Crisis services – my experience 

I read about out of hours services today and it led to me to thinking about my experience with crisis services in the past. The first time I encountered a crisis team or out of hours service my experience wasn’t great they seemed to totally misconstrue me and failed to help or support in any way. I can recall one time when they visited me at home and having decided that I was safe leaving me there in a crisis and in chaos. I was suicidal and desperate and so clearly losing time and switching, but they didn’t see that they just me as inadequate, dysfunctional and a nuisance.

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They left me alone and still suicidal and so intent on dying that in desperation I tried to harm and then I dissociated, during which time I took off only to surface a few hours later some 60 plus miles from my home. I was picked up by the police for my own safety after they saw the distress that I was in and I was taken to a nearby hospital, they assessed me and admitted me to hospital.

Crisis at home had failed me, sadly it is often what happens, for me at least.
There was the occasion when I couldn’t live at home and had no where to go, I had been in hospital and discharged just a few days earlier but I had no place to stay. I had self harmed and the police had taken me for an assessment at the hospital, I sat waiting until the crisis team arrived and then they didn’t even talk to me except to give me a list of hostels. I hadn’t gone to hospital because I wanted a place to stay, I wanted to die, I had gone there by force and against my will and yet I was treated like I was a nuisance.

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Then on one occasion I was at home and struggling, crisis care was put in place and so for a couple of days they visited me. I saw a different person on each day, I never saw the same person twice and after a couple of visits I was put onto telephone calls only. The calls would be brief, wanting to know how I felt and then not really being able to offer any guidance or support really when I said how bad things were. By day four I was discharged from the crisis team to my regular mental health team, I wasn’t any better yet the crisis team support was only meant to be brief. I guess it didn’t matter that it didn’t work, or that discharge to me seemed too soon, too swift. Two days later I was seen by my community team and they admitted to hospital, I spent six months in hospital on that occasion, so crisis clearly couldn’t help prevent my downward spiral.

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The crisis team in recent times has just been telephone support, but if I’m honest I avoid calling them unless it’s absolutely dire. If Samaritans are not able to help and I’ve tried everyone else I can think of, then and only then will I call crisis, it is a last ditch attempt. The last two occasions have been pretty much the same really, I call, I say I’m struggling and they go through a list of techniques to try. ‘Take a warm bath, have a hot milky drink, try a nice walk or have you watched TV, tried to distract yourself?’ these are their usual lines.
They never assume I might have tried these things before, that I might have already thought of them myself. It never occurs to them that I don’t actually ring them when a crisis starts, or that they are usually the last person I try. It’s as if the staff manning these services are reading off a predetermined script and are unable to offer any person centred approach of any kind.

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The last time I called I was desperately trying not to self harm, struggling with grief and the difficulties of accepting my trauma. I needed some help to try and keep me safe, I didn’t want wrapping up in cotton wool I just needed some guidance to help me, help myself. Some advice to point me in the right direction to prevent that slide back into harming. I was desperate not to self harm, desperately busting a gut as I fought to resist the urges growing ever stronger. I had already tried all their suggestions before I even called them. In the end the only advice was have another drink, try some art maybe and call back if your struggling still.

About an hour later I did call back, this time I got a different person who initially went through all the same familiar suggestions. Then I heard another phone ringing and the nurse on the end of the line basically told me she was hanging up on me as there was another call and she couldn’t help me. In the end I stayed safe but only thanks to the support of those on social media and then later my family. The crisis team didn’t even inform my local community mental health team that I’d contacted them and was struggling, how is that joined up care.

The crisis service were and I believe are unable to offer any support or guidance that is of use to me, after all they don’t even know my diagnosis.

In the past decade my encounters with the crisis team of two separate hospital trusts have shown me that their understanding of dissociative disorders is limited. Their ability to assist and offer support is limited, in fact for me they are not there in a crisis because they can’t comprehend me or my diagnosis and without that they appear to be unable to help when I need them most.

