The Scars Are Real… and I. Will. Never. Forgive…

TRIGGER WARNING : THIS POST DISCUSS SEVERAL TYPES OF ABUSE.

Abuse of any kind stays with you for a very long time. Even the kind of abuse that is committed by one of the people who is supposed to love and protect you beyond anything else. You can remember some of it. You can remember the first day that it actually happened. Every touch, every smell, every taste. Then the hand patting the top of your head like you were a freaking dog and telling you that this was our little secret and we mustn’t tell anyone, and especially not mummy because she will only get hurt and I will make her cry.

No way on this earth was I going to do that to my simply amazing and wonderful mum because she did not deserve to be hurt because I was being naughty. This went on for years until I became fourteen and all of a sudden it stopped. I was never sure why, but I was so relieved. But I realise why now. I was too old for you wasn’t I? Too old and too past it in your eyes. I didn’t offer the same set of thrills for you anymore. I wasn’t “fresh meat”.

My wonderful mother died when I was 16 years old after a long battle against breast cancer. I spent a couple of years after my mum died drinking and taking every drug I could swallow. I applied for my nurse training. I got accepted but my head kept on telling me that once they knew what I was – something dirty, something tainted that they would rescind my offer and send me on my way. One morning I woke up and realised that I had to get clean otherwise I would never be anything in life. So I went cold turkey and sweated it out for that was the only option open to me. It was hell but I did it.

I had a job and was doing it to kill time until I started my nurse training. It was only waitressing but it was a job and it kept a roof over my head. Being kicked out at 16 makes you grow up pretty damn fast, it really does!

I met my ex husband on a night out with some friends from work. He was 11 years older than me and incredibly charming. By the end of the night he had managed to isolate me from my friends and manoeuvre me into a corner all by myself. I guess that should have been the first red flag that something was not at all right in this whole situation

He basically, for the first six months of our relationship, treated me like a princess. He put me on a pedestal and gave me everything that I wanted. Within a week of us meeting, he had persuaded me to give up both my job and my apartment, getting me to move in with him. He was effectively isolating me and I never saw it happening. I had to depend on him for food, shelter, money – everything. He had me totally under his control. He started to apply pressure on me about my friends. Why did I need them he would ask me. Why did I need them when he was everything that I could possibly need? I began to talk to my friends less and less and before too much longer, I had none. He had me totally isolated.

This was when the gaslighting started. He was slowly engineering sets of circumstances that would make me doubt my own sanity. I began to think that they were all my fault and that I was starting to lose it. He would make a point of telling me that I would never cope on my own and that I needed him. That I needed him to survive. I believed him so totally. One of his favourite tricks would be taking my door keys off the key hook and putting them in bizarre places like the bathroom, next to the toilet, or in the kitchen cupboards. I believed him so completely. I had done that. He would never do something like that. Maybe he was right. I was crazy and I would never cope in the world without him. I needed him to survive. Before too long I was utterly convinced I couldn’t function unless he was by my side.

The verbal abuse was so subtle at first. He would criticise me for wearing too much make up when we went out. My clothes were too slutty, my heels were too high. Soon I was going out in baggy jeans and long sleeved jumpers and trainers and no make up. The plainer I looked, the happier he was with me.

The closer that I got to starting my nurse training, his attitude and his behaviour started to change. It was so subtle that I never even noticed it. There were lots of snidey remarks about doctors and nurses and the things that they “got up to behind the scenes”. He constantly accused me of having affairs with doctors and also of having bisexual affairs with women as I had “dirty filthy queers” as friends and they rubbed off on me. (Yes, I had some properly amazing friends in the LGBT+ community and they kept me sane) but I never once had an affair with anyone.

The first physical blow came when I had been on my first ward placement about six weeks. I came home from my shift and he was hurling abuse at me and screaming I was a whore and I should admit my affairs. I burst into tears. How could I admit to what I had not done? The pressure became more intense, until he struck me with the back of his hand right in the mouth and knocked me flying back onto the bed. That was the first of many times that he raped me.

From then on in, the verbal abuse was a daily occurrence and the physical abuse occurred at least three or four and sometimes more times a week. The sexual violence was slightly less because a lot of the time I was simply too scared to say no to him. A no meant a beating and being forced.

I simply could not understand why this was happening to me. I had never done anything to deserve this treatment and I just had no idea why it was happening. I tried to think why. Was it truly me? Had I really done something so very wrong to deserve all of this? Many nights I lay awake whilst he was in a drunken stupor and I cried for the girl that I had lost.

When he proposed I accepted without even thinking. I thought that agreeing to marry him would calm him down and convince him that I was somebody that he could trust. Sadly not. The abuse picked up and became worse. It was a daily thing now.

Even having two beautiful babies did not convince him of my loyalty. Several more years went by and slowly the abuse got worse and worse. Many times I have been asked why on earth I didn’t just leave him. Nobody who has not been through this kind of abuse can ever really understand the answer to this question. I could not find the courage to leave because I was so utterly crushed and dragged down by his abuse that I believed every single word that he said. I was stupid, dumb, a moron. A fat, ugly bitch who would never ever cope without him to guide her.

