year. By my senior year of high school, it was so bad, I didn’t think I would live to see graduation. I never made plans or anything. The way things were going I just knew that was the inevitable conclusion. I made zero plans for anything after high school. It felt pointless. If you’re thinking my life and everything in it is a result of my depression, you’re not wrong. Plans are dumb anyway.
I was 14 the first time I thought about suicide. My intrusive thoughts present as ifs/what ifs and always when I’m SUPER stressed out. If you noticed that word is not in the past tense, BRAVO! I still have intrusive thoughts. You know, like, “What if you just drive off this bridge” or “What if you just start driving and keep going forever?” This is why I mind my energy and take my downtime so seriously. I know what happens when I don’t. This is also why I'm glad I learned to say no and stopped letting people guilt me into doing things I don't want to do.
So, anyway, that day, my brain told me: “If you kill yourself, you won’t have to deal with it anymore.” 14 year old me thought this was a brilliant idea! “Right Right. Capital idea old chap! Shall we make our way to the bathroom and see what we can find there?!” I remember exactly what I was avoiding and what I did next. I found one of those cheap orange BIC razors with the tiniest sliver of a blade. Spoiler alert: I didn’t kill myself, but that was the day I became a cutter.
Chapter 2: Let’s give it up for anxiety!
At that age, I don’t think I had the language or knowledge of what anxiety was. Until I watched Oprah. If I remember correctly, It was an episode about anxiety. There was a girl on the show who looked like me and she was a cutter. (This is a weird place to put this, but this is why representation matters.) Someone explained that self-harm can be an anxiety response when there are emotional pains and feelings you can’t control. In very basic terms: you hurt yourself because that pain you CAN control. That was off and on for about 7 years. I haven’t self-harmed since I was 21, but I can’t say that was the last time I thought about it.
For a bit of levity: I owe a former employer so much money since I used to steal packages of razor blades. Ten blades in small blue plastic container. So conveniently packaged and small enough to slip right into an apron pocket! A thousand apologies to whoever that rich man is.
Chapter 3: My history with eating disorders
This is going to be intentionally vague. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad and I truly have never blamed or had any ill feelings toward this friend. It was just the catalyst and honestly, it probably would have happened anyway.
In middle school, a friend came over after they had been gone for a few months. I don’t remember any other part of the conversation except the part when they said, “You got fat."
So began that journey. Not eating and when I did eat…listen, I shouldn’t have to explain bulimia to anyone. I wouldn't eat in front of most people. Especially not guys, are you kidding me?! I can just picture it:
Two dudes hanging out, doing a puzzle or something:
Dude: "Omg. Have you heard about Daneisha?! She needs food to stay alive!"
Bro: "Ew. gross."
Dude: "I know right. So gross!"
Fade to black.
If offered a drink it was always, “Do you have water?” and if not, I guess I'll just go through the day with this desert mouth.
When I was pregnant with my first kid, I had the worst morning sickness for probably the entire 9 months. He was small baby. A whole 5 pounds and 2 ounces. I have thought so many times that it might have been my fault he’s so tiny. Was it morning sickness or bulimia? There’s literally no way to know. I lived with that guilt until my second kid came along. I was sick a lot, but not as much as the first time. He was a whopping 5 pounds and 13 ounces. I’m a little more certain now that I didn’t cause anything. Thankfully, I guess I just have small babies.
I truly don’t think you ever get rid of an eating disorder mentality. At least not without a lot a therapy. There are still days I look in the mirror and say really mean things about myself, but I have a much easier time pushing it away.
Chapter 4: Congratulations! It’s ADHD! What a fun bonus!
What a wild ride this has been! When the kid got diagnosed in 7th grade, his doctor told me that it is often hereditary. At the time, I thought, “Oh, that’s not on me. I certainly don’t have ADHD!"
Cut to 2020: Everyone is stuck inside and the memes are flowing. Just top notch relatable content.
Tiger King memes.
2020 sucks memes.
