The doors of perception

Joseph George Photography Landscape

Its world mental health day – you’ll know that of course if you’re at all affected or know someone who is. The chances are you will know someone who is affected and suffering as apparently 1 in 4 of us will suffer at sometime in our lives. That’s a lot of people.

I thought about myself today and how I’m feeling on a scale of 1 – 10 with 1 being as low as you can be, 10 being in tip-top mental form. I classify myself today as a 5. I’m middle of the road, muddling along, neither being too down or really being on top of things.

But I’m happy with being a 5 to be honest, a 5 is manageable for me and I’m working on not creeping backwards but creeping upwards with a 6 in mind as my goal for the remainder of the year.

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After a 2 week break from seeing my counsellor Laura we had a session last Thursday which was a nice, gentle catch up session. In fact Laura said she didn’t want to get too heavy as we will be having another break this week as she is away on a course – she asked me if I was OK with that and said she would change the course date if necessary (which was lovely of her to ask but I’m happy she is on a course bettering herself). She also told me that I am currently at week 8 in a 12 week program but because of the complexities of my case she has already secured an additional 12 weeks for me which was so lovely to hear.

We chatted some more about the whole police investigation with regards myself, the court process I found myself in, the lack of recognition in the “system” of a dissociative disorder and the inability of anyone in the system to think anything other than “his stories don’t quite add up so therefore he must be lying and clearly guilty”.

For the first time Laura admitted to me she had been extremely frustrated for me during my investigation and had found some of the treatment and comments by the police, social services and courts to be borderline abusive themselves. As one example, the police knowing that I had been raped as a child multiple times have never offered any support, they have never asked me if I want to make any kind of complaint, they have never asked me if I want them to investigate further or doing anything for me.

Laura and I both find that very odd.  If a child walked into a police station today and explained he/she thought they had been raped multiple times you can’t tell me the police would do nothing at all or offer no support?

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That probably sounds likes sour grapes of course with me having been investigated by the police. But having that deeply personal knowledge about someone and doing nothing at all with it as a public protector – that doesn’t seem right to me.

Why am I mentioning this again? Well in my gentle session last Thursday we kind of came full circle again to one of my original questions to Laura about being abused and not speaking out about it sooner – What if no-one believes me? What if having told people, no-one does or can do anything? I have always felt petrified of the reaction I would get and at the moment I still feel very justified in feeling that way having disclosed a lot now and receiving very little help and support.

Please look after yourselves, everyday of course it goes without saying,  but hopefully more people in the world today will just be that little bit more aware of the daily, weekly and yearly battles we face up to and try our best to conquer and overcome.

Stay safe.

Joe

 

 

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A Liquid Mind

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Graphic Warning – some possible triggering descriptions

So it’s been just over 2 weeks now since I returned to my family home after an absence of over 10 months. I thought I may get a huge initial surge of “my god I don’t want to be here”, but that hasn’t happened.

For anyone who hasn’t read through my other posts, my family home holds an extra special place in my heart for being the home when, aged 10, I moved in with my parents, brother and sister.  We lived together at this property from 1983 for 14 years together and from age 10 I had a wonderful, exciting and relatively normal childhood. My Mum, Dad, Brother, Sister and I left the house in 1997. So many happy, happy memories contained within those walls, bedrooms and gardens.

There were demons as well, a suicide attempt which my mind had locked far far away but was awoken again when, with my own family, we moved back into the property in 2016. There were also memories awoken of being kept silent and having no voice. Not silenced by my family, but by myself not being able to explain about my abuse I endured up to the age of 10. Where do you start with that?

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I suffered massive triggers last year after moving back into a house that I only ever remembered good things from and my brain couldn’t understand what was happening. I guess that’s where people say to you “the past has caught up with you”.

Why my brain wants a past catching up with me I have tried to forget I don’t know, why now do I feel pain, real pain when I flashback to fingers and thumbs being inserted in areas they shouldn’t be to any child, why do I have to remember things in my mouth I never wanted there and shouldn’t have been there. I feel disgusted and ashamed all over again and it’s so painful.

It’s not the houses fault though, I understand that, I don’t think it is my fault either but I’m working on understanding that for sure.

