• Thu, Jan 3 2013

I Was An Angry, Psychotic Teenager

angry teenager/girl interrupted/angelina jolie

As a young child, I was what people might call precocious: I loved talking to strangers about how my hair was “naturally curly,” I would run around my parents’ parties and dance to the “Macarena” for everybody, and I was just generally outgoing. But I was also frustrating: It was difficult to get me to calm down when excited, nearly impossible to change my diaper and even harder to get me to sleep — a problem I still have today. And I absolutely hated being told what to do, which made everything incredibly hard for my parents. In fact, it was hard for well over a decade.

Sometime around age 4 or 5, my brother and I were being babysat by a woman in her 40s who was an occasional substitute teacher at my school. As the daughter of a librarian who values books higher than just about anybody I know, I learned to read pretty early on and absolutely loved doing so. I would try to read anything I could get my hands on, even attempting Jane Eyre in the third grade (I gave up after three pages during which I referenced the dictionary for every sentence).

On this particular day, I attempted to read some small yellow book that my mom had left out. My babysitter told me that it was higher than my reading level and put it in a drawer I couldn’t reach. I didn’t know the word “patronizing” back then, but I already understood that I hated it when people did not seem to take me seriously. So, as a result, I tricked her into going outside (I insisted to her that our cat had escaped), yelled something unkind, shut the door and locked it. Three hours later (this was before the age of cell phones), my parents returned home and saw what I had done. Naturally, they were displeased, but I explained that I was simply angry about not getting what I wanted, which I assumed justified the act completely.

So, fast forward to my teenage years: after an unfortunate experience in middle school, I became angry. Really angry. And I didn’t want anybody to come between myself and that anger. Normally, I hate discussing these years because I find them both embarrassing and incredibly regrettable, but with all the talk of what Adam Lanza’s mother could have done and how terrifying it is to be close with an angry teenager (or any other age, for that matter), I have decided that it’s important for me to discuss the topic and share my own perspective.

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  • Cate

    I also was a nightmare child, and in many of the same ways as you. I’m really glad you’re another one who turned out okay.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Thanks for relating :) I’m glad you turned out all right, too.

  • lucygoosey74

    Thank you for this article, it was extremely honest and well thought out and touched on a subject that I’m sure thousands upon thousands of people, both parents and children can relate to. I was also an angry, depressed and sometimes violent teen who was never properly diagnosed until I was 18. I’m bipolar and it came as a relief to finally have a name for what was wrong with me for so many years. My parents were at a loss as to how to deal with my behaviors and I think it was even worse that I came into my teen years in the early 80′s, when talking about mental illness was much more taboo..you wouldn’t admit to ANYBODY that something was wrong with you because you would be branded a freak. We as a society still have a long way to go when it comes to dealing with mental illness, but I also feel we have come a long way. I’m so sick of hearing that parents should basically lock up their kids and throw away the key if they are mentally ill, this attitude disgusts me. I’m willing to bet that Adam Lanza’s mother never dreamed that in a million years her son would do what he did. She has to live with what he did for the rest of her life and does not deserve to be shamed for his actions.

    • kj

      Um, she’s dead. Because he shot her. She didn’t have to live with knowing what he did because she was the first victim.

      Just so ya’ know.

      (Not that I disagree with the main thrust of your argument)

    • lucygoosey74

      Yikes, I feel really stupid.I knew that Adam Lanza killed his mother and have no idea why I said that she has to live with it. Thank you for pointing it out to me..wayyy too much on my mind today I’m afraid.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Thanks for the kind words; I’m really glad you feel that way. I think a lot of parents don’t know exactly how to deal with kids who aren’t quite balanced, to say the least, so it’s important to be honest about experiences with mental illness. Otherwise, it’ll just keep on being taboo, and that’d be terrible.

  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    This was so beautiful. I’m printing out to save to show to my own daughter when she is a teen. Thank you for writing this.

  • Blue

    My god, what a fucking brat.

