I guess by the age of five issues were already present with life’s trauma’s and a disability of hips dysplasia, and family issues that were never spoken of. By school age I was already behind most school entry requirements, also had a speech impediment problem and undiagnosed dyslexia, with communication issues. I came from a strict up bringing and later the eldest of 6 offspring.
I also came from an era of denial, if we chose not to remember it then it never really happened, or if we admit to anything then we adults would be admitting to failure. Children should be seen and not heard, and the adults were always right!
I suppose you could call it the neglect era, in one sense we were looked after well when it came to clothing, schooling and the providing of material things in a middle class to low income family. But no one looked at the mental health side of things; even physical disabilities were disowned, like my father put my not walking down to laziness, in fact most things back then was put down to laziness, but operations later proved different so he disowned me, but that did not stop me from insisting I was a daddy’s girl. And we were disciplined and punished when required even though sometimes it was a little on the extreme side.
At one time the education department sent me to a counsellor outside of the school and he spoke over my head to my mother as if I was not in the room and then sent me out of the room, he told her I needed more beltings, she thought she was already dishing out enough beltings. At this stage I was diagnosed as a problem child and everything was my fault and issue. My school levels were always poor and I had panic attacks every single day of my life as a child and teenager, often these panic attacks got me into a lot of trouble as nobody understood the trauma I was experiencing and I was unable to communicate with anyone as I did not understand myself and no one had a name for it.
When still young I remember running away from school to my nanas, in the mean time my father turned up at school to find me not there, while he headed to my nanas I had bailed myself up between the shed and fence with a knife threatening to take my own life if l was made to go back to school or to go home, and threatened to kill my aunty if she came near me, I was only 8 at the time.
One time when 15 my attacks were so sever I was taken to a female Indian doctor. In tears I tried to explain what was happening and she wanted to do an internal on me, Say what! As a virgin and never ever had one before I refused and thought what a bunch of bone heads, what does an internal have to do with what I was experiencing, in reality my nerves were shot since before school entry, but no one knew that.
I was given a bottle of blue pills for depression, only weeks later after a family row; I took the whole bottle and went to bed expecting to never wake up. Until morning when I was woken and it was noticed immediately I had taken an overdose, yet still driven to work as groggy as I was, needless to say I lost my job that day.
My parents had broken up when I was 14 and I took that very hard, and still suffered from PTSD after my baby brother was a cot death victim when he was 5 months old and I was 10, we children were not allowed to grieve and was sent to school the next day as if nothing had happened, I remember collapsing in my teachers arms and 5 minutes later schooling continued as if nothing happened. I suppose mum did her best in raising 6 children alone, but she was very stubborn and too proud and very much into her religion. She was a victim of child sex abuse by her stepfather as with most of her siblings after her own father died while she was young, and I often felt she took her frustrations out on me. There was some violence and aggression between my parents with me becoming between them, I thought I was protecting my parents and my siblings and would deeply become traumatized by it, but often ended up the one being punished for my troubles.
I was easy manipulated as a child by authority figures that always sparked a reaction from me, and often got blamed for things even if it was not my doing or there was an explanation, and no one believed anything I said even when it was the truth. I grew up doubting myself, and life was just a dream.
I didn’t get along with my family and the same for school, and grew up mostly a loner, I took comfort in pretending I was like my hero’s, like Suzi Q or Elvis, I often disassociated myself as a female and took on the role as a male. I dressed and acted as a true blue tomboy and loved doing male things. I liked sports and music but was not allowed to take part in these things.
When still 15 I went to live with my father and his new family and shortly later took another overdose, only this time with a cocktail of alcohol. Once again medical attention was denied. We then travelled up north and I along with one of my stepbrothers was in the caravan when it over turned. Not long later I got in a drunken brawl with my father and was smashed to the pulp.
I then came back to Adelaide where soon after my life on the streets began at age 16. I fretted for my siblings and missed them deeply especially the younger ones, but they never knew how much I pined for them and often cried for them, but I could not go back to something that never was.
Even though a loner on the streets, I never really hung out with any gangs; I endured bashings and rape after bashings and rape. Slept on benches in parks and behind shops or on the steps of pubs, and hitched hiked around Australia. There were times I got no Centrelink payments or someone would claim for me and then abandon me taking off with the money as back then only one partner would get the money, I would go weeks without a bite to eat or seeing a shower.
