Author: beelovedd

Alcoholic Transformations

One of my favorite people in the world is my grandfather. If you imagine a man, tall and slim, with thinning hair and unfashionable glasses, you’ll have my grandpa. He married very young—as most people during his time did—and has had over 13 children (I don’t give a specific amount because many have died, and many have been miscarriages) with my grandmother. He’s very old-fashioned, and extremely romantic. Because he lives in the Middle East, and I live in America, I unfortunately rarely get to see him, maybe once every 2 years. But the times when I do see him are an incredible treat.

My grandpa is one of the most beautiful people you’ll ever meet. For example, instead of telling me “good morning,” he’ll recite me a small poem. Instead of giving me a simple “hello,” he’ll tell me that the beauty of my face is one of the most refreshing he’s ever seen. Waking up to compliments is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. When I’m having a bad day, he never ceases to make it better.

Going out with him is always a pleasure. He’s always so easy-going and willing to do anything. A camera always in hand, my grandpa jumps at the mere thought of creating more memories, of capturing every possible moment. He’ll never give up an opportunity to make a new memory. “Life is short,” he says, “and you’re too beautiful to not capture every perfect moment on camera.”

He and my grandma married out of love. My grandpa says that as soon as he saw my grandma, he knew she was the one. My father was their first child. My grandpa didn’t dote on him as much as my grandma would have liked, but my dad was a boy, and my grandpa was old-fashioned enough where boys didn’t need to have as much love as girls. He didn’t hate my dad—absolutely not. He just wasn’t as soft on him as he was with his daughters.

I said before that my grandpa is one of my favorite people in the entire world. But he’s also one of the ones I hate the most. Somewhere around his 5th child, he developed a liking for alcohol. And when he takes a sip of any of his special beverages, I watch him transform from one of the most poetic people in my life to one of the most blindingly cruel people. His kind eyes disappear, leaving only hatred in their place. His face becomes cold and expressionless, his mouth an endless grimace. One of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced in my life is seeing something once so beautiful and perfect morph into something ugly and hideous.

His sarcastically-said remarks start, usually aimed at my grandma first: Amalia, you know you’re a shitty wife? You know you’re really stupid? You know you deserve nothing? He hits her once. Gives her another insult. Hits her again. Insults her again. Then pushes her. Then kicks her. Then attacks her all at once until she’s on the floor, curled up in a ball and trying not to whimper as the endless rounds come and go, one by one. He hits her and kicks her and insults her and throws things at her. Even when unprovoked. My grandma can do nothing. She doesn’t know how to fight back, how to stop him, how to calm him down. She just lays on the floor, surviving, as her kids watch their father hit her again and again.

Sometimes my father and his siblings were forced to stay and watch, other times they try to run away to safety before he hits them, too. With so many kids trying to scurry out of the room, the exits get crowded and blocked, and sometimes my grandpa can catch one of his children before they are able to escape. My father told me that as they all would run away, they would all pray it wouldn’t be them he caught. Their need to escape became almost wild and savage, fighting and pushing one another to reach safety. But my grandpa always caught someone.

His alcoholism continued on for years and years, and my father tells me his memories of the good times before my grandpa drank are almost wiped away completely from those years of painful memories to replace them.

No one really knows why my grandpa started drinking—we’re not even sure he knows himself. But for years on end, there was no visible sign of my old grandpa anywhere. Even after my father married, even after my brother and I were born, my grandpa still drank. He still hit my grandma, and he still abused the children that were still too young to move out.

For some reason, my father never cut my grandpa out of our lives. I think he thought my grandpa would change, that he would stop drinking and that everything would get better.

Well he was right.

My grandpa and I have a connection—we always have. I’ve always been able to click with him in ways I couldn’t click with anyone. He would cheer me up when I was upset and I would give him the endless love only a child could muster. So when I was about 7 years old, I went to my grandpa and I told him I didn’t like how he hit my grandma. I told him I didn’t like how he hit anyone. I didn’t want him to. Please stop.

And he hasn’t taken another drink since.

I don’t know what made him stop exactly. I’m not sure if he had been thinking about it already, but just couldn’t find the motivation to do it. I don’t know if it’s because he really treasured my opinion that much. But what I do know is that he listened, that he cared. That he actually loved his granddaughter enough to not take another drink again for her sake.

I’m not trying to sugarcoat it; it wasn’t easy to stop, and he still had a lot of problems trying to apologize and rebuild all his relationships back. My grandpa must be one lucky man, though, because all of his children, all of his grandchildren, his wife, his in-laws—everyone—willingly forgave him and welcomed him into their lives like they had never cut him out in the first place.

