CategoryWhat’s on my mind

When it’s OK not to be OK

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I’ve heard this phrase banded about, it’s OK not to be OK and i half heartedly agreed in passing. However, it really has hit home recently, just how OK i finally am with not being OK. Well i’ve had to be, because on this journey it can feel like your whole body, mind and soul has had enough and simply cannot take anymore, and i have had to accept that this is not only to be expected, it is actually a normal reaction to a highly stressful situation.

I’ve had to allow myself to withdraw, to have duvet days and to not have the energy to get dressed. I’ve had to give myself the love and care i would readily give to any of my children if they were clearly suffering and in pain. I’ve had to stand by and allow myself to not wash, brush my teeth and sit in the same pyjamas for 3 days. I’ve had to let my body sleep as much or as little as it has needed to, and for a change this has been lots!

 I know all the theories out there say you must be strong, you must push yourself, you must remain positive. But you know what there comes a time to know enough is enough and i need time out. If i cannot be trusted to have compassion for myself at my lowest, who else is there? If i take the stance of berating myself for being weak, shaming myself for not trying hard enough, or needing to pull myself together, without fully understanding and appreciating what i am going through, then how will I allow real healing to take place? I may aswell conceed that I am still living with an abuser, except this time I am the one abusing and harming myself.

 I do not want to live in the cycle of blame and shame any longer and that means getting really real with me. Listening and understanding my many parts and their needs, and getting help and support where it is needed, whilst also taking time out and not feeling guilty about it.

This is in no way the same situation as being suicidal, please if you feel that way, talk to the Samaritans, go to A&E or let a trusted friend know.

Me, I am simply burnt out.

It’s not surprising that two years after reporting to the police, 4 months after him being charged, and 4 court appearances to plead later (he still hasn’t officially made his plea, though he made it clear to the police he would being saying not guilty). He is now doing everything possible to evade responsibility by taking the ‘not fit to plead’ route! Seriously could not make this up. The man is quite obviously not right or he wouldn’t be a paedophile! Nothing surprising there. But now we have to let him retain his little power trip even longer, waste more tax payers money on him, give him access to Dr’s, psychotherapists, medication, whatever he needs, while i have to wait until after any trial to access EMDR. Something is clearly wrong here.

On the other hand the justice system are obviously getting very fed up of his abuse of the system and have provisionally set a trial date for September, small mercies eh!

So on reflection, i finally understand that IT IS OK, NOT TO BE OK in such exceptional circumstances, infact it is probably one of the most normal responses i’ve had!

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You are going to lose people, and that is ok!

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So i’ve been on a bit of a rollercoaster over the past 2 years since reporting the abuse i suffered as a child. When you take the huge step of disclosing or contacting the police, and making a statement or ABE (video statement referred to as Achieving Best Evidence) you are literally opening the gates of your personal hell. I am in no way saying this to put anyone off. I am glad that i did it, now (i haven’t always felt this way). You see once you’ve taken this step, everything is out in the open, you will most likely have more memories surface, you may experience an increase in flashbacks, body memories, nightmares, low mood, low self-esteem, feelings of shame and guilt, depression, everyone’s experience will be different. As for a police investigation, possible charges and court case, well that is a long way off, and is completely out of your hands.

What you’re going to need is support, family, friends, an ISVA – Independent Sexual Violence Adviser (you can ask to be referred if the police are dealing with your case, or you can contact NAPAC or Survivors UK to find support local to you), maybe the mental health team (i self referred, there’s no shame in this), your G.P can help with any medication or physical symptoms that will most likely arise. Maybe  joining up with others online who are campaigning or running support groups can help you to feel you’re not so alone afterall.

Let me get to the point, YOU ARE GOING TO CHANGE!!

There are no two ways about this. You are going to face demons you have fought to hide, push down, run from, self medicated to avoid, worked yourself to death to keep them boxed up. They are now out and you will need all the support and services available to you, to deal with them.

At the same time all this is going on, you are going to lose people. Family may turn their backs on you, friends may become distant, you may feel like it was so much easier when you wore the masks and put everyone else and their feelings first like you always have. If you’d just kept quiet and pushed your wants and needs away, life could just carry on and it wouldn’t be this lonely and painful, right? For some that is how they will chose to deal with it, but it’s not right. It’s a symptom of the cycle of abuse.

How can it be right if you have to lose yourself to fit in, if you have to take copious amounts of drugs/ drink, indulge in sexual relations that continue to take from you, self-harm and dissociate to fit in to a fake world? It’s soul suicide, we’re literally dying to fit in.

No, the price it  way too high, to keep quiet and carry the burdens alone, so that we present a nice neat package to society, family, social circles. And most of all, this just perpetuates the cycle. Silence only enables abusers.

