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** Please do not read this if you are easily triggered. I go into graphic detail about my past, as there is a lot I need to get off my chest anonymously. However, caveat lector. **

 

Hello! I go by the name Hellbent. I'm 18, and live in the British Isles. I have a long and storiaed history of mental quirks and quiddities. I taught myself to read at tewo from reading the captions underneath pictures in my grandfather's newspapers, and from reading food packaging. I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism at 5 or 6, and declared a "gifted and talented child". I'm uncertain whether the "gifted and talented" diagnosis still exists, or whether it ever meant anything at all. I was offered a scholarship to a prestigious educational institute for the gifted and talented in the Western Isles, but my mother held me back because "my emotional development would never catch up with my intellectual development". The institute in question mostly catered for teenagers, and my mother feared that I may have been bullied. I resent that greatly. If I had been sent there, I would have escaped the living hell that my mother put me through.

Although I was originally diagnosed with "high-functioning" autism, my IQ testing well over 100, my behaviour as I slowly, slowly grew up would certainly have landed me in the "classical autism" group had my child psychiatrists been around to see it. (I spent a lot of time as a child playing cruel games with my child psychiatrists!) There were holires in the plasterboard walls of the house where I grew up because I'd throw myself against them repeatedly at the slightest inkling of frustration or sadness. Indeed, I don't believe I ever felt any emotion but frustration until my preteens - when my grandfather died, confined to a nursing home after a life of undiagnosed PTSD from fighting in the Pacific Theatre and depression resulting from a series of disabling strokes and TIAs, in and out of the local mental hospital in which I would later spend time, I felt more empathetic frustration for him, having been trapped in a dark, stinking, crude environment for almost a year, most likely the home's only inmate with an intact mind, than I did sadness. I feel strong empathy, but I am almost unable to feel sympathy. In a poem whose name I cannot remember, the Scottish poet Norman MacCaig talks of "the distance of pain which nothing can overcome".  In that line, MacCaig expresses his frustration that he cannot share in his dying wife's pain. I am that nothing - I feel very acutely the pain of others. I felt everything that my grandfather went through, from his horror of a pot lid rattling - my synaesthesia brought on tehe exact same imagery of gunfire that I am certain must have occurred to him - to his unspeakable despair at his confinement to a nursing home. Thus, I felt no true sadness when he died, but, rather, an intense echo of his lifelong frustration at his inability to function. He had been an actuary before he had been conscripted - he taught me to multiply and dievide on an abacus when I was 6 or 7, and many, many arithmetic shortcuts - but, as far as I know, he never could hold down work after the war. Until the ages of 11 or 12, I never felt any emotion of my own, only empathetic feelings from others, except for frustration.

I first experienced psychosis at around 9 or 10. I heard my aunt's voice calling my name repeatedly, as if from the sky. She wasn't so much as in the house at all. I ascribed it to angels, and became obsessed with angels. I was intended to be raised a Catholic, but after my parents' divorce my mother tried to get me into the Free Church of Scotland Continuing - which I had no time for. I found their cadence to be dour, inhuman, and deathly sexless. I collected holy cards obsessively. I was especially fascinated by St. Christina Mirabilis and by St. Sebastian, and I had quite a few of them. I ordered them from the Internet. At 11, menarche hit, and, in a fit (that word will occur again in quite a different context) of confusion eerily echoing what was later to be one of my favourite films (guess?), I believed that, for it to have come about quite so early, it must be a sign of something. I came to believe that I was St. Margaret of Cortona. I cut the word "Cortona" into my chest with my grandfather's whittling knife, and came quite close to slashing up my genitalia on several occasions. I tried, thankfully fruitlessly (funny choice of word!), to find one of those extremist Islamist doctors who carry out infibulations. 

Later that year, I came across a website dedicated to a - clearly somehow mentally ill - Internet artist and unintentional celebrity. Years earlier, she'd posted an innocent picture of herself on a forum, not realising how obsessive the denizens of that forum had been. They tracked down her Livejournal, where she had posted page after page of conceptual photography, some explicit. The website I'm now discussing sprung up as a place of veneration for this unfortunate girl. The website kicked off my first phase of serious self-injury, as the girl being so intensely deified had been a heavy self-injurer, and many of the posters on this website encouraged self-injury. I was a believer in mortification of the flesh, and I did some quite unmentionable things in pursuit of paying tribute to the girl I too came to worship. The website closed down a couple rof yearrs later, but a similar, although far less extreme, site survives, and I was a regular poster there until recently. I would dress up in the vogue of the "goddess"'s most famous pictures on group video chat. The worst phase of my cult membership, for it was indeed a cult, was the time I covered my school uniform in menstrual blood, smeared it across my face, and wrote the address of the website all over my school in it. That incident led to my first non-PDD diagnosis: psychotic depression. I was put on fluoxetine, which quite possibly explains what happened next.

