Manic and Mistreated

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I was 17 years old; a week away from turning 18. I was experiencing my first manic episode, brought on by a traumatic event. I reacted to my emotions with the weight of stress on my chest.

I was assaulted, by someone who was supposed to love and protect me. I confided in my mother, who seemed to believe me at first. This was a case of textbook narcissism, as my attacker placed all of the blame on me, and meticulously manipulated my mother. When I realized that no one was going to save me, I took matters into my own hands. Literally. I struck out in a place of fear, anger, and pain.

I can barely remember the episode, as I was in a state of mania. I think I blacked out for some time. I ran down the hallway screaming, and before I knew it my attacker and I were fighting on the ground. I remember landing blows on his face, and my mother screaming for me to get off of him. My dog at the time sensed my distress and attempted to protect me. My mother was trying to pull me off of him, so my dog perceived her as a threat. She attacked the woman who had birthed me. I don’t remember very many details, but a few minutes later the police arrived, ready to take me away.

I was in my pajamas and had to quickly put on shoes. I stared down at my brown boots in the back of the police car, thinking about how funny I must have looked. Brown dress boots, black pajama pants with kitty cats on them, and a grey hoodie. I hadn’t had a chance to put a bra on yet that day, as I had gone to sleep under the impression that my mother was going to defend me. When I awoke the next morning and my attacker was still in our home, I reacted. I was handcuffed in our front yard as I was screaming at the officers that I was not in the wrong, that I was defending myself. They didn’t listen to me. I was brushed off as a teenage girl that was overreacting. I was misbehaving. I was troubled. I was not read my Miranda Rights. I was scared, alone, and confused.

It was a short drive to the police station. I was in handcuffs, as the asshole told the police that I was a danger to myself as well as others. I went through the intake process in a blur. My fingerprints, identification, and my photo were taken. All I could think about was that I was in my pajamas with no bra on.

Through all of this process, there was not a woman in sight. I had never had any run-ins with law enforcement personally, but I had called them many times as a child due to domestic disputes between my mother and whoever she was dating at the time. I did not know what was going on, or where I was going to be taken to next. I knew that my rights were being violated, but was unable to advocate for myself as I could barely think straight. I felt myself sinking into a panic attack. I remember the walls shrinking. They were an off-white color. I could feel my heart beating in my face, and my hands were sweating. I remember thinking to myself; “Maybe I could slip these cuffs off, I’m sweating so badly.” I went through the scenario in my head of what would transpire if I attempted to do so. I thought, better not. In response to my panic, I was offered a bottle of water.

I was taken to a dark room that looked like an office. There was one table and two chairs. I sat in the one closest to the door. I assumed that this was an interrogation room, as they did not tell me where I was. An African-American man came in to speak to me. He seemed nice, at first. I don’t remember his name. I don’t remember what we talked about. All I remember is him saying, “You are lucky that you are not 18. You could be charged with second degree assault.”

I think that I advocated for myself after that, but it didn’t matter what I had to say, as I had no evidence of the wrongdoing. I hadn’t gone to the hospital. I hadn’t called the police. Instead, I was in the wrong for reacting to my trauma. I was being interrogated because I had had enough of all of the shit that had happened to me in the past two weeks. My mom had cheated on her boyfriend with his nephew. Yeah, you read that right. The man who I had lived with for the past three years moved out. His nephew had been living with us for a couple of months, directly down the hall from my room. I spilled my guts to the police officer about everything that had transpired. Everything that I had been through. It didn’t matter. I could tell by the way he was watching me that he didn’t believe me.

This is why women don’t say anything. I felt sick to my stomach. I was shaking and crying as I told a stranger everything about my life, and they looked at me like I was a criminal. Like I was crazy. I started to think maybe I was.

Finally, a woman came in to talk to me. They had gone through my phone. They knew that I was smoking marijuana and I was buying it from the asshole. This was evidence enough, apparently, that he did not assault me. Because I was still communicating with him.

