Bipolar - Nature,Nurture and Influences - Journal entry

I’ll tell you first about my nature and about my environmental influences. This is the old question of, is it the chicken or is it the egg? As long as I can remember, I’ve had an adverse feeling toward authority, of any kind. Whether from my parents, societal norms/expectations or the cops…who later had more and more involvement.

How does the girl born with a silver spoon in her mouth become a crazed delinquent? I still don’t exactly know. What I do know is that depression has run in the family. On the paternal side, there are both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases. For one relative, it led to the ultimate fate of suicide. On the maternal side, it seems to only come up circumstantially, as in temporary. What I have on the other hand has been plaguing me my entire life. There have been more manageable times than others due to circumstance, but I would say the bulk of my life has been run by these mood swings. My mom would try and try again to save me. The trouble was, it just wasn’t possible to save me from me.

I grew up in an affluent neighborhood in Austin. I never had a want for anything. I attended the best public schools (still recognized as the best district in the entire state of Texas), played the sports and participated in extra curriculars. I experienced joy in the participation of these activities but always dread in the signing up process. Often, if not always, I preferred not to attend the practices, the games, the actual doing of the activities; but I found that once I was there and ‘doing’ I typically enjoyed it. Still, it didn’t make it easier to go. As I got older and there were more dedicated players, my skill level wasn’t up to par to be a top-level player and it became easy to drop out. This happened in middle school. I made the ‘B’ team and rarely played. My mom then ‘allowed’ me to make the decision to leave it behind. I took up horseback riding. I can’t tell you how therapeutic this was for me. Horses don’t judge you, horses are kind, they show love and caring and can be extremely intuitive and sympathetic to various moods.


Unfortunately, horses are expensive – but that didn’t stop my parents from supporting it and it was something I was actually passionate about, which is likely why they were so determined to foster it. The trainers weren’t always kind, but the horses were and the long walks bareback through the paths of the stables are some of my fondest memories of that time period. I had always felt like I didn’t belong. I was shy and awkward even from the elementary days. I didn’t really see what anyone would like about me, so I didn’t pursue friends ever (still don’t really). You can see it in every school photo. It’s like all of my insecurities bound up together that day and you can just read it in my face, in every single school picture, throughout the years. In fact, most of the pictures taken of me from kindergarten through college all have that same look…extremely insecure. As a toddler, I had all the confidence in the world. Never met a stranger, no concern about wandering off on my own, completely happy go lucky. I’m not sure when the change came. I suppose it was when all of the kids were starting to form social circles. I didn’t seem to fit into any of them. No one was mean or even uninviting. I just didn’t have the confidence…or energy to make it happen. I was also very easily embarrassed. I think my cheeks turned bright red over something just about daily. Through the years, I only had a few friends. Most of them had ‘adopted’ me, pulled me in to being their friend, which I have been eternally grateful for to this day. They continued to expand their circles while I kept confined to mine, but that was okay, all of those other people intimidated me anyway.


I took a couple of ‘leaps of faith’ over the years, I actually tried out for the high school dance team. I had no business doing so – flexibility has always been a struggle for me and I’d really never taken any former/formal dance classes. But two of my best friends were on the team and I saw how their social status and circles grew because of it so I thought I’d try. Yeah, well, I didn’t make the team. The mortifying moments of standing in the hallways outside of the stage/theater watching all the girls celebrating and crying and receiving flowers while I tried to look happy for them and also hide my mortification and shame and anger at myself for even deciding to try. I always like (yes correct tense) to blame this on the director thinking I had a bad reputation and the fact that one of the senior dancers knew that I was distracting her boyfriend. Though those things were true, in reality, it was probably just that I wasn’t any good. I remember my mom being infuriated. She thought with all of my ‘struggles’ they should show sympathy and accept me to help turn my path around to the positive. This didn’t really help my sense of self and self-confidence. Of course, she only meant and wanted the best for me, but somehow that reasoning didn’t make me feel ANY better about not being accepted.

