How I Ended up in a Psychiatric Hospital
I was diagnosed with PTSD following a visit from my parents in February 2018. In the months leading up to this visit, I had been pressured to accept the man who abused my mum and me relentlessly until my three younger sisters and I were taken into care and he was imprisoned for his actions. As I have done the rest of my life, I buried my feelings on the matter and tried to pretend I was fine, to my detriment. The visit was fine, actually much better than I expected however immediately after taking them home, my world came crashing down around me.
Little Miss Independent
When we went into care, I was five and at that time I'd been caring for my two younger sisters, trying to feed them and keep them clean. I had mastered changing nappies and had worked out that if the light doesn't come on in the fridge, the milk will make you sick.
I also thought I'd worked out how to handle my drunk parents, in particular, my violent dad. I thought if I was super quiet, out of the way and never cried that things would be better for me and my little sisters. Already being quiet and never complaining was part of who I was becoming.
I'd decided I didn't need anyone, especially not adults, they weren't to be trusted.
On the day my mum gave birth to her fourth child, social services came and took us. I was terrified. Where are they going? Will I ever see them again? Where's mum? What is dad going to do next? Was I really that bad at looking after my sisters?
I told no-one about my fears, anxieties and guilt in case I made things worse. Also although I didn't feel at all safe, I didn't want my grandparents to be disappointed so I did as I was told and never complained or cried.
For the next few years, I had a few strange ideas, which I can now see were childhood PTSD, such as believing I was invisible or silent, constant fear, nightmares, bed wetting and flashbacks. Again, where possible, I kept these 'problems' to myself.
Then high school came around and I discovered cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis - my saviors as I thought at the time. A welcome break from my secret thoughts, anxiety and nightmares that still plagued me.
By age 5 I'd decided I didn't need anyone, especially not adults, they weren't to be trusted.
Getting Good at Avoidance
Despite my school telling me I would either be dead or in prison by the time I was 25 and predicting me ungradable across all subjects, I did well enough to get to sixth form and then again to university.
If you would have asked me at this point if I suffered any ill effects from my childhood trauma, I would probably have said no. I had a lot of friends, a new job to learn and get stuck into and therefore was busy a lot of the time and felt okay. I had maintained a good relationship with my mum and my dad was never mentioned.
This time two years ago, meeting my dad was sprung on me whilst my sister, mum and I were sitting in Halloween costumes in a train station a few stops away from my mum's place. I knew they were together and he was living at her place but up to that point they had then decency to keep it hidden from me. I declined to meet or speak to him but contact was made. My best mate noticed a difference in me from this point onwards, she told me later, despite me refusing to admit there was a problem.
Over the next few months, I would continue to visit my mum and my dad was just there, he didn't interfere but was still there. Eventually, he offered to help with some DIY at my newly purchased apartment. This seemed like a good idea, my mum would get a holiday and finally visit me for a change, and their dog would get to walk on the beach, I was excited...how naive.
A week later I found myself in ICU following a massive overdose. I wasn't feeling too tough then.
The Arrival of PTSD
I took my parents back home, a three-hour drive away by which point I could feel something changing in me. When I got to theirs at midnight, I couldn't stay, not for a drink or even a minute. I jumped straight in my car and tried to race away from this growing anxiety. This was quickly followed by relentless flashbacks which were frightening beyond words. Who could I tell about this? Who would even believe it?
Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all that night and had to call up my brand new job to say I couldn't come in for a couple of days, I told them it was a migraine. When I saw the GP, they diagnosed PTSD and started an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication then recommending time off work and counselling. I explained this to my boss but insisted I kept working, kept busy and didn't tell my colleagues a thing. Even then I was still pretending to be tough.
A week later I found myself in ICU following a massive overdose. I wasn't feeling too tough then. I was devastated it hadn't worked and that I had to face my best friend who had found me unconscious and my family who were completely shocked because I'd never let them in.
Eventually, after a year of trying to manage my symptoms without any treatment, I knew I was getting close to another attempt at my life so I decided to visit family. I wasn't completely honest with them about what was going on for me as usual but they were concerned enough to get their GP to see me.
I commenced treatment in the community but two months later I found myself in a psychiatric hospital, still unable to open up to anyone.
I was in the psychiatric ward for three months. The consultant did everything he could to make it easier for me to speak as he explained it was so important. We tried different medications, he asked for staff to start a conversation with me twice a day but still, I found it impossible to speak about myself or my thoughts.
Therefore, most of my anxieties remain. The PTSD continued to win, but it's difficult to break the habit of a lifetime.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.