Then one day came the straw that broke the camel’s back. He threatened the lives of the boys. He threatened them both with a ten inch long machete. That was enough. I waited until he was passed out blind drunk in the early hours and grabbed my bag and the boy’s coats and we ran. We left every single thing that was owned behind us, fleeing in only the clothes we stood up in. I don’t think I’d ever been so scared. I kept on thinking that he would find us and stop us. It was when the train was about 40 minutes out of the station that the “where the fuck are you?” phone calls started.

I fled to the house of a very good friend of mine. She protected me, made sure that I got the right help and was always there. In the end, the police took my mobile because my idiot ex actually made death threats and left them on my answerphone. Those messages were evidence in my court case.

Eventually I decided that I needed to return home. To make sure that my boys were safe and happy. I decided to come back to Scotland. I was raised upon the largest of the Shetland Isles until I was 8 years old. My ‘father’ one day decided that he was going to take us back to where he was born, just outside of Manchester in England. I missed my homeland so very much that I could not have truly considered settling anywhere else and knew that it would be the safest place for the three of us to begin to heal.

Luckily for me, I had a friend in Aberdeen. He was one of my friends from Shetland and he now lived on the mainland. I contacted him to let him know I needed his help to flee and he gave it willingly. He drove down to where I was staying, helped to pack up the meagre possessions that we had into a van and he drove us back to Scotland. He let us stay at his place until I was able to find the house that I live in now.

My life is safer now. The kids are no longer at risk from him and that is all that I care about. They have good lives which is all that matters.

I carry a great deal of scars both physical and mental from my 25 years of abuse. The mental illnesses illnesses that I have to live with as a result of the abuse are never going to go away. That I have accepted now. But I fight hard to keep my kids from seeing any more tears or pain from me. They have seen enough. They don’t deserve to see more.

I’m moving slowly through my life and I’m doing the very best that I can. I can think of two people I would stick my middle finger up to. My ‘father’ and my ex. They both told me that I was useless, fat, ugly, pathetic and would never cope without them. I have coped. I have escaped and we are moving on with our lives. My story is not over yet. ;

I guess that’s why I’m trying to write this piece. Fuck the piece of shit monster who abuses you. You can get out. When you feel the time is right for you, you can work. You can fly free.

But one thing I will say is this. I. Will. NEVER. EVER. Forgive. No fucking way. I’ve had therapists a plenty tell me that I should let go. Fuck that. I want to remember. I want to hate them. I want to loathe every single pervert who put his hands on me. I will never give them the satisfaction of knowing that they have gotten away with what they did. Suffer bitches. Just like you’ve all made me suffer. Burn in hell. Fuck you. All of you. You will never ever know peace while you know that you are not forgiven for your crimes.

To my fellow survivors (I refuse to use the word victim), I salute you. You can escape. You can fly and be free. I promise you. Be safe beautiful people.

Be kind to each other.x

Advertisements

Irrelevant Me…

I’m irrelevant. I don’t matter. Nobody sees me. Nobody hears me. Nobody wants me. I may as well be invisible. My soul is just dying inside. Nobody tells me anything. I’m just… nothing. Irrelevant…

My soul bleeds… I scream into the void where my emotions used to be, tensing every part of me, waiting and hoping for some kind of response that will show to me that I am destined to feel more than this soul drenching pain that controls me…

I try to reach out… I reach out a hand, an arm, but before even my little finger becomes extended, she arrives. I should have known that she is on her way. I should have listened to the white noise in my head trumpeting her arrival. She grabs my arms behind my back and then she pushes me kicking and screaming into that cage she keeps for me inside the corner of my mind. Once she has me safely locked away, she is free to run the show…

Once she has this total control she begins to stamp around inside my head and the white noise turns down…

All I hear is her. Telling me that my ex was right. I’m fat, I’m stupid, I’m useless, I’m ugly and so many other insults. Then she tells me that all the people who love me don’t really love me. That they are only with me out of pity and that they will leave me soon. She screams out and says vile things to the people near me. I bang my hands on the bar of my cage and scream, trying to get people to hear me but they don’t. They only hear her. The bitch is very clever, she really is…

I’m so scared that she will get so vicious and nasty that people will think “Screw that!” and just walk away from me. After all, who wants to spend their life with a crazy, fat cripple?

I’m so terrified that I will lose my family, every time they leave the house panic sets in and she is able to take control again.

I fight every single damn day to be even a little bit normal. I fight for my family to love me.

Why Take Those Stupid Pills – They Won’t Work You Know (NOT)…

I’ve had many people say that they think that antidepressants are just chemical wastes of time and do nothing to help you. Au contraire! It took me three attempts to get the right medication for me. OK, I had better tell you which ones I had. I will do so in a minute.

I’ve just heard so much stuff recently about blah blah, antidepressants bad, blah blah antidepressants evil, etc etc. I hear people saying things like “Ooooooh, you don’t need those pills! Just get up and go for a brisk walk in the fresh air!” Ummmmm, no. Just no. That is not a cure for severe depressive disorder. If you haven’t been there, if you haven’t suffered and had the big black dog barking at your heels then you have no idea at all what the hell of having a major depressive illness is like. You just don’t.

