A watercolor painting in pink and lilac shades of a womans face.

How Emotional Abuse From My Upbringing Contributed to My Mental Health Struggles


Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by clicking “chat now” or calling  1-800-799-7233.

After texting with a friend yesterday, it finally hit me. I know why I’m struggling so badly with depression. It’s a subject easy for me to talk about, because then I can act like it doesn’t bother me much. But, writing about it, I can’t hide the pain it’s caused. I feel weak, vulnerable. But, it’s something I need to write about so, here’s my best shot.

Sitting on my patio, coffee by my side, cigarette in hand, here goes nothing. Or, everything.

For over a decade, I have been emotionally abused. For the first time in my life, I’m not being abused by an outside force, only the thoughts that still linger in my mind. It’s odd not having someone else put me down daily, and I find myself craving that again. As odd as it may sound.

When I broke free from abuse, I thought I would feel lighter, more in control, happier. That’s not always reality. The abuse sticks with me. The words said, linger in my mind and continue to drive me “crazy.” Even if I have an amazing boyfriend who tells me daily how great I am, how pretty I am and how much he loves me, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’m not good enough.

For years, these are the phrases I heard in my home life:

“No wonder you don’t have any friends.” 

“You’re crazy.” 

“Who would want to marry you?” 

“You belong in a mental hospital.”

“You’re acting like a 2-year-old.”

“You’re a spoiled little b*tch.”

“You’re a slut.”

“You’re selfish and don’t care about a damn thing. You’re lazy.”

Surprisingly, the abuse started because of the same issue. I’ve had debilitating anxiety and panic attacks for over a decade. More times than not, the abuse would always begin at the first sign of a panic attack. When my mind is at the level of a little child, when I’m scared of even myself, when I’m rocking back and forth, when I’m hyperventilating, when tears are uncontrollable, when I’m no longer in control of myself. Nothing makes me feel more weak, scared and vulnerable than when I have a panic attack. And that’s when my family members chose to strike.

Sometimes, their abuse brought on a panic attack and it just worsened. There were days I’d find myself sitting on my bedroom floor, back against the door, trying to keep them out of my room. There were days I’d drop to the ground in tears, broken by what they had said. There were days laying in the fetal position, gasping for air while they yelled at me. I couldn’t escape.

As I got older, the abuse got worse. Eventually, she’d start getting more physical. I was afraid for my life, at age 21. I couldn’t fight back.

The worst part of having an emotionally abusive relationship is, no one believes you. My family members acted so kind and nice to others, so it seemed like I was the liar. In high school, my friends thought I was the problem, that my family just cared about me.

The words they spoke still linger in my mind to this day. The feelings of worthlessness, sadness, pain and shame are all still alive within me. I don’t know if they’ll ever go away but, God, I hope they do. I hope I overcome this and can be happy again. Maybe I need to forgive them still, but I just don’t know how.

If you’re in an abusive relationship of any kind, seek help now. Professional help. Please, do it for your future.

If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Litetokig.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Depression

Can be used for hair care or beauty salon. Lady with hairstyle. Portrait of pretty young girl with long black hair.

3 Positives I've Learned Through the Negatives of My Depression

If you were to pass me on the street, or stand in line behind me at a coffee shop, or watch me move behind the counter, you would never know I am a person who has depression. You would never guess a good portion of my year is spent tearing myself down, and the rest [...]
senior woman sitting on beach looking at horizon

How I Have Learned to Manage My Depression as an Senior Person

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for several years. I am 67 now. It seems to be like I have a huge plank of wood I drag around with me all of the time. Sometimes this load becomes too great. I describe depression as falling into a deep black hole. It swirls around me. I can’t get out [...]
black and white image of young sad woman with long curly hair

How My Depression Has Changed Since My First Experience

Like most things, depression can change. When I was first diagnosed, I was 15 and a freshman in high school. What my depression looked like then is a lot different than what it looks like now. I couldn’t get out of bed, I zoned out a lot, I never willingly left the house and I couldn’t [...]
crying man

When Depression Makes Me Doubt My Own Depression (and Everything Else)

Here’s what my mind is saying: “Oh, woe is me, as usual. You’re just going to write some little article, pretend to be something you’re not, to elicit some sympathy. Do you even know if it’s depression? Will anyone even believe you? They probably see right through you, knowing you’re a fraud.” And I’m pretty [...]