    • meteor_echo

      Ye gods, what a kind person.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      My thoughts exactly, I read the parts about how wonderful & supporting her parents were, but nothing about having any consequences for her actions. No discipline & this is what you turn out. I am not advocating beating your babies, but jeezy creezy, you need to keep those lil bastards in line! Peopleare so freaking clueless & are quick toblame it all on mental illness. All in the name of parenting.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Ouch. Well, to be honest, I mentioned none of their disciplinary actions because it was, indeed, much more about how wonderful and supporting my parents were and are. Their disciplinary actions were not something I felt comfortable revealing because it was significantly more about my own actions and to let parents who may be dealing with terrible children — as I admittedly, ashamedly was — that their kids won’t necessarily end up in psychiatric wards or prisons as adults. Plus, my parents didn’t feel particularly comfortable initially disciplining a kid who’d been raped several times as a child. Obviously, PTSD isn’t some excuse or appropriate reasoning for my acting like a psycho, but it was a contributing factor, and it’s not always easy to keep “lil bastards” in line under those circumstances.

      Also, did you glaze over the parts where I said I’m embarrassed, revolted and horrified by my own past actions or something? For the record, I regularly cry out of disgust with my past actions years later. But thanks for the extra shame, obviously you feel I don’t have enough as of yet.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1165875627 Jennifer Ives O’Meara

      Nothing about parenting is or was easy. You never get a day off, and you most defiently do not get rewarded “right away” The reward comes when our lil bastards grow up to pay thier own bills, own thier own home, and start apologizing to their parents for their horrible behaviors. You are on the right path now, but I seriously can not help feeling like you did not have to be a violent angry teenager. Angry, yes, that is everyone. But violent, no. I too had horrible things happen to me (same boat, differnt water) as a child, but that did not keep my parents from keeping me in line, and thank god. I am a tough decent human being because I had consequences for my actions. Not trying to shame you or your parents, we all do our best, but insert a different set of parents with some seriously harsh rules, I dont think you would be feeling shame for your actions.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      I never said anything about being rewarded right away. I do pay my own bills (though I don’t own my own home, and don’t plan to for several years) and have apologized. I didn’t “have to be an angry violent teenager,” but I was; there is no “have to,” necessarily, but that’s how it was nevertheless. If everybody reacted the same way to trauma and the rest of daily life, that’d be splendid, but they don’t. Individual people react to similar events completely differently. And, honestly, who are you to assume I haven’t had consequences for any of my actions? Who are you to know that I “wouldn’t be feeling shame” if I had different parents with “seriously harsh rules”? It’d be all well and good if you had, at some point, met me, but “getting to know” one person via 2000 words doesn’t really give you the authority to hypothesize such things as how my life would be with different parents.

      I get it: you think my parents or me should have done something differently and somehow, you wouldn’t have had to read this story which, unfortunately, is disgusting and disappointing with regard to my behavior. But it’s one article about one aspect; by no means does it paint the entirety of my adolescence nor contain each and every detail. It’s easy to assume from afar that if something were differently done, a good 6-7 years of my life would’ve been, too, but that’s a presumptuous thought, and an unprovable one.

      Look, I won’t continue to argue why my life turned out the way it did with you, nor why I was crazy (and admittedly so) in the first place, nor the things you somehow know my parents did or did not do correctly. It’s great that you think you know enough about parenting that you could handle any child, any time, in any situation. That is wonderful for you, and I hope you continue to share your knowledge with the world.

    • C

      You don’t need to argue with these people who are clearly never going to get it. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story, it was like I wrote it myself.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      Guh, you’re right. Thank you. I’m normally so good at not arguing; I think I just got defensive of my parents and whatnot. But really: thank you for that. <3

    • TheTruthHurtz

      Samantha,

      Your apology sounds totally insincere. You continue to use your past incidents, horribly traumatic as they were, to justify your disgustingly manipulative behavior. It is so easy to blame your past misdeeds on your youth, yet I still sense these demons buried deep inside you. You are not blameless just because of your age.

      I came out of this article feeling horrible for your parents and not at all sympathetic towards you. You should be KISSING THE FUCKING GROUND that they stuck with you. That they were amazing. I just don’t get that sense from you. It’s as if you just felt that your parents did their job becuase that’s what parents do. That being a parent is a duty, that they had to deal with all of your TOTAL FUCKING SHIT. “We lock arms now, it’s all good. I constantly terrorized them, left razor blades on the table, but I even felt, slightly bad that I had to leave home!” That’s some sincerity there huh? Well you only know what’s in your heart.

