I began writing in April 2018 when worsening symptoms of PTSD and depression stopped me working as an ED nurse. Writing is therapy.
Knowledge is power...
I've done some reading about the effect of abuse, neglect, parentification and witnessing domestic violence as I did because of my alcoholic and drug induced parents. I decided that reading and understanding was the best chance I had at understanding my own mental health, PTSD and depression.
Childhood is supposed to be the only time you get to be outwardly needy and demanding, which as backwards as it sounds, it eventually teaches you boundaries and the difference between wants and needs.
The absence of this in childhood tends to leave the adult stunted in relationships and in self-care, as it teaches them that they’re not important or worthy of love or support.
Eventually social services came to take us away....
.. and I thought that was my fault too. For the previous three years I had been 'looking after' two younger siblings and trying to look after my mum who was really struggling. Being separated from them was devastating, terrifying and I wondered what I had done wrong rather than being glad to be rescued from an abusive situation. Plus I didn't know if we would ever see each other again.
I had no idea that I was wrong to feel that all the responsibility was mine or that I was desperately trying to hold together a dysfunctional household. Therefore, I felt each failure more than the daily beatings from my dad. This and the guilt of failure went on to be particularly damaging to my childhood mental health and also as a teenager too as I was still trying to 'protect' my mum and sisters from a distance and finally as an adult.
Still to this day, I can't help but take the blame for lots of day to day failures and problems, I guess it's just force of habit now but it makes it impossible to have any self esteem or confidence.
Then, there's being a burden...
When I arrived at my grandparents, I was really struggling to accept a lot of what had happened. Either that the abuse was wrong or that our separation was right. I was terrified and confused. I also felt like I'd ruined their retirement.
Then there I had to accept that I was a child and that I didn't need to be tough any more, I was actively encouraged to cry and be demanding because I never was. I didn't really understand cuddles or chatting either, my grandparents really had their work cut out.
I never told anyone about the level of abuse suffered at the hands of dad, how I couldn’t stop thinking about it and what he did to my mum. The guilt and blame-taking never stopped, the little curse wanders on.
By the time I started high school; I had lost of the shyness and started to replace it with drug fuelled confidence, misbehaving in class and keeping lots of secrets from my grandparents.
Mainly to avoid upsetting them, them seeing my mother in me or rejecting me as the curse I saw in myself. This kept me busy and high, all day every day, I didn’t see this as a problem at the time, I just hated sobriety, simple.
Despite the odds, I managed to pass my GCSEs and A levels comfortably and took myself off to university to become a nurse. Throughout, my past was a secret I would never tell, always smiling, full of banter and life of the parties. I can see now that was all avoidance.
This secret began to tear me apart February ’18, last year when my parents stayed with me which turned into a huge trigger and re-awakening of PTSD that I had kept buried. I tried to kill myself in the following weeks due to the severity of my symptoms. I have always known I would attempt it at some point. This marked the beginning of people expecting me to talk about my childhood of trauma.
Now we return to the beginning of this blog, as I explained I decided to read about my journey and it's effect on my mental health in order to get the better of it. I read about parentification, hero child syndrome and cPTSD.
I began to make some connections and can see how being a ‘little curse’ can affect one’s ability to develop, maintain and recovery mental wellbeing. This is the first of many challenges I must face to start healing. This I say from my room of a psychiatric ward.