Tied up, my hands across my neck and a pillow pushing against my face, my ability to fight back doesn’t seem possible. My sight fades before me, my lungs are closing and my heart aching with fear, i’m anchored as a weight and dropped into the wild ocean, my lungs tighten and fill up with water and my body struggles to breathe. I’m drowning quickly and my future becomes more and more distant. Every second passed, my life comes to a close, i’m now counting my breaths wondering what will be my last… This is my story!
The trauma doesn’t disappear and my doubts heighten with now the smallest of things become a bigger struggle to deal with, it’s immediately harder than what I ever expected survival to be and now i’m tired. I’ve lost fight, strength and courage to overcome a past so dark, demons run from it.
I don’t feel ordinary, i’m embarrassed, I lost my dignity and a childhood that I should have had filled with joy and cherished memories was stolen and replaced with real horror that I only but wish was an actual nightmare.
I find myself in the same place, it’s a destroyer. I feel as if i’m chained to my childhood, the darkness is darker than dark and it’s unbearable. I feel as if i’m an explosive ready to self detonate.
Everyday I wake up to reminders, the news, the papers, social media, television and film and i’m scared. I may not show it and those closest to me may not see it, but I feel it and those persons who say it’s in the past and to move on, forget and concentrate on your future is the hardest thing to do, harder than sharing your story.
My life was stolen from me, I struggle to pretend. I struggle to move on and forget. I may now talk how i’m not coping, but It plays in my head, it’s always in the back ground. I can’t concentrate, I can’t sorely think of my future as I feel trapped. I still feel i’m drowning only this time not in water, but in despair.
I’m afraid of losing the people I love the most, my mum, my sisters, nephews and partner, they are my only light, however a question I ask myself repeatedly, without telling them. Does my family know that I’m failing to be the best version of myself? Do they know how dark my mind gets? but the most repeated question I bury deep within my mind. Do they deserve to live on the edge and wonder what day will be the day?
I’ve felt invisible my whole entire life and the only time i’m noticed is when i’m needed and to think that’s what I actually need, just isn’t enough. I don’t want to be used or relied on, I want to be seen for the person I truly am, but if I can’t identify that, I can’t expect others to see it. I guess that’s the skill of a good actor, i’ve a skill I never thought I had.
It’s question after question now, each day being the same. Is the world out to get me? Am I being punished for other people’s actions? What did I ever do to deserve this punishment? My biggest fear now lies beneath my fragile skin fearing that eventually people will see me as the way I see myself, allowing the darkness to frighten me and my dreams keeping me awake. My anxiety enabling me to control my work, social and personal life and my past to control my future? The fear allowing death to be more inviting than life itself and people recognising the same beliefs I hold being a failure.
I could be a millionaire, a film star and have the world at my feet. I could have the biggest family and social circle of friends, married, children, my own home and the best cars, yet I would still feel lonely. I’m easy to satisfy, I don’t believe in wealth and having the best, but I still feel saddened and frightened, I still feel lost and I’m hurting.
You know torment when you realise the saddest kind of sad is when your tears can’t even drop and you feel nothing. You have no emotion. No feeling. No sense, it’s like the world has just ended. You cry but nothing leaks, you don’t hear, you don’t see, you just freeze and then for a second, the heart stops and you see death as clear as if you already lived it before.
Living with trauma and battling mental health is like a war, you either win or die trying, you lose or surrender. I argue that without darkness there would be no stars, but what happens when it’s dark and no stars are in sight? Your faced with a one worded question. Why?
It can be difficult for someone who has never experienced mental health or some sort of trauma to be able to understand how you’re feeling or what you have gone through or experienced. I wouldn’t expect any person too, but someone who wants to understand and know how you’re feeling is precious. They don’t come often and sometime not enough or none at all.
My struggles are real, the stigma alone is hurtful and the events causing the trauma and the diagnosis of mental health is a challenge on its own. I wish it was all nonsense and made up, I wish it didn’t exist but it does.
Depressive disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD and emotionally unstable, survivor of sexual abuse, neglect, bullying and mental and emotional abuse and a survivor of suicide. The list goes on but the desire to want to be normal is overwhelming. The search for perfection becomes more difficult than accepting my inner emotions, yet the desire for normality pulsates around my damaged mind even though I know they don’t exist?