In the future when I call, if I call, I will explain what I need which is usually someone to help me mentalize things, someone to just listen, to know my pain. I don’t need pointers like a bath or a drink I just need five minutes of their time and for them to hear me. From now on I aim to take control of my interactions with Crisis services and hopefully that will educate them as we go. Maybe this way they can help me when I need it most, only time will tell.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2015

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Taking Control of my Own Care -Direct Payments

 

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Yesterday despite feeling nervous I found myself sitting in an hotel lobby area trying to look relaxed and focused as we interviewed the two candidates selected to attended. I think the hardest thing for me was trying to explain what my needs are, and the reason I need support.

How do you explain in a very brief time frame about Dissociative Identity Disorder without giving prospective support workers too much detail, especially when few have heard of DID. It’s funny but I can give a presentation on my condition to a room full of mental healthcare professionals and it doesn’t daunt me, but in these 1-1 interview situations I find it quite daunting just trying to explain what DID is.

Maybe that is a result of my own fears about stigma, in a room full of people I know that even if someone holds biased beliefs about Mental Health I most probably wouldn’t notice. The sheer volume of people is in a way a protective barrier from the stigma that some people hold, there’s a comfort in knowing I will always find someone in a room full of people with some form of mental health issue themselves, so an ally against any skepticism and stigma.

Yet I find on an individual basis I am more likely to see the stigma if it exists and I find difficult, I guess it makes me feel more vulnerable. It is not easy trying to explain to random strangers who have often no interest in DID, that my mental health is the result of trauma and the reason we have care needs.

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The people we saw yesterday were both really nice, but one of them was more willing and open to finding out more about my diagnosis. They spoke to me and my daughter who acts as the employer in respect of my supports workers; she basically manages the direct payment paperwork,  on equal terms. I didn’t feel like I was being judged, stigmatised or treated as different in fact I felt a sense of equality that is often hard to find even at conferences; where both professionals and experts by experience are present.

The end result of the morning interviews was I thought I had at least 1 potential support worker, but I couldn’t just make the decision. I spent a few hours talking internally ensuring that all of me were happy with the decision we wanted to make, it’s crucial as this person will spend hours in our home. Support workers help us so much and yet they see us when we are both good and bad, they will be around when I’m overwhelmed, sad, upset, tearful and many other emotional states too. They see inside my world and know a lot about me, I need to be able to trust them and also feel safe around them it’s a crucial decision.

In the end we made a decision and have offered them a post, I always dread this offer bit as in truth they can now reject us and yes it has happened and it hurts. Thankfully the lady in question said yes and subject to all the checks that now have to be done, she will start working with us soon. I’m glad we have found a suitable person, and I’m sure we will get on fine and soon settle into working together.

Of course we needed 2 staff and there were other candidates, I can’t as yet decide on the others so have further work to do before making a final decision, it maybe that we have to do further interviews I guess only time will tell.

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The concept of Direct payments is a good one, it gives me and my family the ability to control who cares for me, and put us in the driving seat of these decisions. Prior to direct payments care agencies or specific aftercare companies chose who came into our home, they dictated what happened and when. It felt as if in a way I was still in hospital lots of control, rules and regulations, they’d write copious notes about us and I wasn’t allowed to read them. If I had issues with anyone I would have to go through the various company protocols to raise them and I often felt judged.

I have had some really good support workers, dedicated professionals who not only empower me but treat me with dignity and respect. Some have stayed a while whilst others have been with us for only short periods, I felt proud when one of them left to become a psychologist I knew she’d be great and another went off to university because her time spent with me inspired her to achieve.

But sadly I have had those who have failed miserably too, I had one person who would walk into my home, put on the radio and fling open all the windows even if I was cold. When I complained I was seen as the problem, no one understood this wasn’t a working environment to me but my home.

At one point I had staff 24/7 so night time support was the norm, more than one support worker felt it was ok to sleep and snore loudly on a waking night shift. I was awake because of their snoring and yes I can laugh about it now but at 3am in a morning following an horrific flashback It wasn’t funny.

