I have spent the last couple weeks doing extensive research into successful blogs, small blogs starting out, and different types of posts each blog does. I noticed a common theme between them all, and that is that almost everyone has written a post introducing themselves and chatting about their life and what brought them to where they are now.
Today, I’ve decided to share my story.
* I’d like to point out that this story may be a trigger to some who are experiencing mental health problems, skin picking problems, or abuse. Please don’t continue reading if this is you- I don’t want to be a burden or problem. If you are truly hurting, please get help. Seek out help. You are wanted and valued. *
I’ll start with the generic basics. My name is Katie Roman, I married the love of my life on August 4th, 2018, and I live in Wisconsin in an area known as the “Fox Valley.” It’s a wonderful part of the state because we’re not too far from Milwaukee or Madison, but also close to the Northwoods.
I grew up in a small town called Minocqua, Wisconsin, which is about an hour away from the U.P. border. In this town, everyone knew everyone and everything about them- it is a town filled with gossip and small-town scandals. Despite this, it’s a beautiful area filled with lakes and forests, perfect for my photography hobby.
I grew up with my mom, who divorced my alcoholic father when I was young, and my brother, who is 8 years older than I am. For most of my childhood, we lived with my wonderful grandparents, who helped my amazing mother raise me and my brother. Eventually, my mom landed a fantastic job and allowed for her to buy her own home.
Life was perfect for me- I usually got what I wanted, my mom always made sure I had food and a roof over my head, and she always supported me. There was just one issue…
My brain chemicals.
My last year at daycare when I was 11, I started experiencing severe chest pain. This usually happened when I would think about my father, who repeatedly had told me he promised to be there for me and be better for me and my brother, but always lied and drank away his promises.
My mom took me to see pediatricians, and eventually a cardiologist. They didn’t know what was happening and sent me to a children’s hospital to be monitored. Lo and behold, these chest pains actually turned out to be anxiety attacks.
At 11 years old.
I believe it was decided not to put me on medications, or maybe it was a situation the doctors didn’t really know what to do with. Either way, I continued with my life.
At 12 and 13, I started to become a victim of bullying. I wasn’t the skinniest girl in my small class of 45 students, and although some boys did have crushes on me, I was still bullied for being “fat.” Some kids would make stomping noises when I walked, and act like they were going to fall over. I even was physically abused by one of my closest friends, always hitting me or kicking me, and telling me that I would make a good “plus-sized model.”
I started self-harming as a way to cope.
I retreated away from some of my friends, tried making friends with others, and poured a lot of my “angst” and pain into art. I spoke with the guidance counselor often, but at the time, I always thought the counselor was annoyed with me, and only saw me because she was paid to do so.
When my mom found out I was self-harming, she didn’t take it so well (and honestly, I probably won’t either if and when my kids go down that path). Looking back, I know she reacted this way because it was new territory- mental health wasn’t talked about often in the early 2000s. She screamed and yelled at me, of course out of love. She honestly just wanted me to stop.
I wanted to stop. I couldn’t stop.
I continued with my self-harming coping skills through high school as well, even though high school was a tad bit easier for me. I wasn’t bullied as much, I started growing into my body and becoming more confident, and I made a lot of new friends from different school districts.
However, in one of my relationships, my boyfriend started to mentally abuse me.
It started out in small, minuscule ways, and I didn’t really understand it to be abuse at the time. He told me that I couldn’t talk to my step brother for fear that I was cheating on him. He would ask to look through my phone, or forcefully take it from me if I didn’t let him. One time, he yelled at me, telling me that it wasn’t time for me to talk to my best friend, who was threatening suicide through text, and told me that I couldn’t talk to her anymore.
The last straw was when he grabbed my arm so hard he left bruises. I ended that relationship.
Even though the relationship ended, I was still mentally abused by him. He started bullying me, making me feel like I was a slut or whore, and eventually told me that I should kill myself, as I “don’t deserve to live.”
I attempted suicide for the first time at 16.
I fortunately was able to go home, and started extensive out-patient therapy. It helped for a while. I still thought about death a lot. I had thought about death from when I was about 12 or so. I would write suicide letters, and then rip them up and throw them away.
At 17, I attempted suicide again. This time, I wasn’t convinced into doing it, nobody pushed me. It was just something I felt like I needed to do.
I went into in-patient for 72 hours, where a psychologist told me, “I don’t know why you’re here. Nothing is wrong with you. Go home.”
I finished high school, got my degree, and went about my life normally. I still wasn’t on any medication, but I felt that I didn’t need it. I was happy, I wanted to live.
I started school at UW Oshkosh, three hours away from home. There were only a few students from my high school graduating class that were also attending this college, so this was good. I got a fresh start at life.
I met my now-husband the first week of school. It was bliss- I partied a lot, studied, changed my major from nursing to journalism, and overall enjoyed my experience in school. I became the editor-in-chief of the college newspaper, I had two internships, a job. I thought I had it all.
My world tumbled down.
I was harassed by an academic professor. He belittled me, degraded me, picked me out of the entire journalism crowd, and chose me as his target for misogyny and harassment. This wasn’t something where I was pissed that I got a bad grade or anything. No. This was different. He talked about me to other students. He stalked me on social media, and attempted to kick me out of the journalism program. It was so severe that I dropped out.
I stopped 15 credits shy of graduation. That’s it.
I withdrew, went back to the tech school and got my Certified Nurse’s Assistant license, and went to work in the field. My mom sees this as a blessing, that I was meant to actually be in the nursing field like I originally planned when I started college.
I started having extreme panic attacks. I never wanted to get up from bed. I would stare for hours at the wall. I started having serious delusions and thought people were out to hurt me. On New Year’s Day 2018, I checked myself into in-patient to get some help.
I spent a week in the hospital receiving therapeutic treatment and getting on some medications. Things finally were starting to look up. I could actually live a normal life, I felt the happiest I had felt in a long time.
If you’re still reading at this point, I want you to know that it’s OK if you’re not on meds, and it’s also OK if you are. Find a treatment that works for your mental illness. Get the help you deserve, because everyone deserves an amazing life.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.