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I started this blog as an anonymous writer, I had good reasons too, as at the time I was involved with the police, social services, NHS Well-being and private counsellors. I wasn’t hiding I really wasn’t, I just didn’t want anything potentially being used to keep me from my family and my home any longer.

I’m back where I belong now, I’m broken, I’m battered, my mind is jelly and my general well-being sits on a scale ready to tip towards health and happiness or death and despair at any given moment.

I’m still here, I’m alive, I’m still writing and I’m still reading the fantastic blogs that I read and draw hope and inspiration from.

My names Joe and I’m a Husband, Father, Son and Brother. I’m a human being, I’m a survivor and I’m certainly not anonymous.

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In The Midst of Desolation

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Mental Health Crisis.

These words are all over the news here in the UK and hopefully without insulting anyone seem to be a big buzzword at the moment. The Government have also promised to “transform the way we deal with mental health issues across all of society”

The BBC have done a documentary on the crisis in the NHS also.

BBC Documentary on mental health crisis in the NHS

As publicity grows, hopefully knowledge, education, acceptance and understanding will grow also in such a delicate and misunderstood field.

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I am finding it’s such a minefield at the moment trying to find very specialist knowledge and help and I find myself physically tiring myself out from thinking of how I will have to potentially go through my story again with someone new.

It crosses my mind whether it is worth doing it at all and whether I should just accept the status quo that I may never be normal again, but I can try my hardest to act like I am. Does that ultimately help me though? Am I not worth the risk of getting help to help myself?

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Through advice from my counsellor Laura, she has put me in touch with a fantastic organisation – this blog isn’t to advertise services at all but there is an amazing amount of free information on this site and I recommend a read if you are suffering from any kind of PTSD or Dissociative symptons, it really is stuffed full of fantastic articles.

Positive Outcomes

 

 

 

The Uninvited Guest

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So we’ve had a lovely short family break together, the first for over a year. We didn’t go far, we didn’t need to as we are surrounded by beautiful areas over in the east of England and this was about getting the children away and trying to get a small degree of normality back into their lives after my return home.

Anyone who battles with any kind of mental health issue will know that the highs can just mean a “normal” decent week but the lows can be crushingly devastating.

To try to keep even a degree of normality takes a lot of concentration, effort and energy. Our young children certainly provide me with enough inspiration to make it through the day and beyond.

Their smiles, love, innocence and happiness count for everything to me and to simply hear them laughing and calling my name is an amazing tonic for my mind.

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But I also know that there is this black hole still inside me that is constantly there and some days it seems like it will swallow me whole and other days it seems to ignore me. I have no control over this dark part of me and I am not sure I ever will.

I guess when I lost control to my abuser years ago this was what manifested itself inside of me? This dark and empty feeling, being part of a family and being loved but feeling very much isolated and alone.

 

 

A homecoming

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So after a distressing 10 months or so, I made it home. I spoke to my wife about how maybe I should hide in the garden from the children, or hide in the house and surprise them.

But in the end I did what I always did when I came home, I drove onto my drive in my car, parked up and there were the kids sitting on the window sill looking out, they both gave me the most amazing smiles as I entered the house and a massive cuddle. It was a special moment all round.

To jump back in time a bit, we moved into our new family house in June 2016. We had simply needed more space with a growing family, a successful wedding photography business, potential outbuilding needed for a little studio and with time still on our side, we decided 2016 would be the time to look and move.

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And we did it. We found the perfect place together and we successfully moved on and were all looking forward to this new chapter in our lives together.

Then in October 2016 that new chapter came abruptly to a halt. The Police came for me, Social Services were involved as the police didn’t know I had children and after just 4 months together at our new home I was taken away and told I couldn’t return.

10 Months later, I’m back. The house stands exactly the same as it always has when it was built-in the 1930’s but I am very different. I left as one person in October 2016 and return as another in 2017.

A new chapter has to start now but as yet this part is unwritten. I know the start of this story, I know the middle but as yet I do not know how this will end.

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Not of this World

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So I did it. A weekend far away from home, working on an office move, and having a bit of time on my own (which I preferred to be honest so I didn’t have to answer any questions about how I was and how life was etc).