The next notable incident in the development of my health occurred, again, at the tail end of my eleventh year. Quite possibly my worst year to date. I had what I now recognise as a manic episode, and adopted an alternate identity. I developed a fixation on an anime cartoon, and spent all of my time on a website dedicated to it, mainly populated by older men. Being hypersexual (indeed, I am constantly hypersexual, even when depressed; I am beginning to believe that I am a clinical nymphomaniac) and a raging teleiophile, I attempted to proposition many of them, addressing them using my adopted identity. Said identity developed into a full-blown manic personality. I became somewhat bisexual, but in a very bizarre way: I was attracted to very, very young girls, and to far older men. These days, I've settled down into simply heterosexual attraction to moderately older men, but those days were wild. I never looked at porn, oddly enough - I gave it a try, but found it all too synthetic and silly - but I constantly fantasised about things I don't feel that I can mention. In the real world, I insisted on being addressed by my alternate name, and acted incredibly callously and antisocially. I became obsessed with computers, built one, and then began to collect them. My room was small, so I could barely move for all the computer rubbish. My mother indulged my eccentricity at first, but later began to lose her temper with my Victorian style of dress, borderline-hoarding, and use of gamers' language in Blakean syntax, and took me to a chiropractor, who "prescribed" multivitamins. 

By 12, the cycling induced by the fluoxetine had thrown me into a depression. I had had suicidal thoughts since 8 or 9, but first acted on them at 12. I put the Manics' song "Die in the Summertime" on repeat and attempted to slit my wrists with the same knife I'd pulled the "Cortona" nonsense with. Thankfully, I think I only hit a bunch of capillaries, and I managed to stem the bleeding in about seven hours once I realised it wasn't going to work. My mother let it slide, but I was bullied at school. I'd already been bullied at school for my meltdowns, but it worsened so, so much when my classmates noticed the cuts on my wrists.

From 13 to 14, my mental health improved greatly. I was taken off the fluoxetine, shook off the manic alternate personality, and excelled at school. I passed my Intermediate 2s with seven As, and two Highers with an A and, er, a C. I was invited to an Advanced Higher English course, and accepted, but had to drop out before I began my dissertation - it was to be on Irish vs. Scottish black humour in literature, comparing MacCaig's poetry and The House with the Green Shutters with The Third Policeman and After the Wake - because my aunt, who mostly brought me up and whom I loved dearly, developed throat cancer, and I couldn't focus on writing when I could feel the agony that my aunt was going through. In late 2010, I began to believe that I was beginning to look old, and that I needed to look younger to find a re al boyfriend, so I stopped eating for days on end. In 2011 this worsened. In January 2011 I was almost 9st; in July 2011 I was close to 4st. I was hospitalised with multiple organ failure, and diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. In September I was sent to residential inpatient, where I spent one day short of a year. Being a CAMHS unit, it was dire; I would far rather have been sent to an adult mental hospital. My fellow inpatients competed with one another constantly to be the sickest. At one point, I lost my temper with one girl to the extent that I punched her in the face and slapped her against a wall. The incident was recorded on CCTV, and, had I not been so underweight, I would have been expelled from the unit. I was NG fed for some time. 

My more recent mental illness experiences are a little too raw yet to be spoken of in public, and, besides, I've rambled on long enough. My final major diagnoses were occipital lobe epilepsy - I had what I now recognise as partial seizures, many, many migraines, and a couple of possible tonic-clonics as a child, but was only given an EEG at 16, and had a tonic-clonic during the strobe test, and subsequently had several MRIs which confirmed brain damage and epilepsy - and schizoaffective bipolar disorder at 17, which I doubted at first, believing myself to be borderline, but, after some research into the topic, found that it fit (hah) perfectly.

I hope that I'll fit (there I go with that same pun again) in here alright. 

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