When I first acknowledged my depression in 2005, I had already been suffering with it for 15 years. My abusive marriage is what caused me to spiral down into it. Events from my childhood also played a major part in this whole thing.

So, this all came to light when I was seeing a clinical geneticist at my local hospital. She noticed that I could not stop crying and she just said to me, “Has anyone ever validated your emotional pain for you?” That was it. The damn burst and I was bawling like a newborn. She called my doctors surgery then and there and made me an appointment. I was taking the first step towards finding out just how crazy I really was.

My doctor first of all started me on Prozac. The famous, so called “happy pill”. It did absolutely sweet fuck all to make me happy. All I had were increasing thoughts of self harm and suicide. The self harm had been here before but not the suicide. This was a whole new, and very frightening mindset for me.

After around four weeks of hell on Prozac, my prescription was changed over to Citalopram. Absolutely no difference whatsoever. I was beginning to feel afraid that I would never be able to feel happy again.

After another four weeks, I was started on a drug called Venlafaxine. After around three weeks, I slowly started to feel only slightly better. If I’m honest with you guys? That was a win for me. Given the fact that I’d spent the last couple of months wanting to kill myself, a little bit less depressed was a bonus.

After a little while, my psychiatrist massively increased the dose and it did start to make a significant difference to my mood. There was one other thing. My GP has told me take the medication at bedtime, which I had been doing. My Psychiatrist looked at the box in scorn as he wouldn’t believe me. He insisted nobody would do something like that. Then he saw the pharmacists label on the box and believed me. He said straight away I had to start taking the medication in the morning. Taking the medication at night when I would be asleep wasn’t really the best way to do it. It needed to be in my system at the appropriate time for it to do any good.

Then came a new challenge for me. I began to develop mood swings. I would go from being so low that I didn’t even care about washing. Eating was another thing I didn’t give a flying fuck about. I started to develop the swings in mood from very low and unable to focus to so high and manic that I was like a toddler jacked up on E numbers. *sigh*. It became more. So much more, I became hypersexual and totally loud and overspent in piles of things I never needed. High heeled shoes. Me. I can’t freakin’ walk, why do I need high heeled shoes of all things?

My Psychiatrist diagnosed me as having Bipolar 1 with rapid cycling. I was started on Lithium. I was on it for a long time and then had Depakote added in to my treatment plan. Not too much longer after that, I had got to the point where my worst side effect, a tremor, meant that I could not even hold a cup of tea to drink it or a pen to write a letter. I went in to see my Psychiatrist ready for a battle about Lithium but when I asked about stopping it, he did! Just like that, and upped my dose of Depakote instead.

One thing that also began to develop was my anxiety. It became more and more severe. It got to the point where I would be physically puking if I had to leave the house. I was in the grip of full blown agoraphobia (I have many others but we’ll save those for another time). My anxiety rules my life. It has done for years now. I take Buspirone and I also get 7 Diazepam a month to help me when I have to leave the house. I can’t get out without them.

Of course with anxiety on one shoulder, paranoia wanted to come along and sit on the other one. She whispers in my ear every single day about how shit I am, how ugly, how stupid, how useless… her sister, anxiety, she likes to make my heart pound and my muscles quiver as I feel sick with fear.

I experience hallucinations. Mainly of spiders crawling all over my arms. I have severe arachnophobia and the ones I see are always the size of my fist and hairy. They are terrifying.

I have also been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and have frequent existential crises. One of the real hard things to deal with is C-PTSD. The many traumas that have contributed to the mess inside my head are responsible for this. Raised male voices are usually the worst trigger. Night terrors also serve to trigger flashbacks too. I take a sleeping pill every other night to try and get some rest. I was also started on Quetiapine to try and help me sleep and help with some of what was going on inside my head.

I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that my mental health medications have saved my live. I know other people who feel the same way. Many other people. Please don’t be guilt tripped out of taking mental health drugs by people telling fresh and exercise are all you need (of course they are great as a tandem treatment). Don’t be afraid to tell people how you feel. Reach out. Take that help. Don’t do what I did and end up nearly dead before I sought help. Go get help. Now. Please?

I Hate Myself…

I look in the mirror and you know what I see? I see a monster. I hideously ugly monster. I honestly make myself feel sick when I have to look in the mirror. If I could avoid them, I wouldn’t have a mirror in my house but the boys need one. I want to puke when I see my own face. I can hear them both. You’re fat… you’re ugly… you’re hideously foul and they are right. When I see myself in the mirror, that is all I see.

Why do I see this? Apparently, according to my psychiatrist I have something called body dysmorphic disorder. I loathe my face and my body. My physical appearance really does make me sick to my stomach.

I have an awesome partner who tells me that I am beautiful every single day. My problems is that I just can’t accept/believe that it is true. I try very hard to avoid looking at my face. When I have no choice, and I do see it, I actually want to vomit. My foul features and fat and horrible body are enough to make anyone vomit. I just hope that the men who did this to me never ever feel the way that I feel right now. Because I wouldn’t wish this on my own worst enemy.

