Updated: Jun 24, 2020
| This is the 467th story of Our Life Logs |
I was born in 1993 in the urban jungle of Baltimore, Maryland, where my family was originally from. We lived there until I was about three when we moved to a quaint, little town called Saltville in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. We stayed there for another three years before finally coming to rest about 15 miles over in the town of Chilhowie. This is the place I consider my childhood home and where my story truly began.
Growing up in what was essentially “Small Town, USA” was, for the most part, a nice experience. I was out in the mountains and so close to nature. My family was composed of my parents, my two siblings—an older brother and a younger sister, and me. I started school at Chilhowie in the first grade and made a few friends. However, this new small-town dream did not last very long, as the subject of bullying was quick to start up both at school and at home.
Shortly after starting school I was faced with a bully who targeted me for my family’s poor financial status. He would lie to the teachers just to get me in trouble and, as the new kid in town, I did not have much credibility yet. There was nothing I could do.
After a few years of being bullied in school, my own brother began targeting me with his own bout of anger and hostility at home. I really felt betrayed. This was the guy that was supposed to protect me from people that would break me down, not join them. Though, it was innocent at first, picking at me over small things like me having to get glasses. But soon it developed into a much more volatile nature.
By middle school, my bully pool at school had grown into a group of five. They ganged up on me over my appearance, weight, and anything else they could find to attack me. I was truly starting to believe the things they said. I thought I was worthless, alone, and just a burden on those around me. They pushed me to my breaking point halfway through middle school and I made an attempt on my life. My sister found me in our bathroom cutting my wrists. She stopped me, but I swore her to secrecy. I continued cutting, not to end it, but to release my emotional pain in a physical form. One concerned student found out and told my guidance counselor who, in turn, informed my parents. I was taken to a crisis center where I was told I would either be placed in a mental care facility or enrolled in therapy. I chose therapy.
Once my brother found this out, his bullying became worse tenfold. He constantly mocked me for my attempt on my life and urged me to do it again or he would finish the job. It was a strange feeling to be afraid of my own brother actually doing something like that. How could I get better and move on when I was constantly reminded and taunted over it? It felt like my mind was spiraling ever deeper into an abyss of hopelessness. Maybe he was right, maybe the bullies at school were right. These fleeting thoughts constantly circled the outskirts of my mind.
My teenage years just continued getting more and more rough with bullying coming from school and in my own house. In the midst of all, I had one person that I could go to with my problems, a boy I considered to be my best friend.
By my junior year in high school my best friend and I had moved our relationship to the next level. We had begun dating and my mental health was beginning to get to a better place. I finally felt like someone really cared about me and my situation. I finally had someone to advocate for me, rather than doing it alone. After I graduated I moved on from the troubles that plagued me at school. My brother had chosen to join the Army, rather than going to jail for breaking my mother’s hand in a bout of anger. It seemed as though life was truly looking up.
In 2012, I got married to my high school sweetheart, and we started a family together the following year. While everything seemed to be moving forward smoothly, I still had feelings that reminded of my life in the past, my life of feeling like no one cared and no one understood. I was having moments of lowness I had not experienced to this degree before. I was growing more anxious about everything under the sun.
My husband and I had some trouble in our marriage and that only forced to exasperate the situation. Finances were building up after he had been laid off from a very good job. I wanted to blame him and at the same time I knew nothing could’ve been done. However, that didn’t stop the fights we had. We argued a lot about money during that time and I just felt lower and lower. I would blame him and then he would blame me for our situation. We lost our house, our car, and all our savings. And at a certain point, I think we lost ourselves too.
Regardless, after much trial and tribulation, we remained together. We simply realized that we could never get back on track constantly blaming one another and butting heads. Though, my mental health was still getting worse. My husband tried to help where he could and reassure me that I was not alone. Some days it helped and others it did not. Eventually, it all came to catalyst some years later.
