Living With Mental Illness

Out of respect for some of my readers I will give you all a trigger warning up front and let you know that this article will be a little different than most of what you have seen me write so far. This one isn’t being written from a distance like when I discuss the Leftist and SJW’s. This is too close to home for me to be detached from it because it is something that I am familiar with first hand. Some of what is said here will probably make a few of you uncomfortable. I can’t make any apologies for that. If at the end of what I have written some of you wish to part ways with me either personally or professionally then I will completely understand. It was a nice run and I got to experience a life long dream of mine so if this is where that dream ends then I can’t think of a better way to go out then with my head held high. If on the other hand a childhood dream of sharing my work with the world is allowed to continue I will enjoy the ride for however long it lasts. There are no political views here. All you will find here is my life, because I can’t keep being afraid of what will happen if the world eventually finds out.

According to National Institute of Mental Health statistics in 2016 showed that 1 in 6 adults in the United States currently deal with some form of mental illness. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml With that statistic that means that a little over 44 million people in the United States are living with a mental illness. Contrary to what you see in the movies and on tv mental illness in someone is not always easy to see. It’s not like chicken pox or the measles. It’s not a cold where you can see the symptoms like someone sneezing. Despite the outside world not being able to see it, it’s there and it’s very real. If mental illness symptoms could be seen then maybe the world would treat those who have it differently. With a statistic of 1 in 6 there is a pretty good chance that you know someone who is dealing with some form of a mental illness or maybe you are dealing with one yourself.

The National Institute of Mental Health tells us that mental illness falls into two categories. AMI and SMI.

AMI or Any mental illness is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. These can vary in impact ranging from no impairment at all to mild, moderate, and even severe impairment.

SMI or Serious Mental Illness is defined as mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder resulting in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. The burden of mental illnesses is particularly concentrated among those who experience disability due to SMI.

The media and Hollywood like to sensationalize mental illness for some reason. They often times portray those who are mentally ill as being dangerous killers and deranged rapists. There are more movies like the Halloween franchise that portrayed Michael Myers as being mentally ill and trying to kill his family after escaping an asylum for the insane then what there are movies like Good Will Hunting and What Dreams May Come. You even see it on the news. Someone some where has more than likely associated mental illness with what happend in Parkland, Florida. The media loads their stories when they say that someone who has committed a great act of violence or has a different set of beliefs than that of western society are mentally ill because very rarely do they go into the detail about what mental illness it was that caused them to do this. The truth is that most of those who have mental illness with proper treatment are just as safe to be around as those who don’t have a mental illness.

I don’t really feel that anyone who has never had to deal with mental illness themselves can truly understand what it is like for those who have it. The nicer people in society might try to understand or they may try to empathize, but it’s not something that you can truly understand unless you have it. Being the wife, husband, child, mother, father, or friend of someone with mental illness might give you a better ability to be sympathetic to what the person who has it deals with but it’s not something that you can really understand unless you are the one who actually has it. Trying to understand mental illness without you having it yourself is a lot like trying to understand war just because you know someone who came back from overseas. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to understand. You just can’t. Having someone talk to you about what is going on or what happend and you being there to see it first hand yourself or you having to feel it yourself are not the same thing. You fight the battle from the outside and when the battle sometimes becomes too hard for you to handle you have the option of stepping away even if you choose not to use that option. The fact that you have the option makes your fight with mental illness different than what the person who actually has it is dealing with. Some times there are just things that you can’t be told for some reason. It’s not that you can’t listen or don’t want to listen, but its that they can’t tell you for whatever reason.

There are some song lyrics that come to mind that I will share with you to try and help bring you into the world of someone who has mental illness.

” There’s another world inside of me, that you may never see. There’s secrets in this life that I can’t hide. Some where in this darkness there’s a light that I can’t find. Maybe it’s too far away or maybe I’m just blind.
So hold me when I’m here. Right me when I’m wrong. Hold me when I’m scared. And love me when I’m gone. Everything I am and everything in me wants to be the one you wanted me to be. ………”

” When your education x-ray cannot see under my skin. I won’t tell you a damn thing that I could not tell my friends. Roaming through this darkness I’m alive but I’m alone. Part of me is fighting this, but part of me is gone.”

These particular lyrics are from the song When I’m gone performed by 3 Doors Down which you can find on YouTube, iTunes, or some other site.

