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How Do I Get Past My Past?... Too Many Triggers

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It seems that there are not many people that come in here, so this may be a safe place to be. I have been shunned so many times since being diagnosed with "mental illness" that I am afraid to talk to anyone about anything. My therapist tells me I need to tell people "my story" because that is supposed to make it more real to me and help me release the feelings I have about myself and my life. So, a first for me, except under hypnosis and in therapy, this will be the first time I tell my story to strangers. Since this is a place that no one knows me, I feel pretty safe, and maybe noone will read it and it won't hurt too bad if someone does, but doesn't care...

*********possible trigger*********

My story began many years ago, but I only realized it in August 2007. So it is hard to know where to begin...

I am 49 years old, but "old" began for me in childhood. I have never had many memories of a childhood and certainly not many memories of fun times. I am the youngest of 4 children, my siblings were 14, 12 and 10 when I was born. It was always painfully obvious that I was unplanned and joy was not a part of my coming into this world. When I was about 4 years old my only sister (she was the middle child before me) was diagnosed with epilepsy. That was when seizures were still called "fits" and people were afraid of her. She was thought by some fools to have "demons" living in her. It was normal to me, and I loved my sister with all my heart; she was my hero!

When I was 6 years old my oldest brother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a very "new" affliction at the time and still no known cure and only experimental treatments. At the age of 8 I watched my other brother join the military and as this was the height of the Vietnam Era, I just knew he was never coming home. (He did, but not without many mental/emotional scars; he is now one of the numerous homeless vets in America) My father had served in WW2 and Korea. He also had issues that manifested in many different ways, which I will get to eventually. The most apparent manifestation was his alchoholism. He rarely held down a job and fluctuated between being a "mean drunk" and a "happy drunk". This kept everyone on their toes around him. Mom was the disciplinarian, the breadwinner and the rock of the house, or so it seemed. To keep money flowing while I was a pre-schooler, she was a seamstress and on days when customers were coming in for fittings, it was my job to keep my father out of the way and quiet. If my sister was having a bad time with her epilepsy I also needed to watch her for signs of seizures and keep her safe.

On my first day of first grade, my Mom started to work outside the home, and it seemed like she was almost never home after that. That day very day, years later, has come back to haunt me almost constantly. I was so excited to be coming home from school all by myself; my oldest brother was married and out of the house; my sister was in nursing school (yep it astounds me too); and my other brother was still in high school and both of my parents were at work. I was ready to sneak in an afternoon of tv watching (I was only allowed to watch 2 hours a week...Bonanza and one other show)

I can now remember walking up to the house and having a sinking feeling because I knew my father was at home...drunk...the only question was if he was happy or mean. Didn't take much time to figure it out, he was happy. Now this should have relieved me; instead I tried to run away, but he noticed me before I could sneak out. ... Well when he finished using me for his pleasure, he passed out right there on the floor of my bed room. After I cleaned my self up, I cleaned him and for about forever it seemed, probably about 30 minutes, I struggled to move him into my parents room, so it wouldn't upset my Mom.

This went on until I was 14 years old and my parents finally split up. I had repressed all of those memories until I was put on anti-depressants last year. But the story doesn't stop there... as the "normal" of my life was changing things should have been settling for me. But changing school zones during the summer before my 9th grade, threw me into a whole new social set that I was not emotionally stable enough to find my way into. So I remained an outsider and an invisible part of my high school. To this day people I went to school with don't recognize me or have any memory of me.

Any way, my Sister and my Mom kept me busy driving them back and forth to work (my sis didn't drive and Mom had to be at work at 6am and my sis at 6:30, that left me to take them both and get myself to school) My brother's wife needed help with their children in the afternoons, so picking them up and caring for them became part of my day as well.

When I was 17 my Mom was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, the only treatment was surgery to remove the tumor(s) and it would grow back in a fairly short amount of time. Now we needed to add getting Mom to Drs and making sure she was taking her meds (for depression and high blood pressure) to my list of chores as well as making sure everyone was eating properly.Mind you I am still in high school, caring for Mom, my sis, my brother and his two grade school children.

