I wake up after 13 hours of sleep, and it’s like I have not had any. I just want to sleep, because when I am asleep nothing can hurt me. Except my dreams, which sometimes even they turn traumatic. But when I sleep at least I am relaxed. At least I don’t have to live.
At least I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I just want to stay in that safe place. Waking up means stress, it means severe anxiety, all the things I have to do or face, even if it doesn’t seem a lot to others, to me, it may well seem overwhelming…
What if all I can do is cry and stare at the walls, hurting….My heart and soul are broken to their core. How do you fix that?
No matter how much sleep you have, you can’t fix that. You cannot run away from your own self or your own thinking, and the constant warring within your own head. You cannot run away from your traumatic past either. You just want an end, an escape to it all, because after 30 or so years of it, you are beyond exhausted.
Give me a pill, an injection, let me go to sleep and not wake up. Waking up means more pain…
They say pain changes people, and if physical pain does, but how much more so does emotional pain?
Somehow I have to put one foot out of my bed, and then the other, and force myself to stand up; not because I am physically unable, but because I am so weak from the consistent onslaught of battling this cold, harsh world, and from being sensitive to everything in it. Sensitive to the constant war going on in my mind. I cannot win, no matter what I do. I cannot get on top of it all. All of my plates will never be spinning, because as soon as I focus on spinning one, another has fallen down.
But now all my plates are on the ground. And it makes me try to think back to when it first felt like that…When did I first feel this complete and utterly helpless feeling?
I think it might have been when I was very young and realised that in my household, with a single parent father, and two younger brothers, that suddenly there was this huge responsibility on me to be a mother-like figure for my brothers – but also a wife-like figure for my father. And it felt an insurmountable task. I felt I was only a child myself. How could I be expected to do this? I am told that this is called “Parentification”.
But they all “needed” me to be that person. And although there was no way I could ever be what they needed, I had to try. It’s like I had to forsake my own life and give it to them. I had no choice. There was nobody else.
They had needs, and I could sense that, especially emotionally. I tried to adapt, to be what they each needed emotionally. They were my world, and all I had, so I had to be there for them. Who else were they going to go to?
So from around age five to my early twenties, that is what I was. I was an emotional substitute as a mum to my brothers and as a partner for my father. I felt I HAD to be that. It was my purpose, and my job as I was the only female in the household.
But the trouble is, I forgot who I was. Who was I? I don’t know. Who did I become? I don’t know. I had a life, but it was not really mine. My needs were not important. I feel like I still don’t know who I am. That’s the trouble!
Now I struggle with responsibility and generally being an adult. I still am a child, and often see things in a child-like way. I reason at times like a child and I get excited about things just like a child would. But if you are an adult yet you act like a child in this world, you are severely criticized. But what about if emotionally you are a child?
I am still very much a child, and not just because I act or reason like one but I do talk to those closest to me whom I trust, like a child. I am told all the time I look younger than I am, and I am told by many my voice sounds young and childlike too. So you can only be who you are. I am trying to learn (as pathetic as it sounds) to be an adult. But it feels safer to be a child. It’s what I know best.
So I had three males who needed especially my emotional support. They relied on it. And although I tried to be strong for as long as I could, at seventeen I got diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and clinical depression, and I had to leave a college course I was doing because one day I just broke down, and didn’t stop crying… I was inconsolable. The teachers knew something was very wrong. They of course sent me home and suggested I get some professional help.
Things got worse for me because I then went off food. I could no longer eat. It sounds weird, but I became anorexic, not because I thought I was fat, but because the severe anxiety, stress and trauma I had gone through at this point had reached boiling point! It was a complete emotional, physical, and mental breakdown. Basically my body and brain said enough was enough… I needed to heal, and to do that meant completely shutting down. I was not in control of this. I didn’t want it to happen, but I could not stop it. These kinds of things just take over.
It was like all I could do for six horrible months was cry, sleep, and have panic attacks. Every day!! Somehow, I got through that, with help of medication. (This is the time I remember talking to the stars, because either my father didn’t think it was necessary for me to have any kind of therapy or he just didn’t care).
My brain was trying to cope with everything that happened thus far, and somehow process it all…
But home life was not where I probably needed to be to heal. There were further problems along the way, and difficulties in my teen years, which added to the further breaking down of me. So if you like, after that six months of rest, crying, sleeping, and just about surviving, I gradually started to come out of it and gained some strength back, and began to pick up, but I was still damaged. There was now psychological abuse, physical abuse, also sexual abuse happening at home, and it was tougher as my brothers got older too. I now had some therapy and it was clear that things had not been right for some time… I was put on stronger meds to help me cope and eventually got to a point where I could work full-time, and I tried hard to keep my jobs, but at home things got worse with my father… And his issues worsened. I was self-harming to cope. There were some very traumatic events that unfolded, which meant my father now had a criminal record, the police were involved many times, and Crown Court; and this required us to move, not knowing quite what the future would be. The stress was huge. I lost best friends, and couldn’t keep a steady boyfriend, nor a steady job. Stress takes its toll!
I was increasingly unstable and got sacked from several jobs. The doctor put me on sick notes. I had many failed relationships also, and again it all increased stress, the anxiety, the fears I had. I was basically a big mess. I was having panic attacks and put on yet more different medication, and instead of now just one pill it was two or three, and the dosage was the highest I could be on, just so that I could cope. I found life increasingly difficult to manage. I ran away from home a lot. Still self harming. There were more issues with my father. There were further issues with my brothers and now their mental health. I had yet more therapy, some bad, some good.