The glass in the office was not mirrored, I could see out of the room. I saw the asshole walk with a police officer to another room. “We need you to tell the truth. He has agreed to not press charges. The age of consent in Maryland is 16, and you are 17. There is nothing we can do.” I felt my fingers go numb. All of the blood had drained from my face. They didn’t believe me. They didn’t believe anything I had said.

It was nearing midnight when my mom came to pick me up. We rode in silence back to the house. I felt anger surge up inside of me like bile in my throat. “So you don’t believe me?” “It’s hard to believe you, Destiny. You lie so much. I told you that I would get him a hotel room, and we would figure things out. You didn’t have to do this.” Images of all the times I had watched my mother be abused flashed through my mind. All the times that I had to call the police, or I sat crying in my room listening to all of the fights that transpired, flooded my brain. We were pulling into our driveway, almost at a complete stop. “I fucking hate you, and I never want to see you again!” I stepped out of the car and started running.

My cousins only lived a couple of blocks away. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t know what to do. I was running in a daze at midnight. Before I knew it, I was at their front door. I second-guessed knocking. I didn’t want to bother them. Fear kicked in; I was scared of the dark. I knocked lightly on their door, and my cousin answered. I could tell that they were all very confused. I was in the process of telling them what happened when my mom called, asking if I was there. They lied for me. They tried to protect me, like I wish my mother would have. I was hysterically crying at this point. I was starting to feel safe when there was another knock on their door. It was the police. Again.

I had never resisted arrest before. I had never broken the law before. But I did it twice in one day. They pulled me outside of the home and forced me against the siding of the house. The siding was cold on my face. I felt the cuffs tighten on my wrists. They were too tight. It hurt. My cousin was crying and arguing with the cop. “Is this really necessary? She’s just a kid.” But to them, I wasn’t a kid. I was a criminal. I was a danger to myself and others. I was forced into the back of a police car. Again. This time they didn’t buckle my seatbelt.

The officer didn’t tell me where we were going. We were speeding towards Easton, so I assumed it was to the hospital. I didn’t have my seatbelt on, so I could move freely in the back of the car. It felt like we were going fast. Too fast. I peeked at the speedometer. We were going 80mph. In the rain. He didn’t know it, but I had gotten into a bad car accident in the rain. I felt my anxiety rise steadily until we arrived at the hospital.

When we walked in, I was immediately brought to the suicide risk room. I looked around me. Some railings came down from the ceiling that barred me from touching any of the equipment. All I had access to was the bed that I was sitting on. I really had to go to the bathroom. I hadn’t gone all day. I called for someone. No one answered. I looked at the clock. It was 1:30 am. No one came in and spoke to me until 3 am. I had urinated on myself. I couldn’t get my pants or underwear off because I was still cuffed.

The nurse was angry with me. She brought me a gown and grippy socks. This wasn’t my first experience with grippy socks, I have been on many grippy sock vacations. The police officer came and finally released me from the handcuffs. The nurse helped me change, as my hands were shaking so badly that they were essentially useless. She told me to sit and wait for the on-call doctor. She left and locked the door behind her.

The doctor came surprisingly quickly. I was asked the basic questions I was used to. “Do you plan on harming yourself? Are you having any homicidal thoughts? Are you experiencing any pain?” No, no, and no. I wanted to leave. I would say anything they wanted to hear just so I could be left alone. The doctor was skeptical but seemed satisfied with my answers. He told me to get some rest, and that CPS would be coming in a few hours to speak to me. He left, his white coat following behind him. Once again, the door locked. It was now 4 am. The nurse came back to give me my medications. Lamotrigine, buspirone, gabapentin, sertraline, as well as a pill that I didn’t recognize. When I asked the nurse about it, she said it was to help me sleep. I laid my head and welcomed the darkness as it spread across me like a warm blanket. White pillow. White sheet. White bed. White walls. Crazy white girl.

For the first time in weeks, I didn’t have any night terrors. I awoke feeling refreshed. Four hours of sleep was pretty normal for me. It was 8:30 am. A woman from what I assumed was CPS entered my room, and my mother followed behind her. I was not expecting her, and it made me sick to my stomach to see her face. “Hi Destiny, how are you doing today?” said the pantsuit woman. “Fine. I just woke up.” My mother scoffed. She always thought that I was lazy. I could tell she was irritated that she had to be there, and my skin crawled.

