Mental Health Assessments. I hate them.
For a start the building is plastered with unmistakeable signs; “Adult Mental Health Services”. As I wait to be buzzed in to the secure building, no-one who passes can mistake what I am there for. I grimace. I shouldn’t be embarrassed but I am. I know the stigma surrounding mental health all too well.
The truth is, this journey I am on is a hard one and right now I need some more support.
The police investigation consumes me. PTSD invades my mind, sending me spiralling into weeks, months, of flashbacks and nightmares. Never letting me forget, I am transported back to my childhood. Once again I become that abused, tormented, scared, innocent child. I relive every moment of the abuse, every feeling. Struggling, I am reaching for someone to save me. No-one comes. No-one ever comes. I am alone.
Slowly my abusers’ voices gain power once more. Their words echo throughout my mind; useless, worthless, unwanted, unloved. Over and over, their voices beat me down until I cannot take it anymore.
Depression entombs me. I believe their words, their voices. Sadness and pain fill my heart with sorrow. I cannot eat. I refuse to sleep for fear of nightmares. I am exhausted, close to tears daily. I sink lower and lower until I can take the pain no more.
I feel like I want to go away for a while. I want the world to stop. It is going too fast and I cannot catch up. I am breaking. Self-harm once again becomes my saviour.
As the blade slices across my skin, as I watch the blood drip from the wound, I am scared. Relief doesn’t hit me like it used to. It is there, but only slightly. I cut once more and begin to panic when still the relief doesn’t come.
It is at this moment I realise I need more support. This journey, the trauma, are too much for me to cope with alone. The police investigation is too huge a burden to carry on my shoulders without some support.
I call my doctor and within three weeks here I stand, outside the clinic. Rushed through the system as high priority. Even though I have been to this place many times before, nerves build within me as I wonder if I am failing. Is caring for myself selfish?
An hour and a half later and we are done. A different medication added into the concoction of meds I already take and a Mental Health Nurse to check on me and to give me more support. These new meds should calm my anxiety and help me sleep they say. We shall see.
The Psychiatrist said I am doing well considering all I am going through. Tells me it is normal and OK to struggle and need support after living through the trauma I have suffered. Self-care is OK he said, for we cannot pour from an empty cup.
Maybe he is right. Maybe self-care is what I need right now. But I am afraid. Afraid people will think I am selfish. But I am only one person. I can only take so much. The trauma I have lived through once already was enough. Now I am having to relive it again. The investigation makes it that way. And no matter how hard it is to relive the abuse, I must stop him hurting another child. I must raise awareness and stop child abuse once and for all. I must protect innocent children.
It is why I started this blog. It is important I use my voice. But, sometimes, it is hard sharing these horrible secrets that I have kept hidden for so long. It is exhausting and it is scary but I know I must not stop. I need to be a voice. I know it is my purpose no matter how hard it is.
But I cannot do this if I do not allow myself to look after me too. After all, I am a victim too. I am trying to heal too and an empty lantern provides no light. I need to be the childrens’ light. Self-care is the fuel that will allow me to shine and light the way for them.
Putting myself first sometimes doesn’t mean I don’t care about others. It just means I know myself well enough to know that I cannot help others if I do not help myself first. For if compassion does not include yourself it is incomplete. Self compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.
I have never had any self-respect. I have no self-esteem. My abusers took all my worth from me. I must try to get it back. For I am tired. I am so tired and I need to rest. I have to give myself permission to rest.
Although I have felt like I have failed for a while, stepping down to lower management at work was the first step towards my self-care. I realise now it is for the best. I cannot cope with the stress of senior management right now. I am under enough stress with the police investigation and with my therapy. People may say I am weak. That I am failing by taking a step back. But they are not the ones going through this. They are not suffering from PTSD and reliving the trauma all over again. I am working full time whilst juggling the investigation and therapy, as well as battling my mental health daily. I am not failing. I am fighting.
I begin to take the new concoction of meds, even though I feel a little embarrassed. I know I shouldn’t feel embarrassed. For if these pills were for a physical illness no-one would utter a word. I am ill. You just can’t see it because my demons are in my head. I am ill but I fight them every damn day. Some days they win, others they lose. I have good days and bad. I struggle with the bad. I need to learn to allow myself to rest, to allow myself to cry or sleep if needed.
After a lot of thought, I ask a dear friend – another survivor – to help support my blog Facebook page. I know I can trust her. I know she has the same passion as I do to save children from childhood abuse and to raise awareness. I know she will help me use my voice when I feel too weak to do so alone.
I am allowed some help. I am allowed some support. For a while there I forgot that even though I am a survivor, I am a victim too. I have trauma to process and emotions to feel. I have memories to remember and try to get over. I have pain and loss to work through. I would never expect another survivor to go through this alone.
I deserve help and support. It doesn’t make me weak. It makes me brave. Brave for finally reaching out and trying to trust others to help me. Brave for starting to let go of the control I always feel I have to have. Brave for finally letting myself begin to feel. I am not weak, I am strong. Sometimes I struggle to see it. Sometimes I might need reminding just how strong I am. For trying to overcome the feelings of worthlessness and asking for help is a hard road to walk.
Sometimes this journey feels so tough that I forget to breathe. Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between breaths. I need help to be reminded how to breathe, how to survive.
I need a gentle reminder to take care of myself. A reminder that I am worth fighting for. A reminder to give myself a break and some attention. A reminder to love myself.
I have to make a promise to myself to hold my own wellbeing sacred. For I am worthy, even if I struggle to believe it sometimes.
Caring for myself is not selfish.
Caring for myself is an act of survival.
Thanks for reading
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