Care agencies are run for profit, in my opinion they put additional barriers between the client and the support workers. Direct payments have changed the way my care is delivered and it’s working better, the interviews are taxing but they provide us with opportunities too. For now I feel in control of my life and that is simply amazing after years of being controlled.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Making my journey with D.I.D bear-able

Making my journey with D.I.D bear-able

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My Little parts are keen for us to introduce our special friend

Ever since my melt down point a decade ago I have had the company of a cuddly creature to keep me feeling safe. Initially this was a rather large creature who filled my arms and to be fair wasn’t so easy to carry. After 2 years my children and I chose a new creature whose size made it easier for me to carry and to discretely transport around.

Now my cuddly creatures are not live animals, no there are teddy bears called Cuddles and Ted, between the they have been with me throughout my journey through the mental health system. Now cuddles was rather cumbersome due to her size, it made it difficult to carry her around and so she is now retired to safe storage but Ted she has been with me for 8 years now and is a daily part of my life.

I’m not afraid to admit I have her, in fact until a couple of years ago I couldn’t leave her at any point in the day. Ted was carried in my arms daily, at home and when we went out she has been a source of comfort and in many ways has given my little alters a sense of grounding and security which has been significantly helpful.

Ted has been with me in all bar two of my acute hospitalisations, she’s been locked in a forensic secure unit and a non-forensic one too, she’s endured being detained by the police when we were repatriated to hospital in the cage of a police van. She’s been with me when I have tried to end my suffering and when I have self harmed, in fact Ted has been through every step of the journey since 2006. She has spent some 130 plus weeks in hospital, her predecessor cuddles spent approximately 65 weeks in hospital.

I guess when I carried her everywhere I stood out, she and I were a partnership and yes she was my security blanket if you like and some patients and certainly some staff found it difficult to deal with this women and her bear. I was unable to cope with life, with the memories and the flashbacks which filled me with dread and fear, with the confusion and anxiety I felt I just wanted the ground to swallow me whole to stop my anguish and my pain.

I can recall being verbally attacked by a stranger who took offence to me and my bear, he said ‘people like you should be locked away’ and I guess that was easy for him to say but I wasn’t always this wreck. I am a mum and I was once a wife, I worked hard and contributed to society I never expected to find myself in a mental hospital nor carrying a bear and yet it happened. I knew I had a tough start in life but I hoped I’d managed to leave it all behind, I thought I had, but then the reality was that it was just hidden away. You see in truth much pain and anguish from my past was hidden deep inside of me waiting to reveal itself when I was least expecting it. I didn’t need a random stranger attacking me for carrying a bear I felt bad enough about myself who I was and the fact I couldn’t cope.

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Ted has been a comfort that I needed through the darkest of days she has been there and I am not ashamed that I needed her. She has kept me grounded at times especially when I have suffered flashbacks and memories. I could keep telling myself & all my alters, all the parts of me that when bad happened we didn’t have Ted and yet now we did and that meant we were safe.

As a child I only recall one teddy bear he came from a bad person as a reward for being ‘a good girl’ for not telling when the person hurt me and yet I loved that bear. I remember coming home from school and my bear being gone, my mother had decided I had to be punished for something and taking that bear away was my punishment. I didn’t have another bear, unlike most children for me toys were rare and they came and they went as a form of control.

When my children bought me Cuddles I was elated and so grateful and yes she served me well when I first hit melt down, but her size made her harder to carry. But like Ted she took so many of my tears as I could hold her and let out the pain that ripped deep into me at that time, I find emotions so hard that it’s impossible for me to explain them to others easily, to express them and yet I needed to.

My cuddly friends have been a part of each day now for a decade and I doubt I could have managed without them, it felt like they were attached to me, it probably looked like that to the world. We were this person who went everywhere with her bear and people became used to that, some became so accustomed to her they no longer saw her.

About two years ago I made the decision to put Ted inside my bag when I went out, she was still with me 24/7 but she was no longer a visual constant in my day to day life. I remember the first time I placed her in my bag I felt bereft, but I knew it was the right time to stop carrying her in my arms all the time. Part of my decision was based upon the fact that my constantly carrying this bear had caused me significant muscular issues which required physiotherapy treatment. For years I had held her in my arm so had held my arm in a bent position this had caused muscle weakness and tension and when I realised that all this pain and discomfort was a result of my needing Ted I knew I had to take action.

