September 9, 2016

Blogger Carole

Warning: This post contains references to suicide and sexual abuse which some readers may find triggering.

When I was in my late-40s, I attempted suicide for the first time. It would not be the last. By then I had a family, but they did not know about my past or about the mental health problems that I experienced. They still do not understand why I would feel the way I felt, and rejected me when I needed them the most. So, as it is World Suicide Prevention Day tomorrow, I am sharing my story here. I hope that it will help others to better understand the effects of trauma, and to empathise with those like me whose experiences led them into severe mental distress that made them to want to end their lives.

When I was very young – almost four years old – my mum had a brain tumour and I was separated totally from her for 14 months. This was in 1959, when surgery was very new, long and left her terribly disfigured. When I was five she came home but was not robust enough to fully care for me. Our roles changed and I really became her carer, more emotionally supportive as my father was unable to deal with the way she looked, was forgetful and not the woman he married!

I was a very vulnerable only child. Aged seven, I was sexually abused by an “opportunist paedophile” while walking alone from school. I couldn't tell mum as she was unable to cope with stress, distress etc., or father who thought that mum accompanied me to school every day. I went to a strict Catholic school, so told no-one what had happened to me.

Traumatised, nightmares, flashbacks, fear the man would be waiting for me every day, and no-one to tell. So, a very frightened, secretive little girl.

Father began abusing me aged eight years, and again I was unable to tell mum due to her own vulnerabilities. This continued until I was 11 years old. My father began an affair with a woman then, who he often brought to our home and flaunted in front of mum. Me and mum just looked after each other.

Mum had another brain tumour when I was 16. She was taken to the first hospice in the country – St. Josephs in Hackney. She was 42. I visited and sat with her every evening and weekends until she died when I was 17. I was her only visitor. My father was still seeing the woman who he then married. I was living alone. But he died when I was 22.

I told no-one of all the abuse I had been though for 47 years.

Married, had four sons and brought them up as a good mum. One day something just gave inside me and I attempted suicide. Locking in so many traumas and secrets suddenly became too much. It took a year for my psychiatrist to get me to tell my story for the very first time. Diagnosis: Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and Complex PTSD. I have attempted suicide a number of times since, often ending up in high dependency units then psychiatric hospitals under mental health sections.

"The exclusion and rejection by my own family is the worst part of my illness"

My husband and sons still cannot make sense of me being a "normal" mum for so long then suddenly such serious behaviour – my self-harming and suicide attempts. They all have distanced themselves from me as they say they cannot cope with the worry and disruption I cause. So I have become isolated from my lovely family. I feel again the shameful, dirty, contaminated little girl, different from all the other little girls, of my childhood. I re-live the pain, fears, guilt, shame of my past all over again, and it continues to make me unwell.

They do not understand, so they separate themselves from me. I feel as vulnerable and alone as I was as that little girl. And unable to share or turn to anyone around me. I try to keep strong, distract myself, practice mindfulness and when I am well, I am well. But with no trigger, all the rejection and feelings of being unwanted and different and alone envelopes me, and I harm myself again. I feel that only I can break the cycle of behaviour. It can be very difficult at times.

The 1960s were very different times. There were few support agencies around then. But if I lived in today's society, maybe I could have spoken to someone. Maybe I could have been accompanied to school by somebody, which would have taken away the fear of that "man" waiting for me again. Maybe mum could herself have had more support in her vulnerable condition. And that could have possibly protected me from the abuse by my father. Perhaps sharing, talking and support would have meant the fears and guilt were not locked inside for all those years, damaging me even more mentally.

The exclusion and rejection by my own family is the worst part of my illness, when all I longed for as a child was to be part of a big supportive loving family. But I am still here today, and I campaign for mental health awareness in many ways, helping change the stigma and discrimination and exclusion that still exists for those with mental health problems and conditions.

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Dear Carol,

Dear Carol, I can relate to your story. I too was abuse by my as a child by members of my family and I had no one to turn to. I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder/ Emotionally Unstable Disorder and I suspect I also suffer from Complex PDST as I suffer from flashbacks, nightmares etc... It is a daily battle and I find it so hard sometime to be alive. My last suicide attempt was 2 years ago. I also used to self harm. I recently relieved something really painful and for the last few months I feel scared, lost, lonely and I struggle eating and sleeping and living really. I am lucky to have some really good friends in my life and a wonderful Daughter but , as you know, when the past haunts your present it isn't easy. Thank you for sharing your experience. Love and Light, Sylvie

blog suicide

Dear Sylvie. We seem to have been treading a similar path since we were little children, I thank you for sharing your experiences, it is so sad. You are very right when you said that however much you try to live a full and fulfilling life, there is something deep inside that just wont go away, like a lump of rock that is so deeply embedded and has been there for so long, that it becomes part of your psyche. It is destructive and painful, and you try so many ways to keep it buried and not affect you. But it does. And then you feel a failure and weak, as well as everything else. But I have received so many lovely comments of kindness and compassion from others, that I try to hold onto the fact that I am not alone, and strange, and different. We must all try to draw strength from others, and remain caring and compassionate in our hearts. You have a beautiful heart. Peace, love and light. Carole

