Mental Health Assessment Day

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.

They will learn one day….

Being Scared to talk about abuse

When things got to a certain point in my marriage, they started getting even tougher. Nobody warned me that leaving and choosing my life would be the first step. I thought healing and getting over a break up would be the second hurdle. What I was not prepared for, was speaking up and telling my story and that completely backfiring on me.

I was petrified,but tried to stay as civil as I could, still walking on eggshells, until I got my belongings and legal matters where complete, then I could simply draw a line and move on. I was not expecting things to go downhill from there either.

I thought I would be believed. Who lies about domestic abuse? Apparently more people than you would think! For some reason, there are quite a few people out there, who think I am lying and causing problems. When I can say with my hand on my heart, that I am telling the truth.

I am (or was) always a creative person and have chosen to direct that creativity into exploring what has really happened to me. But that seems to have also backfired on me.

Now I am scared to be open again.

I am scared to tell my story.

I am worried about mutual friends because someone has been causing trouble and showing what I post to my abuser.

Despite knowing I have proof for the things I say, that they did happen and that Domestic Abuse, especially emotional abuse and gaslighting, are not talked about enough. I feel ashamed of my story and fearful of trying to be open and help others, because of the people that say it is lies and slander.

Leaving a relationship is challenging, especially so if that relationship involved a bad ending or abuse. But when people you have known, been related to through marriage, worked with or even complete strangers are being led to believe lies and that my truth is a lie, just to get some sort of revenge – that hurts.

My revenge is living. I did not end my own life.

I SURVIVED AND I LEFT FOR MY SAFETY AND I CHOSE MY LIFE.

Last Placement Block of Year 2!!

Well I am not quite sure how I have got to this point (especially after the last 6 months – not even taking COVID into account!!)

The last placement of Year 2 – Obviously, I cannot say the location, but it is definitely an area I hope to gain some good experience in ( as well as get Year Two signed off and hopefully some spoke placements*)

*SPOKE PLACEMENTS

A Spoke Placement (also known as a ‘Spoke’) is is an extra learning opportunity during a placement. An example of this could be working on a surgical ward and having the opportunity to spend time in Theatres, with Physiotherapy or perhaps the Occupational Therapists. It could range from a one off visit or one procedure, to entire shifts (or set of shifts) in that area. It provides a great learning opportunity, but not necessarily mandatory to pass the Degree. I still have not done any spoke placements.

My Degree journey definitely has not been smooth sailing. I have faced ill health, both acute and chronic issues (including physical and mental health), including a cancer scare, resulting in a 6 month deferral from the course. Problems with my personal life, as well as money and confidence issues. Add in the Coronavirus Pandemic, cheating and emotional abuse – which has lead to a breakup and me having to leave my home, now at the stage of a pending Divorce and issues with the ex that she is determined to drag out – and her added smear campaign of lies. I am really surprised that I have actually made it this far!! I am now completing my degree over 50 miles away from my University. Luckily lectures have been virtual and I have been able to do these in the evening and nights, if my insomnia is an issue ( to be honest it is never not an issue these days). Placement on the other hand has taken some more mind power to sort out.

Second Year Blues, I thought, was something I either wouldn’t experience, due to my poor mental health anyway but even when studying virtually, it does exist. I will post further about this soon.

Have I ever considered quitting – OH YES!!!!

Do I still consider it most days – MOST DEFINITELY!!

I think at this point even though the end is in sight, the year 3 planner is out and finance applied for and partially approved. It still feels so far away. I still go onto a placement or lecture and think “How an earth am I suppose to register and practice independently next year. Apparently these thoughts are normal and it is a bit like driving, you study to pass the tests and become competent and safe, but it is not until you are out there doing the job, that you actually begin to learn.

Whilst my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is so much better since leaving my ex (and the home-Coincidence?? I will let you decide that as I think I know the answer) It is still kicking my butt. When I was younger I could study several courses, work several jobs, travel and live on hardly any sleep, but currently I seem to be a permanently exhausted pigeon – Now I also have nothing against pigeons, well apart from when I have to stop in the road, as they will not get out of the way and I refuse to run them over-but that is another issue all together. There is no way I could do that now. Everything seems so daunting and tiring, I can see why people keep giving me a shocked face when they hear me say I do not drink or like Coffee. Tiredness is a real issue. So if anyone has any tips that genuinely work then please throw them my way.

