BSc (Hons) Open Student at The Open University (Final Academic Year = 2021 – 2022). BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult) Student at University (Final [3rd] Year = Currently deferred). Student Leadership Academy (Swansea University) 2020 Participant. #FutureLeaders Health Care Support Worker. Chihuahua, Chorkie, Rankin Dragon and Tortoise Mami. Currently Divorcing. On a Healing Journey. Baby Witch Learning about Wicca.
August 23rd 2021 = Primary Mental Health Assessment Day.
The dreaded and long awaited (not really, I only waited a few weeks) telephone call with my Local Primary Mental Health Team.
It actually went well. It was not my first time having an assessment, but I must say, I did prefer this telephone method, as well as the assessment itself being better, I felt more at ease than previous assessments.
I won’t go into much detail at the moment, as I want to ensure I get the right support first and avoid any further excuses and delays to my Divorce (The Divorce is on the final stage, so I can apply whenever, however, waiting on finances and property….still). But when I feel it is appropriate I will be more open. I am also very aware that people are going out of their way to look into my life and pass details over to certain people – But at the end of the day I have nothing to hide, I am telling the truth and if you want to condone abuse and violence, then do not bother trying to use the words ‘Be Kind’ or ‘Mental Health Matters.’ For those of you ‘Flying monkeys’ (Google it if you are unsure) and those saying you support mental health, support domestic abuse victims or even work in bealth services, teaching or caring industries-You are a hypocrite and should find a job in a more relevant area!!
I felt reassured that I am not ‘crazy’ or ‘imagining things’ as I have previously been told. It was a reality check for my mind, that it isn’t just physical abuse that leaves scars, but gaslighting and emotional abuse too, especially over a period of time.
I fear for those that still have the real side to experience, I fear their happiness and their lives. It is hard to adjust when you have shared your story (or part of it) and go unbelieved or not heard. There is only so much you can do.
TRIGGER WARNING – Please take care, some of this content may cause upset and distress. Reach out for support if needed. 💜
“And I your willing victim”
Sound familiar? Yes that is a P!nk song
I had heard of people relating this song, ‘Just give me a reason‘ to a (damaging) relationship. However, I had not really thought about it. If I’m honest I could not really relate, although I love the song!
Looking back now, the song is actually pretty relevant to me. From the start of my last relationship, my heart was stolen by a kind, attentive and charming person. I had been back in the country for just over a year after spending 6 months away volunteering and nearly 2 years post relationship with my first serious boyfriend, who I thought I would marry and spend my life with. Within two weeks of seeing this person, totally infatuated, I accepted a drunken proposal. Despite it being nothing like I imagined-after double checking they remembered actually asking I said yes!!
Two years later we married.
Again, looking back before actually marrying I can see how I was totally attracted and won over by the charm, happy moments and love I felt. Ignoring the red flags and brief explanations for situations. Hiding myself and not telling my future in laws about our engagement, even going as far as her renting another room in the house (only used for storage) “just in case” anybody asked or visited. Because they “could not know.” By the time they knew we had moved to Wales and my ex had said she had cut out her family. I was the bad person who took her away from her family. Which was far from the truth. I wish I questioned this more at the time. Another red flag missed.
During the engaged-married phase we had good times, with very few disagreements. I shared stories, history and wounds. I felt happy and comfortable. I let someone gain my trust.
I identify with these words more so with the later experiences in the relationship, but definitely at least 2.5 years of the relationship. Feelings, events, emotions and even generalised facts that turned out to be true came out during sleep. Inconsistencies appeared, but I was persuaded that anything said during sleep was “not real” or “related to previous trauma” which I was told had “nothing to do” with myself. Everything had an explanation or excuse. For some reason, I just accepted these.
A barrier began to raise. Chemistry began to reduce, feelings changing. Nothing like the early stages of the relationship. Another major Red Flag missed.
Again, looking back, I was hooked. Love made me stay. It made me ignore anything that upset me, confused me or hurt me.
Like a circle, patterns and behaviours went round and round. Pain was fixed by promises and persuasion, kinder words, acts or gestures seemed to put a plaster over the issue. Things would plateau, before beginning the cycle again.
I was hooked.
Life revolved around happiness, experiences, sex and pleasure as well as a connection. Before switching back to negativity, tension and silent treatment. Where again, one small gesture or kind word seemed to fix things. Or so I thought.
Things on several occasions got to the point where I would sit there and think of reasons to stay. Reasons to fight. Reasons to change.
And then there is gaslighting
A person I loved. A person I trusted using my own trauma, my own insecurities and my own weaknesses to their advantage. Unknowingly being insulted and manipulated into thinking my feelings did not matter, that my concerns and genuine gut feelings were wrong. Even when having justification and evidence.
I was made to feel crazy and paranoid.
