On Valentines Day, I sent my husband out to get me a Vegan pizza from Blaze & some Vegan-friendly Cashew ice cream (seriously it’s the best!) I told him I needed some comfort food badly. It had been a ROUGH day. It had been a “gone day.” A day marked by PMDD.
PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) is a condition which throws you into extreme depression either a few days before or just into the beginning of your cycle. In the past, I suffered from PMDD like clockwork for up to 3-5 days just beforehand & tapering off on Day 1. In this instance it hit me HARD for 2 days & then passed by quickly. PMDD is eye-roll awful.
Oh what a ride & such a joy to be a woman! *snark alert.*
While he was out, I randomly came across a helpful video about how childhood trauma affects your health for a lifetime. It was sad. I cried. She goes into some depth about ACE scores, a predictor of childhood trauma.
NPR wrote a helpful article + the accompanying quiz if you’re wondering what your ACE score is.
My ACE score is a 7. It’s a bad score. A less than hopeful score. Nothing new here. I took the quiz years ago. An early death expectancy isn’t any shock either. Like I’ve said in my last 3 posts, I’ve been through some significant trauma in the past few years that had me doubting if I’d live through any of it, cancer & lung disease set aside.
When I was younger I wondered if I’d have a shorter life. I always assumed I would. I wasn’t a creepy kid obsessed with death either. I just figured I’d never be able to live through my father’s sexual abuse, my brothers’ verbal & emotional abuse or even just plain old being-Black-in-America.
I’d experienced A LOT of racism from my Church, a mostly white private school and even my own white family members. When I was a kid, I didn’t know that there were white people who weren’t racist. No hyperbole. I didn’t know there was a reality in which I’d ever be treated like an actual human being by white people. No exaggeration.
I wondered what man would eventually kill me, or biggest of all when I’d kill myself. Depression was a huge battle I began in high school after I became sexually active. Having sex at 14 destroyed my soul in a significantly destructive way.
Of course, coming off the heels of 10+ years of sexual abuse by my father had something to do with my suicidal ideations as well . I needed time to NOT BE HAVING SEX. Especially since none of that sex was sex I wanted to be having. At all. Not even a little bit. Not at all. To be clear.
But I was 14, just a baby. A little girl with zero body autonomy and no voice whatsoever.
By the time I was 14, I’d had A LOT of sex. Is it really surprising that I wanted to die? Not really.
(It’s probably even less surprising that I grew up to face issues with sex addiction. This whole sex thing seems to not be working out in my favor. But that’s another post for another day. I’ve digressed).
I’d seen young boys on my block head off to prison for the smallest of infractions & I’d known of at least 5 kids who were murdered or killed in their teens. One by the cops during a home burglary, one girl shot in the head point-blank by her boyfriend, one kid drown after falling out of a canoe —a city kid who didn’t know how to swim. I knew of two guys killed by rival gangs. Pointless deaths.
My life as a poor kid, as a black kid, a kid with a father & brother in prison, as a girl…seemed acutely vulnerable and it was obvious I held such little value..in the grand scheme of things.
Little black girls in the 80’s didn’t typically grow up feeling of high value except when explicitly told over & over again. And I was not. So I figured I’d be dead at a young age. I didn’t worry a lot about it, it just seemed inevitable. It all seemed very ho-hum. Another day another black kid dies. Life goes on.
I’ve thought about it several times since. I’ve experience debilitating depressive episodes with suicidal ideations at least twice a year for TWENTY YEARS. 20 years, y’all. We talmbout wanting-to-die twice a year (at least) for 20 years in a row. That’s no small thing.
But after that long, it seems inevitable. My early death, has seemed inevitable.
Though, I’ve never NOT fought for my survival at every turn.
And then 2016 happened. I was severely traumatized. I don’t want to go into any more details at this time. I was abused. I am still healing. Again, depression and PTSD fell over my life like a heavy oppressive blanket and my childhood assumptions came racing back: I will probably not survive this.
No, at one point, I knew I would absolutely NOT survive the trauma.
When I consider my future I am not confident I could survive another trauma. I wish I could hold more optimism.
I spent much of 2017 in active, thoughtful, engaged recovery. I was deeply traumatized, but I am healing. Every now & then, I am significantly triggered. Even without being triggered, PTSD comes like a thief in the night.
I woke up this past Valentines Day crushed to the depths. And I thought to myself…you won’t survive this. Just die and enter your rest. Please.
And then I watched this video. And I also watched an episode of This Is Us. What could I have possibly been thinking?
I mentioned in my IG stories the other day* that I’m in the midst of rehauling my entire way of doing life so that I can actually survive, while facing the reality that I probably won’t. Statistically speaking.
But then also? F-ck statistics. I’m still here ain’t I? My God is bigger than statistics. I may doubt myself, but I don’t ever doubt God’s penchant for the miraculous.
Today, I feel normal as a lark. I’m doing work that I love, with organization I love. I hold every aspect of my life with deep, abiding gratitude.
They way my gratitude disciplines are set up…I often feel peace that passes understanding on some of my worst days. I focus on gratitude like it’s the air I breathe.
My husband & I are better now than we got married. Next month we move into a huge, beautiful historic house. Our kids are all healthy, beautiful & shockingly normal. It is ALL God’s grace. All confusing. All magical. All amazing. And sometimes…all laced with sorrow.
But here I am. Still alive. Still facing it. My life is a prayer & a testament to redemption & hope. Maybe I’ll die young. But it won’t be from suicide.
Amen & Amen.
Any one else have a high ACE score? What resources are you using to survive?
*Sometimes, I talk more candidly & off the cuff about these issues in my Instagram Stories.*
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