I was at primary school when I noticed something was up, I somehow felt different to others, it was noticed in the classroom, in the playground and in the area I lived. I know I was no adorable child, handsome or smart. I was that child teachers felt sorry for and invited me into detention for a little company during break times. I was the teachers pet, the boy who had the special jobs. I had learning difficulties and required special needs right up until my last years of secondary school. I struggled to read, write and take in information, follow instructions and understand numbers, yet give me a clock I could estimate time and distance, read a map and remember directions. I was organised and very creative, yet I still felt like a spare tyre that was too small to fit.
I would sit in class, thinking of what I will face on lunch break from the bullies in the playground, will the troubles keep me awake tonight and how will my dad be today, good form or bad. Some days I would just cry in class for no apparent reason and then pretending to be sick in hope to get home just to have a cuddle, but who was I kidding? I never had a cuddle or felt any sort of emotion like it.
As I grew older I learnt what mental health was and things began to make sense. It was the events that caused me horrific trauma and physiological issues that started my rawness, but more so the people who I knew and loved the most also had a big part too.
My father’s behaviour was abnormal, he was a completely different person when at home than the person he was when in company of others. His friends thought there was no one like him and his family thought he was an angel. He was out of control, his behaviour as a partner and parent was just too cruel. He took all his frustrations out on his children and my mum and sometimes I thought he hit out for no reason just to see those who loved him most hurt. It was clear since my early childhood that my dad didn’t like me, he told me often enough in anger and in generalised conversations. All that I ever wanted was to grow up and have a brother and a dad who I could turn too for a chat or on a Friday after work to meet up for a game of pool over a pint, but this was never going to be reality.
Dad had a drinking problem, he drank most days if not every day, but the older I got I began to identify his drug habits, which then began to make sense of his behaviour pattern over the years past. I say make sense, sometimes the drugs didn’t play the role of an abusive father. After the separation of my mother and father, some years later my mother moved to the countryside and my father remained in Belfast and due to education my sister and I moved in. He would leave early morning, head to work and when he came home, his dinner had to be ready and waiting on him otherwise he would kick off. No thank you, no nothing!
After dinner, he would watch the news and head off out, but before hand his friend would call and my sister and I was always told to leave the house for an hour. I assume this was drug related or he was secretly having a gay love affair. He’d shave his head, spray himself with his boss aftershave and head off to the pub to return home in the early hours full spirits, a high energy and a kebab in hand with a woman, which nine times out of ten was his ex partner or his best friends wife, even though he was in a steady relationship with a sassy from the south of Belfast and they had a son together. It was hurtful to watch as his partner was a woman we grew to love and care for, but we could never say. Other nights he would come home alone, would wake you from a sleep singing with a dirty kebab in hand for you and then demand to wake my sister up and after challenging him, his mood would change as quick as hitting a light switch, shouting for my sister to wake from her sleep at 2am knowing she has school the next day and would question who she was with, smelt her for aftershave, checked her phone and then began accusing her of stealing his clothes.
The screams of my mum twenty plus years ago I can still hear clear; begging dad to stop beating her. I can still hear the cries of my sister when dad was pulling the roots from her hair and the fear on both their faces I still see and will never stop.
I can justify my dads behaviour towards me when he used the buckle end of his belt to wallop me hard causing bruising and sometimes drawing blood, but to hurt my mum and sister, I could never justify. I stood up to my dad many of time and sometimes you could see the fear in him and although all I did was stand up to him, it was a great joy to see him scared, but usually I would would be spoke down too telling me I was nothing, I wasn’t his son, calling me a queer, a blue eye and ending with the word spastic!!
I always wondered why mum stuck it for so long, but it was soon apparent she was scared, but what was her turning point?
Our family home was targeted in an arson attack with petrol bombs as my siblings and I lay asleep in our beds and luckily enough we were able to escape thanks to my grandfather and mum who were satin the room that was targeted. We ended up homeless and had to live from hostel to hostel, but on the night of the arson attack we had to stay at a neighbours house and mum rang our dad to tell him to come home and explained what happened. He did come home with his friend, shouted at mum for no reason and then pissed off back out. That was my mums turning point. He didn’t care, so why should she, so after hosteling for some months, we ended up in a safe house through women aid.