Be kind to each other.x

Our Mental Illnesses Are NOT Your Cute Personality Quirks…

Seriously people. The next time that I hear”Oh I must tidy up, I’m so OCD today” or “Oh she’s up one minute and down the next – she’s so bipolar!” I am going to stuff my walking stick right up that person’s asshole and turn them into a fucking lollipop. I swear I am.

Listen up people. Suffering from mental illness is no triviality and neither is it a fucking joke. I have struggles with several mental health issues, OCD and bipolar being two of them, so it really does set my teeth on edge when I hear someone coming out with an off the cuff, totally fucking moronic comment like that.

When we said we wanted mental health disorders to be spoken about more, we didn’t mean for you to appropriate them into your everyday conversations.

Lately (and unfortunately), it is becoming something of the norm that mental health disorders find their way into everyday discussions, and not in the way we’d like them to. I can’t count on my hand how many times I’ve heard someone who’s had a minor inconvenience or mishap go on to complain about how ‘depressed’ they are. Not only is it infuriating, but it’s hurtful.

For those diagnosed with depression, you’ll know it’s not something that suddenly happens after something goes wrong, or you’ve had a ‘bad day.’ It’s a constant state, you’re trapped in it, and it is definitely not something that can be used as an adjective.

No, Sarah, just because your boyfriend hasn’t texted back in three hours, doesn’t mean you’re not depressed.

You are upset, sad, down, blue (see ‘unhappy‘ in the thesaurus for more synonyms) but you are certainly not depressed.

However by comparing your sadness to a mental health disorder, what you’ve done is silence the kid three seats down from you who’s been dealing with this disorder for months, who’s struggling to wake up every morning, who’s on medication just to get them through the day.

You’re comparing a moment of sadness in your life, to a lifetime of theirs.

But it’s not just depression that is used as an adjective, it’s next to all mental health disorders. I remember sitting in class once whilst a group of teenage boys were stalking a girl’s Instagram page. They reached a picture of her where she looked skinny, slim, and thin, and all they could think to say was, “Wow, she’s so anorexic!” I was thinking to myself, “Really? Out of all the words to call her, you had to relate it back to a mental health disorder?”

The list goes on; calling someone who organizes their work neatly on a table ‘OCD’, calling someone who’s mood has changed from the last time you saw them ‘bipolar’, not getting a good nights sleep and complaining that you must have ‘insomnia.’ They are not adjectives, they are our real mental health disorders that real people face. We have not come forward about them for you to simply misdiagnose yourself after one incident.

So next time you feel the need to compare your sad moment. tidying of your room or unexpected mood swing to a mental health disorder, open a thesaurus. There are plenty of synonyms; use a different one.

Misophonia – The Hatred of Sound…

So, what is this weird assed sounding condition that you’ve never heard of before? Misophonia literally translates as “hatred of sound”. It really is a horrible thing to suffer from and the impact of suffering from it can only be truly understood by another sufferer of the condition. It truly can be a nightmare to live with.

However, a person with misophonia does not simply hate all sound. People with misophonia have specific symptoms and triggers and are sensitive to only certain sounds and occasionally to visual triggers. Any sound can become a problem to a person with misophonia but many are some kind of background noise. People call the collection of sounds that they’re sensitive to their trigger set. It is possible to add to one’s trigger set over time. Exposure to a trigger sound elicits an immediate negative emotional response from a person with sound sensitivities. The response can range from moderate discomfort or annoyance to full-fledged rage and panic. Fight or flight reactions can occur. During a trigger event, a person may become agitated, defensive or offensive, distance themselves from the trigger, or act out in some manner.

I first began to realise that something was “wrong” with my hearing my hearing when I remember being so infuriated by the sound of my ‘father’s’ chewing that I could have quite cheerfully have gouged out his eyes with a rusty spoon. I very quickly came to realise that eating/chewing sounds from anyone would begin to infuriate me so much to the point where I literally have to leave before high fiving them. In the face. With a chair. It gets to me that point where calmness is not an issue and I have to back away from the sound.

I have been lain awake being tortured by the sound of my own heart beating. Obviously it is a good thing to know that your heart is beating. But I’ve been thrashing around for several hours, trying in vain to escape the sound. Imagine being filled with an irrational hatred of that sound, or of pretty much any sound? Hearing people breathing/snoring literally makes me want to slap them with a wet kipper.

The one sound above all others that fills me with utter rage is whistling. The sound seems to find it’s way right down into the middle of my brain and stay there. Hearing someone whistle really does fill me with murderous rage. I’ve had to say “either you shut up or one of us leaves the room”. My hatred of the sound of it is so bad. Other sounds also affect me. Cracking fingers & knuckles, making noises with lips, tongue and cheeks and people pronouncing words the wrong way on purpose like “horsey worsey”. Aaaaaaaargh! Baby talk also drives me crazy!

The sound of fingernails scraping down a chalkboard is unpleasant to many people.

