Tag: depression

If he doesn’t realise he’s being abused, what do I do?

I’ve gone too long not saying anything. I need to talk to my dad about what my step mother is doing to him and to me.

What happened to my other family member, who was being abused for months with no-one’s knowledge, has made it clearer to me that I need to speak out. I know what can go under the radar; how for those closely involved in the abuser’s world, it can be impossible to see what is happening. And look what went under the radar when I was abused as a child. I’m trying to separate myself from my anger about all the times I “should” have been helped. Right now it just shows me how important it is to not let it go by when you see abuse happening. Another event that has made it clearer to me that I need to speak out is that third parties have commented on my step mum’s behaviour and how my dad is and how another vulnerable member of the family is treated – this was not based on what I told them but on what they themselves observed. It isn’t just me being crazy, or misinterpreting because I’m too sensitive because of my early life experiences, or imagining it, or because I subconsciously resent my step mother so somehow want bad towards her. It’s really happening. Then on top of this, my social worker and a psychologist I have been seeing at the pain clinic have both said to me that for my wellbeing the only course of action may be to restrict contact with my step mother. This is on the basis of the limited number of incidents I’ve described to them from the past 7 years or longer.

It’s really happening. It’s sustained (worsened actually) over time. My dad has no idea or if he does see it wants or needs to ignore it (because he thinks it’s normal? Because he thinks he deserves it? Because he doesn’t know what to do?). My step mum has been able to convince other members of the family that she is perfect, blameless, that she is the one being mistreated, that I am the one mistreating her or causing the problems, that I am the one doing wrong to my dad, that another person in the family is again a cause of problems and to be ostracised (and she has orchestrated this ostracisation), when actually they are vulnerable and desperately in need of help.

As well as being angry with my step mum, I am angry with my dad. This is totally wrong. Misplaced. I feel furious anger at my step mother’s abuse going on unseen and unchecked, even when it is done in plain sight. Why do I have any anger towards my dad? My anger should be only towards her, and the immense control she exerts and deception she weaves, which allows her behaviour to be unacknowledged, unnoticed or excused. That’s all part of her abusing. Does abusers’ behaviour somehow get you angry with the wrong people too? Or is it because all the feelings are brought up from when I was a child needing my dad to help me, trying to tell him what she was doing? Because I can’t really understand why he couldn’t see what my mother was doing to me and what she was involving him in back then? He was deceived by her but he also did wrong, but that’s another story.

However, I am left with the fact that again he’s in a relationship where he and others are being abused, and either he can’t see that it’s happening or he can’t / won’t take action. I don’t want that to repeat for him, for anyone else I care about or for me. It went on 30 years in his relationship with my mother. I don’t want him to go through more years of abuse, never taking action or only taking action when much more has been lost. He is fit but not so young anymore and if he were only to realise what’s happening when he’s elderly, it would seem all the sadder.

I can’t force my dad to take action. I can’t pull him free from the situation. What I can do now, which I could not do as a child, is try to openly tell him what I’ve observed and what I’m worried about. I can also tell him how she behaves to me. It’s likely he won’t believe me or will refuse to acknowledge it. This is what has happened when I’ve told him previously what my step mum has been doing and it’s what happened when I told him what my mother was doing when I was a child. But now I’m not a child. My safety and my world do not depend on him believing and saving me. Sadly, his safety does depend on him acknowledging what is happening to him.

How do I help him do this? How do I raise what is happening without him being so hurt and angry that I’m saying it that there is no chance he will be able to reflect on how she’s treating him and how he’s feeling? How do I do it without him stopping talking to me at all? Then there would be no chance I can help him. If he just utterly blanks it all and changes the subject, or leaves (both have happened before), what then?

Whilst he is not isolated as we were when I was growing up, in a remote village in a shut up house, nobody allowed in, no relationships allowed outside the home, he is isolated in a different way. Apart from his work, the world he’s in is still hers. Her part of the world, her house then the house she chose, her choice of leisure activities, her friends. Almost everyone he has contact with outside his work is her world. Potentially controlled by her. I can think of nothing he does separate from her, apart from his work. I can’t think of any friend he has contact with who is not first hers. No way he spends any leisure time away from her, except for the rare occasions she goes away on holiday without him for a couple of days, or the rarer occasions he comes to see me without her. It seems there would be nothing and no-one to help him move away from her control.

This is worse than I thought.

Xxx

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Again, and never again…

[This post mentions abuse and discusses painful mental experiences. I am currently safe.]

A couple of weeks ago I found out someone I love was being abused. Had been for months or years. By a trusted person. How did I not know? Blind. Does it make me as bad as the abuser if I didn’t know? That’s just one of their tricks so you won’t tell, a distant part of me says, but it doesn’t make a difference.