The next set of lyrics that I will share with you come from one of my daughters favorite Disney movies Frozen. I am sure that you will recognize them.

” The snow glows white on the mountain tonight not a foot print to be seen. A kingdom of isolation and it looks like I’m the queen. The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside. Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried.
Don’t let them in, don’t let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal don’t feel, don’t let them know. Well now they know.
Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore. Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door. I don’t care what they’re going to say. Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.”

My name is Alex Roberts and I am part of two different groups. I am that 1 in 6 that has to deal with mental illness and I am also part of another group that no one should ever have to be a part of. I am also that 1 in 10. For those of you who do not know what the 1 in 10 is in reference to Rainn’s statistic. 1 out of every 10 rape survivors are a man. I’m one of those men. Before I discuss what my present life is like for you I will share what lead me to become the way that I am today.

I was born in the northern United States just below parts of Canada in 1981. My parents got married at an early age. It was not a good marriage between my parents. My egg donor for lack of a better term was rather promiscuous to listen to my father tell it. It is easy for me believe this because of the woman that I saw as I was growing up. One day he came home from work and found my egg donor having sex with my godfather his best friend in their bed while I was out in the play pen in front of the tv wearing a dirty diaper. For him that was the breaking point. He just couldn’t do it anymore and filed for divorce. The courts ruled that my egg donor was unfit to raise me and gave my father full custody of me. After he was awarded full custody of me my aunt who was only seventeen at the time would babysit me while he worked and then came home and did the single father thing. Instead of honoring what the courts had determined my egg donor ended up kidnapping me one day while my aunt was babysitting. They didn’t have cell phones back then. As soon as she realized what had happend my aunt ran three blocks in the rain barefoot to where my father was working since she couldn’t reach him on the phone to tell him what had happend. I was six months old when that happend. I wouldn’t see my father again until I was in my 30’s.

After kidnapping me my egg donor took me out west to one of the major cities. One night while she was out skating like she liked to do she met a man who would become a grandfather figure to me and a father figure to her. She didn’t have much of an education back then since she didn’t finish high school and my egg donor ended up getting a job as a stripper. While she would go to work my grandfather and his wife helped her by babysitting me. She met my stepfather one night at the club that she worked at. To listen to them tell it I called him Dad the first time I met him. I had just turned three when they got married. They had a daughter of their own who was born just a couple months before my fourth birthday.

Starting around the time I was three my grandfather started grooming me and would touch me in ways that are inappropriate for anyone to touch a child. When I wasn’t at home I was at his place. He would sometimes come into the room where I slept at his place and he would touch me in very personal places. The sexual abuse that I endured at the hands of my grandfather would last until I was fifteen and as I got older it would escalate from touching while getting worse. It eventually reached the point that what started as touching turned into rape. When he wasn’t sexually abusing me he would stick me with needles. While I was being physically and sexually abused by my grandfather I was being mentally and emotionally abused at home. My egg donor was not a better wife to my stepfather than she was my father. She would still carry on having her affairs. I remember when I was old enough to realize what she was doing she told me that unless I wanted my stepfather to leave us like my father did I would keep my mouth shut. This put the responsibility of keeping the family together on my silence. If I didn’t keep quiet the family would have fallen apart. Then when I learnt that her and my stepfather were doing drugs that was placed upon me as well. I was told that if I didn’t want my sister and me taken from them I would keep my mouth shut about them doing drugs because I didn’t know where my sister and I would end up. Part of not knowing where you would end up means that you could end up some place worse than where you already are.

There was really no where for me to go to escape what was being done to me on both sides. It was my responsibility to keep the family together. I know what some of you out there reading this are going to think. I was just a kid. It wasn’t my responsibility. It’s easy for someone who wasn’t there and growing up in that kind of an environment to apply adult logic to a kid. But what about the kid who had to live through it. While all this was going on I was told repeatedly how my father wanted nothing to do with me. They kept telling me that he knew where I was and had even been invited to come out and see me, but that he wanted nothing to do with me. Friends and extra curricular activities were a luxury that I was not really allowed to have until after I turned 15. I went to more elementary schools then I could count because we moved around so much. It was pretty much a new school every year. I never knew why it was that we moved around so much.