But this is a very mild example of what people with misophonia experience when exposed to a trigger sound. It lacks the intensity a misophonia sufferer experiences and doesn’t have a strong negative emotional component. Not liking something, even if very strongly, is unlikely to cause a person to feel like lashing out at the source of the offending sound. Also, it is unlikely to produce an actual fight or flight reflex. The people closest to the person with misophonia often elicit the most problematic triggers. This can make personal relationships difficult and stressful. An environment known to include trigger sounds can limit social activities because the person with misophonia anticipates problems. Consequently, a person with misophonia can pull back from family and friends in an attempt to reduce the symptoms that they experience when triggered.

People with misophonia are aware that the sounds that trigger them don’t bother other people.

A person with misophonia does not always have any control over their work environment. A coworker munching on food may be too distracting or even produce a full-fledged panic attack. An environment that will not or cannot accommodate the needs of a sound sensitive person can result in anxiety for the person with misophonia. It may also challenge supervisory staff. At times, the sound environment can be enough of a problem to make keeping the job intolerable. A school environment can be similar; having a long-term negative impact if it interferes with the ability to learn or socialize. When exposed to a trigger sound, some people feel the need to mimic what they hear. Mimicry is an automatic, non-conscious social phenomenon. It can have a calming effect and make the situation feel better to the person experiencing stress. There is a biological basis for how mimicry lessens adverse reactions to triggers because it evokes compassion and empathy.

 

Those with misophonia can be reluctant to share their symptoms and triggers.

To them, sharing can have uncertain outcomes. Sometimes, people purposefully mock those with sound sensitivities. Also, they may make exaggerated trigger sounds in order to intentionally cause distress. Unfortunately, some family, friends, co-workers, and others minimize the problem. A person with misophonia is sometimes told: “try to ignore that sound,” or “you’re just being difficult,” or “don’t let it get to you.” Suggestions like these are not helpful. It is not simply a matter of making a conscious decision. People with misophonia cannot ignore their triggers any more than a person with epilepsy can will themselves not to have seizures. On the other hand, there are those who are supportive and offer encouragement. Anyone with a problem or difficulty appreciates a helping hand now and then. If you know someone with misophonia and want to help them cope with the disorder, all you need to do is ask what you can do to help.

List of Common Triggers:

Please note, some say that reading about triggers has the potential to make one take on new triggers. This is only true for some people and is not universally experienced by all people. Also, some people avoid hearing or imagining sample trigger sounds for the same reason. If you think that learning about new trigger sounds could in any way be a problem for you, then there’s no need to read the lists below.

Mouth and Eating: “ahhs” after drinking, burping, chewing, crunching (ice or other hard food), gulping, gum chewing and popping, kissing sounds, nail biting, silverware scraping teeth or a plate, slurping, sipping, licking, smacking, spitting, sucking (ice, etc.), swallowing, talking with food in mouth, tooth brushing, flossing, tooth sucking, lip smacking, wet mouth sounds, grinding teeth, throat clearing and jaw clicking.

Breathing/Nasal: grunting, groaning, screaming, loud or soft breathing, sniffling, snorting, snoring, sneezing, loud or soft talking, raspy voices, congested breathing, hiccups, yawning, nose whistling and wheezing.

Vocal: humming, muffled talking, nasally voices, overused words such as um or ah (repeated words), sibilant sounds (S, P, T, CH, K, B sounds), singing, gravelly voices, bad singing, soft whisper-like voices and whistling.

Environmental: clicking from texting, keyboard/mouse, TV remote, pen clicking, writing sounds, papers rustling/ripping, ticking clocks, texting and cell phone ringtone.

Utensils/metals: dishes clattering, fork scraping teeth, silverware hitting plates or other silverware and rattling change in pockets.

Plastic: water bottle squeezing/crinkling, breaking hard plastic and bouncing balls.

Wrappers: plastic bags crinkling/rustling, plastic bags opening or being rubbed and crinkling food packages.

Cars: sitting idling for long periods of time, beep when car is locked, car doors slamming, keys banging against steering column and turn signal clicking.

Heavy equipment: lawnmowers, leaf blower, air conditioners and chain saws.

Impact sounds: other people’s voices, muffled bass music or TV through walls, doors/windows being slammed and basketball thumps.

Animal noises: dogs barking, bird sounds, crickets, frogs, dogs or cats licking, drinking, slurping, eating, whining, dogs scratching themselves and trying to bite their fleas and claws tapping.

Baby: Baby crying, babbling, adults using baby talk and kids yelling.

TV: loud TV or radio. Body Movement related: Foot shuffling (dry feet on floor/carpet) or tapping, finger snapping, foot dragging, heels, flip flops, knuckle/joint cracking, eye blinking, nail biting and clipping, eating, chewing, fidgeting, hair twirling, movements out of the corner of eyes, repetitive foot or body movements, jaw chewing/movement.

I can honestly say at some stage or another in my life I have come very close to causing serious damage all because of one of any of these noises. This is why I wear noise cancelling headphones and simply listen to Classic FM.