Today I found out my fiancé has been much more ill than I knew in recent weeks. How didn’t I know? We’ve been with each other a significant part of each day. How could I not know? How stupid and blind am I? Insensitive, I must have been too selfish to notice. Spoiled, bad, ugly, brat, greedy, you haven’t said sorry enough, no one has done as little as you, the voices join in.

Today, in a way (too personal to him to write about) a point of security we had counted on for our future is gone. He’s / We’ve been tricked again, lied to again, lost again. Probably what is lost can’t be got back. Stupid me. Stupid me for trusting again. Every security I’ve counted on has been pulled from under us. Stupid. How could I not know this was just a dream and would be the same?

But I did really need it to have any chance of coping, the sick broken me says.

I’m watching my dad be put down, manipulated, knocked back by my step mum. Whilst she is emotionally abusing me, and doing what she can to confuse and control my relationship with my dad. And I believe she is hurting another vulnerable member of the family too. My dad appears blind to what she is doing to him and to me. A frightened but angry child in me is screaming, how can he not know?! Why won’t he do something? Look what she’s doing to him… and why won’t he help me?(That last part I’m so ashamed of.) Which is ironic and hypocritical of me, given what I too have been blind to. I should not be surprised at least, as he remained blind to my mother’s far worse behaviour.

I feel as if I’m fragmenting into too many pieces.

Too many voices are screaming in my head, repeating my guilt, to make me doubt and paralyse me. They will kill me with their screaming and the noise and pain and reliving, unless I cut myself. There are too many parts of me and they all have voices too and it’s dangerous. There’s another voice too though, and she’s saying, never again. This stops now. Act. Make it different this time. Get help. I don’t know how. I don’t know how to choose when I and the people I love have always been used or tricked or abandoned in the end. But I have to stop this somehow.

Whatever I write seems to trivialise what happened to her

I stopped where I did in my last post as I feel too horrified, confused, guilty and so much tumbling round my mind, that I can’t write more. It feels awful and incomplete to leave it there. I don’t want to trivialise it and feel as if I have done, somehow. I can’t write more right now. I’ll try again in a little while or a couple of days’ time.

Xxx

What can go unseen, again

I’ve just found out that someone close to me has been suffering the most awful abuse.

It has been going on for years.

It has been horrific. Even what I know, which I am sure is only a small part of what has been done to her.

She was already so vulnerable.

She is a kind, generous, caring… good person. Of course, bitterly, the abuser took advantage of these good traits, taking advantage of her desire to give, desire to help, desire to forgive or to give another chance.

I had been sure someone was hurting or pressurising her but I didn’t know who or how. It’s frighteningly astounding what can go unseen.

Xxx

This time next week

This time next week

This time next week we will be in Greece, God willing. My fiancé and I are going away for a few days. It will be the second time I have been abroad before which I hadn’t been for about 14 years, so travelling is still new for me. My fiancé’s family on one side were Greek so it’s important to him. I’m still extremely nervous about the journey but I’m using what it means to him and the good it will do for him to motivate me to continue past the anxiety. I know what beautiful places we saw last time and we have plans of what to do this time.

We are both much in need of rest and it seems impossible to get it at home, where the next medical appointment, the next task, the next step preparing to move house, the next unforeseen problem, always cuts into whatever downtime we plan. It’s been impossible to have quiet to listen to God, or calm and free time together or alone.

“We must never let the noise of the world overpower and overwhelm that Still Small Voice.” – Elder L Tom Perry

Maybe going away will allow us to find some stillness and re-establish a routine starting with prayer. We are longing for freedom from the spiral of pushing through the latest crisis then collapsing exhausted. Having a day out locally doesn’t seem to afford us that and brings more stresses. This temporary escape will help.

In terms of travel anxiety I think I’m feeling pretty much as I did before last year’s trip to Greece. Maybe I should expect to be feeling much more confident now but it’s still a new thing and it might take lots more travelling before my feelings change. Or maybe it’s a feeling I need to accept experiencing and it might vary according to how otherwise strained or ill I am. When I’m less well with my physical disabilities, for example, I know my anxiety about leaving the house for even familiar journeys can be huge. What has changed since the last trip to Greece is that alongside the anxiety, I also have a lot more happy emotions, like excitement and curiosity about what we will see and where we will stay. This motivates me to want to go, rather than it simply being a question of trying to push aside frightened feelings.

I’m full of thanks to God for bringing me on this path and for the amazing understanding my fiancé shows me. I never wanted to go anywhere before but I do with him.

Ginny xxx

Image from patternpictures.com with thanks

Undermined

I’ve just had a family member to stay who I find it very stressful to be around. She rapidly and repeatedly undermines and dismisses things I’m experiencing and what I achieve. She makes it clear she thinks I’m faking my physical health conditions, that my mental health conditions are my own choice, that I’m lazy, a let down and a failure. She starts gradually drip by drip until nearly every comment makes clear what a waste of space I am, her hatred of me and any sense I have of myself apart from her statements and blame of me is gone.

