I spent most of my teenage years depressed and often suicidal and to this day I struggle with depression. From the time that I was 15 until I was 23 there wasn’t a day that passed that I didn’t contemplate killing myself. I felt lost most of the time like my life had no meaning nor would it ever have any meaning. After I addressed my depression with my mother and got the flippant answer of “you know we don’t believe in that” I never talked to anyone else about my depression until I was 20 years old. For five dark years, I struggled just to keep my head above water, so to speak.
I hated myself more that I could ever express in writing. It was this complete and consuming self-loathing. If I would have been a separate person I would have gladly walked away from myself and never returned. A lot of this was a factor of my self-image. I was lonely a lot after our move because of my inability to make friends. For nearly six months while my parents finished moving our belongings from Florida to Missouri I stayed with my emotionally and physically abusive grandmother.
Every morning she would insist that she brushed my hair, to make sure it was done properly, and at the time I had nearly waist length hair that was often unruly and tangled. If I so much as whimpered when she was brushing my hair, she would scream at me and spank me with the hairbrush. If I didn’t do or act like she thought I should she would beat me with a switch from the yard.
The worse spanking I ever got from her was over a misunderstanding of the work “like”. She used a southern colloquialism of the word to mean “lack”. I had never heard the word used in such a manner and I told her that I didn’t LIKE doing the dishes. (She had asked me how much I like finishing the dishes.) I tried to explain to her that I didn’t understand what she was trying to ask me, and she thought that I was just being a smart ass. She cut a branch from a tree in the yard and switched my legs until I had welts and she drew blood. After she was done, she told me that if I told my mother or my father that she would make sure the next time my so-called punishment was worse.
If I didn’t eat everything on my plate at dinner time, no matter the reason, I was not allowed to leave the dinner table, and every hour I sat at the table I would be spanked for disobeying my grandmother. As the eldest at home (at the time) I took most of the punishments so that my brother and sister wouldn’t have to suffer this woman’s wrath. They were 11 and 9 where I was 13, and I was their older sibling. I was supposed to protect them; after all that was what my mom and dad had charged me with before we left for Missouri. One of the happier days of my early teenage years was when my grandmother left. When I was sure that she was gone and could never hurt me again I finally had the courage to tell my mother and father what she had done.
While I was physically safe, the emotional damage she had caused was already there. It is my belief that a lot of my self-esteem issues started with her. If you look pictures of me before I stayed with my grandmother I was always smiling, always seemed happy, afterward that was rarely the case.
I don’t understand why a grandmother would want to hurt her grandchildren so much. I guess I just can’t fathom the lack of character it takes to be that cold to someone that is your family.
After staying with her I started gaining weight, my depression really started to manifest and I began down a path of self-hatred and harm that I’m still recovering from today. I still struggle with depression and while I wasn’t able to reach out for help, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have had I known that there was help.
So I get to the point of today’s post. If you need help, then reach out to someone. If you’re suicidal there are hotlines (which I will list below) that you can call and talk to someone. If you’re a victim of domestic violence reach out to a school counselor, the police or a social worker. No one deserves to be abused whether it be emotionally, physically or sexually. No one deserves that. You are better than being someone’s play thing.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255 (For people of all ages and identities)
Trevor Project Hotline: 866-488-7386 (For LGBT Youth under 24 years of age)
Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860 (Suicide hotline just for trans* people)
National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 800-799-7233