I’ve
had a few experiences that relate to what I’ve learned in psychology this
semester but the one topic that sticks out the most would be about one of my cousins.
Diana, who is the middle child, ended up growing up with my family for a couple
of years after her parents divorced when she was 10 years old. When she was
younger, my aunt would take her frustrations out on Diana, her brother and
sister verbally and physically.  My
cousin would tell me that her mom would beat her and also blame situations on
her, mentally affecting her. Her Father would drink in excess and ended up
turning into an alcoholic, which made it so she had no parent to turn to. My
cousin started to also drink and cut herself as a way to deal with the
situation she was in. She was 14 when my parents took her in to live with us
and take her away from the bad environment. Diana ended up moving out of our
house by the time she was 16 and things got worse from there. She started
burning herself with lighters, abused prescription medications that weren’t
prescribed to her, and was also cutting herself. She attempted suicide by
overdosing and slitting her wrists and was then hospitalized for 8 days. After
checking out, she ignored the doctor’s orders to go into counseling, instead
turned to alcohol and drugs to cope with her issues.

She’s
also been in many abusive relationships, both physically and verbally. She
always gets very depressed after any relationship ended. Diana would tell my
mom that she wanted to just go away and be forgotten by everyone, basically
saying she wanted to kill herself. This would affect my mom a lot because she
felt guilty that her sister wasn’t being a good mother to her niece. My cousin
would also have trouble keeping friendships, because she finds it hard to trust
anyone. My mom ended up getting her to go to therapy and she was diagnosed with
borderline personality disorder and also substance use disorder. The key part
of her being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder was the self-harm
and the signs that she displayed pointing toward suicide. Other key things she
displayed were her harmful impulsive behaviors, for example, her substance
abuse and many sexual partners.

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Eventually
she started doing well for herself. She went to an out of state college
graduated, also got a nursing degree and talked about going for a master’s degree.
While in college she even met a guy that she was able to keep a normal
relationship with, He was normal and nice to her. Then when she came back home,
she started spending time with the same kids that she used to abuse drugs and
alcohol with. She ended up breaking up with her boyfriend and started sleeping
around again as well. At this point she neglected looking for a job with her
degree. Then things got even worse after her little brother was locked up in
prison and she started relaying even more on alcohol on a daily basis and also
heroin.

This
is when my mom tried convincing her to go back into counseling so she could
deal with her problems in a healthy way. Instead she ignored it and continued
on her destructive path, never dealing with her problems that she was facing.
The one good thing at this time was her brother. They would communicate thru
visitations, letters and over the phone whenever possible. He would tell her
how sad he was being locked up but more because of what she was putting herself
thru. Eventually she checked herself into a substance abuse program and then a
rehab center. Finally in 2013 she was able to become drug free minus drinking
alcohol occasionally. She has been busted for 3 DUIS, and has lost her driver’s
license twice because of it. Now she goes to counseling twice a week to help
deal with depression, which is good but she still uses sex as a coping
mechanism and drinks as well. Diana has told my mom that she hopes to get
married one day and have kids, which is why she goes to therapy to help with
the rest of what she’s going through.

The
main way that my cousin affected me was that it helped me stay in a clear
direction in my own life. I was able to see what she was going through and how
she handled it and decided that I would never deal with any of my own issues
like that. It also helped me see that I’m lucky to be raised by loving parents
who never abused me and have always been there for me. Seeing what my cousin
has been through and how far she has come does give me hope for her. I believe
if she stays focused she will be able to have a manageable and happy life.