It was a slow burn. And then one day, “Oh crap. These are all things I do!” So yes friends, memes made me realize I have ADHD. Self-diagnosis is valid.
In hindsight, there were SO many signs.
This is why I was called lazy most of my life.
This is why I can feel accomplished if I do just one task a day.
This is why my spaces were (and still are) a mess.
This is why I sometimes forget to eat.
This is why I get irritable and start yelling by the end of the day.
This is why I wait until 2 days before a deadline before I can even START some things.
This is why I can’t sleep at night without medication.
Almost all of my symptoms are executive disfunction. I start projects I can’t finish. I can’t do one task until I finish another but I can't finish the first one because it’s stressing me out and I can’t deal with it right now. Then nothing gets done and I feel like the absolute worst garbage person. Ah yes, the shame cycle. I'm intimately familiar.
For everyone rolling their eyes, I did the assessment at my phych’s office and scored 43/50 for ADHD. So it’s legit. Calm down.
Why did it take me so long to deal with all this? That’s a 2 part answer.
1. If you don’t know I obsessively research everything. I’ve lived with this brain for almost 40 years. I know myself very well. I’ve always been afraid that no one would believe me. I couldn’t deal with knowing I’m right and having my concerns being dismissed. I would probably cry.
2. I’ve always been able to handle it. Since I made it through all the times I didn’t think I would, I thought I would always be able to deal with it and eventually move forward. Even if it took months, I would just deal with it.
And I did. Even after my grandmother died, January 2022, I was handling it. It took me a while but, I was OK.
Then in November 2022, my sister died. Something in me broke. Maybe my heart. Maybe my brain. Maybe both. For over 2 months, I was not OK, but I was dealing with it. I thought. Until January. The week before my birthday.
I’ve never had a panic attack or maybe I did. I don’t remember the date so let’s say it was a Wednesday. My birthday was coming up. So is the anniversary of my grandmother’s death 9 days later. I knew I would never be able to experience my birthday the same way again, and boy was I right! So, it’s Wednesday. I’ve been doing nothing for a very long time. I’ve been trudging through the fog of grief and depression. Making it, but am I?
I decided I had to get up and do something. For the love of god, ANYTHING! I walked down to my studio where I would definitely find something to keep me occupied. I stood in the middle of the room trying to make my brain latch on to anything.
Could I make art? Yeah right!
Maybe I could sew something? Sorry friend, not today.
With what felt like a nest of angry hornets occupying the space where my heart and lungs once lived, I was rooted.
I didn’t move until it felt like the buzzing was letting up. I ended up sitting on the floor ironing fabric for about 20 minutes. That mind-numbing action was all I could do.
That was the day I decided I couldn’t keep suffering like this anymore.
If you wondering why I’m saying this all now, I couldn’t tell you. I can tell you that at least this one thing won’t keep me awake anymore since I finally got it out of my head.
I will probably not respond to any comments for a while. I need to ignore it because vulnerability makes me want to claw my skin off.
Go to therapy.
Take your meds.
That's was the nice, neat conclusion, wasn't it? This is the real after credits conclusion.
Please don't worry about me. If you weren't concerned about my mental health before reading this, you do not have to start now. I'm fine and properly medicated for the most part.
Seriously. Thats not a joke and I have no ulterior motives. I'm not trying to make anyone feel guilty about not being concerned about me before. I literally don't want you to worry about me. It's unnecessary and I'm fine.
If you knew me through all of this (especially 2001-2004: the peak of really bad times) and you're starting to feel bad because you didn't know or didn't see it, CUT IT OUT!
This is a no guilt zone. You didn't know because you weren't supposed to. Isn't that kind of the whole point?
This is important: please don't start texting and calling me out of the blue. This part is also not a joke: Every time I get a phone call from anyone in my family I panic for a second. I'm always afraid someone else is dead. Truly. So don't do that.
Someone once asked me why I wore the bracelets. If you remember asking me that, now you know.