By now you have noticed that I have taken to calling the woman that most of you would recognize as my mother, my egg donor and probably are wondering why. It’s because in my opinion she doesn’t deserve to be recognized as my mother. All being my egg donor means is that she knew how to have sex just like any other woman. It takes more than laying on their back with their legs parted or their stomach cut open to make someone a mother. Parents are supposed to love their children. Parents are supposed to protect their children. If they had tried to protect me from what was going on then I might view her differently, but the thing is they didn’t even try. Her and my step father knew something was going on at my grandfathers because my sister and I would tell them that we didn’t want to go over there because of how he was treating me. They just didn’t listen.

When my grandfather would rape me he would sometimes take me out to his wood shed behind his house. It would be just the two of us. There was a work bench in his shed. I can tell you everything about how it feels to be raped. The feel of a mans hand against the back of your neck forcing you to lean forward. The pressure that is put on your chest as you are bent forward across a bench and how it makes it harder to breathe. I can tell you about the sound that shoes make across the cement ground as you find your feet forced apart. The sound a belt buckle makes when its being unfastened while you are held in place unable to stop it. How it feels to have your jeans unbuttoned and the zipper pulled downward before you feel the rough denim material of your jeans sliding down the back of your legs. The smell of his aftershave. The tree across the yard that could be seen through the open door. The smell of rain. I can tell you how it sounds when it hits the ground compared to the tink tink tink sound of it hitting a tin roof over your head. I can even tell you how the thick flesh of a mans penis feels being put inside of you while you are trapped there looking toward that door wanting someone, anyone really to come and help you. Anyone who can stop what is happening to you from happening. I can tell you about the taste. The smell of his flesh right underneath my nose as I’m trying my best not to gag on him because I cant stop him from shoving himself down my throat. The sense of being powerless and worthless.

I can also tells you how it feels to blame myself for not telling any of my teachers what was going on before it got to that point or even afterward. There are typically 195 school days in a year. From kindergarten until fifth grade I only had one teacher a day on a regular basis. That isn’t counting PE, art, music, or other classes along those lines. I had ONE regular teacher. I saw that teacher 195 days a year. That means each year I had a minimium of 195 chances to tell someone. we are going to add 5 to that to make it easy for math. 6 times 200 is 1200. Starting in sixth grade when I got to junior high I was seeing 6 teachers 195 days so now that 1200 over 6 years becomes 1200 over 1 year. 1200 times 3 because of grades 6 7 and 8 becomes 3600. Go back and get the original 1200 from kindergarten through fifth grade and add it to that 3600 you get 4800. Now we said there were 195 days in a regular average school year not 200 so since we added 5 to make the multiplication easy we are going to need to subtract 45 from 4800. That takes the number to 4755 chances minimium. That is the minimium number of chances I had to tell someone before I reached high school. Out of 4755 chances to tell someone I used none of them. School days were the only time that I was really at home so you can imagine how much I looked forward to things like summer, spring break, winter break, three day weekends, etc.

I blame myself for that every day, because I did what I was trained to do and I kept my mouth shut about what was going on with the family I grew up in. At some point in all of that abuse my mind couldn’t handle what was going on and it broke. It’s a survival mechanism that occurs sometimes under great distress when the mind can’t handle the reality of a situation. When it broke like it did another me was given life or in psychological terms I developed DID. In lay men’s terms its called split personality. In order to survive what was being done to me since my voice had been taken from me I had to reach a point where I stopped feeling. I learn that if you can reach that point where you stop feeling, and if you can separate the mind from the body then the world can’t hurt you anymore. They can do whatever they want to your body but they can’t hurt you. You’re free.

I stopped having to go to my grandfathers when I was 15 years old. But the sexual attacks didn’t stop as I’ll explain later on. The only reason that they came to a stop is because I got on the first team in high school that I could and joined the unarmed drill team in ROTC. I used the unarmed drill team as my escape since I would claim that there were team practices even when there weren’t. It was in ROTC that I was able to start really making friends for the first time. During my time in ROTC I helped others escape situations that were similar to my own.