“Today we are going to be discussing what the next steps are. Your mom said that you threatened to kill her, so we are concerned for her and your safety.” I was shocked. This was why I was arrested and brought here. She lied. She was trying to control me, like she always did. I became furious. I could feel my face getting hot. “I didn’t say that. I said that I hate her and I don’t want to live with her.” The pantsuit lady nodded her head and wrote some things down on her clipboard. I was just another case of a misbehaving teenager. She looked at me through her pointy glasses and said, “So where would you like to go?”

I had to think. I didn’t have very much family. I didn’t really have many friends. My boyfriend was the only person who knew what I was going through. The only person who genuinely loved me. But I knew that I couldn’t go there. Not until I was 18, at least.

“Aunt Peggy’s.” She wasn’t really my aunt. I wasn’t sure how I was related to her, actually. I just knew that I was. The pantsuit lady asked my mom if she was a relative, and she said that she was. My mom gave her the contact information for Peggy. Her address, phone number, etc. I don’t know why they even bothered to get this information, because they never followed up. They never called her. They never came to check on me. I guess it was because I was six days away from turning 18, where I was trusted to make my own decisions and considered to be an adult.

Discharge was very fast from the hospital. It was a blur. I had to wear a gown home because my clothes were soiled. My mother and I rode back to the house in silence. “Pack a bag. Just what you need for a couple of days. When things are cooled down, you can come and get the rest of your stuff.” She handed me my phone back, I guess she had gotten it back from the police. I had hundreds of texts and calls from my boyfriend. My cousins texted me. I think I said something simple like “I’m packing a bag, headed to Aunt Peggy’s. I’m fine.” I gathered up some clothes, makeup, and toiletries. My mom stopped and got me a pack of cigarettes, and dropped me off at Peggy’s house. She dropped my car off to me, so I could get to school the next day.

The next night of sleep went by in a blur. I was numb. There was so much that had changed in a short period. I remember going through the days at school, and no one knowing what I had been through. No one knew that I had been arrested twice in one day, and I was now living with a distant cousin. I was expected to behave normally; I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t. It was almost the end of the school year. Graduation was rapidly approaching. I found myself thinking about my future, knowing that I was in control for the very first time in my life. This is what freedom felt like, and I was afraid of it. I was afraid that I was going to make the wrong choices and that I was going to make a mistake. I had no one to fall back on. I was three days away from turning 18, and I moved in with my boyfriend and his parents. They were very kind and welcoming. I had only met them a few times, and yet they were accepting of me. It felt like a massive weight was lifted off of my chest. Like I was breathing for the first time in my life.

The freedom and relief didn’t last for long. My mom and I were constantly fighting over text messages. I hadn’t seen her since she dropped me off. She said that I was a sociopath, a compulsive liar. Now that I am a mother with two children of my own, I can’t fathom not believing my child. My cousin went with me to get the rest of my things from my mom’s house. There were a lot of things that were missing. I was told that the asshole had taken some things and sold them. He dropped my emotional support cat, Pickles, at a campground. Pickles was abandoned just like I was. I went to the campground every day for weeks looking for him. Calling him, crying for him. He was gone.

I had so much resentment towards my mother that she would let these things happen to me, that she didn’t protect me. I felt like I was going insane. My mom had done this to me all of my life, choosing men over me. Blaming me for things when they went wrong. She wanted the phone back that she had paid for. So I smashed it and threw it in her front yard. I took off with my car full of all of my belongings and didn’t look back. It was my birthday, I was finally 18. We had a bonfire with a couple of my friends. We were listening to music and having a good time when I received a phone call. It was my mom. She said that the cops were just at her house and they were looking for me. They were on their way to see me and take me into custody.

I knew that it didn’t make any sense, but I went into a full-blown panic attack anyway. Everyone tried to calm me down, but the party was over. I was done. I was exhausted. Every time I thought that I could finally breathe, something would come and knock the wind out of me again. She intentionally ruined my birthday, because I had ruined hers. My boyfriend blocked her number for me because I couldn’t do it myself. Because of this, I had a few weeks of peace.