School was a struggle too, though I had to brace the fear and face the issues alone when I was bullied for the way I appeared. The anxiety alone at home was horrible, let alone the same feelings when walking to school and even in school. The bullying I experienced wasn’t physical, but verbal and emotional which soon affected my learning and education and causing me the confidence issues i’ve had to date. Childhood was no walk in the park, it was a real struggle and watching life fall apart soon became the reality of my life. I rarely seen a future for myself and sometimes never thought i’d even make secondary school.
My family was slowly parting with my parents seperating and my eldest sibling leaving home to live with our Father. My Sister and I were best friends and we looked out for one another, often getting each other into trouble, but we’d always get each other out of it. We would have done anything to make sure each other was happy and content during the present times, however we always knew when one of us wasn’t okay and always knew when we had problems occuring. My Mum moved away to the seaside with my other siblings and due to my education at school, I stuck around in Belfast and attempted to finish my education. I moved in with my Father and Sister and from the day start, Dad and I never got on. He’d often threw me dirty looks, call me names and hated me for being a Mummy’s boy and it was unfortunate that he only allowed me to stay so he’d get more money from the Social Security. My fathers domestic behaviours still continued which affected most of his past relationships, but things changed from bad to worse. Raping my Mother during my childhood as I watched in fear was horrid and the cries I can still hear, but my Father soon turned to his Daughter. I know he pysically abused my Sibling as I was present and many a time had to stop him, but never did I think sexual abuse would occur. My Fathers protection was scarily different towards my Sister and I found it all a little weird. His role as a Father quickly disappeared and a sense of jealously and control arrised. The nightmares I thought I was having became a reality. It was real life. I suspected some sort of abuse and approached my Sister about it, but with fear she denied it. It wasn’t until a few years later and after a few times being prompted by myself, she admited it and straight away I made it known to him that I knew and I reported it to Social Services and the Police. It only took a day before my Father attempted to take his own life and was taken into care by Family. This was a regular thing that occured by attempting sucide in the past. However after pleading with his Family to go to his own home and ensured his safety, he locked himself away and took his own life. I’m a huge supporter of suicide awareness and would give anyone whether they be a stranger, a friend or a loved one, those who needed help, company or advice, i’d give them my full time and attention, but with anger then and anger that still remains, to take your life to escape the truth and imprisonment after destroying someone elses life through their own actions is cowardly action. In ways I blame myself, but in ways I don’t. I just wish I could have stopped it before it even started. I was ashamed to admit my Fathers actions and never spoke of them as I didn’t want those who thought knew him best, have a bad opinion of him and despite his actions, this was still my mindset. Some called it bravery and other called it blame. That was my Father and his actions and yes I was upset on his passing as he was my Father and not every memory was a bad one. I do still love him in a way, but not because he’s my Dad, but because he gave me life and a family.
My Sister and I moved to my Mums and and attempted to begin a new life, but blame still arrised. The build up of stress and pressure during the present was overwhelming and it didn’t get any lighter and with the past still hunting me, suicide felt the best option. I attempted sucide on four seperate occassions and thankfully they all failed. The agony of leaving my Family was daunting, knowing the stress it would add to their lives and worrying who’d protect them when they needed it scared me. However a build up of misery and the fears of the future only ever got bigger rather than smaller and with every year that passed and the life events, I generally thought life couldn’t become anymore difficult.
My mothers health deteriated and was self inflicted, she fell pregnant to a man who she felt was the love of her life and soon they’d devolope a drinking problem. Mums pregnacy wasnt healthy and after the early arrival of my youngest sibling, things became a horror. I soon filled the shoes of being Mummy and Daddy, struggled to fake smile and pretend life was fabulos, but in reality, it was one struggle after another. It was just a pure misery. Mums drinking habbits got worse, her relationship fell apart and it just got to the sage where she was in a paraletic state everyday and the love for her children soon vanished and her resonsibilities were unrecongisable. Alcohol became her priority and her only love.