So you speak out, you expect that people will respect your decision and support you, you look around and those you held dear have thrown their hands up in despair and walked. How selfish of you to be in a dark place! How dare you speak up, when i have kept this secret and never dared speak! How dare you get justice when i never can. How dare you bring shame on this family. HOW DARE YOU!

Yes even fellow survivors will treat you with this contempt, and this is soul destroying. It hurts the most and you will grieve. But you are doing the absolute right thing, do not be put off by them. They are choosing how to deal with their own ‘stuff’. We cannot make them see or appreciate our journey. We also cannot let them stop us taking our very own necessary steps.

Because during this rollercoaster of soul searching, letting go of any shame or guilt that rightly belongs with the perpetrator/s, you will find YOU. The you that is free to be whoever you want to be, the you who now has the choice to make the rest of their life, the best of their life. The you, you have been grieving since childhood. The you who is now free to build nurturing healthy relationships, engage with supportive, inspiring social circles. The you that is able to stand in their own power and say i not only survived, but i thrived.

So yes, you will lose people, and that is ok!

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So today he gets to plead…

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It’s a weird day today, I woke up feeling like a child who was excited and wanted to play, have fun and laugh. Like really laugh out loud to the point of looking insane to anyone who doesn’t know them or their story.

Beside this strong emotion, I felt like I should be keeping really busy, my mind was racing with we could do the garden, scrub the house, oh look at those cobwebs, should we plan a holiday, maybe a walk in the sun would be good.

Another part of me decided we should just go back to bed and wait for today to be over and done with.

So much going on in one brain, it’s absolute chaos! No wonder we get overwhelmed and overloaded to the point of exhaustion, when there’s so many parts wanting to pull in different directions at once…jeez!

So what’s triggered this outburst? One of the abusers (note I do not say ‘my’ abusers) is in court today to plead. I am actually f@*king furious that he even gets this chance to decided where we go from here. Like if he pleads ‘not guilty’ then I have to face the horrendous prospect of a trial, family I have had nothing to do with for years, and do not wish to see will be called as witnesses, people will have to travel and make arrangements with work and child care providers to be there, never mind the police, courts, jurors, barristers time that will be taken up. All because a low life scumbag cannot take responsibility for his actions and admit to what he has done! On the other hand maybe he has developed a conscience after all and will admit his guilt. We can but hope!

In the meantime, I need to try and calm my many emotional states and wait for that dreaded phone call.

To anyone who is going through similar, my heart goes out to you. We’ve been through enough already, this is as much a traumatic time as the original events. Keep strong!

UPDATED 8TH MARCH

*I must warn you before you read any further this may be triggering and I make no apologies for my language!*

The last 24hrs have been hell on earth, as if my last 43yrs haven’t been already. So I put all my good practices to use. Listened to music, went out for tea with the kids, actually let people know how I was feeling so I could be supported (that’s a first, and I thank you all for your kind messages, they really have made all the difference). I ate tons of chocolate, cake and general stodge, not good I know, but allowed in the circumstances. I used my mindfulness to help calm my body, which was by now having a merry spasm all of its own and candles to help my senses which were haywire and overwhelmed. All good stuff, and yep they worked for the time being, because I would know tomorrow what the outcome was, I just had to hold tight!

So… this morning I am walking the tightrope, anger and rage seem to be the general theme, it’s ok let them pass, alls ok, surely they’ll call soon and let me know what’s going on. This case is about my experiences afterall!

Lunchtime, still no news, right my thoughts are now turning to they really do not give a shit! They’re taking the fucking piss, and how the heck do they expect us to hold it all together, actually for all the talk in the media and through organisations, operation hydrant, the IICSA etc, etc, it all seems to be good and focused on supporting survivors, jeez the people I am waiting on a phone call from are actually called ‘Victim Support’, it’s gotta be good right? NO!

So I call them…their response, ‘oh we’re sorry you were on our ‘to do list’ for today, yeah erm the plea hearing has been adjourned til 22nd March. These things happen unfortunately’. SO NO ONE THOUGHT TO FUCKING LET ME KNOW!!!

I broke down on the phone and told them that this is affecting my physical and mental health. The lady was kind and asked if I was by myself and if I had any support. All good, great, so they have ‘some’ sort of training. But come on!!! Let us know what the hell is happening as soon as you know. I have had to chase the police every step of the way, so now I have to chase the justice system too? How am I meant to feel that i can trust this system? Where exactly do victims and survivors fit into the wheels of ‘justice’? How many times will this case be adjourned? How much longer can one person carry this heavy burden before they snap and say I am out, or god forbid do something to harm themselves, because I can see how easy that would be to end this nightmare? I am literally hanging on by my fingernails right now and the last thing I think about this whole shite mess is, glad that I reported.