Carol's pain

This is such a sad story and situation, that Carole had to go through all this in her life, and that at the point she needed those closest to her for critical support, they ran the other way, leaving her hurting and totally vulnerable. Through my own mental illness problems, not by far as severe as Carole's, I'm not sure how I would have survived without the total support a care of my wife. By caring for me, she has also suffered, and we are changed people for it but we are through the other side. I feel that there are so many people willing to help and support Carole, those who empathise fully with her situation and were lucky enough to have the support of the closest to them. This may not be enough as Carole really feels the need for her family, but, through wonderful organisations like this, many people are there waiting to offer support ... talk.. listen ... or just be there for Carole.

blog suicide

David. I thank you for your kind and compassionate reply. You are right. One does feel very alone and isolated, and different and separate, and so much more. Which is why Rethink and the Time-to-change organisation is invaluable in bringing these situations and how so many people suffer in so many ways, often in silence, to the forefront. That they can be forgotten or overlooked is a harsh reality and it should not be like that in the world today. Support, from wherever it comes, means so much, so very much. And again I thank you for your caring and thoughtful words of support. Carole


I could totally relate to this article, as my sister committed suicide Dec 1st 2014, for reasons similar to Carol... I tried to support her & persuade her not to do it, but when she left me to kill herself, she shed no tears & I knew it was her only way of coping.. I never thought she was selfish, after all it was her life to do with it what she wanted? Emily had tried everything to end the suffering of her trauma from being sexually abused by our father. Counselling, self help books, psychiatrists, etc etc. I miss her terribly but have received no emotional support from my husband or my mother, so I can totally relate to Carols feelings towards her nearest & dearest. Some people just don't get it & never will, so you are left alone to deal with your own sadness & grief but it shouldn't be like that???

I live this too

This is like me . Its like i wrote this but i didnt write this . I was abused as a child for 7 years . Raped daily by one man and sexual abuse and rape as well as othee abuse daiky by another . Both men was family members . I live every day thinking of suicide . Im lucky i have good support wprkers and intensive therapy 4 days a week and soon combined therapy . I feel alot of the time i dont want anykne to love me or even like me as then it's easier to and my life . I have 2 grown up children and not long split from husband of 29 years and now in supported housing . Every day I love the nightmares . I live it while asleep alot and live it while awake . I hear voices when I. Most stressed and have most nights terror in my dreams . I take it one day at a time as that's all I can do . This lady is amazing and I got one know what she has and is still going through . Xxx

Carole's Blog

Dear Carole , I just wanted to show you my support. I can relate to some of the things you have spoken about and I can see you're a wonderful person.I just wanted to say that I care about you. I believe some people are isolated by their abuse and by others, as I have also been too. I do understand to my own extent what incredible strength you have always had. Much love Emma.

Blog comments on World Suicide Week

Dear Emma. Your very kind, sincere words of support mean a great deal to me. Thank you for your understanding. I often feel very isolated and alone and it can become overwhelming. And yet there are so many of us out there feeling just as isolated, just as alone and just as misunderstood. It is easy to forget and to believe it is only myself that feels this way. To realize there are so many other caring people who go through similar feelings and experiences, do make these negative and damaging thoughts less able to take over my mind. It is invaluable that organisations like Rethink and their Time-to-Change campaigns are out there, and helping raise awareness of of these situations. Thank you for thinking I am strong, I am not really, I had to gather all of my resources to step out into the front line. I feel very exposed and vulnerable, but do not regret anything as I have had such lovely comments and gestures of reassurance and kindness shown to me. These from people like yourself, are what will help to make me strong. Take care of yourself, you are a lady with a warm and loving heart, and that is very special. Love to you Carole

Carole's reply

Dear Carole , You are so right about Time to Change being such a helpful campaign. I couldn't believe you replied to me!... I thought it was to somebody else! Your reply has made me feel 100% more confident today .To have you recognise my worth is amazing :) doesn't matter so much other's opinions of me I have an opinion which is valuable :) P. S . You may not feel strong but you are . Emma XX

Heart felt sympathies.

I am a sensitive bloke & such stories affect me deeply. I have suffered depressive feelings in my life. If I can help or council such victims, I will be glad to help.

borderline personality disorder

My partner has bpd,like Carole, she has had a traumatic childhood and very often she close's herself down. I can't begin to imagine what Carole was going through, I really,really feel for her, as I am trying my hardest to support and understand my partner of 6yrs, but to have no one at all must have been horrendous, all I can say is Carole you are amazing, carry on being strong. Lisa

Thank you -

Thank you for posting this. I awoke this morning drowning in thoughts after having yet another complete melt down last night. I share very similar exeriences in which I've been diagnosed as Complex PTSD. Child abuse from a very young age, spousal physical abuse, cheated on, etc (divorced a few times at this point - I should really just give up on that part). My boyfriend told me this morning he's not sure he wants me to live here anymore. I truely appreciate the honesty however, in my mind, I always knew this is where "we" would end up due to my illness. I don't understand myself. I can be so happy, in-control and then it all spirals out of control in my attempts to push people away. I think I'm tired of being hurt by people. I've allowed myself to be strong enough to be vulnerable in which I only ended up devastated at the end. I'm definitely a mess now. I don't know if I would be strong enough to survive yet another failed relationship. I sold my home and moved across the country to be with this person - a new start as he told me - also as he promised that no matter what he would never leave me. He really is an amazing man. His patience with me up until this point has been strong. He is just getting worn down from my "moments"... and my suicide thoughts when I get to this point. I don't blame him. Sometimes it does seem like it would be just easier to live out the rest of my days alone as I don't have to worry about people leaving me.... not understanding me. This place is very lonely and I don't know that you ever find a way to put it all behind you.

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