I hate my mental illness

I HATE having a mental illness! I hate the pain and confusion that it brings. And people can’t see these wounds and relate them to my, at times, unusual behaviour. I hate that people make judgements about my behaviour and that even I have trouble understanding my actions.s

This is one of those battles that happens for no reason and which I cannot explain, even when such reasoning is warranted or expected.

I hate the fact that the person who caused all this continues to wreak havoc on my life without knowing it. It feels like I am being punished over and over and over again.

Self-Harm – Origin

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This is one of those complex stories that I am not sure how to fully get across, so I will undoubtedly revisit this topic in the future. 

Such is the nature of Mental Health that when I began to write about this I had forgotten just how complex an issue it was. So this is going to be the start of a series of posts on this topic as there is far too much to cover in one post and those reasons aren’t straight-forward.

So, lets start with the simplest of reasons for me doing this – WHY???

Less than 12 months after I witnessed by dad being murdered (don’t forget, I was a young child when this happened), during the year where I have no memories, we moved to a new town, I started a new school and just when I needed the most stability I had the least.

I had to deal with the trauma of dads murder and now I had to deal with starting a whole new life in a new house in a new town and going to a new school and trying to start making new friends.

My mind already felt like it was a scrambled egg and now that scrambled egg was put in the microwave and turned up to the max.

All I knew was that everything I once knew was no more and I realised just how little control I had over my life and my choices. 

I don’t blame my mother for this; she was doing the best she could having now been widowed with 3 children all under the age of 10. I can’t imagine that anyone could have done better.

By this stage there were no arrests nor convictions for my dads murder and as I started to form new memories my young mind was in chaos trying to make sense in a senseless world where justice seemed to fail and it just wasn’t fair.

I was angry and that anger was just growing and growing and growing. 

But being the quiet reserved kind of child that I was, and still am as an adult, I turned that anger (I will post more on my anger later) inwards until I could not contain it and it exploded outwards. I also felt huge guilt and blamed myself for my dads murder as, when he asked if we should move house several years earlier and I said ‘no’, we never moved and had that move taken place then he would still be alive.

Because I could not target my anger and frustration at the person whom I knew was responsible for my dads murder, I turned my anger towards the next person whom I felt was responsible – me.

So, just to recap, within 12 months of my dads murder:

  • Witnessed murder of my dad
  • No memories for first 12 months afterwards
  • No chance to grieve or come to terms
  • Moved to new town
  • Started new school
  • Had to make new friends
  • No arrests or convictions for my dads murder
  • Survivors guilt
  • Held myself partly to blame for his murder

I began to self-harm partly to punish myself for my dads murder and also partly to show externally all the pain I was feeling internally. I couldn’t cope. I didn’t know who I was, where I was, what I was supposed to do etc.

In the years that followed, from then to now, I have:

  • punched walls / floors / doors
  • carved words and sentences into my arm with a variety of blades
  • headbutted walls etc
  • ate too much
  • starved myself
  • ate all the wrong types of food
  • refrained from drinking any fluids for 34hrs and could have pushed this to at least 36hrs easily 
  • exercised beyond pain
  • beat myself up mentally for each and every mistake I made
  • told myself I was ugly, pathetic, I deserved to die, was useless, weak, total scum, better off dead, waste of air, didn’t deserve to live – I HATED MYSELF AND FELT PHYSICALLY SICK WHEN I LOOKED IN A MIRROR
  • looked up suicide websites for ideas and one idea was called ‘psychological suicide’ where the goal was to ‘kill’ your emotions to the point where you don’t feel anything. You basically become a Zombie
  • became suicidal and began to make plans for my own death

This was the beginning of my journey into self-harm and anger.

Job Search

There may be plenty of jobs being advertised but there is also a lot of competition for those jobs. I don’t apply for jobs, I apply for interviews and I interview for jobs.

But despite my best efforts, interviews are few and far between and in the meantime I am wondering what it is that I am doing wrong. 

I know I am a good worker, reliable, punctual, skilled, I listen to and follow instructions and I even learn new skills on my own time whether it be my lunch or even when I am at home so that I can be a better worker. Feedback is always welcome and I always take on board what I am being told to do.

I understand employers are busy and cannot respond individually to every application they receive and I understand this completely. But what does annoy me is when I go to all the effort of taking time out to go to an interview and I never hear from the employer again. And the lack of feedback is maddening.

It falls into the definition of insanity being that a person constantly repeats the same actions and yet expects different results. 

How can I improve when I don’t know what it is that I am doing wrong?

Then there is the interview itself and whether or not to make the decision to disclose that I have mental health issues. I am always worried that the employer may be marking me highly only to suddenly change their mind if I were to make this disclosure. I have seen and felt potential employers look at me differently once this disclosure is made. Their reaction is so subtle that I cannot pinpoint exactly what it is that has changed, and yet the reaction is so strong that it’s unmissable.  