So if you have never been officially diagnosed with misophonia but what I have talked about sounds like a clip from your own life, then feel free to leave a comment and we can chat. Misophonia sufferers are not alone.

Why the sound of chewing drives you crazy… no, really!

Bullying in the Workplace…

I have a longstanding history of being bullied. I was bullied by my so called ‘father’ until I broke all contact with him at the age of 16. Why was he a bully? Apart from the fact that he was a violent, alcoholic asshole, I honestly don’t know. My best guess is that he made himself feel bigger by making me feel small. I was badly bullied at school, from the age of 9 to the day I left at 16.

All of this had combined to give me some serious self confidence issues. I felt less than nothing. It was heartbreaking for me. I always tried my very best to be a valuable person, to integrate into whichever team or group of people I was in and to blend in.

It never happens to me. I never blend in. I am always the one that may as well have a flashing blue light above her head and a bullseye painted front and back.

I had wanted to be a nurse for a long time. Yet my father did not like that idea and was making every effort he could get to bully me into going to uni to study Law. When I got my first college form, he swept it out of my hand and demanded they were changed to Law, Sociology, psychology and his favourite chemistry. (No’ frikkin’ way jose!) He threw me out of the house two weeks after my mum’s funeral. I was 16 years old. The woman who he threw me out for was the woman he left my mum for. I’m glad I didn’t have to be around to see her move into that house and into my mum’s bed.

I had one relationship with an emotionally manipulative bully, whom I managed to escape from. We were together for just two years. Then when I was 19 I met what I thought was the love of my life. He treated me like a princess, married me, and turned into a carbon copy of my ‘father’ – a violent alcoholic. Within a few weeks, I was so under his control I wouldn’t lift up my head unless he spoke to me.

I know all of this is not relevant to workplace bullying. But it is relevant to me as a person and it is important to understand my past in order to understand why my workplace bullying affected me in the place that it did.

I qualified as a nurse at the end of 1995. I was so very excited to have finally become a nurse after three long years of study and hard work. I had always wanted to work in medicine – surgical wasn’t for me. So I was thrilled to get a job on a medical ward.

My first shift was a very quiet one as it was Christmas Day. That was not too bad. I felt a little like a square peg in a round hole, but I put that down to the awkwardness of it being my first day on the ward.

My second day however, everything changed. The deputy ward manager was working with me and asked me to go and get her a specific bag of IV fluid as her patient’s IV was almost finished. It took me about five minutes to locate it as I hadn’t been given a proper tour of the ward and shown where everything was. When I got back to her with the bag of fluid, she screamed at me in front of the whole ward, patients and staff, “Are you dumb?”

That was soul crushing. I could feel the tears stinging the back of my eyelids. I mumbled a sorry and managed to make it to the staff toilets. Then the tears came down thick and fast. I couldn’t believe that she had done that to me in front of the whole ward.

This was the beginning of almost a year of intense bullying and victimisation for me. There was a clique of staff in that ward and if you didn’t fit in to it then you were ostracised and ignored every single day. I was only ever spoken to if it was to make a direct work request or to belittle me. I was ignored, had backs turned to me, was given all the worst shifts and it got worse with every single day that passed.

The bullying got so bad that I would walk around with my head down. I walked to my patients’ beds with my head facing the floor and would only look up when I got to them. It got so bad that I used to cry every single time that I had to go in to work. Then it would intensify and no matter how I tried to be a good nurse and part of the team they hated me. Big time! One of the few people I was friends with there, who was subject to the same kind of bullying told me that one of the staff had said every time she saw me she wanted to slap me. That made me feel awful. It must be me. My husband beat me and now a colleague wanted to? This made my life hell.

Then I found out that one of the junior staff on the ward was going to be moved to a different ward and oh boy did I hope it was me. I couldn’t bear the atmosphere there anymore and was getting more upset day by day.

Then I found out it was me to be moved. First of all, I was told that a draw on names had been done to “make it fair”. A part of me thought oh, ok, at least that makes it all fair. Then it came to the surface that wasn’t the case at all. That horrible cow who had bullied me to the verge of a nervous breakdown had set it up so that my name was guaranteed to come out. I was thrilled to be moving from that hell hole of a ward but the fact that these horrible people could be so mean and pathetic as to set me up and then lie about it like that? I almost felt as if it was a kick to the stomach.

I moved to the new ward and even though the staff were super nice, they were worried about me.

I was referred to occupaitional health and put onto nights (which I loooooved!)

However, one night two very senior managers arrived on the ward asking to see me! *gulp* Oh boy what had I done??? Then they told me to get my cigarettes as I might need them and got ma a mug of coffee! This really was not a good sign!

They were both very kind and put my nerves behind me right at the start. They were here to talk about the the bullying that I had endured for over a year. It seemed to be fate that so many people had gone through the bullying. That so many people were affected was horrifying to me. I should have been and opened my mouth to the nurse director but I didn’t. I started do feel like utter crap for this!

I slowly talked about my experiences and about the fact that my lack of action over the other people was eating me up inside. I got told that right up front it wasn’t my fault, as every single one of us (there were many) that had been victimised by this woman and her clique of cronies all felt the same. We all wishes we had spoken up, but we were all too scared.