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For a further year Ted was still a constant, she was carried around everywhere I went, the doctors, the shops, even for a McDonalds. Then one day I forgot her she was left sat at home on my bed and I ventured off to an appointment, by the time I realised we didn’t have time to return to get her. I had to face the fact that we would have to survive without her for these few hours and of course we did, we managed and it led to more and more organised opportunities where Ted stayed home. I had some control over this so if I was struggling or facing a difficult time Ted came along, but if I felt we could manage well then she stayed home.

Now Ted lives on my bed and there are times she comes with us, so every time we attend psychology she comes along too. When I face Care plan meetings Ted comes too, holidays and other times away from home involving overnight stays she is part of my luggage. But I can now manage without her when I am shopping, or attending the GP’s, visiting friends or going for a coffee. Ted probably spends 50% of her time on my bed and 50% of her time in my bag or on the sofa, it’s a far cry from my carrying her 24/7.

This week I’m attending an event which means I’m away from home, so Ted comes too she will stay part of her time on my hotel bed but I know she’ll be with me when I need her. There will be times when I do need her, times when I feel vulnerable or I am switching more and I need to try and ground myself.

Now it maybe hard for people to understand why I a grown women need a bear but of course parts of me are little and need the comfort a bear gives. She also allows me to know that the past is over and that is so important to me. I am fortunate that my family accept her as a necessary part of my life currently, they don’t nor have they ever judged us. In fact my children who are adults themselves will often say hello to her and they occasionally buy a new outfit for her. It’s as if they understand the role she has and continues to play in our life.

I never expected this small bear Ted would become so important to me and obviously carrying her everywhere day in and day out she has weathered quite a lot, but I can’t imagine replacing her she will just age and become more loved as time progresses. She may not come out with me as often and one day she may just live on my bed, but for now Ted will keep playing whatever role I and all my parts need her too. Be that grounder, comforter or as a sign of reassurance Ted is a significant part of my healing journey and I’m glad she is part of our life.

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Copyright: DID Dispatches 2014

CHANGE

CHANGE

 

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Facing a period of change & uncertainty – I am slowly realising why I find change so hard

This week I have faced some changes in my daily life, for the past 21months I have had a regular Personal Assistant one who all parts of me had become used to. This was a person who we felt comfortable being ourselves with, a person who wasn’t going to run a mile if we suddenly switched alters, and who seemed to understand D.I.D. This week that person has moved on to pastures new and thus the search now begins for a new person to help support me.

This of course is not so straight forward, finding people who want to support someone like me is never easy and I need someone who is doing this as a vocation and not just for a wage. I have had my fair share of support staff since I left hospital and we have had seen both good and bad examples of support staff.

Given I am trying to lead as normal a life as is possible with Dissociative Identity Disorder I don’t need people to treat me as if I’m incapable or some sort of invalid, I need people who empower, encourage and support me. I guess I need them to help me redevelop skills that I lost during my lengthy stays in hospital when I did become institutionalised and to learn skills which because of my past have never really fully developed yet.

My PA’s are the lifeline that helps particularly when I switch alters to ensure we keep safe, that help us when we struggle and find ourselves ruminating or with thoughts of desperation and self harm. They are if I’m honest a crucial element of my being able to stay out of hospital, I don’t think that I could have stopped that revolving door of admissions without them.

When I first came out of hospital I hadn’t made a meal or a drink in more than 2 years, I had literally done no activities of daily living unsupervised for over 30 months it was so deskilling. I remember at the start asking for permission to make a simple cup of tea, I felt intimidated by the kettle, I hadn’t used one in what felt like forever and I certainly hadn’t been allowed to just get a drink at anytime of the day or night.

