Bullying, PTSD, Learned Helplessness and my life now

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    • #102125

      It is truly amazing to me that I waited this long to do search on the internet on the effects of childhood bullying on adults. I guess I thought I was “over it”! Yeah right.

      I found this really good article written by somebody who went through it too: https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/the-long-term-effects-of-bullying/

      I was badly and serially bullied at two different schools by two different sets of children from age 7 to age 12. I had multiple things that set me apart from my peers (tall, overweight, an outsider to schools where kids all knew each other, severe and undiagnosed ADHD and I am pretty sure I also have Asperger’s Syndrome). The fact that it was 2 DIFFERENT sets of kids, who did not have any connection to the other group, that was the clincher that told me I was completely defective.

      I did not have the benefit of supportive parents. They told me to just “ignore them and they will stop”. This is easy to say, but hard to do when you are on the ground getting kicked, or being tripped and pinched and clothing torn, all the kids laughing as you get off the packed school bus. I learned to live with the fear and helplessness of knowing that I was a defective. That I was not safe. I isolated myself and spent my time alone.

      I had all the blatant and hidden bullying possible from both genders, and I feel that yes, learned helplessness is a reality for me. I have spent the last thirty years of my life feeling like I was a worthless, stupid person. I punished myself heavily and I pretty much had no desire to stop punishment of myself since I saw myself as deserving nothing else. I did self harming behaviors like hitting my head on the wall over and over. I have probably given myself a concussion many times. I have had to really work very hard to change this.

      With the help and guidance of my fiance, I finally got diagnosed with ADHD last spring. And I have been reeling to try to understand who I really am this year. The hardest part for me is my symptoms come across as carelessness, defiance and disrespect. And who am I to say that they aren’t? I keep trying to control my behavior consciously but I continually fail. Is this due to my carelessness? My lack of respect? Am I not trying hard enough?

      If I am in a forgiving phase, I blame my faults on mood and memory disorders caused by the long term damage of the bullying on top of the ADHD and the Asperger’s. My psychologist keeps asking me about PTSD like she is intuiting something really bad. And from that article on the long term effects of bullying I learned that there is such a thing as complex PTSD. I have not been accepting that as a possibility for me because I think of PTSD as something you get from being in war, or prison or a terrible accident, but now i know it can be cumulative from repeated small cuts to my self. I really appreciate finally learning and accepting this today.

      The hard thing is that I am finding myself isolating myself again. I am spending most of my time alone, avoiding others because of the hurt. The hurt of being left out, being ignored, being passed over in favor of others. Of being looked on with disgust. Listening to my partners having natural conversations and laughing and having fun. When I can’t. I. when all I do is annoy and irritate. It triggers all my old pain and opens up all the old wounds. Avoidance of pain is so much easier than facing it day in day out.

      It’s like being in that movie Groundhog Day. Where he repeats the same day over and over again until he learns the lesson. They say that people who have been abused and who have not resolved the pain, recreate the situation in their lives over and over again until they understand it.

      I am not sure that is enough. I am fully aware and understand perfectly what is happening but I still FEEL it. Feel it even if I understand it is illogical. And on top of that, I have the carelessness, the defiance, the disrespect and the memory problems. At this point, I feel mostly emotionally deadened and in despair that I can ever be normal enough to be accepted. And that is where the learned helplessness is pulling me down and breaking everything I try to build.

      So how exactly do you get out of learned helplessness? Is the learned helplessness the cause of my inability to change my behavior? Is is the cause of my despair? Or is the despair the cause of the helplessness?? Or maybe I am just angry? I don’t know. There’s no beginning or end.

      So it’s like playing Whack a Mole on Groundhog Day. Where every symptom comes back even after I have whacked it down with months of hard work. Again and again. Now I am simply tired of the whole thing. Nobody wants to hear my lame “it’s my ADHD, I can’t control it” excuse anymore. And neither do I. I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning and I don’t really want to do anything at all. But I still do. I get up. I do laundry. I force myself to eat. I try to be happy with what I do have. I try to act natural like nothing is going on. I get on my knees and pray to God and express my gratitude and my love even if I am crying while I do it.

      I am currently trying different medications to try to calm my pain down and allow me to put my energy into being mindful of my ADHD and Asperger’s symptoms. I cannot find a psychiatrist who takes my Obamacare Medicaid insurance, so my GP and I are on our third try for a medication.

      And so; an affirmation, since they say in CBT you can refute your negative thinking: Since God has forgiven me already, I forgive myself for all my mistakes and I forgive those long ago children. Not because they deserve it, but because I deserve to let them go. I forgive my parents for not bothering to notice or being in denial over their daughter’s problems. I refuse to be a victim and become even more helpless. I love myself and I love God more every day. I feel gratitude for my fiance for bringing this all to light, even if it is very difficult for both of us. I feel grateful that I am alive and that God has given me the opportunity to become a better person.

      Thanks for listening. Stephanie

    • #106120

      I’m almost 59 years old, and I understand where you’re coming from. I was just diagnosed with ADHD five years ago – previous dx’s included depression and GAD. I was bullied in school as well – in the 60’s ad 70’s, it was just the way it was. I never told my parents, because there was nothing they could have done about it. Stephen King literally saved my life – the movie, “Carrie” had just come out, and one day when I was surrounded by a group of taunting girls I just snapped and started screaming at them like a banshee. They all backed away and one of them said, “Oh my God, she’s just like Carrie.” I was left alone after that day. 🙂 I hadn’t seen the movie (no money for movies in my house!), so I went to the library to find out who this “Carrie” was and thus began my life-long love of Stephen King’s books – very cathartic!

      I still punch myself and hit myself in the head sometimes… 🙁 I am also working hard on fixing this, but I have over half a century of bad habits to relearn, so it’s taking a while.

      Pain causes your body to create endorphins, something we ADHDers tend to have too little of – there are healthier ways to get those endorphins than banging your head: Music, dancing to said music, exercise, meditation, HUGGING(!!!!) – even eating sweets is better than hurting yourself – says the woman who just ate two ice cream sandwiches half an hour ago – they were low fat, at least… 🙂

      We ADHDers are wired differently than most people, but that’s not all bad. Find your “superpower(s)” and revel in it. If someone gives me the right book(s), I can learn anything – I’ve since learned that this is probably due to ADHD “hyperfocus.” I used to be a nursing assistant and I had a special gift with working with people with dementia – I was able to relate to them on whatever wavelength made them most comfortable, even if that wavelength was 80 years into their past- most people don’t want to look “weird,” but I am way beyond that worry by now! 😀 My ADHD causes a lot of problems for me, but it also gives me the ability to do a lot of things most “normal” people can’t – I’m learning to live with it. A lot of people are put off by my odd behavior, but I’ve decided that my ADHD symptoms provide a good litmus test for friendship. I have very few friends, but I know that those friendships are real.

      I’ve been married to an amazingly patient man for the past 37 years. He accepted the ADHD dx before I could – when the psychiatrist began to describe the symptoms, he suddenly said, “Well, that explains a LOT.”

      Just remember, you’re not alone. One piece of advice I can pass on: Be kind to yourself. It’s so important, I’ll repeat myself in all-caps: BE KIND TO YOURSELF. I wish good luck to you…

      • This reply was modified 3 years ago by DonkeyLady. Reason: A bit of explanation
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