For a while one has been struggling, without even realising. As long as I kept pretending to be Jhansi ki Rani, fighting the world ( eye roll) and being discriminated against for one’s gender, I was kind of alright. My buffer, I’m told, is great at absorbing the shock of loss and grief, one goes into fight mode. Hence, everything trickles down slowly, later, when one least expects it.
Anyhow, after many telephonic conversations with mental health professionals, one went to visit a psychiatrist, to figure out whether I had what people had been claiming- Bipolar Disorder. I don’t know, how many times, you’ve got yourself evaluated but trust me, it ain’t fun, trying to recall things your mind has tried to blank out. Plus, ‘what about your mother? Dead! What about your sibling? Dead!’ though answered with a deadpan expression, inspite of how cocky one may look doing it, isn’t what you enjoy saying. One’s been told, that other than the mood disorder ( which is still being assessed- tests after tests my dear) one also has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a.k.a, PTSD. I don’t think anything has made me angrier, than that diagnosis.
One came out of the shrink’s clinic, livid. ‘ What the fuck does she mean I suffer from trauma?’ I was yelling into the phone. ‘Has she met a rape victim, acid attack victim, someone who lost their parent when they were little? Has she met the mothers in Kashmir who loose their children? I…I…I look traumatised to her!!! So what, if my mum burnt herself when I was little and now she and my brother are both dead! Everyone has to die, someday. Do you think poor people have the privilege of suffering PTSD, BPD or any form of depression?’ My friend, who is the only person who can handle my rants, kept trying to calm me down. ‘They meet lots of people, they have the experience, listen to them!’ ‘They’ve been trying to get me on those meds ever since, I was sixteen. I will fucking fix myself, you wait and watch! It’s my mind, my body, I’ve been living in it for 42 years, I will sort myself out, even if I have to slap myself out of this nonsense!’
For a person, who has been told by many professionals ( I was dragged to a family counsellor when I was younger, then a shrink…I’ve done the advanced Landmark forum course and have surrounded myself with the spiritual ones since a young age) that one is quite self aware ( according to me that makes me stupider than the average person who is unaware because they actually don’t know what they’re upto and I knowingly continue doing harmful things) one was behaving like an ignorant nincompoop! But I guess, BPD, is something that I can take like people take High BP. That it’s a genetic disposition, that one needs to work around. This made me feel weaker, less in control ( which scared the living day light out of the control freak) and bloody angry! So, of course I threw a fit and went into complete denial, bought loads of books, started sporadically walking again, avoiding people who I felt were triggers and trying with all my might to ‘slap some sense into myself!’ Of course the medicines which were prescribed were never taken.
One of the books, I’d ordered arrived today, ‘How to do the Work’ by Dr Nicole Lepera and like people pick tarot cards one opened a page. ‘Let’s see what I need to figure out on this day!’ I thought, as I casually drank my morning tea. Voila! On Page number 41, was the heading- Trauma: A misunderstood concept. The author wrote about the Adverse Childhood Experience Test and how though she had scored a 1 on it, which most people do, she later realized that she had suffered ‘spiritual trauma’. Dr Lepera, went on to describe how like me, she doesn’t have childhood memories, how she forgets faces and people make fun of her memory, all the time because she doesn’t remember shared experiences. Like me, she has ‘feeling memories’ how she felt but not concrete memories of events and all of this has been a coping mechanism, a survival tactic.
Dr Besel Kolk, has described this phenomena as- disassociation. ‘Simultaneously knowing and not knowing,’ How traumatised people try to not be present, how their fight, freeze and flight responses work differently and just because they have trained their mind to not be present to the occurrences it doesn’t mean, their bodies don’t remember.
The memory thing, made sense to me. Akash had told me the same thing, after I asked her why my IQ is normal but I don’t recollect so many things. ‘You trained your mind as a child to not remember, what was happening around you!’ Akash was one person one listened to. How one wishes one would have spent more time with her when she was alive! This resonated with me, so I took yet another test, this time on the net, thinking one will get a low score.
The Adverse Childhood Experience Test Goes Like This ( taken from the NPR.org site)
1) Before your 18th birthday did a parent or an adult in the household, often or very often swear at you, put you down or humiliate you or act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?
2) Before your 18th birthday, did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often-push, slap or throw something at you or ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?
3) Before your 18th birthday, did an adult or person at least five years older than you ever touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way or attempt or actually have oral, anal or vaginal intercourse with you?
4) Before your 18th b’day did you often or very often feel that no one on your family loved you or thought you were important or special or your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other or support each other?
5) Before your 18th b’day did you often or very often feel that you didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes and had no one to protect you or your parents were too drunk or too high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?
6) Before your 18th b’day, was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorce, abandonment or other reasons?
7) Before your 18th birthday, was your mother or stepmother often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped or had something thrown at her or sometimes kicked, bitten, hit with something or hit repeatedly, threatened with a gun or knife?
8) Before your 18th birthday, did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?
9) Before your 18th birthday, was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?
10) Before your 18th birthday, did a household member go to prison?
I think everybody should take this test, especially people such as myself, who won’t believe the professionals, insisting that healing in such cases should be taken seriously. I don’t want to disclose my score but let’s just say, I should stop living in denial. Plus, it gave me an answer to a question that has always haunted me: when my brother and I had the same parents, why did I turn out like this and he could pass off as normal? Now I know.