I was always struggling to find my place in the social circles but felt I didn’t truly identify with anyone so for the most part I was a loner. All of these feelings of being a misfit led to my punk rock days. My days of dating guys out of high school, wearing doc martins, faded jeans and cut off tops (when possible). Some days I brought WAY too short skirts to school – I of course changed into them once I got there because my mom would have NEVER let me out of the house looking like that. I was never comfortable in those clothes, but I think it was just an attention seeking measure…poorly played. Negative attention became better than being invisible. You could tell my close friends were worried. Several became nervous to be seen with me for what people would think about them. I started running with another crowds. The first were a couple of VERY promiscuous girls. I never could get myself to their ‘level’ but somehow felt jealous of their ‘I don’t give a fuck because there are a lot of guys that like it/me’. Once I gave up on fitting in with them, I started seeking out the other loners. Typically hippie types that liked to smoke pot. I started smoking cigarettes (to be cool but later for stress) at about 13 years old. Pot started around the time I was 15. Drinking and other drugs followed suite. I ended up in the ‘alternative’ school at the high school. Basically, it was designed for kids that wouldn’t graduate without being put in a less structured, lower standard situation. They wanted to keep their 0% drop out rate BAD. I barely attended and often pot brownies were brought up to snack on at lunch time. Even before this time, I would skip school a lot, write myself ‘excuses’ that I signed with my mom’s name. Typically, I skipped first period or the class after lunch. In the morning it was pot and Taco Cabana and at lunch I’d often smoke some pot and forget to go back to school in time. Some days I’d just never show up, especially after pot and Taco Cabana. Anyway, some days we’d find some cocaine or acid and do that. There was always a lot of drinking. Most of the kids I was hanging out with at this time were not the type to think school important at all. A couple of them died while we were still in high school. One suicide and one drunk driving accident.


High school was the first time I had a gun pulled on me and the first time I had been chased by police. All fun times. At least these people gave me opportunities to feel alive and not just numb all the time. At home, I was getting into more and more trouble. Sneaking out at night, not showing up for things, not doing what I was supposed to in general. I began hearing voices telling me to hurt myself and I did. I ran away from home several times and tried to overdose on pills several times, along with some cutting – though I was never really brave enough to go very far with that. I also stole my mom’s car a few times (I didn’t have a driver’s license when I did this).

Once, when I ran away, my mom blocked my car into the driveway, and I was so determined to leave that I almost drove it off the 6’ drop at the end of the driveway. Another time, (I managed to get my car out) I was determined to do it for good. I had a job and moved in with my dealer; had my cell phone (paid for by my mom of course) and my car. I thought I was a genius; I didn’t need parental supervision! I could finally do what I wanted, and they were likely better off without me too. I say they, but my mom had been raising me pretty much on her own since I was about six. My mom begged me to come home, even had family come meet me at work to ask me to come home. I always refused. My mom reached the end of her rope and called my dad to step in; desperate times… My dad showed up at my dealers’ apartment – pounding on the door. It scared everyone and as there were drugs there obviously and they shamelessly kicked me out pretty quick. Next thing I knew I was being dragged by the hair to his truck where he literally threw me into the passenger side and slammed the door. He was yelling at me during all of this, but I don’t have a clue what he was saying. Probably calling me names and spitting insults. Once in the truck he locked the doors and kept in on me verbally. Then came the physical. He struck me once and I cowered crying and curling up as far into the door as I could. He took me to his house and put me on lockdown. That night I tried to kill myself again as I sobbed over my circumstances. The next day we were to go to my/my mom’s house to pick up clothes. I was going to be staying with him for the foreseeable future. I was petrified. We arrived at my house and Meme (my grandmother) was there, but my mom was at work or out or not there. While she greeted my dad I flew up the stairs to my room. I locked the door and ran through the connecting bathroom to the guest room and locked it and all doors in between. Frantically, I called my friend and asked her to call the police. I should have called myself, but I wasn’t thinking clearly and knew I was short on time. Sure enough, while I was on the phone my dad burst through the door, grabbed me and threw me to the ground into my stereo system. The phone fell to the ground so I didn’t know if my friend was going to do anything or not. I tried to run but he caught up with me in my bathroom and grabbed me, pulling my arm behind my back. I cried out saying he was going to break my arm then I glanced in the mirror to see his face. It was terrifying. I asked, you’re actually enjoying this aren’t you? And he said, yes.

Soon there was a knock at the door. A police officer. My dad went down to greet him as Meme answered the door wringing her hands. Dad sat in a chair and started petting the dog so gently it was about to fall asleep in his lap. They called me down. I was a crying wreck. I couldn’t bring myself to speak so I kept trying to convey that he had been hitting me by banging my forearms against my head. Dad said, yes, she’s been trying to hit herself, I’ve had a hard time making her stop. In the end, the police officer asked where my mom was. Because she wasn’t there and he was my legal guardian, I was to go with him. I was shocked and petrified…I had just called the police on this man, who knows what he would do to me now! Fortunately, just in the nick of time, my mom came home. I ran into her arms sobbing and she told the officer, no, she will be staying here. My dad left. I didn’t speak to him for about two years. In one of my first attempts to reconcile our relationship (I’d decided having a crappy dad was better than not having a dad at all), I tried to have a frank discussion with him. His words were, ‘well, I’ve forgiven you.’ So perhaps we can move on – or something to that effect. I was shocked (again). We didn’t speak for another year or so.

