So, me and one of my best friends; Georgie, went to the Lake District for a little three-day holiday and when talking about the trip – both before it and during it(!) – the comment ‘it’s deserved’ was often used…
I don’t want this post to be too heavy and intense, but I think it’s important that I put things into perspective in terms of the concept of someone being deserving and my journey with that mindset because my first real memory of thinking about someone being deserving of something, was very obviously and probably understandably, when I was fifteen and the abuse began in 2006.
From Day One of the abuse, I hated him. I hated him with an anger so hot and so powerful that I always worried I would end up punching him in the face – or worse! I believed he deserved pain – I mean, if he thought he had the right to hurt my body, why shouldn’t he feel that same pain?! Why should he be exempt from it? Why should he get away with hurting someone else and then suffer no consequences?!
At that age, I was so convinced that only I had the authority to hurt my body, and in a bid to test and prove that theory, I began self-harming. And then that turned into so much more… the pain I experienced as a result of my own hands felt relieving. Each piece of damage was like a small ‘achievement.’ Almost like a way to feel in control of what my body suffers. Well, that was on a ‘good day.’ On a bad day, that control – that pain – was a very well-deserved punishment/consequence. My abusers very regular assurances that my attitude and poor behaviour were the cause of the abuse and my deserving of pain as opposed to the result of the abuse and self-harm; began to mould my brain and smother it in this twisted, dangerous thought process.
I guess it shouldn’t really have been a surprise when all of those thoughts and feelings escalated and – coupled with the hallucinations – resulted in a handful of suicide attempts! I mean the very first thing the auditory hallucinations said was ‘you’re useless, kill yourself’ so how could I have ever thought that things would end up in any way different to the way they have?!
I’d like to think of myself as not someone who quits ‘easily’ – like, I feel that it takes something really challenging for me to hold my hands up and say ‘ok, I’m done.’ Which is why it wasn’t until after ten days of attempting to beat back the tirade of beliefs and arguments around why I should kill myself, that I actually made my first suicide attempt. And I did it because I felt broken. It felt as though I’d been beaten back and driven into a corner where suicide was the only escape from the hallucinations and all of their scary, hurtful words. And the idea of actually escaping them – of having a time where they weren’t there – felt like a relief. Even if that time would only come because I had killed myself. It would be a relief.
Over the following four or five years, I made three more suicide attempts… but it felt as though something changed in the final two attempts. After making the first two attempts as a direct result of the commands of the auditory hallucinations, and the thoughts and feelings they had caused me to experience, I started to see things in a different light… I seemed to have stumbled on the outlook that me deserving to die shouldn’t be about a relief, it should be about a punishment.
I think that this change in mindset and what it meant, was really illustrated in the pure fact that for each of those suicide attempts, I actually ended up on life support and in intensive care. It all kind of feels like, the fact my health deteriorated and reached that point, is more evidence of just how suicidal I was… and maybe that’s right and maybe that’s wrong, but that’s how it feels to me.
One of the many things the self-harm and suicide attempts have in common, was the impact they had on my thoughts around how deserving I was of all the help I received in some of those instances. I say ‘some’ because there were also a fair few too many occasions where my efforts of self-harm or to speak to someone when I felt suicidal, didn’t result in any beneficial or effective help and support.
After my first suicide attempt, I was sectioned and that meant that upon my eventual discharge from the psychiatric hospital, I had to be under the care of professionals in a community mental health team. So, I was literally straight into the system and having turned 18 just months before, I was immediately referred to the adult team and that often meant seeing a lot of very poorly adults who were so much older than me. Whilst, to a degree, it meant there were things in common, it also robbed me of a lot of hope. I mean, why would I imagine myself recovering when I was surrounded by people in their thirties and forties who had been poorly for such a huge portion of their life?! Why would I be any different? And not believing in hope – being unable to imagine a future and a recovery; just added to my thoughts that I didn’t deserve even just the time of those professionals; let alone their actual efforts to help me!
As the years went by, seeing others struggling in psychiatric hospitals also led me to the belief that I wasn’t poorly ‘enough’ to deserve help and support. I saw all these other people crying, having panic attacks, talking to their hallucinations, staring blankly at the floor, self-harming in ways which were honestly sickening… and I looked at myself and thought that it was actually wrong for me to be taking up a bed in a psychiatric hospital where there were others in greater need of it. And so, feeling undeserving of the help led me to become uncooperative with psychiatric medication, reluctant to follow recommendations and advice from professionals, and refusing to adhere to treatment plans.
I guess that this may cross over with the previous part about deserving help and support because a large means to getting that help, is by coming to the attention of psychiatric professionals and mental health services.
After a year or so of having those professionals be concerned and extreme in their measures to help me (I’m particularly thinking of the instance where they had me sectioned in my Mum’s home and had six Police carry me from it and being sedated with ketamine when I was deemed not to have the capacity to refuse treatment for a suicide attempt!), I went through almost one year of the exact opposite!
To be honest, I don’t know where it came from; but for some reason their attitudes switched, and I was branded an ‘attention-seeker’ and mostly deemed to either be being dramatic about a situation or just labelled as outright lying about it! I was very rarely shown kindness or care, it became mostly about rude, spiteful comments and decisions which largely robbed a lot of any strength I had to fight the hallucinations and to stop self-harming and to not make another suicide attempt. I figured, if the people who were meant to help me thought me unworthy of their time and attention, then why should I even help myself? Why fight against it when I felt almost (my Mum has always been by my side) completely abandoned, forgotten, and disregarded?
