Beauty being life, the beast being the darkness.
Tied up, hands across my neck and a pillow pushes 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 has never disappeared and my doubts have only ever heightened with now the smallest of things becoming the biggest struggles to deal with. It’s immediately became harder than what I ever expected survival to be and now i’m tired. I’ve lost the fight, strength and courage to overcome a past so dark, demons would run from it.
I don’t feel ordinary, I have never felt normal. I’m embarrassed, I lost my dignity and a childhood that should have been filled with joy and cherished memories, but that was stolen from me and replaced with horror that I only but wish was an actual nightmare.
I find myself in the same place day, it’s a destroyer. I feel as if i’m chained to my past, the darkness is darker than ever before and it has become unbearable. I feel as if i’m an explosive ready to self detonate.
Everyday I wake up to reminders, smells, words, the media and television and it leaves me frightened for the next 24 hours. I may not show it but I’m living it.
My life was cruelly stolen from me. I struggled to pretend. I struggled to move on and forget, but it all seemed impossible.
Ive kept this horrendous feeling, these thoughts and the reasons I want to end my life. I have tried to talk and I seem to remain to hide it still, but in reality I am not coping, 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 to help with something. The feeling of being used, 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 either. I guess that’s the skill of a good actor, i’ve a skill I never thought I had. I just want to be held, loved and reassured.
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.
My anxiety is a curse, unfortunately aiding a lack of control in my work, social and personal life and a past of trauma controlling my future? My mental health dictating the now and the fear allowing death to be more inviting than life itself. I don’t want 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. I wish I had that one person who can understand me, that would be my wealth.
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 ill 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 the debate, is there light or not?
It can be difficult for someone who has never experienced mental ill health or to know how you feel deep inside. 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.
Depressive disorder, agoraphobia, PTSD and emotionally unstable personality disorder, 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 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 Belfast troubles keep me awake tonight and how will my dad be today, good form or bad. I felt somedays 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 that from either of my parents.
As I grew older I learnt what mental I’ll health was and things began to make sense. It was the events that caused me horrific trauma and physiological issues that triggered my rawness, the hurt, the physical pain and the mental abuse.
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.
Itwas 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 too, which then began to make sense of his behavioural pattern.
He was an abusive father who took his anger and frustrations out in way possible, yet my siblings and I still loved him. He was abuse to his partners too, verbally, mentally and whether they knew it or not he was a cheat right up to his death.
My parents separated and we moved to woman’s aid for safety. We moved from hostel to hostel and were deemed homeless. The embarrassment alone was raw.
Years passed and my mother moved to the countryside and my father remained in Belfast and due to secondary education my sister and stayed in Belfast in Dads care. It was obvious Dad and I never got on. He would leave early morning, head to work and when he came home, his dinner had to be ready and waiting on him prepared by my younger sibling, otherwise he would kick off. No thank you, no nothing but a few slabs and verbal abuse.
I was often the son who was called queer, faggot, hated against for visiting my grandmother, his mother every night threatening not to tell any of his business. I loved my Dads parents, my grandparents, I doted on them. His brother and sisters I loved dearly, but wasn’t allowed to share anything with them. It was sad.
Most nights after dinner he would shower, shave and head to his local pub where all his friends thought he was God’s gift, but really and truly he was an arsehole. He’d return home late, some nights I would be in and other nights I would still be at my grandparents house. The nights in, he would bring in a kebab and be all over me as if I was his blue eyed boy, the. He would question where my sibling is. I’d explain she’s in bed sleeping g, it’s 2am and has school leave her be. He would scream to her to get up. He’d smell her for aftershave, ask to look through her phone and then beaten for no reason. Nights I was in my Grandparents, he wouldn’t let me in on my return and leave me standing outside for hours.
Dads behaviour became very suspicious and he began accusing my sibling of her stealing his clothes when I was the guy of the household and never was I accused once.
The screams of my mum twenty plus years ago I can still hear clear; begging dad to stop beating her. I can still still hear the wallops from upstairs and the fear and hurt on mums face and later the same I can still hear and see the same fear and hurt on my sisters face. Horrific!!
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 and never will.
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. My grandfather and mum who were the room that was targeted seem the attack from afar and they helped my siblings and I out of the house and placed in a safe house in the same street. That night 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 a friend, said nothing he could do and then pissed off back out to the pub. That was 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 embrace 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 itself .
The bullying I experienced wasn’t physical, but verbal and emotional which soon affected my learning and education. I lost my confidence all together as 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.
my family began to drift, Mum moved to the countryside, my dad remained in Belfast with one of my siblings and I moved to Ardglass with my mum. I met up with sister every weekend, we where best friends. I noticed my father’s behaviour continued and several times I asked my sibling a question, which she always denied.
It turned out my father was a paedophile after sexually my sibling after a number of years, which broke her mentally and emotionally.
I alerted police and social services who began to investigate simply because one, my baby sister was betrayed by her father and two I didn’t want anything to occur between his son, niece and stepdaughter, if not already.
My mothers health deteriated physically and soon began to self inflict by becoming an alcoholic. Throughout the pregnancy there was complications, due to age and alcohol, but afterwards postnatal depression was diagnosis which was difficult.
I had to remain strong despite battling my own demons, I had to fake smile and pretend to my siblings was okay. I trusted my I stinks that I will be good acting the responsible adult being the eldest to filled the shoes of being Mummy and Daddy. I’ll never be able to top their shoes, but only ever hoped I would grow to inspire my sisters, I only did best for them and only want the greatest of opportunities to arise for them.
Social Services became involved at this point and mums real love was for her drink and that was all. 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 we won her back through many case management meetings.
I was still tramatised by the past events and still today I find it difficult to cope with the actions of history. I eneded up meeting a girl and we got married and things felt great, but soon that began to fall apart too. 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. I can’t, but a sense of control was occurring and I became the victim. It was rammed into my head that my mental Health was in my head and I needed to get over the past which is one of the most hurtful and hardest things to be told.
We miscarried a baby girl and never spoke of our loss together and soon we went separate ways.
It was 2016 I could my first breakdown, I didn’t know how, why or when. I had very little memory of the event. I was then referred to the services, seen by GP and was deemed unfit for work purposes. i found myself growing into self neglect, I felt weird and creepy, I didn’t understand who I was or why. I felt worthless and all I wanted to do was take my life. I took a few months of work and then had to push myself before I was pulled for my attendance. I was still ill when I joined back to work but I was frightened to open up in case I was deemed on fit for work.
My life changed forever after being contacted over social media. I was told I had a nice smile and didn’t I fancy a coffee. I took the opportunity to meet friends and I met a beautiful Scotsman who has listened, cared and supported me since the very beginning.
I ended up taking another breakdown having needed up in two secure wards, one voluntary and the other sectioned under the mental health act. I took two years of work and felt my life was falling apart after attempting to self harm, suicide and neglect. I hated myself and became paranoid convincing myself I was being watched and I started hearing voices.
Intense treatment, medication and education has helped me loads. Education saved my life, medication helped my nerves and feelings and my therapies changed my way of thinking.
Life isn’t easy and every day isn’t the same although, the bad and negativities energies are no longer present in my life. I still have depression and suffer from anxiety and I do have relapsed episodes, but that is my life now. I’ll always be in recovery. Self-management is key!
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