This in turn has an impact on my health as I have been looking for another job for about 3 years and every now and again I feel a tidal-wave of despair washing over me when I either get another rejection after an interview, hear nothing back from the interview or count the large numbers of jobs that I apply for and the months (at 1 point I went 7 months between interviews despite constantly applying throughout this time) that pass without result.

The last job offer I had was the one I accepted to start with my current employer.

All the while I struggle with my current role. I can do my job, there’s never been any doubt about it, but it’s not conductive to my long-term mental health and this is why I have been looking for so long.

I’m just tired of looking, but the same tenacity that has kept me alive means that I cannot give up on my search.

In addition to asking myself why I keep failing, I also turn my gaze, and sometimes fury, towards the heavens and cry out:

Why are you punishing me!? You know what I need and yet despite my best efforts I am not getting what I need. What wrong have I done that requires this constant punishment? Have I not suffered enough during my life that I am undeserving of such a simple wish.!?

To date my prayers and cries for help remain unanswered. But…I could be worse because at least I have a job…for now.

What is a Bad Day like for me?

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If I was to walk down the street with a bandage or a limb in a plaster cast or even in a wheelchair, I doubt very much that I would have taken as much verbal abuse as I have and I think any physical attacks would have been avoided in their entirety, though I am sure I would receive some sort of verbal attack.

I also seriously doubt that anyone that has ever attacked me in ****** would have done so had I had an arm in a plaster cast.

But with a mental disability, such as PTSD, no-one sees it. No-one sees, nor do I believe they would even care, the impact their words can have on me.

I keep telling myself it’s their opinion and I don’t have to listen to it…but it comes down to the following:

Are their words stronger than my own ability to ignore them? Sadly the answer is sometimes ‘yes’.

I fight to ignore them, but I’m also fighting not to self-harm as a result. I don’t want them to have that kind of power over me. But when I am in a vulnerable mood then my resolve is not strong enough and each word uttered strikes me as though it were a physical blow.

One of the things I have to remember is that my Disability is a hidden one. It is not on show for the public, nor most people, to see. For me it is a private issue as it involves disclosing a lot about my past.

However, I have learned that there are ways to disclose enough so that the listener has a good idea of my past, whilst withholding anything I do not wish them to know e.g. the extent of my self-harm or the emotional turmoil I live with daily.

Physical disabilities are understood by the public. They are, at times, easy to spot, and a Blue Badge is something they can instantly understand.

Mental disabilities can be hidden and, unless they are disclosed, are not easily spotted. Even if they are made known, I do not believe there is the awareness out there for people to understand the scope and weight and impact these disabilities can have on peoples’ lives.

What is it like to live with my Mental Disability?

It’s hard work…would be the simple answer. I’ve spent years working hard to keep my symptoms under control…trying to hone my thoughts so that I am completely aware of my emotions, especially my annoyance, frustration and anger*; which are 2 separate emotions.

I am ALWAYS 100% aware 24/7/365 of my anger. I am reflexively on the lookout for any warning signs that I am getting annoyed, frustrated or angry. I’ve maintained this heightened awareness for 20+ years now. It rarely takes me off guard. Though it can surprise me just how quickly I can get angry at times and I always catch it in time so that I remove myself from that situation before I do something I would enjoy at the time but later regret once the flames have died down.

On a normal day I can function quite normally. You would never know I have Mental Health issues. I would say I am quite an intelligent. I have a good heart and my intentions are always honourable.

My mood can swing quite dramatically from one day to the next. One day I can be highly functional where nothing can bother me no matter how much abuse or threats I get from the public.

Then the next I am living on a ‘hair trigger’, where it would take just a simple comment to send me on a downward spiral.

*Anger

I feel I need to talk about this. If I were to give it a name; a form; I would describe it as a Dragon.

My Dragon

My Journey began

So many years ago

Where it will end

I do not know

The scars I have

You cannot see

They are not on my skin

But hidden inside me

The rage that was bottled

Has now begun to crack

Once it shatters

There’s no going back

The fight is on

The dragon has awoken

Now its container

Has finally broken

I will beat this anger

And I will thrive

I am now stronger

And I will survive

You will not kill me

That much is true

You’ve done your worst

And I say ‘Fuck off’ to you!

Whilst my Dragon slumbers there is peace in my heart and all is right with the world. But once he awakens…he just wants to watch the world burn. He is fire and fury at all the injustice I have ever experienced. He doesn’t care for others or their emotions. His pain, our pain, is too numb for the empathy of others.

My Dragon feels like raw power. I feel agony when he is fully awake. My body aches all over from holding back the pain and emotion I am feeling. I feel my legs give out from underneath me and I fall to the ground. And yet the fire doesn’t go out.

I cry. Fuck I cry. I let my dragons’ full fury out and feel him unleashed upon the universe. I cry silent tears and scream my loudest…silent scream. Not making a sound is my last and only remaining strand of control. A silent protest to my Dragon, telling him he has not bested me completely.

I HATE him and he hates me.

What is a bad day like?

