“Finding Who We Are” Entry #3: Growing Through the Pain

Experiencing difficulties in life is an inevitability. There has never been a singular person on this earth who did not experience a rocky path. Through these situations, though, we learn that it is not our circumstances that define us, but rather, how we react to them.

This week I am honored to share my good friend, Karen’s, story. She and I have been friends for almost 6 months now. I have greatly appreciated reading her posts, taking in her insights, and enjoying the pictures she takes. She is a beautiful lady with a heart for God. Her story is truly incredible. We hope you will enjoy it!

Say “hello” to Karen!


I grew up out in the country in upstate New York 50-something years ago. I had a father who was a pedophile, or whatever else he’d be called today, with his only daughter. Add to that I had a narcissistic mother who also had mental health issues. No one needed words because no one spoke about such things back then. I also had to deal with physical/mental/emotional abuse from my mother and continuing sexual abuse, which I had to keep silent about.

I went from one failure to the next, job to job, relationship to relationship. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, schizoaffective disorder, PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma, and eventually Borderline Personality Disorder. I don’t know how my therapist gets all of that written down when she writes up my session with her.

It was 1995 and my world was crashing down on me. It didn’t take long for the VA Emergency Department to get me admitted to the Psychiatric unit at the VA. I don’t know if it was my second, third or tenth admission. In several of these admissions, the doctor ordered Electroconvulsive Therapy. I would be taken to the room where this was done. I was in line with several other patients, waiting for our treatments. I remember how badly my hand hurt where they had put the IV. Then a rubber mask was placed on my face, and that would be the last I remembered.

They did this therapy Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for two weeks inpatient and then once a week for the following months. I was also put on, first a couple, then maybe three or four psychiatric medications before I was pronounced well enough to go home. This pattern was repeated over and over during the course of a year or more.

Unfortunately, things were not better at all once I arrived back home. 

I quit my job to go to another company and then another after I had been in the hospital for three months. At home, I couldn’t stand being there with myself, and no one else came into my home. The depression would start to deepen, I had suicidal ideations and would cut myself, simply trying to ease the pain in my soul that was put there by my parents, and then person after person. I didn’t feel worthy of anything that was better, so I lived in silence – except in my head.

It has taken me about 25 years to get to where I am today. I live alone and have not been in a relationship with anyone since 1995. After the diagnoses of MS and a brain aneurysm in 2007, I was stunned. This really rattled my cage. I was given two more things to fear and obsess about, on a Friday the 13th, nonetheless. The neurosurgeon did a great job when he did the surgery for the aneurysm.

But the mental illness and the symptoms due to MS have a tight grip on me. I fear that I will once again fall into that pattern of hospitalizations because they would pay attention to me, which I craved endlessly. With no one taking care of me, I had nothing.

But I have not gone there, and I pray that I never will again. I’ve been given tools that help me when I get into a bad situation without the need of hospitalizations. I would say that I’m a survivor of my past. I take my medications (the list is long) and try to keep myself on the right track, in order to not back down that road again.

One of the things that have helped me greatly is my blogging and all the people that I have met with issues similar to the ones I have. I have been stable (not being hospitalized) since about 2007. If I end up in the hospital now, it is for physical reasons. I have gotten a lot of support through my blogging, even when I had no idea what I was going to write about when I started it. The name of my blog is now, “Abuse. Getting It Off My Chest.”

I want to thank all of you out there who have helped me deal with my pain and anger. I also want to thank those who stumbled across my blog, enabling me often to help someone else as well. I also want to thank Matthew, for seeing what I’m going through and asking if I would like to write a post. So I have.

– van –

Once again, thank you, Karen, for being willing to share your story. It goes to show that, no matter what you have been through, there is hope and redemption.

You can find Karen’s blog at www.outloudkaren.com.

We hope you all have a lovely rest of your week.

You are loved.

You are valued.

7 Replies to ““Finding Who We Are” Entry #3: Growing Through the Pain”

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