This blog was made thinking about the people out there who suffer from depression, anxiety, traumas, OCD, low self-esteem, guilt, sadness …..
It was also made for everyone who thinks that it is too late to sort their lives out, to put the past behind them, to be happy, to have a meaningful life ….
I am the living proof that it is NEVER too late …..I started my recovery in my thirties ….. I achieved inner peace and happiness at the age of 40 years old …… I am 44 now and consider myself a very happy person with an amazing life …..But it hasn’t always been like that ……
I had a hellish upbringing, plagued with mental ( and sometimes physical) abuse, mental health problems, my teenage years and twenties locked inside a bedroom , questioning myself every single day why I was born in the first place, why I didn’t have more loving parents , why was my life so hard and unhappy , why I was in so much mental pain ……
I spent my thirties trying to recover my mental and physical health …..with the help of a loving husband and daughter …. and an amazing psychotherapist for a couple of years …..
But let’s start from the beginning ….
You can call me Anna. I was born in a small town in Portugal in the early seventies. I live in England now. My mum was a teacher, from a wealthy family, my dad a successful self–made business man and I have a little sister too. A typical middle-class family that, according to everybody around, looked happy and full of love. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Since I was a very little girl, I felt something wasn’t quite right. The constant shouting, followed by days of silence and emotional blackmail could not be the norm, could not be how everybody else lived their lives….. My mum and dad argued about every single thing you could possibly imagine said the most horrible things to each other, closed themselves in a room and then stopped talking to each other for days, maybe weeks, ignored their children and said the nastiest things anybody can imagine …
They had different personalities, both unpleasant, but very different. My mum wasn’t as bad as my dad. She was a cold woman but didn’t hurt us the way and the intensity my dad did. They shared a couple of traits though – they were both control freaks and wanted to dominate. They only thought about themselves and their war and who was going to win it. The children were irrelevant …
My dad’s biggest weapon was to stop talking for days and, if anybody asked why, he would say it was because he hated his wife, his wife’s family, he wished his kids weren’t ever born, they were useless, ….. I knew from a very young age that something was wrong about him. I’m totally convinced nowadays he has some kind of paranoid disorder. I learned from a very early age to stay quiet in my bedroom and not dare to talk to him. I learned that if I did , I would get a smack ( he never hit my mum but hit my sister and I quite often ) and all sorts of insults ….. However, staying in the bedroom didn’t always work because if he really felt the need to get rid of his anger, he would just go into my bedroom and ‘remind’ me how ‘shit’ I was and how much he wished I wasn’t born. Even though I worked really hard at school and was, in fact, the best pupil in my school (I finished my O levels with As at everything and my A levels with As and Bs), he would say things like: ‘you are the most boring girl I have ever seen, you sit in a room and read all day and don’t talk, I wished you were like your cousin, your friend, the neighbour’s daughter, etc., etc. I remember him very vividly, going inside my bedroom while I was still asleep, opening the shutters and shouting ‘get up you lazy bastard ‘, even though it was a weekend and about 8 o’clock in the morning. All this because he woke up in a bad mood. I learned from an early age to ask my mum if he woke up in a good or bad mood, so I knew what the day had in store for me. I sometimes crept into his room after he got ready to check his mood. Unfortunately that didn’t always help as his mood could deteriorate during the day if he saw somebody he didn’t like (yes, that was enough to make him angry and violent) or just things didn’t happen the way he wanted.
As a little kid, I got used to being smacked everywhere; at home, in the café, restaurant, the street, etc. As I approached my early teens, I started to become more and more ashamed of being smacked in public, in front of friends and school mates. I remember like it was yesterday, a specific day when I was in a restaurant with my parents and sister, and the boy I fancied was sat with his family on the table next to ours. I was about 12 or 13. My dad was in a very bad mood and because I couldn’t decide what I wanted to drink fast enough, he smacked me on my face really hard. I can still feel the tears rolling down my face and my face getting more and more red as I rushed into the toilets to try to calm down. I could never look at that boy in the face again….. Another time we were at the beach and as always he fell asleep lying down in the sand. That used to make me very embarrassed as he used to snore really loudly and I always had friends sunbathing next to us. I remember trying gently to wake him up or at least to stop him snoring …. He woke up and smacked me so hard I fell in the sand, my lip bleeding badly….
We never had a nice Christmas or birthday. He used to stop talking to everybody during those celebrations. He refused to allow us to join the rest of my mum’s family for Christmas Day. I spent the majority of my Christmas Eves crying in my room with my little sister as he sat in the front of the TV in a bad mood and not talking.