Anyway, soon after that runaway episode and Meme coming to the sandwich shop to try to get me to go home – which I vehemently declined until she begged. Just come for a little while, to see me, please? I couldn’t deny her so I agreed. I would come for a little while. I showed up at my mom’s house and my ENTIRE extended family from her side was there. It was an intervention…just like you see on TV only no cameras or famous host. Next thing I knew I was flying to California. My mom had found a combination mental health/addiction facility there called Anacapa located in Port Hueneme/Ventura county located NW of Los Angeles. I remember one of the girls close to my age there talked about the fact that her dad was a porn star didn’t help her issues. She lived in Thousand Oaks. It was all shocking, but really, they were my people. It was the first time I felt like I could belong somewhere and not be judged or under constant social surveillance. OF COURSE, I found a boy I liked. He was fucked up…maybe even more fucked up than me, which OF COURSE I liked. We got in plenty of trouble trying to find private moments with one another then, giving up to just be blatant about it all. Almost every day we would visit ‘the yard’ it was meant for us to play sports and just be outside and also where we took our brief smoke breaks – 5 minute allotment every hour (or two or three, I don’t recall) and only if you filed into a ‘straight line’ and just generally obeyed. The yard was your typical soccer field but with barbed wire fences around it. The first day out there I scanned the fence for a break in the wire and found one. Just there, just there I could get out and just run! At that age, the idea of having nowhere to go, no transportation, knowing no one or even where I was, stopped me. But every day I would sit on a patch of grass and just stare at it.

One by one, people left, new people arrived, and the circle of friends expanded or retracted depending on who was going out and who was coming in. Primarily though, at least one or two people in my ‘group’ would be ‘my people’ and I would be comfortable in that unity. I believe I was there about 30 days…but it felt longer and I’m not sure. Anyway, during my time there all my meds were played with aggressively. Most made me feel catatonic. I never felt as though we got the right combination, but I WAS feeling better. Probably solely due to the fact that I’d ‘met my people’. We also had mandated AA meetings, which we mostly took for a joke, but they didn’t seem to care much.

Back home, I really had no existing support system. After all, no one in that facility lived in Austin. So when I went home, I was alone. I didn’t really care about recovery/staying sober. In fact, I was embarrassed for myself but mostly sad for all of those poor souls that really needed it.

I was recommended to attend an outpatient program at home. I found a cute fucked up boy there too. I wasn’t staying sober even though I was attending those stupid classes and they made us fill out AA attendance forms. We met in the parking lot often, either before or after class. Fuck in my car and sometimes do or exchange drugs. After a while, he told me that he couldn’t hang out with me anymore, because he really needed to stay clean and I just wasn’t a good influence. I was furious.

Home for good, our Junior prom was about a month away. Of course, no one wanted to go to prom with the mental hospital attending drug addict, so I had no offers for a date. Fortunately, a friend of my cousins who I was fond of agreed to come down and take me. He was/is a wonderful guy, I’m about to ask, I’m not sure how much pressure he had on him to take me! Regardless, we had a good time. Mostly making fun of people as a defense mechanism for not fitting in.

Soon, I was back where I was. Depressed, drinking, doing drugs and skipping school. Feeling suicidal often and making poor choices all around. Once I had snuck out of the house, this time fairly innocent, just to take drive…or maybe it wasn’t innocent, maybe I was going to pick up some pot...Again, I can’t remember. What I do remember is that I was playing music and halfway home. I turned at a light and was immediately pulled over…fuck. The Rollingwood officer came up to my window and asked for my information. As I handed it to him, I asked if I would ask why he pulled me over. He told me my music had been too loud (meaning I had violated a city ordinance I learned later but at the time), I was livid. That was a ridiculous reason to pull someone over. Of course, I was also going to get a ticket for both smoking a cigarette underage and littering since I’d tried to get rid of it while getting pulled over. Two other cruisers showed up during this time. I almost couldn’t suppress my fuming anger. What did they need 3 cops for? For me? Was I really that scary? Ugh, dumb cops. Then they are all just shooting the shit, chatting etc. I said in my nicest voice possible, ‘excuse me? Can I ask how long this will take? It is late and I have school tomorrow.’ His reply was, ‘oh it’ll take as long as I make it take.’ I was about to lose it. But apparently my attitude was a problem because next thing I knew they were asking me to step out of the car because I was under arrest. I did have pot on me, in my purse, but though they searched my car they didn't find it so the charges remained the same as I mentioned. While they COULD have taken me to their local station, they drove me to the downtown Austin jail. I suppose to try and ‘teach me a lesson’ or something. The booking cops were sympathetic, and several said, ‘I would have just let you go’ like they couldn’t believe I’d been arrested over those minor charges. Well, hell, I couldn’t either. I had to call my mom from there to come bail me out. She was mortified. That was my FIRST experience with being arrested. And was very fortunate to not have landed in a LOT more trouble if they'd found my pot. Of course I smoked some as soon as I got home.


...to be continued...




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