One of them was a friend named Hannah. She had been raped by her boyfriend who was part of a gang and didn’t feel safe at home anymore. Since she didn’t feel safe at home she moved in with my family and me. She shared a room with my sister. At night after my sister would go to sleep she would sometimes come to my own bedroom. I would sit in a chair across the room from my bed while I let her lay on my bed. Sometimes we would talk all night because she couldn’t sleep. Other times I would sit guard keeping an eye on her for any signs that she was having nightmares while she slept. I lost count of how many nights I went to sleep after midnight only to be back up at 4:45 a.m. in time for my first class at 6:00. I made her a promise that I would never allow another to make her feel how her boyfriend had made her feel, because even though she didn’t know it at the time I knew how she was feeling. When she’d break down and cry or start shaking like a leaf and trembling I used to wrap my arms around her and I would promise her that some day she would be okay again. A promise that even now nobody has ever been able to make me. At school there were guys who would rough house with her that didn’t know what had happen to her and I would get into fights when I would see them push her back against the locker. My happiest memory of Hannah was the day that she was strong enough to go back home and resume her life.

Another one who I was able to help was a friend named Melanie. She only lived one block away from me. Her father would rape her and beat her. My senior year she was a fresh man. She would come to school a lot of the time with bruises or a black eye. A handful of occasions the cops were called to her house and they never did anything because her mother wouldn’t speak against her father. She was the one who taught me how the system works and opened my eyes to seeing the system in a new way. Before her I was naieve and thought the system could help her. Finally after the third time the cops had been called to her house and did nothing I ended up breaking the law. I transported a minor across state lines going across three different states when I took her to other family members of hers. Someone had to do something. There are some people in this world who will tell you that in order for them to be able to do something line 3A says that such and such has to happen. I’m not one of those people. I say line 3A can kiss my ass. Something had to be done so I did it. The morally right thing and the legally right thing are not always the same thing. Why did it have to be me? That’s simple. I was the only one I knew who was strong enough to do what was necessary to keep her safe even if it meant accepting the consequences and sitting in prison. I knew that no matter what the system did to me I would not tell them where I took her. The system could not do any worse to me than what had already been done at that point.

Today both of these young women are well adjusted and have families of their own. Every time I see one of their family pictures or a social media post and can see how happy they are with their lives I know I did the right thing. I would do it again no hesitation. Sometimes in life it is better to be in prison and locked away for the right reason than it is to be free for the wrong one.

After I got out of high school as soon as I could I left the city I grew up in and I never really looked back. There weren’t too many people who knew why I was so adamant about refusing to go back. I have not seen the city I grew up in in almost 20 years. I moved to an eastern state hoping to get a new start on life. I met the woman I would marry online. She was 17 years old and living in a northern state near Canada at the time. I was 19. Our birthdays were pretty close together. I remember that I had only been speaking to her for less than a week when I told her that I was the man she was going to marry. At first she thought I was like so many other guys that she had experienced on the internet and just being a smart ass. She told me that she would say yes when she saw a ring. Three days she received her ring in the mail. It wasn’t an expensive ring since I was working fast food at that point in time, but it was a nice one. She said yes. I sent her a bus ticket that December that was good for the day after she turned 18 a few months later. She got on the bus and came all the way from the north to where I was. I remember that morning when my brother in law and I picked her up from the bus station she ran to me and tackled me to the ground. We got married a month and a half later at the court house. Three months after we were married she was pregnant with our first child. A little girl who ended up born on my birthday. To this day she is still the best birthday gift that I could ever ask for.

Like so many others who have mental illness I was living a dual life. It was easier for me to conceal my illness at that point in time. I would struggle with being able to keep meaningful work because of my situation. There were days when I was so depressed or just mentally unable to deal with the anxieties of every day life that others take for granted. She didn’t know about my past with being abused and raped. It was just easier for me to try and keep those demons to myself and hide them so that nobody cold know what was really going on inside of me. At least I reasoned with myself and told myself that it was. I would rather have let people think that I was lazy and a dead beat before I allowed them to think that I was crazy. There is so much stigma out there against people like myself. She didn’t understand why I was like a light switch sometimes. Some days I was up beat and ready to go to work. Other days I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house let alone get out of bed. It was a double life that I was struggling with, but whatever it took to keep from being seen as a nutcase or as psycho. Even though I was struggling with normal every day things that people take for granted I really thought I had a grip on it. I didn’t tell her that the times she thought I was talking to myself and thinking out loud that she had interrupted a conversation with someone she couldn’t see. I didn’t tell her about how I ended up three towns away once with no memory of how I got there or knowledge of why I was there to begin with until later on down the road. I didn’t even tell her that some of the times that we were sexually active it wasn’t me she was with. I mean it was my body but it wasn’t me.  I knew that mental illness ran in my family and I did not want to be like those people. How could I really expect anyone to understand these things and not think that I was just making it up or crazy?

