Mackenzie Heckbert

@mackenzieheckbert | contributor
I enjoy reading articles on the Mighty as someone who has Crohn's Disease, Anxiety, and Depression. Reading what other's write helps me feel connected to a community when I often feel like I can't talk to my friends or family about my conditions. I don't know a lot of people with Crohn's so most of the advice (that's not from my doctor) I receive comes from right here! I want to share my writing with others in hopes of making further connections.
Community Voices

Relationships and Anxiety

Recently, I was diagnosed with OCD, #Depression, and social and general #Anxiety. I always knew I was an anxious person and I often described that as my defining characteristic. I’m in a constant state of worry. Most people worry, but for me, I literally worry myself sick. When my anxiety is at it’s worst I can’t eat or sleep. On the outside looking in I’m sure I look fine, but on the inside, it feels like hell. I can’t settle unless everything is where it should be both physically and figuratively. I’m constantly rearranging and reorganizing my house and my life. The hardest part about it all is the toll it sometimes takes on my relationships.

I’m constantly striving for perfection, even though I know it doesn’t exist. I beat myself up if I make a mistake or forget something, because of this, I tend not to forget anything. I store the smallest details and analyze them over and over in my mind. This is the biggest problem for me because I hang on and hold grudges over silly things. In a heightened state of anxiety, I will explode. Many people don’t know this about me because I keep that side of me locked up from my friends and family. All the things I store inside come flooding out whether in anger or sadness. Diego receives the brunt of this and we often have giant discussions or arguments because I unleash all of the things I’ve kept hidden onto him. Sometimes, as a joke, he calls me a dementor. It’s true because I really can be. Usually, seconds after I’ve blown up I realize how stupid I’ve been, but it’s too late the damage is done. I’m so thankful I have a patient man in my life, but my causes me to worry that one day it will be too much for him.

I’ve also started to realize I can be too much for my friends and co-workers. I have this need to unload on them if I’m feeling particularly stressed. I know this isn’t ok, but sometimes I can’t help myself. It all comes spilling out. I feel like if I don’t tell my friends a lot of details about myself that I’m lying. I never want anyone to feel I’m deceiving them. I never want anyone to look at my social media and assume I have a perfect life when in reality I create a lot of turmoil for myself. I’m a very honest person and staying true is one of the most important things for me.

I’ve recently started taking a couple of different types of medication to help my mind settle. I particularly was having a difficult time staying asleep. Each morning around 3am I’d be jolted awake by my thoughts and lay in bed unable to fall completely asleep. My new meds have helped me to sleep deeply. Having more sleep has helped me to keep a little more calm through the day, but by the time the evening rolls around I’m usually as anxious as always. It is difficult for me when I’m not working to spend time with my friends. When I finish work I like to come home and spend time with Diego and our furry little family. He feels like a haven for me. If I have a good day or a bad day I can always depend on him for a laugh or a good chat. Usually, on my days off I relish in silence and try to enjoy what little peace life offers me. My job isn’t particularly stressful at all, but like anyone else, I stress about money, relationships, past mistakes, and this feeling like I’m always running out of time. The days I spend at home, enjoying my own space are so few but it feels like the only time I feel okay about where I’m at in life.

I’ve worked damn hard to get to where I am. This past year I’ve completely taken back my life. Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost a lot of time. As I approach 30, like anyone, I wish I had more, but I deserve to have moments where I can feel proud.

Community Voices

I wish he would've hit me- dark secrets

WARNING: This post might be triggering for women or men who have suffered from abuse. This post might also be very hard for my family and friends to read, but it’s important for me to write this. I want to share my experience so that maybe I can help others.

He never hit me, but he left some deep emotional scars that I’m not sure will ever heal. I have sadness in my heart all the time now, even when I’m happy. It’s like a tiny, painful itch; continuously scratching it’s way to the surface the second something good happens to me. It comes out in the form of insecurities and misdirected anger. I lash out at the wrong people, and it’s cliche to say, but especially at the person I love the most.

The pure and innocent feeling that joy used to bring me is tainted now. I look for problems. I pick fights because something is broken inside of me. I look for warning signs that aren’t there. I search for dark secrets or deceitfulness that doesn’t exist. I blow up small issues because I’m so afraid I’ll find myself in the same situation, years down the road and that I’ll have been powerless to stop it again. I constantly push the man I love to his breaking point.

I’m afraid I have become like my abuser.

I see his personality and his mannerisms in the way I speak now. I spent too much time with him. 8 out of 27 years is a big chunk of life. It was a pivotal moment too. The time when I went from a teenager to a full-blown adult. He shaped me and molded me during the time that people consider their prime years, so I often catch myself saying and doing things that I used to hate when he said or did, but I think I catch myself too late.