At the time I thought the stresses of life, bills, work and ill health were causing tension. Things felt empty. But yet I still was being made to believe my actions led to the situation. They obviously did not help and contributed but was definitely not the major issue. I wanted to fight, blinded by love. I thought we would be together forever. Despite looking at other couples and longing for their connection with my own wife.
Fast forward and behaviours continued, false promises made – resulting in “I don’t love you anymore.” Of course I came back within 24 hours – with the hope of change, false promises and a “mistake” being made. Yet things continued and the truth came out. There was someone else who had all the love that I was no longer being given.
Walking away was hard. But it had to be done. My wife at the time was in love with someone else, portraying me to others as someone I wasn’t.
It is amazing what information people come to you with, once a relationship is over. Finding out about things that have been said and done. Money saved away and plans to move others into my home. Expecting me to leave with nothing.
I wish I noticed the Red Flags sooner. I really do. Part of me also wishes I left sooner, before the added issue of her falling completely head over heels in love with someone else – like we did with each other years ago. If I had walked away sooner, perhaps the emotional damage would have been less?
These are just some of the reasons I find myself relating to this song more now, than following the release. I may be losing a marriage, my home and the life I knew. But I no longer have to;
Follow others rules in my own home,
Push myself when in a flare,
Ask permission to do certain things,
Play happy families,
Hide my chronic illnesses,
Sit silently while others call me the “friend” or the “partner” and allow people to not call me by my correct name or write the wrong name on cards without letting them know it is not correct,
Be manipulated, treated like rubbish and told I am imagining things, being crazy or paranoid.
I can start trying to be me again. Find myself and heal. I can find someone who does love me for me and protect me, rather than damage me.
As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I had an idea to write a letter each day to a person, or group of people that have had an impact on my own personal health. The first portion of the month has been delayed, however I hope that I will catch up and there will be a daily post. Thank You for taking the time to read these and I appreciate any comments or support you can provide on each post.
Please remember that if you are struggling with your health, both physical or mental, there may be some triggers in these letters-please seek support if you find these letters trigger any distress. Look after yourself!!
Letter 30 – To MIND
Mind has really helped me over the last few months and I am so glad they are there. I have used their InfoLine, Legal Line and have some email addresses and telephone numbers for support.
There is also the chance to get involved, volunteer and fundraise.
Visit https://www.mind.org.uk/ for help and support if you are struggling with your mental health or supporting someone else.
You will also see my face in the Stories section;
There is also the online support community Elefriends (seriously, give them a visit)
Mind really do not give up until they are able to help you, unlike several other services that say they do not give up or judge, but actually do.
Thank You Mind, for being there, helping me and allowing me the chance to speak up.
“What’s that? Anxiety? Depression? Oh, I had that and I know loads of people that have it too — you’ll be fine!”
Yes, anxiety and depression is becoming more commonplace, perhaps because they are being talked about more, better diagnosed and less stigmatized. Although, stigma still exists in my opinion. We are all different and anxiety and depression affect us in similar yet different ways. But mental illness shouldn’t stop anyone from going to college; whether online or on campus.
Here are my top eight pieces of advice for anyone starting college with anxiety or depression:
1. Take baby steps.
You might feel pressured as a freshman by others drinking, joining clubs and being outspoken in class. This does not mean you have to be the same or do the same things. Your study is your journey and you need to take it in small, manageable steps. Set goals one step at a time.
2. Don’t be a hermit.
No matter how hard it is, even if you aren’t taking part in the “traditional college experience” (whatever that is), do not lock yourself away. This doesn’t mean I’m telling you to go out and talk to everyone, but perhaps, take a walk, go to the shop, gym or library — just get out of the house. And remember to be vigilant and be safe.
3. Take advantage of student support.
Most colleges will have student services. Make use of them because that is what they are there for. Ask about well-being courses, counseling, assessments, support or third parties that can help you or offer support when or if you’re struggling.
4. Undertake a learning difficulty assessment.
This obviously is not relevant to everyone, but I would definitely recommend it, even if it is of the slightest interest to you. These assessments are long and involve a one on one discussion with an assessor, but they are not just there to diagnose dyslexia, they assess for other things too. And school can help you apply for the funding to cover the cost.
5. It can be scary, but that’s OK.
College can be scary. New rooms, new teachers, new lecturers, new materials and everything is different. But it will get easier, take a deep breath and walk into that room.
6. It is OK to cry.
There will be days you don’t want to get up, go to a class or an activity, and you just want to fall apart. It is OK to cry. It may be embarrassing at first, but once you start, you will let go of so much built up emotion and things will probably seem better.
Talk to someone; whether that is a friend, teacher, student support or a stranger, have someone to talk to. Or things might build up. It is so hard to share and talk about, but there is always someone willing to listen. Sometimes it takes a while to find them, but they are there.
8. You are number one.
This is the most obvious — but it is the first thing we forget. Look after yourself. Go for walks, take a moment to breathe, meditate, read or whatever takes your fancy. And of course, remember the basics: wash, eat and do your work. You are number one and need to keep yourself as healthy as you can.