Social Services became involved at this point and my siblings and I were put on the Child Protection Register and my youngest sibling was put into care. The heartbreak of that alone was heartwrenching, but witnessing my Mother not understand what was happening was her fault. Mum went into rehab and succeeded after two stays periods and got her life back on track, my sisters now moved on with their own children and my youngest sibling being back in the care of our Mother, life was looking good.
I was still tramatised by the past events and still today I find it difficult to cope with the actions of my history. I eneded up meeting a girl, got married and things felt great, but soon that began to fall apart. I was trapped for years and couldn’t explore my childhood due to the control and responsibilties I had to take on, but it turned out that the marriage was heading down the same path. I’m not comparing my marriage to my past, by all means no, but a sense of control yes. Nights-out wasn’t allowed unless she was present, I couldn’t visit family alone and friends I had, I soon lost because of her control. The clocking the miles in the car on my days off and questioning my whereabouts on her return home was geting ridicolous and if I didn’t answer the phone, she’d ring round my family and question them in regards to my whereabouts. Things got so bad, one evening on a night I did go out despite her efforts to stop me; she texted her self pretending to be me, save her number under my name and tried to convince me, that I texted her asking to pick me up. It was madness. On so many occassions we spoke and she understood her behaviour was spiraling out of control and always fed my brain with false promises. I soon realised that I wasn’t loved, but was an obsession. I struggled to see past this and after the miscarriage our baby daughter, I continued to blame myself and still to this day we’ve never spoken of it to one another. I was slowly falling into a zone where I thought I never exsisted and soon my depression would be on the front line controling my life. Life wasn’t worth fighting for and again I attempted suicide. I desperiately tried to seek the help I needed, I spoke out to family and even to the woman I married, but she kept telling me it was in my head and that I was imagining it. That’s not a method of help or support, that was abuse. I realised I was being mentally abused and being that person again wasn’t pleasnat. I wanted to leave so many time without a single goodbye and just vanish and never to contact home again. I didn’t know what I wanted, but was always to scared to seek a future when my past and then present was hunting me. My statements at the begining of the blog is a true example how I felt then and when I fall into that depression zone now.
It was only last summer when I took a breakdown, everything got to much and holding problems that had occured in the past was unbelieveably creeping its way back into my life. I found myself in the garden gazing at the sky siting in my pajamas in the rain where my family ran to my side and held me, telling me that i’d be okay. They encouraged me to return to my GP and get the help I required and now i’m on the right track. This was the day I made the admission to my family that I was abused myself as a child myself, but by a stranger. I’ve only ever told my family this and even writing about it now is daunting, but holding such events in for so long and not being able to voice the incidents was destroying me. I had to take off from work and find who I was as a person, I had to quit with all the negativty in my life and leave the bad energies behind and that soon helped my decision to end my marriage. Now almost a year seperated, i’m filing for divorce and I feel wonderful. I’m in a relationship with a Guy, I followed a path I was curious to explore and i’m thankful I did that. I found a man who has helped me identify who I am as a person, i’m now someone I want to be and proud to call gay. I don’t regret my time spent in the marriage I was in, it wasn’t all bad and many goodtimes was had, however my future is now my priority and the only thing I regret is not finding Andrew earlier in my life. He’s a keeper, a man I love, adore and cherish, he’s a guy i’ll spend the rest of my life with and one day soon marry.
Life isn’t easy and every day isn’t the same although, the bad energies and the negativities are no longer present in my life. I still have depression and suffer from anxiety and I do have relapsed episodes. I’m currently being assessed for more diagnoses and hopefully that will put my illnesses to rest with the right help, medication and support.
Opportunities are endless and only we as people know where our own happiness lies: your universe is destined, only you can create your own pathway to happiness and it can be more difficult than others, but keep trying and don’t ever give up fighting.
Be yourself, have fun, enjoy life, laugh and smile throughout it, love you, make memories and more importantly live your life to the full the way you want it. You’re you, like I am me, be unique, be big, be powerful and show the world how beautiful you are. No one is perfect, but we’re all good enough.
– James Keenan