So Wow!! Here I am, nearing the end of year 2 of the BSc Nursing (Adult) and I don’t really know what to say. This time next year I will nearly be done. I have a lot of hours to make up before I can register, but I guess that is life with Chronic Illnesses, another challenge to try and beat. We all have our own individual journey and these hurdles are obviously something I need to conquer.

(ABC/Mike Rosenthal)

“I never said that!!” – What is Gaslighting?

Have you ever heard?

  • “I never said that”
  • “You’re imagining things”
  • “I didn’t do that”
  • “You are being paranoid”
  • “I always make an effort, you just never bother”
  • “You’re imagining things”
  • “I was just joking”
  • “You twist things”
  • “That never happened”
  • “You need help”

Sounding familiar?

Gaslighting is a term that seems to appear quite often now, compared to 5 years ago. It is a term that basically means a person is being made to question their own sanity and the world they are living in. It can be described as “walking on eggshells.” Gaslighting can cause a person to completely lose trust, not only in others around them, whether strangers or not, but in themselves.

In my case I truly realised I was being gaslit towards the end of my marriage (especially after I left-Everything sort of clicked). Once I knew my wife was interested in someone else. Despite me having clear evidence of the behaviour it was denied, I was told I was overreacting, twisting words and imagining things. Long story short, I was not, what I had heard and found was indeed true. However it often is the case that until a relationship is struggling, or ending/ended you really do not realise how manipulated you truly were.

Once I had left my home, so much started to make sense, I really started to come to the realisation that pretty much the whole time I knew this person, it was one big fake lie.

Many people who are being gaslit may not even realise it themselves. Which can cause problems if others question the situation they are in, simply because it will be denied. It may be “normal” to them.

The best thing to do is support them the best you can. One day they will be grateful for that support. They will need that safe person – that believes their truth.

Accusations

Accusations

As a lot of us do, I head over to Google in order to check that my understanding of the word ‘accusations’ is correct. It is defined by a quick search as – what I thought it was. Which is;

I am not one to openly throw around accusations, there is one thing I questioned recently, I won’t go into it, but basically I was approached and told something and when I questioned it, the dates didn’t add up 100%, so it was left like that. However I did state at the time of questioning that I was waiting for further information to back that information up.

Today I was told I had made “many accusations” against someone. Now technically, I have made claims, but NONE of these are lies. I have been an anxious and scared mess for far too long and I refuse to hide any more. I cannot live in a heightened state of fear forever. I cannot. I refuse to.

Not my Image.

This is a short and sweet post, really to vent some feelings, following a day that started with some production, getting some important financial things for the divorce set in place. Before moving on to going through old photos, many of them I had not seen before, with my Mam and sister. Cooking homemade meatballs and sauce and eating at the dinner table with my Mam, sister and brother, before ending the so far so good day with some messages putting me in a rather negative mindset (again).

I’m not playing anybody’s games anymore. The Whatsapp ‘BLOCK’ button has now been used. I cannot take this negativity anymore. All I was trying to do was get things moving and organise things, apparently it isn’t the most important thing to do now – despite my ex planning on ‘kicking me out’ two months before me filing for divorce. But apparently I am the one rushing things.

I just want this all over. I want to be free and out of someone else’s control.

I want to feel safe.

“Right from the start you were a thief, you stole my heart”

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;

  • Lie,
  • Withhold information,
  • Follow others rules in my own home,
  • Be silent,
  • 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.

I hope.

How so much can change in a year!!

Do you remember what you were doing one year ago?

I was sat in my home, practising my Safe Medicate (Maths for my Nursing Degree), unaware that the year ahead was about to change so much – and not just because of the Coronavirus!!

Other than the issues that came along with the Coronavirus, the last 12 months for me have resulted in me filing for divorce from my Wife.

  • Am I upset?……….Deeply
  • Am I hurt?……….Very
  • Am I showing it?……….No
  • Is there a reason for that?……….Yes

The reason for me not showing my sadness and hurt is simple. I was expecting it. I knew things were tough and I knew, despite thinking things would change, they never did and never would-not in the way that results in a happy marriage anyway. What I did not expect was the lies, sneaking around, cheating and gaslighting that came along with the ongoing problems.

