Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What is suffering with R.A.D. like? (Very long post)

Dear all,

That lost post really seemed to chew at people. It was very, very tough to write. To have to dig through those bloody and terrible days was very difficult. I wrote that post because I layed in my bed all night long listening to those screams. I didn't get a wink of sleep.

Lisa asked me to write a bit about what it was like to have R.A.D. that's a long story, so I will do my best to keep it as short as possible. I wanted to thank Lisa for posting my story on her page.

My life with R.A.D.

Reactive Attachment Disorder for me was the total emotional disconnect from the rest of the world. My life, even as a child was studded with physical, sexual and emotional abuse that lasted through my teens. That damage still exists today in many forms, but for this blogs sake, I will keep it to my early childhood.

I didn't feel connected to the world. I didn't care about the world and I didn't care about anyone else either. The first animal I killed was in response to my adoptive sister (Who left for Greece in college) departure was slamming her cat into a wall, killing it immediately. I would spend hours building lego castles, (Which I loved to do) and then immediately destroy them with a terrible violence. Both of these acts travels to the core of what Reactive Attachment Disorder for ME was. It was the perception of loss. That was the theme of my life and what it meant.

I had no reason to get close to anyone because in the end, they would be taken from me. While other children played outside, I sliced my arms open to make sure I was bleeding red. I felt like the devil. With one animal already killed, a suicide attempt and the constant need to destroy left me feeling like the devil himself, literally. This was around the age of 11.

The therapists told me I would be this way forever and that I would never change. Bear in mind, gentle readers that R.A.D. wasn't even a diagnosis yet.

I felt that the world around me wasn't mine. The family that was "given" to me I had to reason to connect with. I didn't know them, I didn't share their beliefs and I surely didn't understand why they would love the devil. In my mind, they were just as bad as I was. No one wants a devil. I did my best to push them away from me. I killed their animals, I tried to burn their house down twice and I did every in my power to make them hate me. My adoptive mother said (And this will sting, just as it did me) "If we knew how much trouble you were going to be, we wouldn't have adopted you". That's how bad it was. My parents were so afraid of me, they locked their doors at night.

By the time I was 12 I was already in a hospital for severe depression and suicidal ideation. I wanted to die. To live in a world at such a young age not able to connect to anyone was too much. Something, however happened in this hospital in Kentucky. I met other troubled children like myself and I for the first time in my life, these children wanted to know me, including the girls in the unit! Finally, I found other children that accepted my bad behavior as nothing more worse then they had done themselves. I had found a common bond with these people.

After two weeks in the hospital, I was discharged, and once again I lost my friends. Another loss that was an actual one, not a perceived one. I spiraled out of control. The death's continued, and I started experimenting with inhalants and drugs to alleviate my pain.

Being so different from other kids, looking much different then other children (I am bi-racial), not having alot of money I was ruthlessly beaten and spit on many, many times in school. The teachers took sexual advantage of me of me. (The female teachers) and by that time, I was no longer a human being. I was a punching bag and a sexual device for horny older women. My transformation was complete. I no longer lived as sweet Michael with the beautiful smile and full of hugs (Which was one of the pretexts of my adoption) but some "bad kid" with no future whatsoever.

I had learned my worth. I also knew that if I killed an animal, started a fire, lied, cheated, stole or slept with teacher I would get the attention that I needed. I was able to express my unspeakable pain through acts that would get attention, no matter what the attention was.

For many R.A.D. sufferer's it's not that they (myself included) that we particularly enjoy what we do/did. It's our ONLY way to communicate with those around us the pain, the happiness that we feel. I never connected with ANYONE. I had no way to verbalize and vocalize my feelings and even if I did why would anyone care what I had to say? I burned every bridge with my family that I had left (or so I thought).

I was a very, very lonely child. I was so different, many nights I just sat in my room burning something, getting high on paint thinner or crying myself to sleep. I had no way to communicate my sadness and my family was so angry and frustrated with me, they wanted nothing to do with me anymore My sister to this day hates me to this day with a passion that I can only describe as "unfettered". All of this for a 13 year old child was alot. There was no rhyme or reason to the violence, drug abuse, sexual abuse and the killing in my mind at the time.

It was just something that I did and I didn't understand why. I was angry and I didn't know why. I just wanted it to stop and if it meant my death, that's what it meant. I still remember the nights of looking in the mirror and seeing the devil himself.