It was mid-summer in 2017, I had turned 24 just a few months prior. We had three children by this time and my husband was at work while the older two children were in school. I was having some of the lowest feelings I had experienced in a long time. I did not want to continue and I felt like I was letting everyone down. I thought I was a terrible mother, a terrible wife, and that everyone would be better off without me. I found my husband’s handgun in our closet and held it in my hands. I was going to pull the trigger, but something stopped me. I needed to call my sister and speak to her. She answered and I told her what I was doing. She tried to talk me down, but I was still in that mindset. She called the police and shortly after, she and the sheriff arrived.
They retrieved my husband from work. I was then admitted to a local mental health facility, Cornerstone, and it was there I received my diagnoses. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II, Manic Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Adjustment Anxiety—I know, quite a handful.
I worked with a psychiatrist who explained much of my mental health, other than Bipolar II, was the result of the bullying I had experienced. I knew, deep down, that my brother held much of the responsibility. It was just so different to have a medical professional tell me that my own brother hurt me so badly.
I was mad at myself for a while as well after the diagnosis. I couldn’t understand why it had to be me. My life had been such a struggle anyways and this felt like the icing on the cake. However, the battle was only just beginning.
I struggled for a couple years to find a treatment plan that was right for me. I went through two manic episodes in which I left my husband and embarked on self-destructive path of discovery. I’m really not proud of those times, but I didn’t have full control of my actions. I felt like I was watching myself do these things and there was nothing I could do to stop myself. I told my husband that I didn’t love him anymore and that he didn’t understand me or my situation at all. Both times he stood by my side and tried to bring me back down. Both times I eventually came down from my Bipolar induced high and realized my treatment plan simply was not working. I had not been myself for almost two months and it felt like coming out of a whirlwind.
After that, my medication was switched and I hit another low point. I fought to bring myself out of it. I fought as hard as I could, but nothing worked. I began to have feelings that brought me back to that place a few years ago. I was scared and did not know where to turn next. I made my husband aware and he did what he could to help. Still I felt this way and began to get angry at myself for feeling so down.
It was then my husband suggested another local mental health facility. I was reluctant to accept because I was scared. I was scared of being away from my family, which had grown by another child that year. I was scared of going into a new, unfamiliar place. But in the end, I went. And I’m glad I did.
I stayed for about four days in Bluefield, West Virginia. Upon release and keeping up with my new medication regimen, I began to feel better. I got back into a scheduled routine to keep myself more focused. I cut my brother completely out of my life. I restarted weekly therapy sessions with a local counselor to talk through my lows and highs. And things have improved, slowly but surely.
I still have days that are better and days that are worse, but I feel much more balanced now. With even more time, sticking with my treatment plan, and maintaining my support system, I know I’ll have even more control over my mental health. It was by no means an easy journey, but I’m grateful that my family didn’t give up on me, that I didn’t give up on myself, and that together we’ve found something that’s working for me.
And for sure, I know I have faced down my demons of the past and overcame to live a happier life with my family. If you’re struggling with your demons of mental health or abusive relationships that rob your happiness, you know you can get through it. It’s sometimes a long road, but it’s a road that I’m so glad I stayed on. Stay on the path, face down your demons, and you will come out in the light.
This is the story of Allison Roark
Allison, 26, currently lives with her family nestled in the mountains of Virginia. She lives a life as a Mother, Wife, and Survivor of Depression. Allison dealt with bullying almost her entire life from both school and at home. She attempted to take her life once as a teenager, and it was brought to therapy. She then would go on to marry her long-time best friend and start a family with him. But the demons of her past still haunted her, and she attempted to take her life again at age 24. Her sister stopped her and she was admitted to a local mental health facility where she received her diagnoses of Bipolar II, Manic Depression, Borderline Personality Disorder, and Adjustment Anxiety. Later, she would admit herself to another mental health facility where she found a better treatment plan. Today, Allison is feeling much more in control of her mental health and feels as though she truly has faced down her demons. Allison enjoys listening to music of all genres and spending time with her family. She has plans to go back to school next year to further her education.
This story first touched our hearts on December 10, 2019.
| Writer: Cody Roark| Editor: MJ |