I led a life as a zombie, a nomad that roamed the planet and often doctor shop for pills to keep me in the zombie state, anything was better than reality, I continued to play the game of Russian roulette and did not care. By 17 I was full on into the pills and alcohol and smoked a little dope, and even gained a tattoo or two. I portrayed the tough person I was in fact not, I did not take big time drugs as my family and others portrayed of me, in fact I had a phobia to needles and always had due to my younger years experiences.
My first experience of mental health institution was at 17 in one of the first places to close down, which was somewhere in Enfield SA after yet another overdose. I spent some weeks there before being released. Not long later after a drunken episode and another family brawl I found myself facing jail, in reality I hadn’t even committed a crime, I was just out of control and wished I was dead. Now how can that be a crime, my mother kept yelling at me and told me I should have been the one dead instead of my baby brother, so her wish was my command as I reached for a knife from a draw to take my own life, only she struggled with me and the knife and I threatened to kill her if she tried to stop me, as she instructed a sibling to call the police, they all told the same story, I tried to kill my mother and to this day they stick to that story. So I gained my first police record to which is still on record to this very day.
I had my first child a daughter by 18 and soon married a guy from Melbourne and not the father of my child. Once again I endured bashings and rape after bashings and rapes, (I came close to death while carrying my baby as my body did not cope well and the traumas of life was taking its toll), and when my husband could no longer hurt me anymore he then started on my daughter. That only lasted 3 ½ years before I finally got the courage to walk away with the help of a new boy friend.
I divorced my ex and remarried (jumped from the frying pan into the fire) this one was an alcoholic and again I endured many bashings. During my second marriage I ended up back in the mental health system and this time I soon learnt what detained meant as I tried to escape a few times. I went to Hillcrest, to Woodleigh House, to Glenside and even to Noarlunga. My first diagnosis was in my twenties which was manic depressive disorder and I was placed on Lithium.
Over many years I had also endured a number of operations for different reasons. I went from problem child, to delinquent, to drug addict, to manic depressive disorder, to post traumatic disorder, to schizophrenia, to depressive disorder, back to post traumatic disorder, to borderline personality disorder, back to bipolar (formerly manic depressive disorder) and twice through undiagnosed postnatal depression.
I told my husband he would be the death of me, soon my marriage ended and he contributed to the death of his next girlfriend not long after. After my second marriage ended I had died inside, as many times before and this time I reached for the needle forgetting about my fear of injections and ended up on heroin. I did not care once again, and discovered I had at some point in my life come into contact with hepatitis B and only had the antibody, I learnt I was not a carrier and the doctor told me I must have done something right in my life. I did learn it was not through injecting drugs as I had just started at the time, and it could have been through the many rapes or my first ex who I later found out had used needles, but I also was told by the Hepatitis C council it could have even been through blood transfusion as a toddler, I guess we will never know.
My second daughter came a long in the early 90s when my eldest was 10.
By the time my eldest daughter was 13 she had ran away from home over me trying to keep her away from an older boy who had lured her through his music and religion, I tried so hard to get her back home
My family stepped in and took my youngest child away when she was 4 ½. After the investigation by welfare they admitted amongst my many issues I was still a caring mother, and I had plenty of evidence to prove I could still take care of my child, and I was very much involved in both of my girls schooling and got on well with their teachers as I often helped out at the schools. The welfare said I could have my daughter back, only when I went to get her my family had shot through with her.
After I lost my child, both she and I had a broken heart and I had nothing else to lose, nothing left to be taken away from me, all I ever had in life had been stripped from me. So I left the state and hitch hiked around again as I lived on the streets and I climbed the ladder once again as I picked up seasonal work here and there. I went cold turkey from drugs on my own with no help from any one.
I ended up in a psych hospital in NSW somewhere and in another in Mildura, I spent a number of months in Mildura drugged to the eyeball, and went through many tests, to find I had an ulcer, hiatus hernia and endured a hysterectomy and still homeless.
During this time in life I got up the courage to finally teach myself how to drive and gave myself a new found independence I never new I had. And even scored a job on a mine for a while as I bunny hoped around the mine and big trucks in the company car, but my car soon failed me and left me stranded with no choice but to leave town as my transport was also my home.