At the age of 15, things started to get worse and worse. In the summer of 1986 I spent the ENTIRE summer in my aunts’ library at their house reading …. In October of that year my Maths teacher called my mum and told her to take me to the doctor. My mum told me that the teacher told her she has never seen such a sad apathetic teenage girl in 20 years of teaching. I stopped eating and finally, at the age of 16 my mum took me to a psychiatrist and I was diagnosed with OCD, severe depression and chronic insomnia. The doctor told my parents they had to stop exposing me to such a vicious environment; otherwise the meds would work on their own. …..He prescribed me 6 different medications that basically turned me into a vegetable. I was asleep all the time that I wasn’t at school and worse than that I started falling asleep at school. The meds made me put on weight that I fought by not eating so I became weaker and weaker, both physically and psychologically. I started fainting at school and was then diagnosed with hypoglycaemia. Basically my body was producing too much insulin and my brain wasn’t getting enough glucose and started having seizures. Soon I learned how to carry little packs of sugar that I would ingest if I felt light headed or about to faint. My memory suffered too due to the condition so it became much more difficult to memorise certain subjects like History or Geography.
When I was 16 I had appendicitis and had an emergency surgery and almost died with peritonitis. When I went back home, I heard my mum asking my dad to allow her sisters to come and visit me as I couldn’t go out. I remember him shouting: ‘if those bitches come here, I will get a gun and kill them !!’. As a consequence, I had a very lonely recovery at home in my little bed. To make things worse, my stitches got infected so I had to be rushed to hospital as they had to put a tube from the inside of the wound to drain all the pus out. On the day I went back to hospital to get the tube and stitches removed, I started crying in the waiting room because I knew how painful that was going to be. He got insanely annoyed and smacked me really hard in front of everybody and said I was a coward.
At 18 years old, as my dad drove me to do my University entrance exam, I remember begging him to leave me alone. Why? As he drove me for an hour to the nearest secondary school I was trying to remember all the difficult Latin cases. His help? Oh he kept ranting at me how much he hated my mum and wished he never got married and had kids … I had to swallow my tears as I entered the examination room … He enjoyed letting me down during the most difficult times. My secondary school was half an hour away from my house and he drove me there every day. He used to become silent and refuse to take me on the days I had exams, at the very last minute, and, as a consequence, my mum (who didn’t drive) had to call a last minute taxi.
Why am I telling you all this? Certainly not because I want your sympathy! I have recovered from all this and am now a very happy person. I am just trying to explain how depression and anxiety can creep up on you, slowly, over time. There wasn’t one major trauma that I was subjected to like PTSD sufferers… but nevertheless it became apparent to me that I had been slowly ground down over the years. I want to help other people who suffer in silent and tell them there is hope ….
I started getting more and more depressed and anxious as I got older. I started performing rituals to try to stop the anxiety even though I remember doing some rituals at the age of 6!! Examples of the rituals were : I had to count the steps every time I moved, I could only sign my name in a specific style of hand writing, I had a ‘magic ‘ pen that I took to exams, I had a certain little prayer I had to say before any task at school, I had to wear a certain type of hair style, I washed my hands so many times I developed eczema , I bit my nails and fingers so badly I got a fungal infection ….. To make things worse, my parents demanded I got the highest marks at school so the pressure was extremely high. Even though I was a very popular girl at school I stopped enjoying socializing and started becoming more and more introverted. In fact I felt lonely even though I was always surrounded by people.
I am going to stop here for today but my story is far from finished. I want you to know my entire story up to the age of 44 (which I am now) but mainly HOW I ACHIEVED CLOSURE, HEALED THE WOUNDS, and, very importantly, FORGAVE MY PARENTS AND EVERYONE WHO MADE ME SUFFER. Forgiveness is important but it is only possible after you become completely aware of your problems and heal all the wounds. You are always left with the scars but that’s what makes you be you!! My scars allow me to be a very strong person and not allow misery into my life anymore. And to be a good mother too….. Don’t get me wrong, even though I wished I had a happier upbringing, I like the person I became …. I like myself and love myself a lot nowadays…..
The purpose of this blog is to share with you the challenges I’ve had coping with my condition, my OCD is still here but I learned to keep it under control, tell you how I keep optimistic and happy every single day and most importantly provide us all with an opportunity to discuss common experiences. If I can help just one person be more positive about the future then I’ve achieved my goal.
I will be posting something every day. It can be a story, my thoughts of the day, answering your questions, even a single sentence that will make that day a positive one.
Posted in Lifestory by Anna Watson with no comments yet.