I had Sunday off work to do a bit of exploring of Leeds and despite it raining on and off I had a good walk, a few coffees on route and lots of time to think. I went to the cinema in the afternoon to watch Dunkirk, which I really enjoyed but found some of the trauma and suffering scenes very hard to watch. Perhaps because I was watching it alone, perhaps because it was filmed so beautifully or perhaps because of it being a real story of young men suffering?

I was really glad when Monday morning came, I was heading home that day and I don’t know why but that made me feel a little anxious. Perhaps the reality of being far away had crept up a bit – who knows?

It’s about a 3 1/2 hour drive home on a good day, this was a wet, Monday afternoon, so I was prepared for a longer journey.

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The journey for the main was fine, there were a couple of small accidents which slowed progress a bit but I was safe, I was in my car and in my bubble and I was fine.

I was only a few miles from home and I was feeling positive about returning safely and then it happened. An almost overwhelming urge to not stop, to continue driving and never, ever stop. It felt like there was absolutely no choice in the matter and I didn’t realise at the time but I just drove straight past my town. I continued on to the next town, the place I lived when I was very young and found myself driving slowly down the street I used to live on.

It was very disorientating actually, one moment I was contemplating my turn off to go home and then seemingly in the next moment I was outside my old flat that I used to live in with my parents by the sea.

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But being there certainly realigned my senses, I took a moment to drive down to the seafront and the sea was rough, the clouds were dark and lightning flashed across the sky in the distance, I felt crushingly disappointed about something but I didn’t know what – perhaps about myself?

I got out of my car and I wasn’t sure if it was the rain or my tears but my face was a bit wet. For a passing moment as I looked out to the water, I imagined what it would feel like to walk out into those rough seas, a storm raging around me and just never come back and be done with it all.

It was just a thought mind, albeit a very strong thought and feeling that comes and goes and one I know will forever sit there waiting for me to turn weak.

 

 

Like a puppet on a string

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I didn’t have counselling this week with Laura and I must admit, I miss not seeing her and speaking with her. At the same time I’m anxious and nervous when I do prepare to see her so it’s quite conflicting feeling wise.

I had a difficult start to the week which resulted in not getting much sleep Monday night, awaking at 4.AM and firing off a very angry and emotional email to Laura about things on my mind. It wasn’t anything I needed, or expected, a response too but I just needed to vent a bit while I remembered certain things.

I’ve been thinking about my sessions for the last month or so as I don’t know how or if I’m ever measured against any kind of progress? Laura never really mentions progress at all, I certainly don’t feel like any progress has been made but then I don’t know what I expect from all this. It’s been hard, tiring and emotional that’s all – is that progress?

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After my trip to London Tuesday and mini-breakdown on the train (I wrote about earlier) my next trip has been to travel up to Leeds to assist with an office move.

I jump in my car and its around 3 1/2 hours drive, there’s really no stress or anxiety, I’ve driven to Leeds before and I prefer to be on my own when travelling. I’m looking forward to doing the move, I’m in charge of the IT infrastructure and without sounding cocky, I can do this with my eyes closed, no problem at all, 0% stress.

If I described this to Laura I know exactly what she would say “This is logical you, the articulate and confident you, the person who keeps so busy that you simply put everything else aside and do the task in hand like a robot”. And she’s spot on of course, logical me is in the zone and all emotions are thrown to the side so that I can get the task done and make sure everyone is happy.  I like making sure everyone else is happy, I always have done, just at a big detriment to myself.

Laura calls me on Friday and we have a quick catch up. She’s checking how I am and says she got my email but only just had the chance to read it. I tell her my brilliant news that I am allowed to go home to my wife and children next week and she’s really pleased for me.

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I think there’s a slight change in her tone when she tells me “I know you’re under a lot of pressure at the moment and I don’t want our sessions to be too hard for you as they will get difficult”

“But I’m very strong, I promise you I’m tough” I tell her “And I don’t plan on changing anything, things are difficult yes but life is difficult and I’d like to continue seeing you”

“That’s fine, we can talk about things in your next session then and I’ll see you next week” Laura responds.

I feel a little deflated, it feels like I’ve been rejected by my own counsellor and perhaps she’s given up on me? Perhaps though she is just genuinely concerned that I can’t take everything that’s happened in my life recently and in the past and she’s protecting me?

