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

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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.

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Thinkstock photo via Litetokig.

Originally published: May 30, 2017
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