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Raised rough. Made strong.

Guest Author: L.J. Astoria

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I was born in the 70’s, raised in the 80’s. Things back then seem so much simpler. But for me it wasn’t.

I was born the youngest of 5. Born to 2 dysfunctional parents, one worse than the other. Shortly after I was born I was taken away because I was being neglected, I went with my Grandmother, my other 4 siblings went with family on my “Dad’s” side. I will use the terms “Mom” and “Dad” loosely because what they did to my siblings and I was anything but Parent-like. My parents split up when I was 2 years old. Sadly I had to leave the loving care of my Grandma, who was the rock in my life and gave me some normalcy in a traumatic childhood.

When I was with my mother, I was mostly neglected and always starving.

My first memories of life were being sexually abused. My Mom had sole custody of us kids but we went to my Dad’s on weekends to be tortured and forced to watch horror movies and pornography. At least after the torment of being in his “Care” would end, he would send us home with McDonalds. I would keep the happy meal box in my room sometimes for a week and nibble on the fries because it would be all I had to eat. When I was with my mother, I was mostly neglected and always starving. She never made us go to school, would have sex in front of us, and we were always hungry and covered in lice.

One of the most vivid memories I have from childhood was with my mom.

My mother had left us kids home without food as she went out to dinner with her boyfriend. I was about 5 or 6 years old, lying down on the couch screaming and crying from hunger. One of my brothers, who was a few years older than me, sat by the couch watching me gag from hunger while my other brother tended to my sister crying from hunger in another room. It was chaos and torture and I still remember the searing pain from the hunger as if it were yesterday. My brother went to fridge and the ONLY thing he found was a very old stale piece of American cheese. He tried to break bits off and feed them to me, but I started gagging cause it tasted like plastic so I started to cry again. My brother again ran into the kitchen and I heard him rustling through the garbage. He came back with a bag of chips that had only crumbs in it. It was all I had. What seemed like days later, I heard the front door opening. It was my mom returning from her date and I lay their hoping she would bring us leftovers. She came in empty handed. We were sent to our rooms, only to be awakened by her sex acts with her boyfriend on the couch. I am currently working on my obsessive food hoarding as an adult.

Mental illnesses are illnesses just like cancer or diabetes.

Over the course of my life I went through various traumas, including being held against my will and raped for a month, the suicide of one of my brothers and 9/11. I have always felt alone and have always been pretty much introverted. I was having PTSD symptoms since the age of 4, but out of fear and shame, I never told anyone until I was in my 20’s. I ALWAYS thought I was alone, but I now know I wasn’t. I came clean to a therapist in 2014, when I took the chance of being called “crazy” instead of staying on the downward spiral that could have ultimately lead to my suicide.

I have survived several suicide attempts. Even though I was mad and didn’t understand why I survived, I am grateful that I did to this very day. I will use my strength to help others so they know they are NOT alone, to help stop the stigma of all mental illnesses. They are illnesses just like cancer, or diabetes, but it’s in your brain so people think your “nuts.” I have been going through years of treatment, and on countless medications. I have done years of research on my own, desperate for answers for something that could heal me. In January 2016 I finally found something that works for me – EMDR treatments. I am no longer being treated for PTSD, but the drastic effects that life long PTSD has had on me still remain. I also battle depression and OCD. In attempt to help raise awareness I began writing for ptsdchat.org to where I am an author of many posts.

If you are reading this and are battling your own mental illness (PTSD, depression, bi-polar, etc.), remember that you are still here for a reason and you are not alone. Let your voice be heard to help raise awareness to stop the stigma of all mental illnesses!

Comments

Sharon
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I am all about sharing. For our own sake and those of our future generations we need to bring Mental Health issues into the mainstream. Having just finished a 6 week Cognitive Behavior Therapy day program through my local health centre I can assure you that there is help and hope.

CAROLYN2
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This is a heartbreaking read, but also incredibly inspiring that the author has survived an unspeakably horrible childhood, and is now helping others.

M
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Thank you so much for your courageous honesty, and inspiring strength and determination.

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