Mental Illness Recovery Series: Story # 22


This is the 22nd story of the Mental Illness Recovery Series. Miri has been through awful abuse, but she has been able to learn from her experiences, and transform it into making her a stronger person. This is her story:

Miri is from Wisconsin, but she currently lives in Minnesota with her grandparents. She enjoys volunteering at a daycare center. Her other hobbies is fiction-writing, journal writing, listening to music and photography. She loves to have intellectual conversations with her grandparents. Miri watches the news with them, and together they discuss it. She also enjoys films, Miri said, “I highly doubt I will ever tire of The Fellowship of the Ring, the 1977 Nutcracker film, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron, James Cameron’s Avatar, or the new Cinderella.” Miri’s favorite book is Mara, Daughter of the Nile.

Her future goal is to be successful and happy. Miri said, “Getting my GED and driver’s license, and continuing to heal and thrive and discover who I truly am are the main goals as of now.” She also wants to be a published author, but she is scared not knowing where life will take her. She says, “I know what I absolutely do not want to do and I have some ideas of what I enjoy doing. But I don’t know what would inspire me to get out of bed in the morning with (hopefully) a smile on my face for the rest of my life. That is something that I hope will become more tangible as I continue the recovery process.”

Miri has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and her depression has faded with medication. The reason for her mental disorders is due to past trauma. Her depression got the best of her when her uncle passed away in a jet-ski accident. Miris’ mother has mal-de-debarquement syndrome has also affected her tremendously. Miri said, “I took over running the household, because my mother was bed-ridden at that point. I was only fifteen. I did everything—the chores, the meals, homeschooling my three younger siblings, homeschooling myself—along with being at my mother’s every beck-and-call.” Not only that, but her PTSD took ahold due to a car accident during her driver’s training and the emotional abuse she received from her parents.

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Miri is currently receiving intensive therapy and medication for her disorders. Although she has been able to control it, it has been an uphill battle for her. She said, “I struggled most with feeling worthless, unneeded—even though I was the only reason the family was functioning, unwanted, and generally that my very existence made everyone else’s lives miserable.” She felt like an outsider because every single thing that went wrong within the household, Miri was always blamed. Sadly Miri considered suicide many times. She said, “I think deep down I knew I would never go through with it. I can pin-point maybe three times where I got pretty close to doing something dangerous, but the closet was definitely February of 2015. I’d barricaded myself in a bathroom and was sobbing and crying, and there was a large container of bleach under the sink, and equal parts of me were screaming “Drink it” and “Don’t you dare”. Thank God, I didn’t.” She also self-harmed by starving herself, sleeping very little and cutting her wrist. Miri’s father found out and made her promise to not self-harm again.

This is how she felt:

“I felt a whole range of emotions at any given time all at once, and none of them positive. Having adrenaline rushing through my system 24/7 didn’t help matters either. I had to pretend I wasn’t livid with how I was treated. I hate lying, but I learned how to do it very well. I was forced to conceal my body language, and my mother could be screaming at me, and I would be silent. My screams were in my head. I felt like I was going insane, and I would spend all night crying silently, saying “Why? Why? I can’t take this much longer.”

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The turning point for Miri was when she visited her therapist, three days after a huge fight with her mother. She told her therapist that she wanted to live with her grandparents, during that session her therapist called them and explained how helpful it would be for Miri to move in with them. Her grandparents agreed and six days later, she was on a flight on her way to Minnesota. Miri said, “It wasn’t until my grandparents were driving me back to their house, having picked me up from the airport, and my iPod was playing Bryan Adam’s “Here I Am” softly, that I broke down crying, as it really sunk in that I was free of my parents. I was free. I made it, and it was overwhelming.”

The strategies Miri used to control her mental disorders was to emotionally attach herself to fictional characters that she identified with. For example she looked up to Eowyn, Frodo and Faramir from Lord of the Rings, Dean Winchester from Supernatural and Katniss from Hunger Games. She said, “I would pretend they were there in the dark, protecting me from the nightmares. I would imagine what Dean would say exactly what needed to be said to my parents before hugging me and telling me it was going to be okay. Fictional characters kept me from giving up, because they always kept fighting, and I wanted to be like them.” Talking to her grandparents and therapist also helps her. Not only that, but Miri uses her faith in God to stay strong. She said, “Since moving in with my grandparents, I have attended their Lutheran church, and been embraced with open arms. I was offered the opportunity to be the official VBS photographer in July, and I loved every second of it. I will become an official member of the church this fall, and also be joining the choir. A couple from church gave me their piano for my very own—I never thought that I would own a piano—and have practically adopted me as their granddaughter.”

This experience has changed Miri in many ways. She said:

“I became what I had to be to survive. I am not proud of any of it. I am not proud of feeling the need to cut off all contact with my parents, but it is for my own well-being. I am not proud when I am reduced to a full-blown panic attack by hearing rowdy male voices or certain words. I am not proud when I can hardly leave my room some days. I am not proud when I still wake up sobbing from nightmares. I am not proud that my mind analyzes every single person and situation as a potential threat. I am not proud that I cannot hear my given name “Miriam” without hearing it said in my parents’ disappointed voices, and so ask everyone to call me Miri, a request which so far has been well-received and supported by more than just my grandparents. I am not proud that I left two younger brothers and my beloved sister behind, and because of my cutting off contact with my parents, how it affects my siblings’ relationship to me. I am just grateful that I have, to this day, been strong enough. That is all there is to say, really.”

This is Miri’s advice for those struggling with similar situation and mental disorders:

“Be informed. Read everything you can about your disorder, including actual stories. Reading stories like yours will be painful, triggering even. But it is worth it, because knowing what you have, and all the details, can aid you in better explaining what you are going through to other people, who can then come alongside you and help you. And just knowing that you aren’t alone, that other people have gone through what you have gone through can be so incredibly powerful and validating. Recovery is within reach, but the journey is different for every individual, so do not enter this process with set expectations.”

Miri is an extraordinary young lady. Even through all the abuse she went through she never gave up, and that is what matters. I hope that in the future Miri would be able to reunite with her parents and have a healthy relationship with them. Help me make a difference by sharing your story.

Edited by Hamad Hussain

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