The Family Effect

To be perfectly honest, I have been under such a firm hold of dissociation that I can’t remember whether I already wrote about this or not.

Just before my nineteenth birthday, I almost killed myself. As in, the only reason I am alive today is because of one person who believes in me enough and trusts me enough to actually take every word I say seriously. Unlike countless psychiatrists in the emergency departments of various hospitals, and unlike doctors who don’t believe the severity of my mental illness(es), she understood. She knew that I was serious. That I was on the edge. I had shared my plan with her, and she listened. I shared my hope to die with her, and she saved me. I shared the ugliest parts of myself at my most vulnerable, and she still protected me from myself. This person saved my life.

It’s been about three weeks since that night. It’s been a rough three weeks of self-harming, eating disorder behaviours and dissociaton. It’s been rough visiting my family and having to keep all of this bottled up because mental health is taboo in this house, and we hold only shallow, superficial conversations. This is the problem. 

The problem is, that I can’t discuss suicide with the people who are supposed to be my biggest supports. Who are, for some / most people, their biggest supports. I don’t have that support. I cannot share anything about suicidality, self-harming, anxiety, or my eating disorder with either of my siblings, nor with my parents, nor with any other extended member of my family. The closest we ever come to a conversation about mental health is if I mention I am feeling particularly “down”. Sometimes, even this has no effect. It’s hard to be under the same roof as people who don’t understand me. It’s hard to return to an environment I deliberately isolated  myself from by moving interstate. And it’s an environment I’m not sure I can return to.

When I lived at home, I tried and tried and tried. I suppressed and suppressed and suppressed. I got sicker and sicker and sicker. All the signs were there, all the clues were laid out like the map of scars across my body, yet still, my family couldn’t acknowledge, and wouldn’t accept, my mental health.

They won’t accept that BPD exists. That I had anorexia for seven years. That I was bullied so severely during high school that I developed PTSD – and had the strength to recover from it. That I take medication for bipolar disorder and depression. That I avoid certain things like loud noises because of anxiety and panic attacks. They don’t understand.

And it affects me intensely. In every text, every phone call, every video chat and every visit. There is a subtle undertone of the unspoken, of things never seen nor heard about, and a tinge of disgust. Are they disgusted by me? By my brain, which can simultaneously think in hundreds of parallel directions, doing calculations and problem solving and applying logic, yet is inherently faulty and damaged? It’s as if my own faultiness, is my own fault.

The very fact that this is a belief deeply ingrained into my person reminds me of the family effect. Of the effect my family has on me. I wish I could say it were a positive one, but I’m not one to leave things unsaid. To my family, who are unaware even that this blog exists, I am not sorry. I am not ashamed. I am Rosie, and I am the same person before and after I reveal my struggles with mental illness to you. I am Rosie despite the scars traversing my wrists and thighs and forearms. I am Rosie despite the medication and hospitalisation and therapy. I am still me, even when that’s not good enough for you. I possess a superpower called The Rosie Effect, and it is the antidote for The Family Effect.

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