Back in Adelaide one of my former Psychiatrists from one of the hospitals took an interest in me and tried to make sense of me (gee I couldn’t even make sense of me). And he played silly little games to try and get me to open up to him. There were times I was detained, and times transferred to tighter security, at times I was drugged to the eyeballs and times I was kicked out and times I was band from the hospital. Nothing he tried seemed to work, nothing got through to me, until he found out I was on drugs again when he finally gave up and told me to never return as there was no hope for me. I believe he left and now specializes in children mental health and prevention. If only he could see me now and how far I have come all on my own merits.
I tried many times to get my daughter back and even promised her when she begged me, and was told when I got my home I could, but people lie, my family kept manipulating me to think no one would allow it as I was mental, I was weak and I couldn’t cope and no one would believe me.
The laws changed and unless I was a criminal I was not entitled to a lawyer, and even though my family only had interim custody they manipulated me, her school and everyone to believe they had full custody. They cut me out of her life so many times, never asked for permission for anything and never involved me in her upbringing, often they spoke for me and thought for me, and jumped to their own conclusions, while putting me down to my children in front of me and behind my back and to anyone who would listen and believe them.
Until they removed her we both had a special bond and were inseparable, when they took her it was like her going to strangers as she hardly knew them.
It is hard for a mother and daughter to be torn out of each others arms with both screaming for mercy, people think they are helping you when in fact their controlling is destroying you inside and out. My daughter is her own person now and in high school with an out of school hour’s job and a hell of an attitude like her mother.
In 2002 my youngest brother 26 took his own life, he was a proud man and broke up with me over attempting the very same thing that ended his life, some things in life just do not make sense or add up.
I have climb the ladder once more, off drugs, rarely drink, a student going for my Cert 1V in mental health non clinical, work one day a week for an organization and volunteer for another. I have taught myself all computer skills thanks to the kind heart of a close male friend who has been my saviour over the past four years. I have implemented strategies that are being used in the training of other consumers and helped many other consumers to recovery. I am also teaching myself filming and cutting and editing and have already put together two DVDs one of a TheMHS conference and one of a mental health music project of its final performance. I am now working on my biggest project which is still in the making and will involve over 100 people.
I have had Government Mental Health services and their hidden consumer workers breech my privacy in a very bad way including making many phone calls about me with their own versions and no facts to back them up and when caught out they passed the buck and blamed an unwell consumer refusing to apologize and undoing the damage they did.
When I was on probation at 17 I had a lovely probation officer, she took an interest in me and we got along well, she found me honest and cooperative, and worked in with my family. But when my probation ended after only a couple of weeks so did this support and I faded away back into the system and troublesome times, this is when I discovered I was pregnant.
When my eldest child was 5 she accidentally splashed aftershave in her eyes as she was trying to copy my second husband. But a mental health consumer and now former friend was present at the time and in another room, falsely rang the welfare and told them my husband threw it in her eyes, she did not witness this as it did not happen.
The welfare was hell bent on trying to take away my child and called in my mother, a female school principle and an expert child psychologist, and I called in an alcohol counsellor who I saw at the time over my husbands drinking. My husband sat in silence while all the women fired questions at me and put me down and gave me the third degree over and over until the male counsellor pointed the finger at them and told them to back off and I should not be the one punished over my husband’s alcoholism.
After the meeting another expert child psychologist was called in and guess who it was, my old probation officer, well did she flip her lid and told all the women b*tches to but out of my life and stop playing off me and my child and to stop integrating my child behind my back and putting words into her mouth. She took on the case alone and weeks later told me she was closing the case as at all times I was cooperative and tried out everything she suggested and at all times my home was spotless and she could see her own reflection in my kitchen tiles and my child was well cared for. She also told me she was leaving the system as she did not like the way it was heading. The system lost one of their best workers ever to exist as she moved on.
There were not many good people I came across in my life time, and the very few I
did find did not last, all the good workers either left or where moved on to different offices. I never had stable regular support, and there was always some one different, people who did not know you, and people who did not know the real story or the facts, people who lied, people who were judgmental and bias and people who jumped to their own conclusion and made up their own scenario; people who were experts at manipulation and those who played of others and those who passed the buck and pointed fingers and blamed others.
Many times I made phone calls, and many times I begged and many times I jumped up and down crying for support and every time I was ignored.
One good thing that has come out of my training is I now see both sides of things, as a consumer studying other consumers, and as a consumer studying the services and I don’t like it one little bit. Everyone is manipulating everyone and playing of each other and I am not just talking about the consumers, these services that claim to be experienced professionals are professionals alright, professionals at everything I mentioned above!