That emotional disconnect allowed me (in my mind) to act in ways that most children wouldn't dare. That was the hook. I could kill, get high and destroy because I was already dead. I was put on this earth to destroy and be a sexual device for teachers and I simply accepted that fact. The rest, is of course shattered history.

I hope that this post gives Lisa and all of my readers a bit more insight into a fraction of what I went through as a child. I am sure over the coming days I will talk more about Cathargic Reaction, Suicide Attempts and other issues that deal with R.A.D. but this is enough for now.



Lisa said...

Thank you Michael. I am and will be so eternally grateful to you for telling your story. I want to understand and you help me do that. I cannot imagine the hell my daughter has been through or how badly she feels. Thank you for speaking her words.

I am continually inspired by you.

One Future At A Time said...

You don't have to thank me Lisa

A said...

Do you have any insight into what was the best way to reach out to you when you were going through that?

There are so many times I just don't know how to reach my child. I know he's in there. I see glimpses of him, and I get geniune hugs that tell me he IS bonding with me and loves me in his way. He understands why he was removed from his first home as he knows the abuse he endured - he tells the therapist, the workers, us - that he doesn't ever want to go back. Despite all of that, I think he feels guilty for loving us (his "new" family) ...

Christine said...

Michael, thank you (whether you like it or not! ha!). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I will continue to do whatever it is I need to do as a mother, to give my children healing. It is hard. It is so hard to carry on some days, but reading your words is so encouraging for me. It redirects me - away from their behaviors and back to what is really going on inside of them.

Did I happen to say thank you? :)

Torina said...

Thank you for sharing. I have three kids, all adopted. Two have been diagnosed with RAD. My daughter is healing and my son is just beginning. Thank you for sharing your history because I need to know everything possible to help my kids. Please keep on writing.

Freda said...

I too would like to thank you for sharing your story. The courage you have to do this is truly great. I do not suffer from RAD or have children with RAD but I do work with children who suffer from a variety of psychological and/or developmental issues so to be able to hear what worked (and what didn't!!!) for you as a child/teen/adult is crucuial for those who work these children and do NOT want to do the wrong thing. Please continue to share your story, as you are able. Thank you and bless you!!

Linda B said...

Hi Michael, I found you by way of Lisa. I need to thank you also for sharing your story. I have a 17 yr old daughter With RAD and Fetal Alcohol Syndrom in a residential center right now. I know she has a deep anger within her, but she shuts down every time we get too close to the core. I don't know what else she is keeping inside. We just don't know how to reach her within. Soon she will be an adult (in the eyes of society) and that scares me so much. Hearing you as an adult explain what you went through helps me so much when trying to understand her. Hopefully I can remember your words when I am angry and at a loss. (hopefully I won't have as much anger now)

Jules said...

Well Michael, you know how I feel, but I want people here to know how I feel since I know you fairly well.

Michael and I have some history together. Getting to know Michael was not easy and at times is still difficult. I have known him for over a year and its amazing to see the change in him.

Michael and I were not in contact for almost a year. When reconnected I heard and saw many good changes in him.

When I first met Michael, he paced ... he paced alot. It was as if he were to stand still, he was going to loose the part of himself he was trying to still keep together in his adult hood. He was moody and I could see when it was going to be a good day or bad day. So I had to tread carefully. He also liked to lecture a lot. Which used to annoy me to no end. But he was great at being a teacher and he still is.

I was not aware of Michael's R.A.D. during that time. Not till I was too deep in, did he tell me about it and only some of the horrific things which happened to him and the many things he had done. I could see how hard it was for him to express this to me, but I reassured him, it was OK. I wanted to know.

I actually handled it pretty well. What I could not handle were the mood swings.

Now this was OVER a year ago and people CAN change. What I now see in Michael is someone who smiles at life with new eyes. I even told him this on a hike we took together. I had never seen his eyes smile when he smiled. It felt really good to see this. He didnt pace as much and he would actually SIT and talk. It was nice to see all these changes. He was much easier to be around and lighter.

Mind you, I can never understand what he has gone through, but I do know I feel for him. If all the fears, hate, past memories could be squeezed out of him to make it all better I would do this for him. But reality is it will always be with him.

I see a man who wants a "normal" life. I see good in this man and I know his words here are in the hopes to help others.

If he could help save one child out there with R.A.D., well this is Michael's mission. That is all he cares about.