      Natural selection you probably ought to be dead given how many issues you have had. Is society better off because your parents endured this nightmare? I don’t know. Perhaps you need(ed) professional help.

      I’ll start my closing remarks with letting you know that I think you and alcohol sounds like an absolutely hilarious/ tragic mix. Given your history, drinking sounds beyond irresponsible. All of your mental issues, plus you drinking, God help anyone in the immediate vicinity. I’m seriously just imagining all of the fucked up things that happen to your brain when you get reallyyy drunk and wow, I’m just going to stop.

      I don’t understand your message here, at all. I feel as if you have a totally warped view of children/teens, responsibility, and parenting that scares and angers me, to be honest.

      As I’m sure you’ve realized, this piece just totally rubbed me the wrong way. You very well may be a nice person, but everything, from the drinking to the insincerity to the implication that all parents should have acted exactly the same way yours did when the total opposite is true, seriously pissed me off and this is why I decided to write such a scathing post.

      I would have rather you been a) more thorough/ articulate in your appreciation for everything your parents did for you and b) that you not tried to politicize your situation, which is NOT NORMAL BY ANY MEANS.

      If we live in a society where parents have to/ are expected to be subjected to any kind of behavior; terrorism, mental or physical, by their kids, while the “children” are free to act however they want until they turn 18, then I don’t ever want to have children.

      Essentially, my thesis is that you are/ were using your traumas as a justification for being a huge bitch. I believe that this is more common than people will say and it is UN PC so it never gets talked about. I don’t give a fuck about political correctness thankfully.

      Good luck.

    • http://twitter.com/insanelady Miranda Henriques

      I’d just like to say that I personally got a strong sense of her gratitude towards her parents for how they acted. And a very strong sense of her being ashamed of how much pain she put them through.

      The judgement you see fit to hand down to a woman trying to be open about a very human problem is disconcerting. Really, it’s people like you that make this world such a tough place to live for people with mental illness.

      And please don’t try to tell people what they can or can not do with their own consciousness, if she wants to drink that’s completely her own decision, finding out whether she doesn’t like the consequences is up to her, not you.

      As I’m sure you’ve realised, your comment seriously pissed me off.

    • Samantha_Escobar

      I know you posted this like ten days ago, but thanks. Really. <3

    • http://twitter.com/Tobi_Is_Fab Nerdy Lucy

      Well, it is certainly obvious that the point of this article flew right above your head.

    • http://twitter.com/Tobi_Is_Fab Nerdy Lucy

      You’re bad at trolling.

  • K

    So basically, you were a normal teenager, and you think that warrants your writing of an article? Why did I even get to the end of this?

    • Samantha_Escobar

      I have no idea, my apologies for wasting your time.

    • http://twitter.com/Tobi_Is_Fab Nerdy Lucy

      You’re blaming her because you chose to come here and read it?

    • http://twitter.com/insanelady Miranda Henriques

      Normal teenagers cut? Normal teenagers threaten to commit suicide? Seriously?

  • be_otherworldly

    As a mental health social worker, I always appreciate when people share their experiences with trauma and mental illness, especially when done in such an engaging and articulate way. Not everyone will understand, many will judge, but so many more will appreciate and relate to it. Thank you! Just one small quibble: The headline is a tiny bit misleading with the mention of being psychosis – I’m not sure where that came in?? (Could just be that you chose not to elaborate on any psychotic symptoms?)

  • Alexis

    Thank you for sharing your story. It’s great to hear about someone who has struggled and come out in more or less one piece. I’m sure that more than one person will be reassured and comforted by it.

  • MR

    Why am I not surprised your mother is a librarian. You write really well. :)

  • Sarah

    Please ignore any hateful comments you will get on this article! And thank you for writing it :)

  • MSW

    You know what? Like you and countless others, I put my teachers and Mom through some tough times… and I REMEMBER how I felt as a teenager doing this… I also REMEMBER what it was like to lash out when I was even younger, all of the feelings of insecurity, anger, etc, etc.

    Now as a parent, I have a great ability to empathize with what my kids must be thinking/feeling when they are lashing out and acting irrationally. It is a gift to remember what it is like to be a child & teen. I hope you have kids some day and find that the same is true for you. I completely believe that empathy is the key to effective parenting!