Realistic support needs to be available, regular support needs to be there, and stick to the same people instead of chopping and changing staff, if staff are appreciated and treated with respect then they may stay on longer. If you get a real bonza of a worker, then recognize it when it comes a long and you may keep your staff longer, do anything in your power to keep them there, and if they are very successful where they are, then leave them there, don’t send them else where leaving their clients to fade away back into the system and up sh*t creek without a paddle.
If I had support as a child, or a teen and an adult then I would not have gone through as much as I had, there was no one to talk to, no one who understood, no one to turn to. Sure there were people and family, but only to interfere, to control you and tell you what to do, how to live, and if you did not do their thing their way, then you were no good in their eyes, you were a disappointment, you were evil and bad. But in reality you were none of those things, you were just some fading statistic that spent a life time crying out for help, and no body heard you.
Even though I have been recovering for four years, I at times still cry out for help, but mostly in silence now, because in reality I know that help will never come, not before, not now, and not in this life time.
A year and a half ago I had major surgery and was sent home four days later with 80 stitches from hip to hip, three gaping wounds and in shock, I had to take care of myself and had no visitors and no get well phone calls from any of the services I was involved in as a volunteer, both Non-Government Organisations and government, yep I was abandoned, as good as dead! In four years as a volunteer I was never sent to a volunteer’s luncheon by any of them. I felt, exploited, used, chewed up and spat out. They say you get out what you put in; well I just keep giving and giving, so when will I get out of it what I put in?
I have always been on my own, I am still on my own, and I guess I will always be on my own, so when my project is finished then I too will be moving on, I don’t want to stay in mental health as a consumer or a worker, because nothing has changed, and I am still one who has slipped through the system. Yeah sure mental health needs me, only my ideas and strategies that they can steal from me and exploit me to make a name for themselves, see they are still manipulating us, but are they there when I need them? Think again!
And they wonder where I get my F***** Attitude from!
I have come to recovery through my own merits and not through the merits of the recovery module. I have one hell of an attitude and trust no body (why should I). I refuse to bow down to the recovery module and its controllers in the system and because I am an independent recovering on my own merits they don’t want to know me and even go as far as stealing my own strategies and stripping all credit away from me, where Non-Government Organisations acknowledge me, and ask for my approval to use my work and thank me. I never say no to them and am proud of what I have accomplished and that I am able to assist others. But the government workers just take what they want when they want and then use it to make a name for themselves. To all you government workers who fit this description, let it be known that we know who you are and what your game is and you are also known throughout the community amongst Non-Government Organisations also. If you want a name for yourselves then you will get one, but not the one you expect!
The recovery module is falsely leading consumers to believe they are recovering while those steering the module are really the ones in control not the consumers who mistakenly think they are now in control of their own lives.
People have been manipulating me and controlling me all my life, but no more, the buck stops right here. I am in control of my life now and no one or module is ever going to control me ever again. I am a consumer and I am for the consumers, I am an independent, and have one hell of a determination about me that has some how kept me a live all these years. I have an illness like any other illness; I have different side affects and different reactions and symptoms.
But overall I am me, I am unique and I am original, I am not a fake, and what you see is what you get. I am a struggler, I am a battler, I am not and never have been a criminal (even though with a small record) and I have a bad credit rating even though I owe not a cent to a living sole, I have never been in debt, and never been kicked out of the only two housing trust I have rented.
And I have never told my full story before, my life saddens me and I still cry when I try to write about it and always delete my writing of it, and telling my story also contributes to my becoming unwell, because of this when I do presentations I prefer on tell others how far I have come in four years instead of where I have come from.
My life made me what I am today, a stronger person and a smellier attitude. Some people say we have choices in life, well to those people, some times we don’t have choices in life and some times it is the way the cookie crumbles. If someone tells you they have terminal cancer and are dying, what are you going to say to them, we have choices to live or die?
Glimpses - Call for stories
If you haven’t already done so, I am inviting you to submit your Consumer or Carer story on your personal experiences with: - Anxiety Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar, Schizophrenia, Anorexia, Post Natal Depression, Hearing Voices or any other MI I have overlooked.
The average length of stories are 6 to 15 pages. However I do have those that are 4 pages.
Minimum accepted is 4 pages, narrow margins, size 12 Arial font and single line spacing. Send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org in a MS Word document as per the above settings.