All of this uncertainty in my treatment and the way professionals responded to me – particularly in a mental health crisis – left me reluctant to show any sort of respect or appreciation (even for those few lovely staff!) to the services on a whole.
I believe that – rightly or wrongly – just one professional from a particular career group can leave you with a general impression and attitude to all the others from that group. Like, if one Officer of my local Police force was to ask me “why do you like attention so much?” (yes, that was an actual question a Police Officer asked me!) it would shape my thoughts on the entire force and leave me making a lot of assumptions every time I met a different Officer. I would assume that they held the exact same attitude around mental illness and around me in particular.
Looking back – from the point I’m at in my mental health recovery – I can see that to treat the entire profession based on the actions of one person is unfair. However, I can also appreciate that it should be understandable if it does happen because ultimately, when a Police Officer (for example) puts on their uniform and adopts their job title and their role in the world, they are actually representing everyone else in their profession. And maybe that seems like a lot of pressure, but perhaps if a person isn’t willing to consider their colleagues actions towards others actually impact them too, they aren’t ready for their job…?
Beyond all of the stigma, ignorance and basic result of a lack of education which led to these professionals’ horrible responses to me in my crises, there comes the matter of respect. There’s that really old saying about how to be shown respect, you should earn it; and I wholeheartedly agree! There comes a point where you should realise that you need to treat others the way you’d like to be treat yourself. And I think that comes up a lot in mental health crises. I mean, I’m sure there’s a lot of professionals out there who have said some things to me which they wouldn’t appreciate having said to them if they were ever in a similar situation. And the point is, they could be. With mental health affecting 1 in every 4 people in the UK, there is every possibility that you could treat a person with a mental illness, go on to develop the same difficulties, and find yourself being subjected to the exact same treatment!
Deserving success and happiness…
With I’m NOT Disordered due to reach one million readers in the next few months, I’m very obviously at a point in my life and in my blogging career where I’m questioning just how deserving I am of this achievement in particular.
The largest argument I think I have around this is how hard I work on my blog. It’s not like I rarely publish content… I write posts, I do collaborations, I attend events… I’m usually not one to blow their own trumpet but I feel like it’s safe to say that for the eight years of my blogging career, I have worked by butt off!
I mean, you see a lot of people who have so many misconceptions around blogging and they create a blog and put little thought or effort into their content, and yet they expect to be handed opportunities on a silver platter! As though that’s the norm. As though all the bloggers who are handed opportunities didn’t work hard to get to that point. Like, as soon as you’re labelled a ‘blogger’ you are automatically gifted products and offered PR stays in hotels!
The other way I look at this point is in considering all of the years my mind suffered, and all of the times I put my body through hell… Like, maybe doing all of that and that happening, warrants my mind and body going through some good years. Some successes. And some positive challenges. But don’t get me wrong, I am actually so grateful for all those years of hurt and upset because they have put me where I am today. And helped make me into who I am now. I mean, if I’d never been poorly – if I’d never struggled with my mental health – I wouldn’t be able to blog about it – I probably wouldn’t have even created a blog! And life without I’m NOT Disordered? I can’t imagine it.
Finally, I have no doubt in my mind that the person who started all of this – the man who abused me – would second guess any achievements or happiness he has in his life. I highly doubt that for one minute he would question whether he deserved it. And if he doesn’t; why the hell should I?!
BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF THE TRIP
Kotel Windermere: https://kotel.co.uk/
Places we went:
Windermere Lake: https://www.visitcumbria.com/amb/windermere-lake/
The Elleray: https://www.elleraywindermere.com/en-GB
The Craft Baa Windernere: https://www.facebook.com/TheCraftyBaaMultiAwardWinningFamilyBusiness/
Windermere Lake Cruises: https://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk/
The Magic Roundabout: https://www.themagicroundaboutbowness.co.uk/
Lonsdale Galleries Gift Shop: https://m.facebook.com/woodbrim16/
The Angel Inn: https://www.inncollectiongroup.com/angel-inn/
Sneak peek inside my luggage:
Max Factor Long Lasting Foundation, shade 100 Fair: £5.84 Barry M All Night Concealer, shade milk: £3.60 Makeup Brushes (10pcs): £6.99 Benefit Bad Gal Bang Mascara: £14.50 Ted Baker Body Spray: £25.97 Travel Beauty Box: £15.99 Silk-co Hair Extensions: £12.99
Noisy May T-shirt: £10.50 High rise Mom Shorts: £11.20 High Waist Matte Sheen Legging: £16.00 Kimono in black: £25.00 Disney White T-shirt: £9.00 Batwing Sleeve Floral Print Kimono: £8.99 Oversized T-Shirt with Palm Tree: £12.00 Oversized Long Sleeve T-Shirt: £12.00 White Quilted Leather-Look Trainers: £9.99
HP Stream: £219.00 iPhone 12: various prices/contracts iPad Pro 12.9”: various prices/contracts Skinny Dip Laptop Case: £20.00 Designer Logo Case & Pop socket: £16.00 Cover and Wireless Keypad for iPad: £38.88 Flash Drive 128gb: £24.99 External Battery Pack: £15.99 5 in 1 Plug Extender: £16.99