On Monday 19th February 2018 I experienced, what I would describe as, ‘an episode’. This is what I call the results of a small events leading to a mental breakdown where all my defences fail and I am in a state of visible distress.

I think I slept OK the night before. I woke up several times during the night (this is normal) and didn’t feel tired. I think my cats wanted fed at 0400 and 0500 when they don’t get fed until around 0600.

I made a minor mistake this morning and it put me in a bad mood. But I was trying to keep it under control and was looking forward to a day working in ***** on my own so I can blow off some steam by going for a walk and pounding the pavement.

My mood worsened when I saw my colleague walking into my office. I was annoyed my solo day was ruined. I began my shift 10mins early and I kept my head down and my eyes looking only a few feet ahead of where I was walking. Actually I nearly bumped into a few people.

I felt very annoyed and recognised the warning signs and began to consciously do breathing exercises to calm my mood down. I knew I was in danger of having ‘an episode’.

I was OK at first; I was busy concentrating on my breathing and keeping a lid on my anger and listening to my music on a black earphone, which was helping immensely with my mood as it was giving me something else to focus on.

As I walked past the male he tried to get my attention. I thought nothing of it and continued on. Then I heard him again. I turned around and saw him giving me the finger and smiling.

That was it. That’s all it took. I felt my Dragon waking up. I knew now that I was in deep trouble. I could feel those angry flames rising and the tears threatening to spill out of my eyes.

Regardless, I fought those flames with every ounce of strength and will power I had. But it was too late. My Dragon had awoken and I knew I needed to return to my sanctuary.

Once I was there, I took a break; though I still didn’t feel safe to let loose in the way that I needed to as I knew my colleague could walk in at any moment.

Seeing me during a full blown ‘episode’ is every distressing. I don’t release all of my shackles; I never do as I am too scared to turn my Dragon loose. He just wants to destroy the world and see everything burn.

I finally began to cry as I felt the full might of the pain and fury I was trying to hold back. But I fight to stop every time a tear finds freedom. I went outside and grabbed the metal railings and just shook it hard. It swayed dangerously enough that I realised I was in danger of damaging more property.

I stood at the door and cursed the universe for giving me all this pain when I don’t deserve it. I feel my anger crystallise towards my dad and I feel furious with him for leaving me when I was 8 years old. I feel huge unimaginable guilt at feeling this emotion and my anger doubles and so does the pain.

I had terrible and distressing thoughts going through my head…feeding the fire I was trying so desperately to quench.

15mins later I rang ***** and explained what had happened. I rang again 15mins after that and following a conversation, during which time my previous fears were realised when my colleague came in and stood near me and heard more of my conversation than I wanted him to, it was decided that I was going home sick. I said I was throwing up and explained what he needed to do.

On the way home my anger was still strong. Those distressing thoughts, now made worse by the guilt I was feeling at having them, drove me to tears once again.

The drive home was dangerous. I was fighting a war; and sometimes winning, sometimes losing the battle that was raging within my own mind. A silent fight which only I was aware off. At times I was physically shaking with rage…whilst the entire time I was telling myself to calm down; focus on my breathing. Keep my mind clear and don’t think about anything.

When I finally got home I felt some relief to be somewhere safe and where I can fully express all the complex emotions and pain that were going through my head and manifesting physically through my body.

I made it into the kitchen and I just felt exhausted. I the strength I was using to keep my emotions in check was finally depleted. My legs gave out and I collapsed onto the kitchen floor.

Then the pain came…there was no holding it back. Emotional pain made physical. I felt like my entire body was in agony and I was screaming and crying as hard as my lungs would allow, but only a whisper escaped my lips as I did not want to alert anyone to my private torture.

Eventually the pain subsided enough for me to stand and compose myself; though it took several days for my anger to fully subside.

Sadly I know that this will happen again. It’s only a matter of time. It hasn’t been the first time this has happened and I know it will most definitely not be the last. It’s only a question of when…?

 

 

 

 

 

Short Intro

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Hi, this is my first Blog and I am just posting a short introduction.

I am someone who has spent the last 30yrs living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of being a Victim/Survivor of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. My PTSD has driven me to the brink of suicide more than once.

I am a fossil collector, avid reader, writer and photographer. I enjoy spending time with my family and spending days, and nights, out exploring the wonders of this little Emerald Isle.

I guess the main reason for writing this is to document some of my experiences living daily with PTSD or a Mental Illness. At least with a physical disability or wound you can see it clearly. Crutches, wheelchair, bandages, a limp, missing limbs etc. 

But with a mental illness you don’t see my struggles as easily. Sometimes I can be having a super bad day and I can walk right past you and you would have no idea of the fierce battle I am having with my thoughts within my own mind. 

When this mental pain gets too much, it actually turns physical. I can be in agony; but because my pain is not coming from the outside, though it may have been triggered by an external event, people cannot see it. 

Basically these are some of the thoughts that go through my head and rather than leaving them there I have chosen to share them here. 

Welcome to my world…