The more we talked, the more memories came spilling out. It was like picking a scab. You really wanted to stop, but once you had started, then you had to keep going until all of the scab was gone. I remembered all the little details like them making a tray of drinks (tea and coffee) for them and there was never a cup for me. Offers would be made to go to the canteen on Sunday morning and I was never asked. If I overheard and asked, my order would be conveniently be forgotten every single time. A million and one tiny things very quickly built up and they pushed me right to the edge of breaking. I hadn’t realised just how close to breaking I was. I turned out that this interview was the catalyst that pushed me over the edge and into the abyss.

I sobbed for about thirty minutes non stop as they finished the interview and they were really good. They held my hands and said I may need to give evidence of my experience at a tribunal which made me sob even more but I understood why. They also said I could go home for the night as I wasn’t fit to finish my shift and they would understand if I needed time to heal.

That time to heal turned into almost three months off work. I couldn’t face it. I felt sick to the stomach about going back there and even when I did go back, I didn’t feel confident for a long time.

This whole experience sickened me to the core. Instead of being brave and reporting things, I let them multiply until I became very ill and that was what left me off work for so long.

I’m telling my story now in the hope that I can inspire even one person to have the courage to speak up and speak out about the workplace bullying that they are either witnessing or undergoing.

I am now medically retired due to physical health issues. However I have seriously bad anxiety and paranoia which are attributed in part to the way that I was treated by that group of people at work. I would seriously urge anyone who is going through workplace bullying to please go to someone and speak out. Don’t make the mistakes I did and end up so ill that you cannot function. Don’t suffer. Speak up and speak out for the sake of your sanity. Please don’t suffer alone.

My blog can be found here: https://arwenfreebird.wordpress.coma

Cut off from the world by my own head…

Mentally, today is not a good day for me. I feel cut off from the entire world by my own head. I am feeling my illness stomping around inside my head, looking to see what damage it can do today.

I see my illness as a complete entity. It’s female as well. Don’t ask me how I now that, I just do. She is a mean and nasty bitch. She takes over part of my head, whether it be my paranoid part, my bipolar part or one of the many other parts she could go for and manipulate.

I just feel that it is so important to get this down before I get too unwell. My carer is with me so the boys are fine (they are 18 and almost 17) and both autistic. As long as they have a games console in front of them and someone pushing food at them along with the occasional can of coke, they are happy.

So back to the she bitch otherwise known as my mental illnesses. She seems to be quite keen to be giving my bipolar a good poking and she has been doing since around 4pm yesterday. Instead of listening to my head and getting the hell off Facebook and getting some rest, I carried on and eventually being that stupid I allowed myself to be triggered over a stupid bullshit news article. I posted in in outrage that could happen in the free world, that people could allow this to happen. Then, one of my best ever friends (and rightly so) posted her reaction to the post.

I lost my shit because I thought that I had upset her ( I know I haven’t now) but at that time it was horrendous. That insidious creeping guilt.

Then my head bitch took over. It almost feels like she locks me in a cage inside my head and I’m rattling at the bars and shouting that I’m in here but people just cannot hear me.

She starts to wind up whichever part of my illnesses that she wants to and she loves to make my life hell. It’s like she has a long list of the things that my ‘father’ and my ‘ex’ used to say to me and she reels them off one after the other so I’m constantly being told just how bad I really am. Then there are times when this illness decides to speak for me. She becomes a spitting, snarling demon who says the most horrible things to those who are closest to me and I cannot stop her at any time. This just breaks me inside, it truly does.

Why am I laying myself low and open to possible inspection and judgement? Because I believe that it is hugely important for people to be aware of what mental illnesses can do to a person and how we can be laid low by this uninvited visitor in our heads.

If you read this and you are feeling the same as, or worse than I do, then I urge you to get in touch with your GP. As soon as you can.

There are other things that you can do within the UK. If you are feeling so low that you can’t see a way out then please get in touch with The Samaritans Their number is 116 123 and it is free to dial from a UK landline or mobile. It’s important to know that the number will not appear on any phone bills, so nobody can check any phone calls that you have made.

There is the SANE line on 0300 304 7000 and they run from 6pm to 11pm 365 days a year.

The silver line on 0800 4 70 80 90 aims to help people over the age of 55. They run 24/7 365 days a year.

CALM is a line for men feeling distressing thoughts and feelings. They are on 0800 58 58 58 and run 5pm to 12pm 365 days a year.

Switchboard, the LGBTQ+ helpline on 0300 330 0630 which runs from 10am to 11pm 365 days a year.

Papyrus HOPEline on 0800 068 4141 are there for under 35’s who are struggling with thoughts of suicide or self harm.

Whomever you talk to, I beg that you talk to someone. Please don’t make the mistake I made and say nothing until it’s too late. There is always somebody who will listen.

It is vitally important that we take the lead and make people hear us. That we show people that mental health problems are nothing to be afraid of or stepped around and ignored. #timetotalk

I’m now needing to get the hell off the internet and cry.