My grandpa loves me. This is something I’ll never doubt. And I love my grandpa, I always have. But I also hate him. I hate a lot, for a lot of things. I hate him because of what he did to my grandmother, because of what he did to my father. The guilt I felt while watching my grandma get beat down was so crippling, I couldn’t imagine my father having to watch it every day of his life growing up. I couldn’t imagine watching my own father abuse my mother till she broke down. I couldn’t imagine having to grow up, never knowing whether my mom will die today, whether a sibling will die, or if it will be my fault. And I hate him for giving me the misfortunate of seeing a loved one endure so much pain.

My grandpa is perfect. He’s old and poetic, intelligent and thoughtful. But when he drinks, he turns into something else, something different. He’s not my grandpa anymore; he’s only an ugly imitation of himself. And this is something I’ll always have to see when I look at him.

But memories can be forgiven, if the person is willing to change, and my grandpa put every effort he had into changing. And I forgive him.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: my grandfather is one of my favorite people in the entire world. I love him, and I am extremely close to him. Despite the pain and abuse, I can’t imagine a world without him.

January 29, 2014

Blog pic

From left: My dad, my grandpa, my grandma, my uncle.

The Life of an Epileptic

In my last post, I talked about the depression I experienced, and how it was as a result of the seizures I was having. This post, I want to go over seizures and how they work. And share my side of the story, of what it was like having them.

I was diagnosed with Epilepsy during my junior year of high school. And just in case you didn’t know, Epilepsy is a seizure disorder. Basically, there are electrical signals in the brain that control the body. Seizures occur when those signals become overactive. Depending on the part of the brain that’s affected, different parts of the body may convulse—or some may not convulse at all. I, however, had tonic-clonic seizures, which are the “stereotypical” type of seizure that most people think of when they imagine them. My full body convulses, I bite my tongue, and sometimes I lose control of my bladder (which is really embarrassing, let me tell you). People that experience tonic-clonic siezures (more commonly known as “grand mal” seizures) are unconscious during the seizure, and don’t remember it when they wake up. Some seizures can last a couple of minutes, others can go on for days and days.

As for me, I wake up with absolutely no recollection of what had just happened. All I know is I’m in pain, my mouth is bleeding, and my pants are wet. But like most people that arouse from a toni-clonic seizure, I wake up disoriented and scared.

In fact, I still remember the aftereffects of my first seizure. I woke up confused, exhausted, and surrounded. Unknown faces peered down at me. The sky was white and lumpy. Frantic walls panicked all around me. My mind reeled with explanations of where I was, what had happened. But I didn’t understand; I was so confused. All I knew, all that I could comprehend, was that I hurt. My head, my eyes, my tongue. My legs, my shoulders, my arms. Everything hurt.

I remember peering around, trying to make sense of it all. But where was I? Who were these people? What was I doing there? I didn’t know anything. The last thing I remember were cold hands on my face as I slipped to a deep sleep.

Tonic-clonic seizures are strenuous and draining. Most people sleep at least 5 hours after a seizure. Some even sleep up to 22 hours afterwards. Confusion is normal upon awakening. Some people don’t know who they are, who the president is, or even what year they’re in. It can take up to a couple months to heal from a single seizure.

I had many repercussions from all my seizures; my body couldn’t keep up, and I lost a lot of strength. I couldn’t open doors or even pick up my dog. It was a pretty low period in my life.

Luckily, though, I have been on a medication called Keppra for over a year now, and have thankfully had no breakthroughs. I’ve slowly regained my strength and am leading a pretty normal life, my thoughts of my past seizures almost forgotten.

A seizure is a weird phenomenon. To be honest, I don’t really understand seizures, even though I’ve personally experienced multiple. If you or someone you know has ever experienced a seizure, here’s a sort of “guide” in what to do when they have one:

  • Do not hold the person down or try to restrain them
  • Do not stick your hand in their mouth (it’s a myth that they will swallow their tongue)
  • Make sure they don’t crash into sharp objects
  • Cushion head and make sure they don’t smash their head against anything
  • After the seizure is over, turn them onto their side (many people will vomit or bit their tongue, so this is to prevent any choking on their own vomit or blood)
  • If a seizure lasts more than 5 minutes, or if this is their first seizure, call 911

Just in case you’re curious, here’s a video of what tonic-clonic (or grand-mal) seizures look like. This person was brave enough to share his video; let’s not make fun of him. But be warned: it’s graphic.

