A lot of things, apparently. There have been a lot of things wrong with me for a good, long while, even before my diagnoses.
I’m not sure what got me to thinking about it this morning… maybe it was the baby birds, fresh out of the nest, that pulled up a horrible memory from my past.
When I was around the age of 12, there was a nest of baby birds that fell from a tree into my neighbor’s yard. What I was doing in my neighbor’s yard, I don’t know. I must have heard the squawking from the baby birds and had gone to investigate. There were four little babies in the nest, and the mother was nowhere to be found. I’ve always had a fascination with baby animals. I like to pick them up and cuddle them, but I’d always been told by my mother not to because my scent would get on them, and the mother would abandon them. I probably ended up orphaning a lot of baby animals this way.
Here’s where it gets confusing for me because I don’t understand why I did this. I don’t know if something tweaked in my brain, or if I just went a little crazy for a few minutes.
I killed the baby birds.
And I didn’t just kill them. I basically tortured them first.
I began by picking them up one by one and throwing them against the stone border around my neighbor’s flower garden. One by one, I threw them like a pitcher in a big league game, but I was young and small. I couldn’t throw that hard, so it didn’t kill them immediately. After I was done, and the baby birds lay there broken and mangled, I took them and tossed them into the lake to drown. They sunk beneath the surface, unable to struggle at all.
All this time, I never thought about if my neighbors were watching. I didn’t even know if they were home. What if they saw? What did they think? If they did see, why didn’t they come out of the house and stop me? Were they too horrified by the little monster murdering helpless baby birds? They must not have. They couldn’t have seen. No one who saw what I was doing would have left it unchecked.
It seems like there’s a history of this behavior toward animals in my family. My grandma on my dad’s side once told me that she and her brothers used to throw cats up in the air and try to catch them on pitchforks, skewering them and killing them. It was sport to them. My own cat, Rascal, was physically abused by my father to the point where he had severe behavioral issues, and no shelter would take him when my dad demanded I either take him to the vet to be put down, or he would drop him off in the woods to die. My best friend ended up taking Rascal to avoid him being put down. I didn’t speak to my parents for two months after that.
This is just one example of my behavior that worries me. This memory haunts me to this day. Some things I’ve done make absolutely NO SENSE, like when there was a tornado warning I saw on TV, and I just… didn’t tell anybody. Not a tornado WATCH, a tornado WARNING, which meant IT WAS COMING FOR US. It would be there very soon, and it wasn’t until the sirens went off that my parents realized there was a tornado. It ended up blowing over the two pine trees in our front yard that had been there for decades, and an oak tree that was over 100 years old in our backyard crashed into our neighbor’s yard.
To this day, I have absolutely no clue why I didn’t tell anyone about the tornado warning. No clue.
It makes me wonder if my mental illness started peeking its head out at this young age (I was about 12 or 13 when the tornado happened). Was I already displaying symptoms, or was I just a disturbed young girl? What caused it? Was it just a “phase”?
I can’t answer that question. But I can say with surety that I have changed those behaviors. I still have extremely dark thoughts from time to time, but I have no desire to act upon them or have them in the first place. Some days the monster inside wells up to the point where I think a scream is going to burst out of my chest, and in those times, it’s when I call upon God the most. I pray for the thoughts to go away, and thankfully, most of the time, they do. But sometimes, they stay. I allow my mind to wander around in that thought. I dwell on it.
The trick is to teach yourself not to dwell on it. I’m still learning how to, but I am making progress. It’s a long road, and I intend to travel it all the way.