Then things get better...my nieces start at a private school and can stay there until their mother can get them, my sister gets married and I start college and 3 part-time jobs to pay for college. Norma had changed, but not too much.

Then WHAM! My epileptic sister (with a toddler now) is diagnosed with Breast Cancer. New rounds of doctors (remember she can't drive) appointments and meds to keep up with; another niece to look after in the afternoons. Mom is on about her 5th or 6th time having cancerous tumors removed; and the two of them arguing over which cancer was the worst!...

Somehow I have met my brother's (the military one) best friend and we get married when I am 20 (running away from home?) and we have our first child when I am 21, the second at 23 and the third at 25. My husband had a major heart attack a year later; he survived but now I feel like I can't let him worry about anything...

Then the real hard times began...

In August of 1986 my mother's only sister died of...wait for it...cancer; In October of 1986 my finally gave up her fight with cancer after it spread to her lungs, liver and bones; in April of 1987 my father died from his third cancer battle - first larnyex; bladder and finally liver. On Valentine's day, 1989 my Mom finally lost her battle with the disease. In May of 1989 my sister's husband died from a massive coronary, with only his 11 year old daughter with him. I felt like I had been in a war myself, shellshocked and battered!

Then in 1991 we were blessed with our youngest child's birth!

So for the better part of my 49 years I have been the family's caretaker, looking after everybody's needs. I thought I was relatively happy, knew I should have been very happy...no repeat attacks for my husband, my children were fairly healthy and were great kids. They stayed busy in wholesome activities, they included their parents in their lives, our home was the gathering spot for all their friends and they were free from drugs, cigarettes and alchohol. They all seemed happy.

But not realizing it, life had caught up with me. For some unknown reason I quit paying the bills, we had the money, but I started spending it on things that weren't necessary. I quit even opening the mail, had the phone number changed and unlisted so creditors could not reach us. All the while my husband was oblivious.

Our neighbor's wife had run up something like $60,000 in credit card bills and he told me that if I ever did anything like that he would **** me. I believed him and became scared about what he would do if he caught wind of our financial problems. Then the house went into foreclosure, creditors were sueing us and I lost it. I could find no way out, really just didn't have any energy to try. So 2 bottles of alcohol and bottle of sleeping pills later, I would up with a broken ankle...don't remember the details to well, but think I vomitted the majority of the pills up (thanks to the alcohol) and then tried to walk...didn't work.

My husband managed to save the house and work with the creditors to settle on the biggest bills, we will be paying them for years and years... I spent 2 months in a rehab/mental facility where my childhood traumas came back to me in the form of flashbacks and many dissassoiative episodes. I had many other traumatic events that I still can't wrap my head around ... a stillborn child at 18; a rape in college by one of my professors; and a couple of confrontations with my father before he died that were not pretty.

After a second stay at the same facility in Feb/March of this year, my husband no longer has patience with me. He knows the story, but says it is all in the past and I should just "Get Over it";"put it behind me". If I could, believe me I would! But every day I lose at least a little time, sometimes several hours that I just don't know what I have done. Apparently once I called and canceled all of my doctors/therapist appointments. I am supposed to be going twice a week to the therapist and every other week to the psych. I have appointments several months in advance and I just cancelled them all. Now it is set up if I cancel with either one of them, the shrink or the therapist, each office calls the other. So I can't just quit. Unfortunately I just don't know how much longer I can keep paying for it. Thank God for insurance, but copays and coinsurance are eating up our grocery money. Right now I don't have all my meds, because we can't afford them...

Okay, now I have to decide if I will post this epistle or not...Good Grief, look at the length of this...sorry, I won't take up so much space in the future, if I come back at all...Thanks if anyone bothers to read this, if not ...oh well, nothing new.

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Sounds like life has weighed you down and your pulling chains off now. Congratulations on all the hard work your doing now to better you self for your sake and the sake of your family. You are a brave soul to face these issues. I know I GROW through the issues I face in my life, making me a stronger person today than before. My experience is a bit diffent, but simular at the same time. To have support through it all is very important. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you stay with us.