Which is why I am sat here writing this as my release.

Anyone who tells us that we should keep things like this to ourselves are infact only adding to our shame, guilt and likelihood of internalising the pain by self-harming. Please if you are in this position, reach out. Tell a trusted friend, ISVA, or contact NAPAC or Survivors UK to find a local charity or support group.

I will be taking my own advice and informing my family, ISVA and mental health team of where I’m at. I have not come this far, only to come this far!

 

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Diary entry 16th November 2016

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Alot has happened since I last wrote here in July. One of the better things was I took my two youngest children on holiday to Tenerife by myself. This was a huge feat. Most people look forward to holidays, a break from the norm, a time for letting go and relaxing. This is and isn’t what goes on in my head. I have to wrestle with one of the ‘other me’s’ who panic, catastrophize and generally feel a sense of dread. Well we got there ok, after me booking not only the wrong date, but wrong hotel at the airport, so that I didn’t have to drive in the dark (I do not go out on an evening if I can help it at all). Well my bossy, self critical self, took great pleasure in letting my know how useless I am and how I should have just cancelled and stayed safe at home!

The holiday itself was fantastic! Exactly what was needed, my physical body relaxed and soaked up the vitamin D, meaning some of the daily aches and pains were relieved. I got to spend real quality time with my kids and I got an insight to what it could be like to be someone else for a while, carefree and weightless. God I need to move abroad! Yeah I know this wouldn’t work in theory, my shattered selves would still be there, but I totally get why people walk out of their lives to start afresh and re-invent themselves. Fuge, is the medical/technical term I believe.

Anyway this high was short lived, the day after returning I had to have a medical with a psychologist to file a report for my solicitor. F#ck Sake! Three hours of going over my whole life in minute detail again. Forget the holiday, you are now well and truly back in trauma territory!

I asked the Dr at the start of our meeting, ‘So what is today all about? What are you wanting from me? She responded ‘Oh it’s nothing too worry about, we’re just going to talk about your life from the start to the present day’. WHAT…nothing to worry about. I know they have a job to do, I know that in the long run this is for my benefit, but I really do think they have little to no idea how harmful this is to us in the here and now. How for days, and weeks after, we are re-submerged to the pits and it’s a long hard crawl back out. Needless to say I left her office in a crumpled heap of mush, feeling like my insides had been scrapped out with a dirty rusty knife!

Which brings me to the police, I had sort of got it in my head (down to what they had said) that when I got back from holiday they would have some news from the CPS. Nope…2 months later and after my ISVA asking them numerous times to contact me, still nothing. I find this really hard to deal with. It’s like they really do not give a shit. I mean yeah they may feel like there’s nothing significant to report back, but to me all I need to hear is have the CPS been in touch at all? Are we further up the queue? Is something happening or will it be another few months? Really not much to ask that I be treated with some humanity, compassion or respect.

I get that they are snowed under, I get that they are there to do a job and not to be a shoulder for victims, but come on folks, it’s just basic human decency and only further damages the victim and survivors trust in them or the judicial process.

So that’s pretty much where I am today, still waiting on the police and CPS…

It’s been 19months since I made my ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) statements, its a long process I keep being told.

Please let this be over soon so I can actually access psychotherapy!

 

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Diary entry 8th July 2016

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Wow I never expected my last entry to wipe the floor with me. I can honestly say that over the past few days I have been on a rollercoaster.

My emotions have been manic, from feeling really pleased with myself that I had taken to the keyboard and how awesome it would be to be able to help other people going through similar experiences.

To wandering what the hell am I still doing here. I mean if the rest of my life is going to be just more of the same, then have I got the strength, resilience, motive to keep going! And more to the point who the hell cares either way.

‘Who do you think you are, why would anyone care about what you’ve been through, pull yourself together and stop attention seeking!’. This is the sound of my ‘other’ voice, the one I have to try my best to soothe, reassure and calm down, which is exhausting!! Like a wrestling match, sometimes I am on top, at other times this part of me takes the lead and I have no idea how long its staying for, minutes, hours, days? Who knows…

I have now come to accept that I have many parts, not definitive as in multiple personalities, moreso splinters of a whole that hold various emotions. At the moment some of those parts are overwhelming and come and go randomly and at the most inappropriate times, as in I have NO CONTROL over them. For example recently my daughter’s school invited us to watch a dance they had performed, which had won them an award. Fabulous, proud mother and all that, I watched. Then I found myself instantly sucked back through a time warp to when I was 9yrs old and doing an Irish dance. Wow!! Not now flashback, this is not the time or the place. I felt my eyes welling up with tears and I had to really focus on my breathing to calm down my nervous system. All whilst stood alone, in a field surrounded by other parents clapping. Great!