Shortly after our son was born when our daughter was six we learnt that she had been raped by a friend of the family. This was the event that really start bringing my mask down. The night of our birthday party after my daughter told her mother and me what she told a friend of mine we ended up calling the cops. I can still remember my eggdonor trying to tell me not to call the cops. It was the first time the other me had made itself really known and told her that she didn’t have a choice this time. We called the cops anyways. The cops came out to my mothers house to take a statement until they realized they were dealing with a six year old little girl. Instead of the two men who came out to take a statement they called in the only female detective that the small town police force had at that point in time. It was her night off, but because of my daughters age they called her in. After talking to my daughter she sent us to the hospital two towns over where my daughter was examined by a doctor and nurse. They confirmed that she had been raped. Her rapist was a twelve year old boy at the time. The other me was not going to let our daughter end up like we did. Since I couldn’t mentally or emotionally deal with what happend to her he took over and dealt with it. The cops were called every day to make sure that they were staying on top of things. Then the DA was called every day. If it hadn’t been for the constant calls we never would have known when the court date was. Instead of charging him as an adult like they said that they could have done because of his age compared to her own they ended up charging him as a minor. He pled guilty. Instead of seeing anything close to a real prison term the Judge sentenced him to two years at an all boys facility. Out of those two years he only did three months. The state didnt even tell us that he was out early. I ran him coming out of the post office as he was coming in. That is the only time I have ever wanted to kill a kid.

A couple months after my daughter was raped we got her into family intensive therapy. It was her therapist who first acknowledged that something wasn’t quite right with me mentally. Over time she started talking to me and learning about my own past because she came to the conclusion that I was the key to unlocking my daughter. When she asked me what it would take for me to get some therapy treatment I told her that I had tried a couple times already and it wasn’t for me. I explained that my experience with therapists were they either liked to talk to me like they were my brand new best friend or they liked to take control from me. Either way I wasn’t interested. Looking back I am blessed because she didn’t give up on me getting the treatment that I needed. When she asked me a couple months later what it would take to get me into therapy I told her that the only way I would get into therapy is if it was with someone who I trusted. I was completely adamant that I would not see someone who wanted to be my brand new best friend. We came to an agreement that after she was done treating my daughter she would take me on as a patient herself since she already knew my history.

My marriage to the mother of my children didn’t work out. There were some bad decisions on both sides. My mental illness was a big contributing factor to a lot of the stress that eventually wore the marriage down. It has taken us a long time to reach the point of being friends. Today I consider my ex to be one of the best women I have ever known. I have been in some form of therapy now for the last twelve years. During that time I have been in the hospital three times for suicide because of how bad my depression has gotten at times. The last time I was in the hospital was three years ago. I have been officially diagnosed with depression, C-PTSD, schizophrenia, agoraphobia, social anxiety issues, aspergers, DID. Due to my situation I work from home. On a good day I am sometimes able to go out for a walk or go to the movies.

The world has not changed much over the last twelve years. I still find myself living a double life. This morning there was an incident that opened my eyes to this. When twitter saw fit to silence her for twelve hours after she had been attacked online I got pretty fired up. To the outsider it would look as though maybe I got so passionate about it because it was Stefanie MacWilliams. What nobody knew is that the reason I got fired up is because when someone has their voice taken from them after they were attacked it is one of the many things that put me back in my grandfathers shed just waiting to be raped all over again. Before this morning I had a firm grip on my mask of normalcy because I wanted to try to fit into the world of those who don’t have my issues. I didn’t want to be seen as crazy so instead of telling new friends that I have seven hours of therapy a week that is made up of six group sessions and a one on one session it was easier to just say I have meetings three days a week. Everything that I have been afraid would happen at some point by letting normal people close to me did happen. The only difference is that instead of it happening on a date with some woman who said yes to me instead of no it happend online with someone I consider a friend who had no idea about my other life. There are others out there who are like me. The ones who find that place where they can be comfortable and not feel as though they have to live a dual life are the lucky ones.

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About the Author

Alex Roberts
Writer for Halsey News My political beliefs go to the right.I voted for Trump in the 2016 election. I will probably do so again in 2020 as long as there are no major changes between what he accomplishes and what he promised.