Imagine me as a toddler, a little girl, and a teenager. I won’t go into the graphic details of the truly horrific abuse I was subjected to by my Daddy. You won’t want to hear it and to be honest I can’t bare to write it.
Now imagine how I felt growing up if you can. Maybe you don’t want to think about it, maybe it far too distressing to think that a Daddy could sexually, emotionally and physically abuse his little girl. Maybe you can’t bring yourself to believe me. Maybe you can’t or won’t be able to imagine how it felt.
What would you do if you knew me as a little girl and knew that, although I seemed like any other little girl, you saw that I was deeply distressed deep inside and then I told you what was happening to me? How would you treat me?
Fast forward to the adult me aged 30 going to see my GP with low mood, anxiety, trouble sleeping. Still not daring to tell the secret I had kept all these years. The GP who said I had a chemical imbalance and that I needed antidepressants. Who didn’t ask why I was feeling the way I did.
Me aged 31 summoning up the courage and, for the first time ever, giving him a piece of paper containing a few sentences of what had happened to me. What should he have done? What he didn’t do was talk to me about the trauma. What he didn’t do was refer me to someone I could talk to. What he did do was increase my antidepressants and refer me to a ‘specialist’.
At age 33 I walk into the ‘Personality Disorder’. I see a psychiatrist who tells me I have ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ and prescribes me antipsychotics. He doesn’t mention the trauma I had disclosed either. He says I need medication to make me feel better.
Years and years and years go by and my coping methods that keep me alive are seen as ‘symptoms’ and negative ‘traits’. Self-injury is not understood and shamed. More medications are added. I feel numb. I can’t cope with everyday ‘life’. I am told I am severely mentally ill. I receive ongoing verbally abusive treatment. I ring the Crisis Team rarely as I see it as a form of self-harm as I am seen as an attention seeker and told to have a bath or take responsibility.
Even though I dare to ask, I am denied any one to one support to tell of what happened to me. Apparently I’m too complex.
I try to take my life because the distress is too great or because I am in severe altered states. I often attend A and E where I am placed in a room with male security guards. I’m detained on a Section 136, the taser police are called and I’m handcuffed and trying to fight back. I’m detained on other Section 136s, handcuffed and try to run away. I’m rugby tackled to the floor. I’m searched and vomit on the floor. The only time I get fresh air is in a small cage but it’s not that often.
My right to freedom is taken away from me again and again for months at a time. I am locked up against my will, restrained by male staff, and injected. Sexually abused by a man in a mixed ward. Put on one to one observations with no privacy to use the toilet. No-one really talks to me. I feel as though I don’t exist. I feel that no-one cares. I feel abused and traumatised.
The present day. I am 56. Nothing has changed. I’m still on antipsychotics antidepressants and benzodiazepines. I have very recently once again been sectioned. I try to ask again and again for what I need. I put in a formal complaint to my Trust and receive a dismissive and inaccurate response. I don’t feel believed. I feel powerless and that I shouldn’t have asked for support for the trauma, to reduce my medication or change my diagnosis. I feel silenced but I fight on.
I hear rumours of something called Trauma Informed Care. I look online to see what this means. I don’t understand. It’s seems like common sense? I can’t fathom out why every single person doesn’t already know these things I am reading about. It seems this is the closest thing to care and compassion I might expect. I hear that Trauma Informed Care probably won’t be introduced by my Trust due to lack of funding. I wonder why money needs to be spent and why people don’t already know how to treat people like me.
What would you do if you knew me as a the woman I am today and knew that, although I seemed like any other little woman, you saw that I was deeply distressed deep inside and then I told you what had happening to me? How would you treat me?
Nothing has changed!