Hospitalisation was dehumanising in so many ways, imagine having to ask for every single drink being forced to drink from a plastic beaker and knowing the staff control everything and could and did quite often say No to a drink. Well that was what life was like for me in the secure units, it was simply controlling, demeaning and soul destroying. Acute wards were slightly better there was a drinks machine that operated set hours and as long as it worked offered some choice, but still the staff or the hospital managers dictated the times we could drink, often 8am till 11pm. One ward I was on allowed 6 drinks per patient per day which worked as long as no one used your allowance as well as their own, thus robbing you of a drink. The staff seemed unable to see the injustice if a patient managed to use all their allowance and other patients too. It was just simply impossible for extra drinks to be provided it felt like a form of control and one I never quite settled with.

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So when I came home it did take a while to get use to the fact I didn’t need to seek permission anymore, that I had freedom and choice. It was the same with food, I’d lived in a regime of set meal times, set food and often not that tasty either. If I’m honest the control I endured was similar to that I faced as a child, my main abuser was a primary care giver and she controlled most of what went into my mouth. Food wasn’t fun very often in fact it was a form control and punishment, thus to this day I have a problem with eating. Being in a controlling hospital environment didn’t help me deal with my eating issues it just exacerbated them and recreated traumatic situations and triggered past memories.

Because of the control in hospital and the deskilling it caused my support staff are important and they help me in so many ways, I am certain that currently they are a necessary part of my life and so finding a new one is a challenge. I need to replace my PA as quickly as possible in order to maintain progress, this is an important issue I am so determined to maintain the progress  I have made thus far. The departure of a PA is  always going to result in a period of change and uncertainty, it’s simply impossible for such events to not cause change and uncertainty, but this is something we have to deal with.

So now as one chapter ends my family and I face a bit of a challenge as we search for a new PA, and belief me that isn’t easy especially for someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder. As one of the difficulties that I have is that I find trusting people really tough and of course it’s not only me who has to trust but all the alters too. Now yes I understand my alters are parts of me but all those parts need to learn to trust individuals and because of the past we all have issues with uncertainty, new relationships and having to basically learn to trust a stranger.

Then of course there is the issue of change, having a new PA is a change which won’t be straight forward or easy. I find change really tough to cope with be that a new person, new place or new situation change is fraught with anxiety and leads me to feel really unsettled and destabilised. I’m already having to do work internally about the changes we face in preparation of a us finding a new PA. I have spent the past couple of weeks preparing myself and my alters; the other parts of me, for the departure of the PA who had become part of our regular routine.

Change is tough for many reasons, but I guess I lived in chaos for years, my childhood was filled with change, be that different homes, schools or abusers. Change usually meant something bad in those days and I believe it has shaped how I view change to this day.

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In the past year I have faced many changes, I have lost one therapist and gained my psychologist, a significant friendship has ended, a relative has died, my care plan has changed and now this current change. Yet if I’m realistic we have coped with all the other changes this past year we have dealt with them and survived so there is a chance, a good chance that we will deal this latest change.

I am aware of the issues, aware of my difficulties with change and trust and I have the support of my family who want so much to ensure we employ the right person to help me keep moving forwards. Perhaps we are slowly over time getting better at dealing with change, it’s just a challenge after all that we have to face and deal with.

Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll be able to write about how I’ve coped with this change to my daily life, hopefully it will be a positive update. I guess I can hope that this change is going to be ok of course I don’t know and that’s what’s scary, but then in all truth nothing in anyone’s life is ever certain. My main task right now is to try and keep all of me settled so that we can deal with this change, so that we can overcome this legacy from my past of fearing change and learn to deal with the issues of trust and change. Wish me luck!

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

 

 

Birthdays with dissociative identity disorder

 

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One of the rather unusual challenges for me of Dissociative Identity Disorder is that of  my birthday, I have to try and consider all the different parts of me, my alters each and every day yet on my birthday its more vitally important.

For I have over the years come to realise that this isn’t just the adult me’s birthday, but all of the alters share this day with me and I know that for some having a good birthday is even more important than ever. Given what I do know of the past I realise that many of the alters have reason to be nervous, even anxious and fearful of this day and so now its my chance to ensure they celebrate in a way I would have wanted to as a child.