It was graduation day. I had family fly in from Montana to come and celebrate me. It felt so good to have family with me. It felt so good to feel safe and loved. My mother was not invited to my graduation, but she came anyway. She found me after I had walked across the stage to receive my diploma. She told me that she was proud of me and that she loved me. She hugged me, but I did not hug her back. It was still all too fresh in my mind. I was too numb to react, too dumbfounded to say anything. I was shocked that she was even there.

The rest of the evening, I smiled for photos and talked with people that I knew I would never see again. I was leaving, and I had no intention of coming back. My mother messaged me from a different number, to let me know that she was moving back to MT, and taking Asshole with her. I couldn’t help but feel a little hurt. It was like I was being abandoned all over again, but for real this time. She was leaving, and I had to bank on my relationship with my boyfriend working out. If it didn’t, I would have nowhere to go. I think that is what she was counting on, deep down. She underestimated the relationship that we had built in the 2.5 years that we had been together. We had a plan, and we were going to go to college together and start a family. We did just that.

I still struggle with my mental health and trauma. It is an everyday battle, but I can’t give up. I have two young boys who rely on me. I have a loving fiancé who pushes me to be better. We are living the white-picket-fenced American Dream. There are a few days every other month when I feel like I am trapped in a hamster wheel and someone else is spinning it. I can’t rest, or sleep well. Over the years I have learned coping mechanisms that relax me and keep me grounded. I crash for a day or two, where it is hard to get out of bed and complete my daily tasks, but my family keeps me going.

I am grateful to be where I am today, and I have learned many lessons along the way. I am still working on healing, and comforting the little girl inside of me who did not receive the safety and protection that she deserved. I am still reminding myself that I am worthy and that things get better — and then worse, and then better again. Healing and growth are not linear.

When I am in doubt, I look back to when I was 17 years old. The young girl who was mistreated, abandoned, and broken in the midst of a manic episode, is now a woman learning to navigate her way through life in a way that is healthy and beneficial to herself as well as others. I am working as a Peer Support Specialist, relating to others through my own lived experiences. We help each other and learn together.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Wow, Destiny…this hits close to home. I relate so much to the pain of being criminalized, mistreated, scapegoated and abandoned by a mother and by a system that’s supposed to be there to help. There’s something especially painful about being treated with so much callousness as a young woman on the cusp of becoming a legal adult. I’m 57, and still feel traumatized by things that happened when I was that age.

    It really seems like someone should have been sued over the way you were treated. At the very least, you should have been read your rights and assigned an advocate.

    You’re a great writer. Congratulations on everything you’ve overcome.

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  2. Thank you for sharing. “Healing and growth are not linear.” I’m adding this quote to my office door next to Jeff Foster’s “Let Yourself Rest.”

    Although I’ve always known that the road for me will be up and down, reading your story helps me to genuinely understand the true nature of healing and growth.

    Lately, I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid the downs. Trying so hard to control things and prevent myself from the pain of the lows. With introspection and mindfulness I’m working to get to the place of acceptance you’ve already found. It feels so unreachable at times for me. I obsess over it. But little by little I’m learning to sit with the emotions, the low days, the good days, all of it. Thank you again for sharing and helping me get one step further in my recovery—today marks 111 days medication free for me.

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  3. I have parallels in my own life.

    Once I slept on the street as a young adult because, my mother said “You are the cause of all my problems”. Instead of an explanation and a sincere apology I got a double whammy.

    I was a top student, always kind, well behaved, caring, etc., the typical narcisistic abuse victim: the healthiest more insighfull of the family.

    I didn’t drank, smoke nor doped before or during those days.

    I was once in a car accident that was sort of planned.

    I got into a cab while moving through jobs and the cabbies laughed looking at me in a peculiar way, some other stuff might have trigered my intuition though. So, I suspected something and changed from my usual seat in the taxi, and started paying close attention to my surroundings. I was affraid of being kidnapped not killed, I was very prosperous and had two lucrative jobs as a highly paid professional.

    The cabbi stoped crossing perpendicularly in a relatively high speed road, ocupying two lanes, my seat in one, his in the frontlane.

