There’s so much backstory to where I am today starting this blog about my journey in disclosing to the police, navigating the mental health system, the affects on my physical health and the possibility of having to go through a trial.
For me they are all interlinked, every time I have contact with the police for instance, my physical and mental health suffers. Visiting the doctor is necessary, but fills me with dread, does he think i’m wasting his time and it’s all in my head, but how then can this pain and fatigue be so intense. Surely no one can be in so much pain and feel so dreadfully ill unless there’s something life threatening going on?
Here’s the thing I’ve learnt from talking to a psychotherapist. Our bodies absolutely believe we are about to die, our nervous system is stuck in the ‘on’ positon, if like me you dissociate, then before you are aware or able to calm the system you go from numb, to high stress, to dissociate before you can even blink. So it is no wonder that our bodies become worn out way before our years would predict. (For more info on the physical health affects of developmental trauma see my vlog on Nadine Burke Harris and the ACE study)
I have also had to resign myself to the fact that the police are simply doing their job, with the best of the little resources and time they have (given the cuts to their profession along with the sharp increase in disclosures). This does not in any way make it right though. If we had been victims of any other crime, we most likely would have been appointed a family liason officer, we may have been treated with a little more consideration and we most certainly could have expected that we would be kept up to date with how the investigations were going. This is not my experience.
I absolutely feel that due to the police’s handling of my case, my mental health has suffered greatly, that it is those who shout the loudest that get heard, that I have to approach them to find out if there are any updates, that I feel like a pest, when this should never be the case. I have heard that many forces are re-training officers to provide a better specialist service to victims and survivors of non recent abuse. Great, but this cannot come soon enough. Yes the actual disclosing is done in a nicer environment, yes they are ACTUALLY listening now (I previously reported back in 2007 and they literally sent two male officers out, I am female, who took a few very basic notes and I never heard from them again). Yes they are investigating what must be difficult cases given the lack of physical evidence and the length of time that has passed. But still there is a long way to go before they are offering any form of adequate service.
With regards to the mental health service, this I am aware can be a postcode lottery, in my case I have been very lucky (albeit through the professional training and knowledge I have gained whilst training in counselling) that I was able to self-refer. My G.P has little knowledge of the long term physical and mental health effects that survivors face, such a shame given that this is crucial in referring to the appropriate specialist care and that they are the ‘gate keepers’ in accessing almost all of these services. So after years of being sent for a whole host of invasive investigations, only for the consultants to look at me with that same ‘it’s all in your head gaze’, they would send me back to my G.P with no further action. Back to the drawing board, whilst my body screamed there is something seriously wrong here, why is no one listening! I must add that initially I was sent to a CFS/M.E clinic, but on arrival I read a leaflet that talked about victims and survivors, at this time I was not ready to even admit it to myself, let alone any type of professional so again I was sent back to my G.P. I guess what I am trying to say here is, it can be an uphill battle if we are not yet ready to admit to ourselves and the G.P is going in blind, with no real full history of what the person before them has experienced, then a lot of years, NHS funding, specialist’s time and the patients health will have been wasted. When a simple form like the one that ACE’s study provides, would have helped to open up a dialogue. Doctor’s absolutely need to be trained in disclosure, many of them will not want the responsibility of treatment and they’re human beings who may feel uncomfortable with the subject. We get that. But with the help of a simple form, the patient would be able to open up, the G.P can then refer them to the appropriate consultant and/or mental health team/counselling service and everyone feels heard, supported and on their way.
I did eventually return to the CFS/M.E clinic and open up about my history, I was then diagnosed after 4yrs of going here there and everywhere. But this only happened again as a result of my training and personal research. How on earth are people supposed to ask for the right help if the ‘professionals’ have no idea…
Back to the mental health team, like I say I am one of the lucky ones, after two assessments I have been diagnosed with Complex PTSD. Fabulous, eureka, I can finally be on the road to recovery right?…erm, not quite. You see if you have an ongoing case and it’s likely that it will result in your having to go to court and give evidence, then no, you cannot actually have any psychotherapy…What? This is crazy!!!
Yup it absolutely is, again, what other victim of any crime is not allowed to have the right support, treatment and help to aid recovery. This world and its systems really does defy any logic at times.
So here I am, on anti-depressants, sleeping tablets, and awaiting an appointment for a group session to help with breathing and calming techniques. It’s like I am literally being kept upright, then knocked out at night, until such time as I can get into court, give my evidence, and then FINALLY, finally be allowed to access the treatment I so badly need.
It should not be like this…
Oh and relationships, not a chance. Between being in pain, having minimal energy, rages of anger, trust issues and the impending doom of this trial (if the CPS ever bring about any charges) my life is on hold and my relationship of 4yrs has been left crumbled under the rubble.
That’s where i’m at folks, waiting. I will do my best to update my journey as often as I can…