Right now I wish I’d cut off all contact with her as I almost did 5 years ago then 4 years ago when her behaviour to me, along with the circumstances I was living in, repeatedly put me in situations too closely mirroring those I was in as a child trapped with my mother’s emotional abuse.

But – and I almost didn’t write this – she’s my step mother and my father thinks she’s wonderful, and what do I do if I’m to allow him happiness… and keep some relationship with him… which actually, I think she would rather I did not have. It’s something else she’s gradually tapping away at. Rather as my mother did.

What obligations do I have to him? To her?

I’m seeing far too many circumstances repeating here. It’s very hard to try to go forward building up my recovery with this going on. But this kind of thing always will go on, and I need to make my own choices and change my own behaviour so I don’t act in the same way I did as an abused child.

Xxx

This boat is sinking

This boat is sinking

I feel rubbish that all my posts are negative at the moment. Like I can’t say or do anything good anymore or be thankful when there’s so much I really should be thankful for – am thankful for – but I’ve lost touch with it all.

Every single time there’s going to be a short moment or peace or rest the next disaster happens. That’s been life pretty much since I remember and I don’t even have things that bad. It’s stupid. Stupid because it’s insignificant in the scheme of things; when there’s so much deeper suffering everywhere around; stupid because I’ve got this far so why can’t I carry on.

But I’m running out of energy and mind and hope and everything else.

My fiancé’s been rushed back into hospital again today after months of fight with the doctors and being dismissed and going round in circles. We don’t know what’s going on or what they suspect or why they are doing the tests they are now. I’m useless for him because physically I’m so ill at the moment I have been in bed, unable to get up for more than a few minutes at a time.

All I can see right now is confusion, being overwhelmed, people I love hurting, me letting people down, mentally breaking apart.

We are going under Lord, is it nothing to you, the apostles cried out to Jesus as the boat was overwhelmed with the waves. I don’t know how much more storm we can stand right now. Where are you, Lord Jesus?

Xxx

Losing Lily

TRIGGER WARNING for discussion of suicide, of deaths of people suffering mental health conditions, and of failings in mental health care. If you are in mental distress, caution is advised in reading this post.

A NOTE: This post mentions anonymously the death of a person who had recently left the care of a service I worked in. There was an investigation into the circumstances of the person’s death and the investigation has now concluded. I want to make clear that this post discusses solely my experience from my point of view and my knowledge of the situation, my thoughts and feelings. It does not reflect the position of the service I worked in, or of any other person or team involved in the person’s care.

During the time I worked in a specialist community and inpatient mental health service 7 or 8 years ago, two of our patients died. One lady had moved away to a different part of the country so hadn’t been in our service for a couple of years when she tragically died from an overdose. The other lady had just left our inpatient ward (as far as I know against doctors’ advice but assessed as having capacity to make her own decision in this regard) and gone to live independently, but deteriorated rapidly within weeks and died 4 months later. I’ll call her Lily*.

At any one time we were working with several other patients in my eyes dangerously close to death – because of their drive to harm themselves (by overdose and substance use and so on), because of their suicidal intentions, and/or because their organs were so damaged physically by the effects of their mental health conditions (starvation and other eating disorder or self-neglect symptoms leading to heart failure or diabetic coma, for example).

We were working constantly short staffed, physically and mentally unwell ourselves because of the workload and emotions and conflicts and fear of making mistakes, within constraints of time and policy that often felt out of our hands, trying to provide a service fair and the best for everyone, but knowing we could not give enough.

Lily has never left me. She’s come to my mind every week or so since the winter she died. I was a secretary, not a clinician. I didn’t know Lily as much as I got to know some of our other patients. She was intelligent and wanted to do well and was very driven for her goals. She made close friendships with a couple of people on the ward. Yet, she really needed love which I think she often didn’t find where she may have most expected it. She really did start to get better but something very painful remained impossible to reach. Sometimes I wonder if she was hurting so much she’d had enough. If everything was so locked in and disconnected from the people she needed and wanted to trust, that in her pain it felt like time to go – if she didn’t choose exactly when but she did know she’d quietly slip away.

We didn’t reach her. Even as she got a little better, we couldn’t reach through her pain. We didn’t catch her. We didn’t keep her safe when she was slipping. We lost her.

There was an investigation – many investigations – after Lily’s death. The final investigation ruled that the harm she suffered, and her death, were avoidable. I just now read the start of the report of the last investigation and horror and panic and confusion took over. The room swayed and spun and I couldn’t breathe. I’m still freezing cold.

