Psychological History (Part I)
From a very young age I was forced into therapy. My parents seemed to assume that there was definitely going to be something wrong with me and I was seeing a therapist as early as I could remember. We'll call her Sandra. I don't remember much about the early sessions but I know I started when I was 4. I know this because recently I tracked down Sandra and questioned her about what I was like as a child. She said it was so long ago she wouldn't speak directly on anything but she would tell me what she could remember. One of the biggest things she remembered was how I was very distrustful of adults, especially my parents. This was concerning to her as a 4 year old shouldn't have had that level of mistrust in adults. I asked her about signs of abuse (physical/sexual) she didn't think that was the case but also didn't know what was.
I asked her about reactive attachment disorder which she said was very possible but she wasn't going to say yes or no either way. However the behavior she remembers indicates me having such a disorder. She said my parents were stubborn, didn't want to listen to a lot of things, but always claimed they were "trying their best". She believed maybe they were trying their best but she didn't know. Sandra claimed she tried so hard over the course of about 6 years to get me to open up to her but I never would. I could never trust her. To be honest I always hated her as a kid. Maybe because I was forced to see her. Literally forced, and my parents made a HUGE deal out of it from a young age like there was something wrong with me. They had set me up to fail with this therapist and created a stigma in my head that I shouldn't want therapy while also acting like I desperately needed it. The last time I saw Sandra I was 11 years old.
Around the age of 10 or 11, my parents were insistent we go into family therapy. We all went into see a psychiatrist, I'll call him Melvin. He was a nice guy, never really had any problem with him, I remember liking him a lot. We went to two sessions, and I mean as a family. After that it was decided that my entire family was normal and I was the problem. Quite literal finger pointing of everyone at me saying I was the root cause of ALL the problems in the house. At that point they started to insist that I see him on my own for sessions because everyone else was fine and if they fixed me, the problem, then the family would be better.
Now keep in mind at this same age my parents had been talking to my regular doctor about getting me on Ritalin. He didn't think I had ADHD but my parents were SURE that I did. We'll call him Doctor Washington. Now, he didn't want to put me on medication, he was suggesting that I see a psychiatrist if my parents thought I had ADHD but they didn't want that. They wanted him to give the drugs. He agreed to a trial condition of them as long as he could talk to me and monitor me. These drugs were a nightmare, not only because I didn't have ADHD but because I had to take them at school and it was announced to literally the entire class every time I had to take them. Any time I did anything my parents didn't like (AKA being a normal kid) they would LOUDLY ask me if I "took my meds" that morning. No matter where we were, in front of friends or my sisters (training my sisters to later ask me if I had taken my meds).
One day I was in his office and at the time I had been reading my first Stephen King book. I was 11 at this point. I remember because my parents were totally fine with me reading King as they thought I couldn't understand him and I'd get bored and go read something else. Despite them having my IQ tested repeatedly for some reason they were also very insistent I was borderline retarded even though my IQ tests were above average. Not saying I was some kind of genius but I was never stupid. I always, ALWAYS got HIGH scores in English and Vocabulary, but when offered a place in the advanced class they turned the teachers down saying "I wouldn't be good enough". They wanted me to be stupid I guess?
In any case, as it so happens the part in the book I was up to at the point of my visit with Doctor Washington, was a part where Eddie (one of the kids in the book) was being told that his medication was fake. A placebo to make his mother happy because she WANTED him to be sick and she projected those fears onto him and made him think he was sick. Asthma. So they prescribed him some bullshit medicine and told him he was sick. I asked the doctor if that was true, if doctors would prescribe medicine for something they knew a kid didn't have? Surprise surprise that was the last time I ever saw that doctor. Obviously I was 11 at the time so I didn't think much of it. They told he he was old (which he was) and he retired. Not sure if that was the whole truth but it was believable enough and that's how I ended up with Melvin.
Melvin was yet another doctor who said I didn't have ADHD. He wanted to stop prescribing me the drugs. I was tested twice for ADHD and no signs of it at all. My parents were not happy with this. Melvin stopped providing the drugs. He said I had issues but it was ADHD and those meds weren't going to help me. They didn't like this and I never went back to him either. Years later when I asked about him I found out he had killed himself, from what I recall it was a chronic illness he had that was causing him pain and he took his own life. Never will know if that's the truth or not cause I can't honestly remember his name, Melvin just sticks out for some reason.
Some how, not even sure how, my parents kept getting me prescriptions for medications to try. I really don't remember who I was seeing, might have just been a regular doctor at that point who was willing to write them prescriptions because the next doctor I remember seeing for psychiatry was when I was 13 or 14 and her name was Doctor Lawson. I HATED her. She didn't listen to me but even worse was the other woman I saw weekly named Kathy. Now at this point we enter into some really messed up shit however it's a very long story so instead I will explain the psychological damage to me up to this point due to how my parents behaved.
My parents were training me to behave certain ways. For instance, whenever I would cry it was a symptom of something. I could never just cry and be upset like a normal person. It was a symptom, a mood swing. Something bad. They ALWAYS pointed this out. Whenever I would laugh a lot, or get obnoxiously giggly, cause you know I was a young kid it was always a SYMPTOM. Not me making stupid fart jokes with my friends and laughing. It was another mood swing or some sort of mania. What I mean is this is what they told me it was to get me to "calm down". They would go out of their way to point out how what I believed was normal behavior was actually a symptom of a horribly mental illness. For some reason they were convinced I was bipolar and I have NO clue. So whatever they began training me to recognize bipolar symptoms at an early age.
With Doctor Washington, Melvin, and Lawson I was TOLD what symptoms I felt, how I was behaving and WHAT to say to the doctor. By the time I got to Lawson they barely had to repeat things to me because I knew what they wanted me to say. They had me convinced that crying meant I was SO DEPRESSED and laughing too much was some kind of mania. They had worked on this for years, no idea why. They were really pushing for some sort of mental illness diagnosis. They wanted me to think I was insane and they wanted me to think this so much that I would willingly tell doctors I felt this way. This way they could be sure that when I was alone with the doctors I'd tell them the truth to get the medications that would sedate me so they wouldn't have to deal with any of my actual problems.
I was told so much that crying was a HORRIBLE HORRIBLE thing that I stopped crying, or at least attempting to. This led to problems like bottling everything up until I exploded which created a situation where I looked incredibly fucking insane. Which only helped add to their "evidence" that I was totally psychotic. From a young age I was learning to bottle up emotions to not show any signs of mental illness (or what they said it was) and to this day I still do that, I'm just only now getting through that and only a tiny little bit. The older I got the more in control I got the more I was able to not explode and so all these emotions I was hiding manifested in physical problems. Such as the hernia I mentioned, the migraines, the other things. Phobias, rituals, self harm, OCD, anxiety. I became a massive control freak over my own body. I was terrified to show any signs of what they said was mental illness because I feared that it meant being locked up (which they threatened several times).
As I said before this is just BARELY scratching the surface of the psychological issues I went through with them. I will soon be writing the second part to this and a third one if needed. Though my parents were sometimes physically abusive it was far more emotional and in the end I believe that can be just as harmful as violent corporal punishments.