Strength

There was a point in my life when I felt very lonely. The seizures I was having at the time ate me up and consumed me. I felt so isolated from the world around me. My parents didn’t understand what depression was or how I was feeling. My friends made me feel like an outcast because they couldn’t relate. I felt almost demonized by them because they were afraid of what was happening to me. I had no one to talk to; I had no support system.

On a whim, I looked up “depression” on a Google search. And what I found amazed me. A lot of people had written stories about their own depressions online; there were so many, it seemed almost endless. I read about other people’s stories. I experienced their sorrows and empathized with their pain. And I learned about their recoveries and was so emotionally invested that it was almost terrifying. But I was also stunned by how many people could verbally express how I was feeling. It was amazing to me how anyone could take such intense feelings—feelings that I couldn’t even comprehend at the time—and turn them into words.

So I kind of went online on a whim, but what I found had become my support system. Learning that other people were in similar situations, and that it wasn’t just me that felt that way made me feel relieved; I didn’t feel alone anymore. I had people to relate to. I had people that I could talk to. Having gone online inspired me, and it definitely helped me. So I want to share my story, in hopes of helping someone one day, too.

 

I had a lot of seizures. So many that eventually my body couldn’t keep up and I lost a lot of strength. Opening doors became a struggle, and I barely made it to a single class. The school I went to saw me as a liability. Teachers dreaded me, students feared me, and the number of friendships I possessed dwindled quickly to only one. I can’t really tell you when the depression started; it sort of crept up on me in an ugly way. I was naïve. I remember starting off only afraid of my seizures. Of maybe falling unexpectedly and hitting my head. Of waking up one day, drowning in my shower. I was only afraid of my seizures and what they possessed; I didn’t realize yet I also needed to be afraid of the people I loved, too. I trusted my friends. When I think about the pedestal I had placed them on, I almost hurt. The seizures didn’t just take away my friends, they took away my naivety, too.

I still remember the pain I caused my parents. I still remember my guilt. I remember thinking, “How will this ever get fixed?” and then deciding that it probably won’t. My parents didn’t understand: What is depression? Why are you hurt? But I didn’t understand why they didn’t understand. I was wrapped in a bubble, a tight bubble of dark clouds filled with loneliness, guilt, and anger. And no one could really get me out of it.

I remember losing my independence. I couldn’t open up doors, couldn’t pick up my dog. I couldn’t lock my bathroom and I couldn’t drive. I was never alone—I couldn’t be. I couldn’t go out, couldn’t hang with friends. My options decreased to only one: get better. I was allowed nothing else. It wasn’t even acceptable to try to be myself. I wasn’t Bisaan anymore; I was the seizures. And that hurt me more than anything else.

I remember trying to escape. I couldn’t do this anymore! My school, my friends, my family. Even my own parents. Everyone had deserted me. Who was I? Why did I exist? What was the purpose of all of that? I just wanted it to stop. Please just stop. Only my clouds grew in response.

Running away had been a form of escape, a result of feeling pushed over the edge. Suicide was a daily thought, a daily struggle. I remember it wasn’t anything but fear that really prevented it, and it made me feel weak. Why wouldn’t I just die?

But I didn’t. And I still haven’t.

There are only a number of guesses as to why I didn’t, most of which probably only make sense to me. At some point, my depression had hit rock bottom, which at the time was horrible. I saw nothing but my clouds; my vision was only black, and I could feel myself drowning in a sea of darkness and loneliness that devoured me so thoroughly, I thought I couldn’t resurface. But I did. Somehow I did. And I almost destroyed everything in the process. But when I look back at it now, I’m really thankful for it. I had finally hit rock bottom. And from there, I could only go up.

My memories of my third year of high school are only filled with struggles.

I don’t know… but the following memories are only filled with pride. Pride for myself for overcoming one of the hardest struggles of my life—of anyone’s life. Depression is not an easy beast to battle, and it’s definitely not a fun one. But I fought it. I fought depression, and I won.

I refuse to ever let it beat me again.

 

Depression is not a weakness. It’s a constant struggle. It takes strength to keep going. Please seek out help if you or anyone you know is going through depression. It may not seem like it now, but you deserve more. Everyone deserves more. Stay strong, and keep going. It’ll all be worth it in the end.

 

The National Suicide Prevention Line:

1-800-273-8255

Please call it if you need help.