Her life is on my hands. Not mine alone, and not the service I worked in alone because several other services were involved – but I was there.

Of course we had not wished to reject her or abandon her or disown her or her care. One of the worst things is that a lot of what was judged harmful in the report, were either actions in line with procedures we were taught to follow to give safe and fair and consistent care to every patient in the service, or matters that within the constraints we faced, we could not personally control. But whichever, it wasn’t right or safe for Lily. Consistency and guidelines and constraints are one thing but every individual patient is in very individual circumstances at very individual risk. Procedure under huge constraints imposed from outside, doesn’t make account of that.

What do we do when the steps that were supposed to have been good or safest or standard, or following established guidelines, or the best we could give, or taken in faith in the decisions of those we work for and trust, were actually steps that led to a death?

Personally, what should I have done and what do I do now? My heart is screaming at me, you did not speak up, you did not speak when you had concerns at what you heard, you did not act, you did not follow your gut – you followed instructions instead, and you know this wasn’t the only time.

Good intentions or having tried to follow what was supposed to be good enough, or even best, count for nothing now.

I’m reminded of my mother and her care and deterioration; how we were locked in an agonising cycle of her discharge, the same crises repeating, her deterioration and readmission, worse and worse every time, all of us knowing what would happen but all held powerless by legislation that didn’t allow us to put in place a few simple steps that would have kept her safe. Ultimately an adult judged to have capacity to make a decision is allowed to make a decision that will harm herself, allowed to cut herself off from sources of help, allowed to deceive everyone who wants to help. Even when those decisions and actions are the work of a delusion founded in deep-rooted, severe psychosis. My mother couldn’t be more different from Lily but I see similarities in how the hands of those who wanted to help were rendered powerless.

In my head when Lily stares at me, slowly fading, I don’t know what to say, and everything I should have said back then echoes around me.

(*not her real name. Again please note that the opinions and thoughts and experiences mentioned in this article are mine alone.)

Ginny xxx

How do you love someone who is hurting his/herself when it feels you can only watch?

WARNING: this post mentions self-harm and suicide and the point of view of carers of people who are struggling.

How do you love someone who is slowly hurting his/herself – and you wonder if actually, they’re taking their life gradually – when it feels like you can only watch?

I don’t mean how do you feel love. That’s not in question. It’s your love that aches and burns and cries inside you.

But how do you give love?

When it seems you can only watch. Watch, wish, long, weep, beg, scream, shake (you – and them?), speak but only shout into the distance, only shout up against a rubber wall that bounces your words of concern and pain and fear and help and whatever it may be right back at your heart – where they metaphorically stab you and mock you with their futility.

And the love you want to give is lost somewhere.

Your loved one get relentlessly weaker with irresistible self-consuming power. And you are powerless. Love does not force or fight and does not demand to control another person’s choices. Love can not force another person to choose the healing of their body or to choose life. The pain-and-longing part of your heart, when you love someone who’s breaking, might for a time wish it could force it, but the very centre of love knows really that it cannot be forced.

And then you cry.

Even if you cannot and do not want to make them choose, you wish you could at least penetrate the rubber wall, so that love could be heard for a little while.

****

I’m in this situation right now, actually with two people dear to me, and I don’t know how to give love.

Ginny xxx

“Music, sweet music, there’ll be music everywhere…”

It’s been a while since music has made me happy. Music is important for me. I don’t deal well with silence – something I’m trying to work on because it stems from trauma and what happens if I’m alone with my thoughts, my feelings and the voices. So when I’m home alone I tend to have either the TV on or music playing. Many songs help me get through the day by reflecting how I feel and even giving me some sense that someone is here who empathises. Others are effective at taking me away from the stresses I’m working through in reality. They may remind me of a good memory or something I like but more than this, they can be a super-highway into dissociation – not the scary dissociation but what I call the protective dissociation, where I can detach by becoming subsumed into one of my escape worlds.

It’s been a long time since music I’ve come across by chance has stirred up a simple feeling of happiness here and now. Today I was trying and failing to focus on work I want to prepare for seeing the psychologist tomorrow and on preparing a short talk I have to give on Friday. I was exhausted and my head couldn’t take anymore. It’s been a gruelling month. I decided to stop and do something else, a sort of example of the strategy “take the opposite action”. Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed I decided to act as if I were happy and in control of my life. I put on iTunes Dreamboats and Petticoats Diamond Edition – vintage and summery?! – and started cleaning my lounge of a week’s mess. After an hour or so it was as though a switch flicked in my brain and I started to feel mentally energised (if physically tired because of my disabilities and resultant muscle problems) and the panic receded. I hung out the laundry and actually felt happy for a little while.

Now I’m returning to my work for the psychologist and though I’m starting later than planned, at least I can use the boost the music gave me and actually face it.

Ginny xxx

Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas