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

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?

What a Lonely Life…

I’ve been feeling very lonely recently. Despite the fact that I have people that I can talk to via messenger or WhatsApp I feel so freakin’ lonely it is unreal.

I’m not a person that likes to be with a lot of people physically. I am happy with my family – my manshape (as I call the other half) and my two boys. This is all I need. I don’t need to be surrounded by loud chattering people. I have a condition called misophonia (which I have blogged about before) and being in a loud social situation can be hell for me. I find it so difficult to cope with. I’m a hermit, a loner, a recluse. I just do not blend well with other people, I really don’t.

Yet I love to chat with people online. It’s a great way for me to facilitate a social circle whilst maintaining my privacy and keeping to myself.

I’m severely telephone phobic and can’t bring myself to talk on the phone unless I absolutely have to. The rest of the time, my carer will speak on my behalf. Even looking at the phone which is sitting on a little table at the end of the living room – I can feel my pulse picking up… my anxiety is climbing and I’m starting to panic. I feel safe with my mobile phone because I know inside my head that all it is used for is writing my blog pieces, texting and using WhatsApp. That is my safety blanket with it.

I had to take a break for half an hour in writing this as my anxiety got to be way too bad. My carer has got me upstairs and settled me into bed and I have had a Valium. I’m slowly starting to feel a little more human now. Well, as human as is possible for me (which is not very).

Back to the point of this piece. I’m feeling inexplicably lonely. What is wrong with me? I don’t want to go out and socialise. Agoraphobia and a love of my own company have seen to that. But for some bizarre reason I feel so disconnected from myself and feel like I am in free fall just spinning time and space with nothing to anchor myself to.

I can’t cope with Facebook or Twitter. It is all just too much. I feel overwhelmed by the number of people on there. I don’t feel very together at the moment. Not one bit. I feel very down. Like my bipolar is going into a crash. When that happens, I can’t cope with anything or anybody and I need to hide away. The weird thing is that I still feel lonely and afraid. I know that as my mood gets even lower, then that feeling will slowly dissipate and I will just feel numb and hollow inside. That is all. Nothing else.

I can’t reach out to anyone at all. Life is very regimented for me. Yet another issue – my OCD. I can’t reach out because people just don’t seem to understand just how bad things can get for me and how low down this illness can actually take me. So I guess I shall be lonely all on my own. Thank you very much for reading.

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.

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.

Why?…

Why can’t I heal? Why can I not move on? People keep on telling me that I must let go and stop letting my past control me. If only it was that easy. I wish that I could let that past go and move through what haunts my dreams.

I have always tried to put on a mask to try and conceal the hurt that eats away at my soul. But I find it almost impossible to keep that mask from slipping when I am hurting. I have no close friends. My best friend lives hundreds of miles away. So when my depression looms and I want comfort, the only way that I can find it is either through a blog post or posting on Facebook. I’ve been ostracised for my Facebook posts. People have tutted and moaned and voiced their abject disgust at my pathetic inability to cope with my life.

I’ve lost friends because of this. People that had been really close to me prior to this falling out. But they apparently could not cope with my need to express myself in a vain attempt to heal my pain. I was devastated. At first it almost felt like a betrayal. These people were so valuable to me. Yet they could not allow me the one therapy I have that actually works… talking about my pain on my Facebook page. Yes, I could understand them saying that is was depressing and they couldn’t cope, but how the hell did they expect me to cope? There is a quote by the wonderful Marilyn Monroe… 

I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.

The last sentence of that quote really struck home with me. It’s so true. If you can’t handle me when I’m falling apart, then you don’t deserve me when I’m back together. That is how I have dealt with the loss of people that were such a big part of my life.

I had a flashback in the early hours of this morning. They are so vivid and so horrible that I feel like I am back there. I can smell the whiskey on his breath. I can feel his hands. I can even hear the dog barking next door. I’m still shaking. My pulse is racing and my breathing is really unsettled. You can guarantee I’ll have a night terror tonight. They always come the night after a flashback. I don’t know why, but they always do.

Maybe if I had a closer friend, things would be better. I really don’t know. But I have to express my pain somehow. I have to get it out of my system. I can’t stand the way it hurts.

I’ve been told many times to “move on” or “forget it” but it isn’t that easy. I can’t. It clings to me like a thick toxic cloud. When people tell me to “forget it” it feels like they are trivialising my pain and debasing how I feel. Why can’t I heal?

Living the dream…

WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND DOMESTIC ABUSE.

No. That title doesn’t mean what you think it does. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been having more flashbacks and night terrors than I’ve had in years. I have no idea why these terrors have invited themselves back into my head, but back they have come. Back with a total vengeance.

It is never the same dream or memory two times in a row. Every single time it is different. Every single time I get to relive a horror that I thought was gone for ever. Every time they come back to haunt me and invade my life. Why, why do they do that? Especially when I’ve worked so hard to block them from my mind. These memories worm their way through my memory like poisonous black tendrils of fog through the white mist of my mind. I can do nothing to stop them either. They come unbidden to terrorise me.

The first time that a flashback came back to haunt me, I was trying to recover from my mammogram, which was a traumatic experience. I’m only getting them so early due to my family history of breast cancer. I had been petrified to go. Agoraphobia is a bitch of a mistress. Yet she was in cahoots with her little sister, haphephobia. She was winding me up too. My haphephobia is luckily restricted to being touched by strangers, but unluckily, it is a thousand times worse in intimate areas of my body. So here was I, about to get mauled by a total stranger. I had no clue that if would be as bad though. No idea at all.

The night before my mammogram, I barely slept a wink. Most of the night, I sat with my arms around my knees, rocking backwards and forwards with tears running down my face. Come morning, I had huge black circles under my eyes and was panicking like crazy. Several times I came close to cancelling my appointment and wheeling quickly in the opposite direction. But my carer talked me into going. He was right. I needed to go. I told myself I was doing it for my kids. That was what gave me the courage to face going along.

On the morning of my test, I couldn’t eat a single thing. I was so anxious I couldn’t eat a single thing. My heart was pounding and I was sweaty and shaking. All I had was enough water to get my tablets down. Once the boys were off to school, I got ready to go. We had to set off early as the drive into took a little under an hour to get into the centre of town. The traffic was horrific, so I called the reception to let them know that I may be just a little late. The response I got? “Well you should have set off earlier.” What the hell?

We made it there with just under 10 minutes to spare. My carer wheeled me through into the main reception of the hospital. It was full of people and within seconds, I was freaking out. I had to shut my eyes tightly while I was wheeled into the lift and taken down to the lower ground floor where the X-ray department was. Thankfully it was much quieter and I was able to relax a bit. I booked in at the reception and asked to speak to the person who would be doing my mammogram. I wanted to explain my issues, so they would be prepared for how I was likely to react.

After about 20 minutes of waiting, the grumpiest looking woman you have ever seen in your life came stomping around the corner and over to me. “What?”she barked at me. I asked her if I could speak in private. She tutted! She actually tutted at me and then went to grab my wheelchair from my carer. I screamed get off at her. It was a reflex defence mechanism. I told her that if my carer couldn’t come in with me then I was going to go home. Reluctantly she beckoned for us to follow her.

The room with the mammogram machine in was bigger than I thought it would be, which was a huge relief for me. I felt a little more at ease. I started to explain to her that I was phobic of being touched by strangers. She rolled her eyes at me and barked at me to hurry up and get undressed! As I have chronic pain and multiple joint disorders, I find it very difficult to get undressed quickly. I obviously wasn’t going fast enough for her. She lunged out and grabbed the back of my shirt and yanked it up. This not only jarred my back and caused severe pain, but I screamed at being touched and then went straight into the mother of all flashbacks.

“I had only been married for about six months. The mental and physical abuse had been going on for a while. This one particular night, my ex had been drinking all day and was in a really foul mood. I was scared of saying anything that would get me hit, so I was treading very carefully. He was watching porn, and decided he wanted sex. I asked him if we could wait as I had a really bad headache. The answer was a punch in the mouth. My lip split open and there was blood everywhere. But it didn’t end there. He grabbed my top and tore it open. The buttons went flying everywhere. I tried to cover my breasts but he was slapping my hands away and grabbing at me. The next thing I knew, he dragged me over to the sofa, forced me down and raped me.”

That was my flashback. It was horrible. I was so lucky that my carer was there to talk me down. They had to then go and stand behind the screen while the horrible woman mauled my chest onto the plates. I was sobbing so hard, I thought I was going to be sick. She squeezed my breasts into that machine so hard that I ended up with a large bruise on my left breast. I couldn’t get out of there quick enough.

Why tell this story? These are the dreams I am living. Vivid dreams of my past that will never let up or leave me be. If you reach out to touch someone in either a personal or a professional capacity, please stop and think before you do touch them. You never know the damage, the hell, that you might unleash for them.

A typical night.

I have had yet another typical night. My medication knocked me out at 11.30pm and I woke up again at 2.30am due to searing pain in my back. I managed to fall back asleep but was awake again at 3.15am having had a night terror. I am so tired of having such broken nights. Exhaustion means I am even less able to cope with the swirling mess inside my brain. When will it stop?

No, I can’t just “get over it”.

Something happened to me when I was a little girl. Something horrible. The one man who was supposed to love and care for me more than any other showed me that the monsters in my cupboard were real. He used to hide in there and wait until I was almost asleep before stepping out and doing what he did. He did it that way because I’d be drowsy and less likely to resist.

When I was much older, I married a man who turned out to be a carbon copy of my abuser. I found out when it was much too late. I was under his spell. I went through almost fifteen years of hell married to him. Maybe I’ll feel brave enough to be detailed one day.

Ive been free for ten years. I spent the first 33 years of my life being abused and controlled. Every night I have flashbacks and night terrors. I wake in a cold sweat, shaking and terrified. I have to bite down on my fist to stop the tears so I don’t wake my kids.

A couple of days ago, someone told me that I should be able to “just get over it” and move on with my life. Excuse me? Needless to say, this person had not experienced anything like I had, so I felt really hurt and angry that a so called friend could say that to me. I would love to be able to just “put it aside” and move on. Life would be so much better. But I CAN’T! I know that tonight the same unrelenting horrors will be there in my head. Just like always.