Linda H

I have an identical twin. I suffered my first bout of depression when I was about 16.

You see, I sided with my father during my parents’ divorce. It was the 3rd marriage for each of my parents. My identical twin sided with my mother. My mother wanted me to be on “her side,” so made me miserable by abusing me sexually, emotionally, and physically. The biggest part of it was emotional abuse. Abusers never abuse in public. All of the abuse directed at me was done by telling me my identical twin sister was beautiful, would marry well, would have a good life, looked better, etc., and I was told I was fat, ugly and stupid.

It wasn’t my twin sister’s fault. My mother would go out shopping with her and buy her clothes and tell me I couldn’t wear any of them (we were the same size) because this was my punishment for “siding” with my father, whom I loved very dearly. The abuse was long-lasting, from the age of 12 to about the age of 20. I never told my sisters about all of the abuse, for I was very ashamed of it.

When I went through depression and mood changes in my 20s, I was diagnosed with depression and then bipolar illness, Type II, but none of the mental health professionals asked me about my upbringing. I know that sounds strange, but no one ever asked me how I was treated when I was a child. I had horrible self esteem. After being told (for 20 years that I had bipolar disorder, Type II), one day, a therapist asked me about my childhood.

I began to relate all of the abusive experiences I had endured….everything from having my head slammed up against the wall, being spanked until my legs bled, to the horrible comments…”Why can’t you be pretty like your twin sister?” I was once locked in a bathroom and told to remain there because I made a statement in support of my father. The light bulbs were removed. I stayed in there for many hours. When I said I wanted to go to college, I was told that I would never make it, that I would flunk out in one quarter! I could go on and on and on.

When the therapist heard about what I had endured, he immediately changed my diagnosis to PTSD secondary to severe child abuse. I feel like I now have the correct diagnosis and it feels good. This explains why I am so sensitive to criticism and am so easily startled. I loved my father and my mother wanted to make me miserable so I would change my loyalty from my dad to her. I was called a lesbian (no crime, but it was abuse) and never had any confidence due to all of the abuse I endured. My self esteem was ZERO. My identical twin grew up confident and secure.

When I finally told my identical twin of all of the abuse I endured, wherein she was the bullet, she reacted with disbelief…..very common in families when a parent only abuses one child. She has stopped communicating with me now because she thinks I made up all of the abuse. It is too bad she was used as a bullet for my mother’s abuse, but she was. PTSD is difficult. Brain illness is difficult, but stigma makes it 100 times worse.

Thanks for letting me tell my story. I was ashamed to admit the abuse to anyone, even a mental health professional. I am glad I finally discussed it and have the correct diagnosis.

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