Makeovers #NaJoWriMo

(NOTE: This post may cause triggers for anyone dealing with depression and having suicidal ideation. Please proceed with caution.)

For today’s prompt, write about what the biggest or smallest makeover you’ve done in your life so far? What did it involve? What challenges did you face in achieving that makeover? Who helped you along the way? 

The biggest “makeover” in my life thus far has been having the desire to live. I’ve written here on this blog about my bouts of depression many times. Of how it sucked the will to live out of me and left me suicidal. For the better part of eight years, I wanted only to die. I felt like my life had no worth, that *I* was worthless and that I was a burden to everyone around me, especially to my husband who never tired of telling me so.

I have not talked much about the psychosis that I experienced during these tumultuous times. I hear voices all of the time. I have since I was a child. But the voices that I normally hear are from Catharine and Evelyn (my muses) and Stefano (my animus). However, when I was deeply depressed, I heard two other voices. Dark and deadly ones. One called himself Slash and the other I knew as merely The Demon. When I heard Slash’s voice, I resolved myself to cutting and burning my arm with a cigarette lighter. They were the only means I had of experiencing any sensation as I was completely numb. However, the pain only lasted a few moments and I would once again grow numb. When I heard The Demon’s voice, he would tell me that I was better off dead. It was because of those words that I attempted suicide 7 times. My pdoc put me on Risperidone, an anti-psychotic, but it merely masked the voices of my muses and animus and did very little to deaden the voices of Slash and The Demon.

In late 2012, I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. Suddenly, I had an out, if I really wanted it. I could have allowed myself to wither away from cancer. Instead, I had an overwhelming desire to live. Luckily for me, during this time, my pdoc found an excellent cocktail of drugs for me and I also began seeing a new therapist. She taught me Mindfulness. The drugs kept Slash and The Demon away and the Mindfulness kept me grounded in the present. I was able to focus entirely on my health and beating cancer.

I still occasionally feel the darkness seeping in. I guess I always will. But I no longer hear Slash or The Demon. I also have the desire to be alive and the tools to remain so.

How about you, dear readers? What was the greatest “makeover” in your life? Share your thoughts with me in comments.

(Note: if you would like to participate in this month-long journal writing activity, sign up for emailed prompts here)

Creative Questions 2 – Violence

I’ve decided to take calmkate @ Aroused up on her Creative Questions Challenge by answering each of her 6 current questions over the next few days.

CQ2: How have you and yours been affected by violence?

I wasn’t raised around violence and lived a pretty sheltered life in a small town in rural Virginia. For the most part, my parents were loving and giving, rarely fought and rarely had to discipline me or my two siblings. We didn’t experience violence in school or in the streets. There were the occasional bad kids and a murder every now and again, but those were not the norms. Life was pretty easy sailing for me growing up.

I didn’t experience true violence until I was in my late 20s. I’d hooked up with a carnie who, unbeknownst to me at the time, had been in prison. He was a bit of a rough and tumbled kind of guy, but he had an air of mystery about him and he fit my type: tall, dark and handsome. His name was Damian and that alone should have clued me in, right? We had a good start of things for the first few months, but over time, he began cheating on me. I found out in a not too pleasant way – I found a condom package under my bed that was not our usual brand. When I confronted him about it, he denied it. So I had a friend keep an eye on him while I worked and went to classes. He was followed. I soon learned who he was cheating with and how often. Every evening when I left for work, she would show up at our apartment. Every evening! Finally, I had enough and we had a huge blow-up. When I told him he had to leave, he tried to strangle me. That was the first time anyone had brought me that close to death. I kicked him and clawed at his chest until he finally turned me loose and left. I found out later through my attorney that he had been in prison for rape and assault. That was the scariest time of my life.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t my last. My first and second ex-husbands both had violent streaks. The first liked to kick me and my step-son with his steel-toed boots. That marriage only lasted 7 months. The second liked to shove me into things, bruising me and damaging my back. That marriage lasted 13 years. Both were also mentally and emotionally cruel.

While all of these were horribly violent, the worst violence was what I did to myself. Seven years into that second marriage, I became extremely depressed. I became a cutter, a burner and attempted suicide 7 times, resulting in 8 hospitalizations. Thankfully, I found a cocktail of drugs, a great therapist, and Mindfulness training. I am no longer a cutter or a burner and haven’t attempted suicide since 2013.

I guess the take-away to all of this is that you don’t have to find violence OUT THERE, nor by some other person’s hand. Sometimes the worst violence is within yourself.