For the past two years due to attending an awesome conference in the USA around this time of year I have been able to ensure that all of me has had reason to celebrate and enjoy our birthday. I have been able to give each age group of alters time and fun in a way that has been far easy that usual and that has made the past two birthdays pass without incident. Prior to this my birthdays have been a bit chaotic as those parts of me that dread my birthday time would normally shut down to avoid the stress that they feel at birthdays, we’d lose time and we’d get frustrated at not being around for the birthday period.

This year sadly I am not heading to the sun of Florida and I am unable to attend the ‘Healing Together’ conference organised by An Infinite Mind,  an non-profit organisation that is dedicated to improving the lives of survivors with trauma based dissociation with a primary focus on Dissociative Identity Disorder. You can find out more about this organisation at  www.aninfinitemind.com

As I won’t be able to give all of my alters a  magical time in Disney as a birthday treat this year, nor spend time with others who like me live their life’s as multiples; so share an understanding and are accepting and supportive in equal measure. I am having to find alternative ways to help us survive not only my birthday but the week that surrounds it.

This will mean having a birthday that includes time for me, my younger alters and my teenage ones too, so unlike most people on their birthdays as a multiple I have to share.  I also have to give attention to others needs, as I feel its important to remember that my alters are all in reality a part of me, fragmented by circumstances beyond our control. I have a responsibility to ensure we all have a good time, a time that is positive and safe, I need to make sure that all of me feel valued, loved and accepted.

My children will help in this, reassuring me throughout the day, offering support and making us all feel special and I have tried to plan ahead. Crafts are at the ready, treats are planned and my week is organised as best as it can be for someone who loses time yet none of this would be possible without the help and support of others.

Now many people will think its all a lot of fuss for one day yet for me, all of me, I have learnt that this is what works and that in reality is all that matters.  As a multiple I know I see the world differently to others, I use plural terms, I have to try and talk internally and watch for triggers, I dissociate and all that entails. Yet as a survivor of parental abuse I am also trying to make up for the past,  my child parts need nurturing, caring for and helping so they can now at last understand birthdays are a good thing, a time to celebrate and have fun.

If other multiples have any good tips for how to deal with the competing demands of alters at times like this, please let me know it is only through sharing knowledge that we can learn more about this complex and often misunderstood disorder.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014

Coming back from the brink of self-destruction

As the New Year arrived I began to realise that for me 2014 will mean many things, but no matter my aspirations, hopes or dreams it will be hard not to look back and recollect the past decade.

This time 10 years ago I had never been an inpatient in a psychiatric unit, I didn’t have a formal diagnosis other than I was low, anxious and suffering from stress which to be fair seemed ‘normal’. I don’t wish to disparage these conditions, but it felt like an everyday diagnosis, lots of people had been treated for such symptoms; well that is what I thought.

I didn’t feel mentally unwell, at the start of my illness just not myself, that was back in the 1990’s and I coped with my episodes of mild depression quite well or at least I thought I did. But ten years ago things had changed, I was self harming, cutting and it was still a secret. A secret shame that I carried, I hid and I tried desperately to keep hidden from everybody and I mean everybody. My children who were teenagers hadn’t a clue, my husband had absolutely no idea and so I thought it could remain. Thinking back now I realise just how silly that idea was, I was cutting regularly and yet I thought I could hide this!

2004 was my turning point, or more accurately my breaking point, it was the time I ended up being admitted to a psychiatric facility and for the first time in my adult life I guess I wanted to die. Now I can imagine for most people who have never felt as desperate as I did then, such thoughts might seem unusual even odd, hard to comprehend maybe, it was a bit like that for me really. I had been unwell for a while my health affected by the lack of sleep and the memories that plagued my nights, and I had had a few months off work and yes I am clear now I was struggling. But like many people I tried to keep going, I was a wife, a mum, I had a role, responsibilities, I couldn’t be ill.

This time a decade ago, if anyone had suggested that I would encounter the roller coaster journey I have these last ten years, I would have laughed, I probably would have been a bit incredulous at the thought, this wouldn’t happen to me, would it? I knew I needed help, I knew things were worse than they had ever been and yet somehow I thought we would muddle through and come out the other side unscathed. But we are a very different person to the one who was admitted in 2004 to hospital, and we have travelled a road I wouldn’t wish for anyone.