Other parts/splinters/call them what you will, I am numb to. It’s like I cannot access them, they’re locked behind the ‘do not open’ door. An example of this,  I actually never felt a thing when my partner of 4yrs said it was over. Not a tear, no sadness, nothing, nil, nada. This is not natural, I know that, but I can’t feel it, if you understand what I’m saying.

I also understand that this is my minds/bodys way of shielding and protecting me right now, with everything else that is going on with the police, solicitor, trying to keep my mask straight etc, this could be the final straw that breaks me. But you see, I’ve had so many of these straws that my mind automatically files them into the ‘ugh, oh, not now, can’t deal with this. Store in the numb folder’. Thing is my rational mind knows this is only storing up future trouble and means I am unable to process things and move on…hmmm. The brain is amazing I appreciate that, but it can also be so efficient that it keeps us unhealthily stuck in a loop that we can’t seem to escape.

Which leaves me with the dilemma do I just come on here when my rational brain is in charge, fluff it all out about how I simply did A, B and C. Miraculousy found myself and give you a clear map of how you too can be overwhelmingly happy and completely free?

Or do I tell it like I experience it? Wonderfully, up and manically down, juggling life and my many masks of being Mom, friend, professional, victim, survivor, blogger, student, broken, ill, fantastically together, obsessive compulsive, etc, etc, etc…

It’s time for me if anything to get real. Being real here allows me to get it all out, whilst also admitting things to myself that I have been keeping sealed.

If there’s one thing I have learnt it’s this, the more open and honest it get, the more I am able to voice the internal dialogue, the more I am able to seek professional help, the more chance I have of finding myself. Finding all of my beautiful, whacky, awesome parts. Because as a Whole, I am free…

Which brings me to a wonderful video I watched by Jayne Hardy founder and CEO of The Blurt Foundation on #WhatYouDontSee

A wonderful angel I met on my travels described it like this (please excuse the expletive, It absolutely is necessary in this instance). He said ‘you look great on the outside, but underneath you’re peddling like a bastard’.

Til next time…

 

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Diary of my personal journey of disclosure…

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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…

TBC…

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So it’s Mothers Day

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For anyone who has wonderful memories of their Mother tucking them in every night, ensuring that they are safe and snug, offering a kiss on the forehead and wishing them a good nights sleep and an ‘I love you’ on the way out of the door. This post probably isn’t for you. If you’ve become this kind of parent, inspite of all you have been through, fan bloody tastic! You are awesome!

For many of us, Mothers Day, only conjures up feelings of anger and resentment of not being blessed with a mother (parents or caregivers) who did what is says on the tin. You know like in the movies, or the wonderful shows of affection your mates have on social media with their parents.

For me, Mothers Day is tinged with sadness, don’t get me wrong I have amazing kids that have taught me so much, and god only knows where i’d be without them. But today is just another on the long list of triggers.

Remembering pushing her up the hill, drunk as a skunk and completely embarrassing me infront of my friends. How those same friends would say they wished their parents were as cool as my Mom, who allowed me to smoke at 11yrs old, get pregnant at 14 and gave me my first dose of speed in my early 20’s.

The same mother who in my early years, could hardly get out of bed to make sure I was up for school. The same mother who was a ‘hot blooded’ woman with needs, who left us in the care of ( …removed whilst court case ensues), so that she could get her needs met (i’m sure you don’t need me to fill in what happened here). The same mother who sat us in front of the telly (or video in those days), with a bag of sweets to keep us amused, all whilst we could hear her having rampant sex in the next room, or even the next bed! The same mother who took me to a university campus and let a stranger assault me, while she was with yet another man. So many men, so many journeys to strange peoples houses.

The same mother who taught us to play the’ i’m hungry, I need new shoes game’. This was pre-planned before we got to whoever’s house it was that week. Mom says ‘when we get there, after a bit, you’ll start complaining you’re hungry. Or that your feet are hurting because you need new shoes’. So I did as I was told. Only for my mother to feign shock/horror at my rudeness and flash the eye lashes as the victim coughed up and I was left broken and abandoned again. I didn’t understand or like this game.

The same mother who chose to believe her husband over me and meant I had to leave home at 15 for my own safety.

This is just a snapshot of what ‘Mothers Day’ brings up for me, non of it pleasant.

Learning to deal with these triggers and wrestle some control over them is a lifelong battle. I am on the winning side, I will get there. It’s just that days like today, make you feel like you’ve slid back down the slippery slope and the walk back up feels insurmountable.

Get back up i will, because that’s what we do best…

 

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