I just hoped that maybe she would be more reassuring, she would perhaps reaffirm that she is still there for me no matter what,  but she doesn’t say that and it makes me feel very anxious about possibly losing her. I’ve gone from being fine and confident to anxious and nervy in the space of 5 minutes – is that progress?

Doesn’t feel like it.

 

 

 

 

A day in the life……

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That’s a really good Beatles track firstly!

Now that was a really emotional day today. I didn’t expect it to be at all, something just crept up and hit me. I had to go to London to see my manager, a catch up meeting after lots of time off work (depression, although it wasn’t depression at all, but people understand that term). I’ve been working on and off from home the last few months (home being my sister’s house) on some small pieces of work I can do.

So I walk down to the train station, through my special park and I realise that I’m walking the same walk I do every Thursday on route to my counselling sessions. That’s strike one and I start to feel anxious as I know I don’t have counselling this week, my mind begins to drift. It feels like I’ve actually invented a time machine as my next thoughts are standing at the train station, I’m aware or maybe over aware of all the people around and that’s strike two, I feel more anxious and I actually want to turn back and walk home. But I don’t, that would be giving up and would be stupid.

A road vanishes into the distance.

I get on the train and it dawns on me what the anxiety is and why it’s with me. The last time I was on the train to London I went down to see my manager and human resources contact and I spoke to them face to face about some of my abuse problems from the past. Now that might seem an odd thing to share with work colleagues but they had been so helpful to me when I was off work and bent over backwards to support me and in turn they were supporting my young children.

I had said thanks on the phone and via email but my heart was burning to say thank you in person and it wasn’t just a thank you from me, it was a huge thank you from that scared little abused boy and I needed to explain a little bit more about why I was saying thank you. There was a lot, lot more to my story than just depression.

Today felt like I was reliving that journey again and a lot of emotions came up, but ultimately I was fine. I got to London, I met my manager, we caught up and I got the train home.

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The day, the emotion and the last few months caught up with me and on the way home sitting on a packed train I began to cry.  The lovely old lady sitting beside me asked me if everything was OK. I simply told her “This won’t mean a lot to you but I’ve survived and I’m going to go home very soon”.

“That’s lovely news, are you a soldier?” she asked me.

That made me smile and bought me back to earth. “I’m not a soldier” I told her “But I am fighting a war”.

“Well I hope you win it” She exclaimed.

Me too I thought to myself, me too.

 

Over there, it’s raining

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So I’ve stared down into the abyss and I’ve fallen, I’ve fallen very hard. I’ve needed help and lots of it, I never asked for help, I always put it off. I didn’t know where to look for childhood abuse in the help directory, or perhaps I simply didn’t want to look.

But I am there now, I’m speaking about things, I’m trying to understand myself better so I can explain things better to the relevant people who keep battering and bruising me with more and more questions about my abuse. It’s hard, it’s really hard. But that’s life and I accept that – it’s not meant to be easy I guess.

An amazing service I’d like to promote is the Samaritans.

https://www.samaritans.org/

People who give their time to listen to you, who give impartial and non-prejudicial advice and who are simply there for you. Sometimes all you need is someone to be there, and it’s hard for loved ones, but that someone sometimes needs to be anonymous.

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My counselling session is postponed for this week which  I feel anxious about missing, I have a lot of ranting and venting to do but that can wait another week as I had some amazing news.

After 10 months of being kept apart from my home, my wife and my children I have been told I can go home! I have now stood in front of 2 Judges and both have said that I am no danger to my children or other children and I can go home.

That’s my next big project, my next goal – just to get home and be with my family and that’s happening very soon. I will have a small period of settling back in for sure and I hope that my children are OK with Daddy being back after such a long time.

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I will then be fighting very hard the injustices we have all had to face, the assumptions made, the incorrect presumptions made, the lies told, the mishandling of sensitive information by various agencies, the total lack of knowledge and respect of any potential mental health issues, the agencies lack of following any sort of procedure and guidelines they themselves have set out. It’s all very wrong and easily hidden behind the “necessary path to achieve justice” as I was once told.

That battle commences another time, little steps at the moment for sure. I also need to concentrate and be very selfish with my own recovery which continues to frighten, exhaust, overwhelm and infuriate me all at the same time. But it won’t beat me, he won’t ever beat me I’ve promised myself that.

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