This image was taken around a year ago, at my 29th Birthday Meal. It may have a filter applied to it, but I am smiling, I look happy and during that meal, I was happy. However, behind the smile, behind the shining blue eyes lay a secret. I wanted to be dead, I wanted to hurt myself, I wanted to grab my dogs and go somewhere we could never be found. My antidepressants were, and still are, at a high dose. My anxiety sky high and self esteem pretty much non-existent. I hate speaking to people, going out and have more bad days than good. I doubt everything I say, I do. The clothes I wear and decisions I make. My pain and fatigue flares (which led to a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) where pretty much never ending. I have been programmed to think everything I say and do is wrong. My gut instinct, that proved to be correct, was and often still is even doubted.

I will never doubt my gut again!!

I am now sitting in my, still legally, jointly owned home, here for the purpose of work, alongside going through the house, sorting out my possessions, packing and working out what needs going through to decide ‘who gets what.’ Within a couple of hours of arriving here, the pain and fatigue flare hit. I am not saying I’ve had no flares since leaving, but my second day here was more or less wasted as I could not move. Proving to myself that extreme levels of stress does result in a flare-also helping to explain many flares that have happened over the last few years. So far in 2021 my flares have been minimal-I put this down to factors such as leaving a toxic environment and relationship. That may sound harsh, but the reality is that it was toxic. No good for either of us, especially myself.

I sit here, mid-afternoon, staring at piles of things that still need going through, a hallway that needs clearing and the box room being the only 100% gone through room (with the exception of a box by the door that just needs moving out, a black bag and 2 bags of recycling I need to put outside. I look at these items thinking that they make up nearly a third of my life, married or seeing one person (we were engaged 2 weeks after starting to see each other and married on our 2 year anniversary). Some items I had before, some gained during this time. Some of my items I will take with me and either keep or destroy, larger items will either stay here and never be seen again by me and others will stay here as long as possible, until I have to put them into storage. That itself will cost me a lot of money, that I will need to find.

I will be losing my home. I pretty much have already. I cannot help but compare myself, many people I went to school with are buying homes, getting married, engaged or having children. I’ve lost my trust, marriage and home- I will be divorced. It definitely is not how I saw myself at 30 when picturing my future as a younger person.

A young me!!

You may ask “Why is she sharing this?” My reasons could be listed below, but I am only going to give one reason here, my main reason, which is to share my experience, well some of it, normalising a less “perfect” portrayal of people online. We only ever seem to see celebrity news or “perfect” lives online and in reality people are going through a tough time. People are being forced to keep quiet or portray themselves as happy or show that nothing is wrong.

I am speaking up for myself. I refuse to hide anymore. I have spent too long being quiet, saying nothing or only saying what I was allowed to say and I have been hiding my true self because I was told “they won’t understand” or “it isn’t worth it” and resulted in people not liking me or seeing me in a different way, criticizing me or even shouting at me and talking badly behind my back to others, all because they are not seeing the real me. So I ask you kindly, if you are reading this and do know me. Maybe now is the time to talk to me, get to know me now, with no other influence on how I act, what I say or do and then form your own judgement. It may take me some time to build myself back up, but I will be ME again.

Mental Health Awareness Letters – 21st May 2018

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 21 –  Not everyone that has been abused has experienced physical abuse.

There are several forms of abuse, all of which are damaging.

I have never classed myself as an ‘abuse survivor’ because I always thought that what I went through is nowhere near as bad as many others and their stories. However, on the other hand my experiences have been damaging to me in their own right.

Those that have been abused, especially during childhood are far more likely to experience mental illness in their adulthood and often throughout childhood. The abuse may have been physical, sexual, emotional, neglect, verbal or psychological – each type can be identified in different ways, however people can experience more than one ‘category’ of abuse and symptoms can overlap. But abuse is not always obvious and I bet you have seen, walked past or sat by someone this week that is being abused/has been abused and you had no idea!! It can be easy to hide.

Support is crucial , sometimes you do not know what to say to someone when you find out they have been abused, but it is important not to treat a person differently, perhaps be more understanding and allow more time to process information (and of course be careful what you say). But you just need to be there.

Be Considerate