2004 began in a comfortable normal way, with the reassurance I had a job to go back to, a future career, a husband and a family who cared. I was cutting but I could manage it, I was in control of it, not it in control of me or so I thought. I was low, my mood was flatter than a pancake and yes I felt so desolate and empty, but I still had a glimmer of hope.

The reality was in fact my self harming had control of me, I couldn’t stop it, it wasn’t for attention, nor for the pain though many healthcare professionals thought that was why I did it. I was cutting to get rid of the badness; the bad that I felt was inside of me because I had been abused, each time I cut I felt a little less bad but that feeling didn’t last long and thus I needed to cut again and again and again.

I kept going to my GP, she didn’t get me at all, I wanted to scream at her and tell her how I felt but I knew it would make no difference. I would go and say I felt low, she’d advise me to go for a walk or take time out, but walking didn’t make me feel better nor did anything else. Nothing could stop the fragments of memory that were slowly seeping into the consciousness of here and now, the fragments that made me feel bad, to blame.

I slowly slipped further and further down into the pit of despair and in the early part of 2004 I reached the point of knowing I couldn’t go on, but I didn’t have anywhere to turn or so I thought, and no one I could tell. Not my loving husband, my loving children, my uncaring GP…no one.

I watched a recent clip on you tube by the World Health Organisation about the ‘black dog of depression’  and I can honestly say its a very true reflection of how depression takes over a person.

I was at the point of rock bottom, I couldn’t think rationally anymore, yet I thought I was very rational. It seemed rational to me to need to cut, to scar deep into my arms and my legs, to want to stop the world and get off.

Yes a decade ago I was clinging to survival, but I soon felt as if survival wasn’t available and so I wanted to die, I was 38 and suddenly I wanted to end it all. I had a loving family, nice home, job, holidays, everything…but what I didn’t have was peace and I needed that so badly.  At the start of 2004 things were falling apart, they very quickly did and by May of that year I was in hospital the first of many admissions.

Reflecting on that time now ten years on, I can’t help thinking what would have helped us not sink so low, was there anything anyone could have done to help, anything I could have done differently.

If I am honest having an understanding GP would have helped I think I might have opened up sooner, I believe that there is absolutely nothing more my family could have done, they were there and supportive, even when shocked by the self harm and frustrated by my desperation to die. But back in 2004, child abuse wasn’t discussed it was a closed book, today people are more open about the subject and I feel if I am honest that openness might have helped me to seek help sooner.

By the time I did seek help the black dog of depression had me firmly in its grip and I was in turmoil and in a mess, self harm was controlling me and so my journey into the world of psychiatric services began.

This year 2014 I know I will look back on those days, It would be impossible not to reflect and remember. But I want something good to come from this and so I will be trying to think of the things which didn’t help and those that did, in the hope that through this I can inform people, healthcare professionals, family members, friends, work colleagues so that they might be able to deal positively with those facing that situation today, perhaps respond sooner before they sink so low that life is no longer worth living.

I can see that by reflecting I will also learn more about me, I recognise just how far we have come in 2004 I was a victim and as 2014 dawns I stand as a survivor, that’s a huge difference and a huge journey to have made.  I am still on my journey I am still taking one step at a time, therapy is still in progress and I am working hard to strive for the best outcome from it.

But today I am glad to be alive, I’m glad to have a purpose, I realise now none of this was my fault, my memories are not my fault, the blame belongs with those who hurt me a long time ago. I am not a bad person, I proud of who I am, proud of who I have become. I have so much to be grateful for, so many people to be thankful to, for their support, their love and their hope has carried me to this place. Most of all a decade on I realise that even in the darkest moments of depression, of my childhood trauma, of my time in psychiatric care…I was never alone. I am never alone.

If you need help, if you feel in the pit of despair please don’t be afraid to seek help, you will survive this journey and one day like me you will look back and realise just how high a mountain you can climb in the space of ten years. I feel like I have climbed Mount Everest and beyond.. Basically I faced a mountain and I overcame… believe me you can do the same, you’re stronger than you think.

Copyright DID Dispatches 2014