    PS: I also hope that you enjoy many many years with your parents & see that you are not done being their child… you may be surprised at how soon THEY will need YOU and you will have plenty of time to repay their parenting resiliency & care :)

  • Marsha

    Thank you Samantha for your honesty. I too had PTSD from childhood abuse and it was in the 60′s and 70′s and I did not feel safe enough to tell anyone.I knew something was wrong with me although I was a “good student,etc” to a fault. The effects of the ptsd came to a head after I had been working successfully for about 10 years when I got suicidally depressed and crashed.

    I started acting in ways I never had before,I got very angry and lashed out at everybody. I cut myself. I got anorexic,I just could not deal with what happened to me in my childhood.I just wanted out and made many attempts but my family continued to love me and they remained involved in my care even though I did not feel deserving of their support or love. Mental illness is so stigmatized and full of shame it’s hard to get better because most people look down on anyone with mental illness.

    I,like you,did not choose how I reacted to the abuse from my childhood. I was in so much pain,I felt so badly about my illness that I just wanted to remove myself from the planet but a counselor finally got through to me that I would hurt my family more by dying.

    Not for myself I chose to live,it’s been very difficult at times for all involved. I have apologized repeatedly to my family. As a former nurse I have caretaken my parents as they aged so that they didn’t have to go to an als or nursing home.

    At times I wish I had been able to die earlier in my life because some of my relatives still treat me like I did something wrong.but those times pass,I have a great relationship with my mother,now she is my best friend.

    I also know that if at any point they had reacted with “tough love” and put me on the street I’d be dead for sure. Everyone who is mentally ill is different,to treat all like they will be mass murderers would be a tragedy.

    Again thanks for the honesty,I’m glad that you have recovered. I know that that took a lot of work and introspection.

  • Stuff

    Your image attributed to Vicky Loves is actually a still from the movie ‘Problem Child’ by Universal Pictures.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MatthewMcVeagh Matthew McVeagh

    Thankyou Samantha. You know, I read the comments before most of the article, and was surprised at the vehemence of some of those attitudes – upon reading the article thru I can’t see any justification for them. Particularly amusing (in a dry way) is the way Blue, Jennifer and TheTruthHurtz seem to think you were awful while K reckons you were just being a teenager – how are those two opposite reactions possible from the same article?! Only, surely, by virtue of the commenters reading in and choosing to find what they wanted, rather than any inherent qualities in what you wrote about.

    Oh well; not your problem, theirs. Shame with such an honest piece, which is an opportunity to move beyond safe topics and for all of us to empathise and learn something. No judgement here anyway. ;)

  • Shan

    I think it is sort of strange that some of the people making rather angry comments about the woman who wrote this piece are mad at her for being an angry kid. Like she is shit for not controlling it. Um. Get a mirror you strange and rude people!

    I think the piece was incredibly honest and had to be hard to write. Good luck young lady. I bet your parents are really proud of you for working on gaining control and moving on.

    It is always easy to make high minded proclamations from the comfort of your holier than thou easy chair.

  • Misty

    My situation is a little different from most parents. My daughter gets alone fine with me, her dad and sister. It’s just that she hates the world. She has educated herself (thru blogs etc. on the internet) about all of the injustices in the world and it’s all she focuses on. The sexism, racism etc. in the world makes her so angry, it’s all she ever talks about. We try to have normal conversations about everyday things, but she keeps getting right back to the topics of all that’s wrong in the world. Most of her friendships have ended because she can’t relate to any of them because they don’t see what the big deal is and why she is always complaining about the world being “so horrible”. She says she hates everyone (not directed at us, just society as a whole). It’s so sad to me that she is this jaded at 17 years old. I try to tell her there are lots of good people in the world, but all she focuses on are the bad things that she hears in the news. She is just so angry all the time.

  • Joyce Savage

    I was wondering if you actually suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder. It’s partly biological. That would explain everything. If people would like to know more about it, please click here:

    http://makebpdstigmafree.wordpress.com/

    I think that you are very brave for coming forward like this. I know it’s hard with all the stigma. That just makes it even harder to cope with mental illness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Would you be ashamed of having cancer or diabetes? Why should you feel ashamed of mental illness then? I have BPD, and we experience very intense emotions. “Tough love” is the worst possible thing you can do to a Borderline.