Edited by sunfire

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hello annain

and :hearts: to DF (DepressionForums) and to this room.

i've read. and i care.

and i hope you will come back.

if not to this thread, or only some time later (i think it can be difficult to learn to deal with the starting to tell things..), then hopefully to other parts of the forums or this room. i hope you will find helpful texts to read, and good support from other members, on DF.

and please, do not worry about "taking up space". you are NOT "taking too much..." or anything like that. you had a lot of traumatic experience in your life. sad enough that it was so much. when there is much that has happened, it is much to write. it is as long as it is, it is okay, it is as it is.

you are welcome here, and welcome to write your story, and to write things out. sometimes it can be helpful indeed. but it is difficult too, and it needs courage to do it. congratulations on this hard work! and that you managed to write it down. and klick this 'send' button.

it is hard too, i think, to see your own experiences written down. well it is for me. difficult. when i face my own stories. hard to realize, all this has happened to me, and i have to live with it now. different to have single pieces of it to haunt me in my nightmares, or to see it all written down. but i think it is necessary to realize, yes that is how it was.

i hope you get support from your T too, to cope with this getting-more-real of what had happened.

have you also learned some methods or techniques, in therapy, how to distance yourself from the traumatic memories when it's getting too much? (or maybe getting flooded by memories is not so much a problem for you..?)

you can post for more support here too, or if you want more people to read it you could post in Depression Central (as indeed there are not _too_ many people here, compared to Depresson Central), i think there are quite some people out there who can relate to how disturbing or hard to cope with it can be to face things that have happened in the past.

best wishes


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Thanks for your reply, as thanks to all. I appreciate your encouragement, it helps more than I thought it would.

Yes, it is very hard to share my experiences, especially since I have gotten such little support when I did share it. It was even hard to come back and look at what I had written, which surprised me.

I am going to try to continue and someday even write the things I left out. hmmm may take awhile for that though.

I have been shown some techniques for coping and am working on using them. Apparently there is a little bit of truth to the saying about old dogs and new tricks. It is very slow learning on my part. Intellectually I know and understand these things, emotionally... a whole other story!

If my family would just understand that I am trying and be a little more patient, it sure would help. This place does seem to help and I will try to come back often.

Thanks again to all,


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Hi Anna

That is a lot to cope with and always having to be the strong one in the family, the hero all the time. Its like you never had a childhood, but in the meantime, you needed the love, you needed someone to help you too, so in a way, you were lost within yourself.

I am so glad that you found a path to recover on. All those years of trauma, built up inside of you.

You are a fighter and a survivor, but you also need you time. There are many ways that you can find it. Use DF for you time. Let everything out if you need to, it helps to let it out and you will never take up to much space, thats what we are here for.

You are a precious person, that deserves love and respect for all that you have been through.

Victim of circumstance, but you can change that and you are, brilliant.


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Annain thank you for posting your story. It is an inspiration to me! You are a strong and couragous woman!

Have you ever thought about doing couples counseling with your husband? It may help him better understand what you are going through. It might be something to talk to your therapist about if you are unsure.

I too had to grow up fast because of my childhood. I always had to be the strong one and had to take care of everyone until a few months ago. I broke down. The depression was so bad that my family had to step up and take over the things I was incharge of.



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Amy and Trace,

Thanks for your words of encouragement. It is amazing how comforting it is to see that. I am continuing to work on my issues; it is so very slow.

I have tried to get my husband to go to couples counseling, group sessions, individual, family anything...he refuses. Actually he wants me to stop going to counseling because of our household financial problems. Since I have refused he has started to give me the silent treatment. Little does he realize that his lack of support just makes things harder and harder.

I know that I must not continue to be around "toxic" people and from all that is happening I am afraid that my husband may be one of these people for me. I can't wrap my head around the prospect of leaving him and "being on my own". I just want someone to take care of me for a change, at least for a little while.


thanks again for your support!



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