Be kind to yourselves.x

The Demons Inside My Head…

I have many demons running around inside my head. Most are as a result of the abuse that I’ve been through, both as a child and as an adult.

I’m not looking for sympathy here and I’m not trying to hold a pity party for myself. I’m trying to talk about what I’ve been through. Doing it on my blog seems the easiest way for me to do it. I feel physically sick if I try to talk about all the demons inside my head when I am face to face with them. I guess that is why I spend a good half of every Psychiatrist appointment that I have staring at my hands and crying without being to say a single thing.

As I said, I’m not fishing for sympathy and I’m not looking for pity. This is literally the only place that I have where I can vent and I don’t have people looking at me with tears in their eyes. I loathe pity from other people. It makes me a sad victim and whilst I am happy to admit that yes I am a victim #metoo I am not going to admit to anyone that I am pitiful. That is am emotion that I carry round inside of me every single day, and I don’t need more of it from other people .

After an abusive childhood, I fell in love with a man who turned out to be a carbon copy of my first abuser. I escaped from an abusive and violent relationship sometime ago and after that escape, I was sent for counselling. I forced myself to keep it together because I was terrified of any involvement from other agencies. My only priority was to look after my boys and to keep the three of us together as a family and as safe as possible. So I fought with every last ounce of my strength until I managed to get back to my home town, which was a safe distance away. Once we were safe distance away and the court case was resolved in our favour, I felt like I could get on with life.

But there was one slight problem here… as I tried to fight on through life and be all “normal”, cracks started to appear in my armour. I was conscious that I was permanently exhausted and I went to see my doctor. Half way through the exam, out of nowhere, I cracked and burst into floods of tears. I didn’t tell my doctor everything. She already knew enough of my history. She told me I was seriously clinically depressed, and started me on an antidepressant.

After four months, I was getting worse and not better. I was self harming. I had suicidal thoughts and was having real anxiety and panic attacks. I was switched onto Citalopram and told to come back in another three months. I lasted eight weeks. I was back at my doctor’s door in hysterics. I was put onto a third antidepressant, Venlafaxine. This medication also has, supposedly, some anti anxiety effects. After eight weeks on this medication, my mood started to lift a little bit, but my anxiety was horrific. I was also extremely paranoid, having peaks and troughs in moods that could be very severe and I was having flashbacks. These were like it happening all over again. There was touch, taste, smell, everything. The night terrors were also hugely debilitating and left me exhausted through lack of sleep. I was so physically unwell (another blog post for another time) that becoming mentally unwell in the way that I did was really scary for me.

After being forced to change doctors because of a move, I was initially terrified of how a new doctor would see me. This turned out to be the best thing that had happened in a long time. The new doctor did a referral to a Psychiatrist which my old doctor had been refusing to do for a long time. I was so relieved but so scared at the same time.

I had to wait months for my appointment (such is life) and finally the day came. I was shaking like a leaf and sobbed the whole way through. The doctor I saw was not the consultant, but his registrar. I would be seen by him several times and then seen by the consultant. The day finally came for me to see the consultant and he looked liked santa! That’s the first thing my addled brain conjured up for conjecture. He was really sweet and walked me step by step through all of the notes that the other doctor had taken. He thought about things and then he said to me that the reason that I had been feeling so ill is that I had several conditions making me that way.

The evilest of all of my illnesses is bipolar. I suffer with bipolar one which is the more severe of the two. This is due to the fact that I have manic episodes that last for longer than a week at a time and also severe depressive episodes. Mine is also rapid cycling, which means that I have more than four events of severe depression and mania a year. This illness leaves me unable to lift my head off the pillow. I don’t care about eating or dressing and I can’t do anything at all. Yet when I am manic? Oh boy, I’m not good to be around! I’ve been told it’s scary.

Along with my Bipolar 1, I have also been diagnosed with C-PTSD. It’s complex because it stems from more than one event. Even now, the flashbacks are very real and can bring me to my knees. Next comes the Parasomnia (night terrors to me and you). Dreams so vicious and so violent that you wake up in tears, shaking and have palpitations. Next we have severe social anxiety, panic disorder and paranoia which rule my life and can cripple me on a daily basis. I hate it so much. Then comes my OCD. Something that rules my life so much, there are days when I cannot move without completing the rituals in my head. Then come my phobias. I have several, so I’ll try to remember them all and what they actually mean. The most debilitating one for me is agoraphobia. The ONLY time that I leave my house is for a medical appointment and even then I have to be sedated. Then comes arachnophobia (hate spiders!), claustrophobia, dentrophobia (dentist), haphephobia (being touched), nyctophobia (fear of the dark & night time), telephonophobia (I am terrified of speaking on the telephone) and I’m also terrified of strong winds, but I can’t remember the name for that one of the many. Last but by no means least is Misophonia. I have an irrational loathing of certain sounds, which leaves me wanting to stick a fork in the noise maker’s eye.

I’ve since been started on a number of psychiatric medications which do help a small amount. Yet nothing takes it away. I’ve had every therapy in the damn book and still I suffer. Every damn day…

So as you can see. The demons in my head are alive and well.