I got taken into mental hospital by police officers at one point as I tried to kill myself in the road… I literally could not take any more. This was after I went to live with other family members, (an aunt and uncle), explaining to them what went on at home; but they basically told me a bunch of lies, they pretended to be all supportive, but later I was betrayed by them and other family members who I wrongly thought I could trust because I could not trust my father. This all made me very ill, even more so, and again suicidal. So not only did I have a toxic father, but other members of my family were also toxic too.
I went to them for help, only to be betrayed and lied to by them also. My world was not one of safety. It was like everywhere I turned was bad, and they were only going to hurt me. Which they did. And the really horrible thing is: none of them cared, or said sorry or even bothered to see if I was okay. They all abandoned me, and just left me with absolutely nothing and no-one at my lowest and most vulnerable point.
I was homeless for a short while, until through mental health services a social worker got me into a female hostel. It was horrible there, but it was a roof over my head. Things really were bad, and it was only my survival instincts that got me through.
I still didn’t know who I was, or what an earth I was supposed to be doing, or what I was supposed to be like in life. I was like a child in a harsh adult world, filled with land mines, and I became very hypervigilant and struggled with my anger, and was even more anxious than before. I was unemployable, I could no longer work. I was on more medication to help me get through the days. And for a while the only place I could go back to which was better than the hostel, was back home. So I went and slept on the sofa there, not allowed to use my own bedroom upstairs. I was treated horribly and was told to clean and tidy the house everyday and prepare meals for when he and my two brothers got home. I was verbally abused and manipulated. My phone was taken away, and I was berated and told what a failure I was.
Later my father manipulated me to go over to the US to get to know someone whom he was dating online. He made it sound like a holiday, but when I got there I had to look after her two young children while she was away for several days at a time working. This I found very difficult, although I did my best, and cleaned her home. She was a nasty piece of work, and so much so that I ran away from her trailer, in Texas, and literally had to get help from a complete stranger to get in touch with some friends I had met who were nice, and I ended up staying with them. She verbally and physically assaulted me, and yet when my father came over to US he ended up marrying her, despite anything I said. We all flew home, (she coming over here illegally).
Anyway after a short stressful time now at home with now two abusers not just one, I decided to move in with my oldest brother. But he wasn’t keeping up with the rent so bailiffs were coming round. I eventually got my own flat with help from my doctor at the time.
I then had to help my youngest brother with his mental health, as he was very ill, and going catatonic at times.
Friends helped me get what I needed for the flat as we literally had just the clothes on our back, and others taught me how to run a household, what bills to pay etc. It was only a one-bedroomed place, but I had my youngest brother live with me as he had no other place to go and he didn’t wish to live at home, either.
I got to know someone through friends of friends, and after about a year he became my husband, and he was stable, and his family secure and really nice. For the first few years we were married, we were trying to sort out my brother’s mental health and well-being because he was in-and-out of mental wards, and as my father took off to the US, he was not concerned about him. Again, it was left up to me. And I would not leave him. It was again very stressful. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and after a few years and more therapy I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder as well as having cptsd, and separation anxiety disorder.
My brother eventually got on some good meds, and through my husband’s support too (as I found it upsetting to deal with) he got his own place, and began to be more stable. He was struggling from time to time, but he did okay with the mental health workers that would continue to support him. Yes, some areas of mental health are good, thankfully. But it was not an easy time. Just to give you an idea of what we were dealing with, my youngest brother was found on a street, in only his boxer shorts, a jacket, and socks; glued to the spot, dribbling, white as a ghost, and reaching for over 24 hours… That was when he turned totally catatonic. It took the ambulance crew over an hour to move him.
Often when he was having injections, they would be strong to start with and he would just sleep, but then they’d start wearing off – and during those times, he would stop eating because he thought he was being poisoned. And he would escape out of any window available, with hardly any clothes on, and he would walk around doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things and in his mind he was being chased by someone wanting to kill him. He was hearing voices, and they would tell him to escape… You cannot reason with a person like this, even the police and mental health workers found it difficult, so he had to keep going back into mental hospital and would think I was not allowing him to be at home because he didn’t understand, so I would have to try and explain to him often with tears in my eyes that I loved him very much and that he was where people would look after him, and help him with the voices. It was really upsetting for him and for me. Not to mention I would regularly get calls to say he had escaped from mental hospital and nobody knew where he’d went. One time he jumped into a taxi and decided he wanted to go to London and tried to break in somewhere… And this was in the middle of the night. He had no concept of time.
To help with my mental health, my husband’s parents allowed us to live with them, so they could support me with my brother too while my husband worked. It was all stressful and crazy. My father was totally oblivious to all of this, of course!
(This is my brother and me the other day…. I’m so proud of him….)
Anyway, here I am where I am today, and even though I’m much more stable, the damage has been done. And I’ve only scratched the surface here. I’ve tried to keep it brief, believe it or not.
So I suffer the effects of years of stress, trauma and identity disturbance and many many other things. And I still feel only a child, so to me everything is much harsher to feel. Because I never got the chance to grow up in a secure family environment with the healthy love I needed and to actually be a child.
Is that my fault?!
(This was taken about 6 months ago)
And just to add to why it is so upsetting on my last post about being disqualified for any benefit: basically when they say that, it’s as if they are saying none of what I just discussed here ever happened!
But it did happen, and I feel every damn day the damage that has been caused!
I just have to make do with the limitations I have, both psychological and emotional, which also affects me physically, and I tell you, there are many days that I can barely function at all.
There is this little voice inside me that says: “I believe you, I will stick up for you, even if everyone else is against you.” I believe this is my protector inside trying to help me survive. Something over the years, I developed.
I decided that this is the Tiger within me. As a Tiger represents, strength, beauty, confidence and ability, everything that I do not have. This is why I became Tigerchelle.
Thank you if you have managed to get through all this, and please have a good day!