My Intrigue with Psychology

intrigue with psychology started the night I sat outside my parents bedroom door begging my mother to not end her lifeMy intrigue with psychology started such a long time that I never recognized it at the time. And in honor of mental health month, I am continuing to share the stories of my life growing up. I had some very jarring experiences that shaped me into the person I am today. Those experiences were in addition to the abuse.

I have been an observer of people my whole life. At least as far back as my memory goes. I was more comfortable sitting around and observing than I was participating. That has not changed. That desire to watch was the beginning of my intrigue with psychology.

It all began because I was paralyzingly shy. I suppose looking back, and I had severe anxiety, which made participating in life very difficult. Anytime I thought about doing anything that would focus people on me, my heart would race, I would start sweating. I could smell the fear on me—which made me feel awful.

My anxiety probably had a lot to do with my desire to observe than participate. I was born an introvert, yes, but the environment continued to push me within myself.

Introvert + Abuse = Anxiety and over and over again. Then the cycle continues to repeat itself.  

Learning from Watching

I learned a lot about people. I found and still do to this day find people fascinating. What motivates them to be who they are, how did they become that person, etc.? These were the things I was trying to figure out by watching.

I was not horribly aware of having those specific thoughts as a child. I was fascinated because other people seemed to do what I couldn’t so quickly and effortlessly. I was trying to figure out how to do what others did. I was trying to figure out how to be a person, not the broken people I saw around me.

I was sold when I learned there is a field of study that focuses on the brain and behavior. Ah, the wonderful world of psychology. I mean, once I became too tall to be a jockey – I was going to be the first female jockey to win the Triple Crown. My genetics had other plans for me. And psychology was IT.

Intrigue with Psychology Solidifies

I grew up in a home that I guess people would say is a ‘broken home.’ There are times that I don’t know where to even begin to describe what a broken home means to me. The sexual abuse by my mentally ill father, the eventual poverty when my father left, and then a mentally ill mother who would become emotionally and verbally abusive towards me.

Okay, so when I write that, yeah, broken sounds about right.

During my younger years, my mother’s depression was so debilitating that, at times, she could barely function at the basic of levels. Her illness introduced me to the world of psychology and how much the mind controls us and what we do. My mother’s depression and subsequent abuse introduced me to the darker side of the mind.

I was still intrigued with psychology; I didn’t want to be the person experiencing it every day.

Darkside of the Mind

The dark side of mental illness and the mind is when ending one’s life seems to be the only way out. The night my mother tried to take her own life, I would write pivotal but pivotal pales to what I felt and observed. It was akin to a violent clashing shift of the tectonic plates of my life shifting. And when the dust settled, I did not recognize the landscape. It was a very unsettling feeling.

Triggering the Death Wish

I didn’t know at that time what triggered that moment for my mother. I was probably six or seven years old, give or take a couple of years. I hadn’t yet had the desire to end my life as I would years later.

I recall that my mother barricaded herself in my parent’s bedroom with her shotgun. Completely unspoken, my siblings and I took turns sitting on the other side of that door. We were crying and begging her not to take her life.

We strategically placed ourselves where we thought that she would take one of us with her if she shot herself. And we told her that. We were trying to use her love for us as a way to convince her not to end her life. It was agonizing. And I didn’t understand the magnitude of what was happening.

To the Hospital

What de-escalated that situation? I don’t remember. I think my father finally got her to talk with her psychiatrist on the phone. I vaguely recall him coming to our house, but I am not sure if that was what I was hoping, and my mind created that memory. And he was able to get her to put the shotgun down and come out of the room.

I thought that meant that she was going to be okay. I didn’t understand yet that she still had to go to the hospital. There is power to this psychology stuff. It can make broken people better. That was my six-year-old brain logic.

My father then told me that my mother was going someplace to get the help she needed. She went to the county psychiatric hospital. It seemed so unassuming from the outside. Not like the state mental hospital, which gave off a foreboding feeling. Where my mother went seemed like a hospital. I was hopeful.  

It would be at least several days before we were allowed to see her.

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