    Then a big truck came fast without applying much the brakes like directly to the seat where I usually sat.

    Fortunately, I just got bumped, I covered my head with my arms, that might have prevented further damage to my head, that bumped against the glass, tempered window.

    Some director of a place where I was working commented something about my direct boss being sort of a psychopath and in a “group” of other psychopatic physicians.

    And that somehow my act of stopping talking to my direct boss could have trigered the attack. Sort of it triggered a suspicion on him, or he felt “dissed”.

    My direct boss bragged about knowing and belonging to a political group working for a very known and powerfull politician.

    And that group of physicians, without me telling that, was pointed by the director in very similar terms: sadistic physicians. His words, varied more or less.

    Apparently that “group” through a med student threatened to unlock the tires of my car for no reason. That happened to me at least 2-3 times while I was in med school.

    It became a habit checking the tires for loosened bolts then.

    I can’t shake another parallel: A prominent journalist around those days had a highway accident apparently because of loose/loosened tire bolts while investigating child abuse networks that included top politicians.

    I am not making imputations, merely pondering the parallels. Mobbing might explain the parallels after all. And the concealed crime nature of loosening tires, hard to bring charges as such, at least in those days, street cameras were not present everywhere as now.

    That makes, in my mind, labeling someone “loco” useful, even necessary, particularly against someone like me: rational, top student, no drugs, no alcohol, no tobacco, in a monogamous deep comitted relationship. Even by divinating the future: he can go crazy at anytime, like a ticking bomb, it happens, we the pros have seen it.

    My mother gave my threatener my location at some point, despite me telling her clearly she was not to tell anyone where I was. I thought I was safer there, that proved to be wrong, but that’s another story with other parallels spining on mental disorders labels, superstitions, illegality, mobbing and narcicism/psychopathy.

    She excused herself because she “thought” he was my friend. That well she “knew” me, there was no interest nor point ever of talking about my life, hopes, dreams, problems, situation or aspirations with her.

    It only led to her and my father, as a mobbing team, manipulating me, as it happens with narcicists/psychopatic individuals. Any insight or knowledge provided to them can be used against ANY victim.

    That’s how I ended studying medicine, sometime before I ticked the box for med school they threatened me veiledly to send me to the army, because they could not afford free college education of ANY kind. Free college education for a top student, free as in beer, and for all students who get passable grades in my country.

    Calling my mother narcicistic seems to me not enough. She has done to me other things that could be considered crimes with a life prision sentence, potentially.

    Being physically disabled my ex-wife threatened me in front of our child and that could mean, at least in the law books another life sentence on account of my physicial disabilities.

    I am no lawyer though, and I try to respect the presumption of innocence.

    So narcicistic when there is criminal, or pressumed criminal behaviour seems not enough: sociopathic or psychopatic seems more appropiate terminology in the descriptive use, not on the diagnostic one.

    As another parallel my mother has spoken with people that harmed me without her telling me what exactly was discussed. Prominently and with bad outcomes for me with my now ex-wife.

    Every weekend my ex-wife apparently ranted/whined/complained about me, despite my ex-wife owes a big part of her career to me. Literally.

    And a big grounding in reality for just me being with her. She does seem to belong to a family and a community that has really strange ideas about things, I’ll leave it at that.

    And simply the fact we have a son, a sun even, should have given my ex-wife more restraint.

    That “talking” behind my back went for more than one year.

    Predictably my mother never told me what they discussed, even after me asked her repeteadly what. Having privileged, secret knowledge that could harm me seems like a thrill for her. That’s an incentive for her to never say at least those kind of things to me. She would loose some of her dope stash or weaponry, metaphorically. Her precious…

    But she has no problem, maybe another thrill by disclosing infamy, lies and fabrications when doing so could cause me harm. Written in clinical records as: “And they told us someother things”.

    And crying out of concern for me being helpless, incompetent and the like, when usefull to put her, her fabrications, her machinations in good light. To get a thrill out of harming me by being “smarter”, more cunning than me at least. Another thrill…

    She probably didn’t fool the pros, they should have known better. They probably went along with my torture because they got themselves another thrill, or that was part of their caring, competent jobs.