I think I laugh like him now. Sometimes I feel cruel because I think I make fun of people the way he did too. I think I’m less patient and less motivated now. I always have to be right because I was always wrong for so many years. If an argument doesn’t go my way it shatters me and I spend hours analyzing how the other person could possibly think they were right. All this starts to make me wonder if he was abused the way he abused me, then I find myself sympathizing with him and that makes me sick.

The other day I met my boyfriend after work and he was having drinks with his friends. I really wanted to go home because I had a rough evening at work plus I hadn’t seen my dogs all day and I felt bad that they were cooped up in the house. He said he’d have one more drink and then we could go. His friends ordered another round and did that thing that friends do when they say “oh come on just one more”. Something in my face must have told them that I was angry. They started poking at me saying “come on Mack, he’s always with you. Let him have one more”.  I said to them I didn’t care what he did but I had to go home to my dogs. They knew he wouldn’t stay without me because we’re still at that precious stage in our relationship where we want to spend all of our time together. One of his friends accused me of being controlling. I started to try and explain our relationship, but I did more harm than good. After we left I broke down in the car, sobbing. I haven’t cried so hard in a while.

Maybe it was just the mumblings of a drunk guy not wanting the party to end or maybe that’s just who I am now.

What Is Emotional Abuse in a Relationship?

This post might be triggering for women or men who have experienced abuse. This post might also be hard for my family and friends to read, but it’s important for me to write this. I want to share my experience so that, maybe, I can help others. I started to think about writing something the other day after an incident reminded me of where I was and why it was a bad situation, like when putting ketchup on bacon can make someone angry enough to cut you down. Sometimes, I wish he would’ve hit me. Maybe that would have made leaving easier, but he didn’t. He never laid a hand on me in anger, except for that one time when he pushed me out of the way because I had pushed his buttons just a little too hard. What he did to me was worse, because no one could see how he cut me down. My family had clues, but my friends had no idea. I didn’t have to hide how he treated me because it was so unbelievable, I didn’t believe it myself. I thought that’s how love grew. Eventually, I shuddered at his touch because the idea of being intimate was no longer exciting, but it scared me a little because he didn’t have boundaries. I thought that’s how love was supposed to be, that eventually “no” didn’t matter anymore. I pushed myself to the far edge of the bed each night, cranky, unlovable, and prayed he’d just fall asleep. Sometimes, it wasn’t always like that, but most of the time it was. Like when he told me my hopes and dreams were stupid and unattainable. I needed to be more realistic. He turned my heart to stone. I wasn’t funny without him because I stole all his jokes. My five years at university didn’t matter and were a waste of time. I should learn to put my time in at a company instead of jumping from dream to dream with no direction. I hadn’t been told I was pretty in six years. I stopped spending time with my friends because he didn’t like them. He told me they were “wishy-washy.” Maybe some of them were, but I know now that was my decision to make. He told me my dad’s military accomplishments were nothing to be proud of because he never fought in combat, but he would never know what my mom felt like to raise two small children on her own while my dad was away providing for his family. And we would fight. About my family, the dog, the food I never cooked right or the dishes that still had spots. He put ideas in my mind that I didn’t believe but eventually accepted because his personality is strong and mine is weak. I would forgive him and forget because I was comfortable, I could buy nice things, and I loved his family more than they’ll ever know. But this isn’t love. Feeling sad, worthless and lonely in the company of another was a warning sign I ignored because four years, six years, eight years is too much time to throw away. I watched friends get married and have children, with a tiny itch in my heart knowing I wanted that too but pretending I didn’t for him because when I was 20, I made the mistake of saying I didn’t want that, but at 27 maybe now I did. I was deceitful for changing my mind. I thought I was on the right track, and that I’d never find anyone who would treat me better. Who could possibly love me as much as him? Control isn’t love. Changing someone to fit your ideal isn’t love. I was never the person he wanted. I think he simply saw someone who was easy to influence and manipulate. Maybe he didn’t know that’s what he was doing but that’s what he did to me. I spent so much time under his thumb that I still dread going home some evenings even though I know I’m going home to another. The drive home sometimes is just too similar that I slip back into those thoughts. I see small glimpses of my personality shine through, but I know I’ll never get it all back. I know I’ll never be who I was before I was abused. It’s difficult for me to say that word, but regardless of what anyone says or feels, I know that’s what it was. I know that now that I’m in a proper, loving relationship with a man whose dreams are bigger than mine and who tells me we can achieve anything together. I’m with a man who tells me I’m beautiful every day. I still feel shattered. He asks me from time to time if I can forget that other man, and I think I can. It’s hard to imagine a time when I can erase all the bad things he did to me. They were often so small that the silliest things will remind me of that time, and I’ll get a pang in my heart — a shitty little feeling that maybe I’m ridiculous or not good enough. I start to question how this new, amazing man could love me as much as he says he does. I wait for the time when maybe he changes his mind or suddenly his personality will change. It hasn’t yet, and I don’t think it will, but it’s hard not to worry. Follow this journey on the author’s blog.