This is an assignment I made for my english class.
“Based off of the activity today, tell me about yourself, your upbringing, your history, your past, your present, your family, and your relationship with the English Language. Think about some of the things you wrote for the questions you just answered and incorporate your thoughts into your writing.”
Since I was a child, I’ve been very afraid of the world. I’m from a small town, in the south and my father was in the army, then he became a policeman and because of that I grew up in a strict environment.
What I mean by that is I’ve always learned to be careful with my surroundings, my belongings, to be ahead of things and also, to know when to speak out about something that bothers me and I learned to obey. This was also a stressful environment but I’d rather not write about it – not that it makes me sad, but because my brain shut down the bad and it’s good the way it is now, but I will though, write about the less bad. I felt ashamed for so many years about the way I used to live and for how my family is and that is why I didn’t let people in in my life and each one of them I knew, only knew the tip of the iceberg – I felt so alone, it was unbearable. I still don’t feel comfortable writing or talking about it. I also had problems with my body since I was a child and still now I can’t spend a day without thinking I’m ugly and fat but it was worse before. When a parent comes to you, forcing you to make exercise because (and I quote) “someday you won’t fit in the doors”, well, that’s not very nice, is it? That happened more times than I can count. I’ve been joked and somewhat bullied at school, but that doesn’t bother me, I don’t think about it, I don’t care, they were people I didn’t know and cared about, I didn’t even feel bullied by those jokers, I felt bullied by my parents! I have a wonderful brother, he’s my safe haven, the only one I can count on anything. I learned the alphabet a little sooner, my mother taught me because I wanted to learn it before I started going to school. I learned words like “apple”, “mouse”, “cat”, “dog” and “elephant” in English because my brother had a game for English beginners. I remember him saying that the word “elephant” was hard to pronounce and I studied it so hard to pronounce it well, I guess that’s where my fascination with languages started.
Fast forward to my teenage years, that’s when I realized something was wrong with me. This is that phase in life where you think you’re so mature and do silly things and also that phase where you crave for close relationships – your first love, the best friend you tell anything to. I never had a best friend in my teenage years because you’re supposed to tell everything to them and once again, I only let show the shell that covered me and, I think, because of me hiding, I became utterly depressed when I was 16. I completely shut down. I no longer hung out with my group of friends, instead, when I had nothing to do in high school, I used to go to the library and listen to my sad music, thinking about jumping from a bridge, almost crying and finally go to the bathroom and cry there. How much pain does someone have to be in to spend 2 years doing that? I wasted 2 years of my life crying day and night.
I wanted to get away but I didn’t have a purpose in life. Last year in high school, what do I do next? I grabbed a flyer with the courses that were available in FLUL, saw Translation and thought to myself, “That’s a pretty straightforward course and it’s in Lisbon. Cool.”. So, here I am. Next thing I know I’m in Lisbon, alone, afraid and responsibilities were up my ass. That’s when things got worse.
Since I was a child, I’ve been very afraid of the world. I couldn’t do anything. I was afraid of catching the bus. I was afraid of going to class and talk. I was afraid of crossing the street. I was afraid of going someplace new. I was afraid of asking any question. I was afraid of eating in front of people. I was afraid of going shopping. I was afraid of doing something that needed to be done.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with social phobia / social anxiety. Since then I’m medicated with antidepressants and mood regulators. As you can imagine, it was the hardest thing for me to do – having the motivation to get better, to want to talk to someone specialized about these kind of things. If it weren’t for my boyfriend at the time, I couldn’t have done it. The first appointment was nerve wrecking and my secret to let it all out was to think “he’s probably heard way worse than me and dealt with people hard to deal with and with worse mental disabilities.”.
After the first appointment came the second one, the third, fourth, fifth and so on and little by little I felt a whole new person – and by “new person”, I mean a whole new person, really. I was so trapped by fear, it was like my personality was inside a room and the key was lost somewhere but with proper medication, research, will power, I get to be me now. Sometimes a word or expression that describes how I’m feeling is not powerful enough in Portuguese, so I talk in English in the appointments from time to time, it’s one of the techniques I use – I don’t know if you can call them techniques. Also, I have a blog where I put my poetry (mostly in English) and a few of the things I write describe how I feel in that moment, so, as I only have appointments with my psychiatrist from every 5 or 6 months, it’s cool to have a written collection of moments about how I feel and how I made sense of it. I don’t know why I write mostly in the English language, maybe it’s easier for me because the Portuguese language, as my mother language, can be heavy – does that make any sense?
Now I’m in my last semester of Translation course and I have no idea what I’m going to do after I finish. I like Translation but it’s so difficult and I don’t feel confident to do the job at all. My father got cancer and has been through several surgeries but he’s doing a little better now. He can’t afford all of my college expenses, so I got a part-time job at a restaurant – it’s been a fulfilling activity for me but I find it hard sometimes to make time for myself which is very important for people with anxiety disorders. Recently, my only grandma passed away, me and my boyfriend broke up and lost my last job, but my doctor says that with all these things happening, I’m dealing with them in a positive way and by May I might stop my medication – I am terrified of this.
I can’t believe how far I’ve come. I realized that it’s no use being ashamed of my past, of myself and who I am because in a way or another people have something terrible too in their lives. I feel more open about myself than ever before. I am unlocked. This is me. This is my history. I’ve embraced it.