    We are aware I think that if a narcicistic/psychopatic abuse victim is helpless a victimizer made it that way, deliberately, I think. Helpless by proxy sort of thing.

    After harming me, working coordinatedly with my ex-wife, his two parents, a psychiatric hospital and a now prominent female psychiatrist, my mother still asked me if I loved my then wife!. If I still wanted to be her!.

    Typical misdirection and a question to see if I suspected my ex-wifes role in harming me. Which of course I did, just talking at the phone with her when she forbade me to be with our son, sun even, without apparent reason was enough for that. She could not have known what was done to me if she was not involved.

    Seeing her and her parents berate my mother because the hospital let me go because they almost killed me was for me confirmation of his active role, and the active role of his parents.

    My mother confirmed that to me. Months after threatening to sent me to the street, veiledly, if I brought charges against her…

    After that did I love my then wife?, did I want to be with her?. Could I love my mother?.

    But all that testimony of concealed crimes, the appropiate evidence for them as far as I know, might not have effectiveness in bringing justice to me and my kid.

    Even if, me being male and defamed will make my testimony less valid, despite all evidence to the contrary. And “they” can always fabricate some other stuff.

    During the times preceeding my “medical” kidnapping, my “involuntary commitment”, a priest, a priest nonetheless, told me I was being unfaithful to my wife and leaving children, making children?, all over that town.

    Slanders said to me inside his own church, gotten from where?, the confessional?, the community?, the family of my ex-wife?. My then wife?.

    I could not understand why he said that to me. I can see how that could pass as false testimony in a religious way, but I am not a religious person, so I don’t know such things.

    But given that town probably had very strange, even delirious beliefs, I can image a plausible scenario, involving my ex-wife. But that is also part of mobbing: let the victim torture his or herself trying to “guess” something transcendental without the information concealed deliberately to him or her.

    That induces people to be delirious and even hallucinate. “It’s the question Neo, the question that drives us”.

    Clinical psychologists and psychiatrist don’t seem to know that most of the time the only evidence a victim has about a concealed crime is his or her testimony, again I am no lawyer.

    Labeling such testimony a delusion because the victim has no “other” evidence is a double whammy too. And is an ofense, a hindrance, a barrier sometimes unsurmountable, and an impersonation of the judiciary.

    My mother also has said racist stuff, and the typicals: You are not the center of the world, you are too sensitive, etc. My ex-wife too, so parallels there too.

    So, as a proposal, aware it will have no impact: professionals in contact with victims need to know that most of the time the only evidence for a potential concealed crime is the testimony of the victim.

    Therefore it should not be tampered with, it should be recorded accurately, it should be documented. And certainly, clearly, should not be used against the victim by making it part of a diagnosis, it’s at least a hindrance and an act of violence against the victim and the justice system, at least.

    They can’t label testimonial evidence, the only available in most concelead crimes, as a disease, symptom or disorder, it’s a way to remove it’s value, to demerit it, sometimes completely as evidence, to say the least. A sort of crime against justice too, but again I am no lawyer.

    I am guessing guidelines don’t consider that: testimony as the only evidence in concealed crimes. It’s value, documentation, preservation, handling, etc. Why?.

    I guess because many professionals don’t know what evidence is, don’t care about studying it, or are unable to even search and find it. They probably are unwilling to talk to lawyers for being explained what evidence is in law. They probably have no clue that many of the narratives provided by their “patients” is actually evidence, could be evidence of concealed crimes. And the only evidence for that. It could be that negligent, I think.

    Under that light, how can I believe they have evidence for anything?. That they can search for evidence when all along was in front of their noses and between their own ears?.

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  4. This is a powerful story and I believe every word you wrote. So many people failed you during such a painful time. I can relate to having an abuser get rid of my cat/bestfriend behind my back. It’s disgusting and cruel on so many levels.

    These experiences have shaped you into an amazing advocate for yourself and your peers. I’m proud of you for sharing your story. Your compassion, vulnerability and voice are incredible gifts.

    I’m glad we’ve had the chance to meet.

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