A Mental Breakdown

Leading up to my first mental breakdown, I was a Service Manager for a local Authority in London, working with young adults with severe physical disabilities.  Prior to this, I spent a number of years as Deputy Manager in a Drug Rehabilitation Unit.

ImageMaterialistically, life was successful and comfortable, but there had been a lot of trauma in previous years.  This is not only relating to childhood abuse.  I had also gone through a traumatic experience in the 1990’s, which was now launching into a (delayed) Post Traumatic Stress response.

There is not a lot I can say about this situation, as it will blow my anonymity.  What I can say is that it is a very well-known violent crime in the UK.  I was one of the victims and our assailant is now serving life imprisonment.  One day I will write a password-protected post, but I need to construct the background for now.

My memory of summer 2000 is sporadic and blurry.  I had already given my employers notice to leave and was struggling to hold it together.

Driving home from that final day at work, it felt like I was tripping on psychedelic drugs.  The sun was brighter than normal and every sound was accentuated and echoing.  I wanted to scream.

I live alone, but on arriving home, I run straight to the bathroom and lock the door.  LifeImage was on meltdown.  I recall crouching in the corner, head between the knees with hands tightly clasped over my ears.  I am detached from the continual moaning sound coming from my throat.

One minute it is a hot sunny day, with children noisily playing outside, the next it is dark and quiet, other than the busy London traffic.  There is no sense of time; I had lost contact with reality.

ImageMy next awareness is being sprawled across the living room floor, empty alcohol bottles and some pills strewn everywhere.  There is an unsettling noise – banging, the sound of breaking glass, and men’s voices nearby.  I immediately know someone is climbing in through the bathroom window.

As I stand up, there is a police officer and paramedic standing inside the doorway.  Friends had alerted them after an eight-day absence.  The Emergency services had broken entry and witnessed the true state of my mind.

Later that same day, there is a vague recollection of debating with hospital staff overImage whether to stay or go.  By late afternoon, I am on a two-hour walk home under the hot summer sun.  It did not occur to ask for help.  The next recollection would turn out to be the weirdest experience of my life.

I was sitting at home, on the PC in the living room.  My sister is visiting.  She is sitting on the sofa, crying, uncontrollably.  Our parents have upset her and I am furious.

There is no memory of dialling their number, but Dad is on the phone.  He is unusually calm, given the circumstances.  I’m so busy ranting and demanding to speak to Mother, at first I don’t register what he’s saying.  Over the next few seconds, his words gradually begin to seep into my consciousness.

“Listen to me, Cat, your sister’s not in London, she’s here in Scotland”

“She’s here”  I scream  “sitting here, crying…”

“Your sister is NOT in London, we have just seen her an hour ago.  She IS here, 500 miles away, in Scotland”

Something in Dad’s voice snaps me out of it.  In the blink of an eye, my sister vanishes.  An empty sofa stares straight back – a gaping hole I wished would swallow me up.

Dad does not utter a word, as though he instinctively knows I have lost the plot.

A few months later, I’m recounting these details with Dr Potty…

Depression secondary to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” He states in a matter of fact manner.

I stare in disbelief.  Had he heard everything I just told him?  His ambivalence seemed to invalidate the desperation of my experiences.  This was a huge-mind-blowing event in my life.  For Dr Potty, it was just another day at the office…

Image

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27 thoughts on “A Mental Breakdown

  1. findingmyinnercourage

    Thank you for sharing such a personal journey, your words were captivating motivating me to continue to read on wondering what happened next. Excellent Blogging!

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  2. Susan Irene Fox

    Coming to grips with reality and tragedy is the one step on the journey of hanging onto life. Even if hanging on by our fingernails, at least we hang on. Your writing continues to reveal your vulnerability and bravery – two sides of a valuable coin. You increase the worth of that coinage every time you reveal more of yourself. Thank you for the gift that you are.

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  3. brokenbutbeingrepaired

    Thank you for sharing this with us, Cat.
    Writing and publishing this shows a huge amount of courage.

    Sending our best wishes your way.

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  4. athenabrady.co.uk

    Hi Cat, I do not believe how similar to my own your story is. I was working as a social worker on a learning disablities team when my childhood memeories came flooding back bit by painful bit. The consellor I finally saw (I thought I could fix myself) said I was suffering with post traumatic stress syndrome. A couple of years later after, another traumatic event along comes depression after the anxiety got so bad and I succombed, under huge pressure (My blood pressure being so high I could have had a stroke at any time) to a low dose of antidepressant 20 mg and it did help and continues to.

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    1. Cat

      Hi Athena

      It was only fairly recently when I realised I was probably experiencing PTSD from childhood. There is only so much the human brain can take before we crumble.

      Many thanks for commenting, Athena.

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  5. Charity

    “It did not occur to ask for help.”

    Because abused children don’t ask for help, Cat. 1. We’re use to not getting any help from the very people who are supposed to help us. 2. No one seemed to care enough to help us as hurting children, why on earth would anyone help us now as grown adults?

    I know, honey. You keep working out your grief. You’ve been through a lot. I don’t know if you have much of a support group there with you, but it looks to me as though loads of people care for you in the blogosphere.

    I wish you comfort and much love and understanding from those around you as you continue to heal. I’m proud of you for holding on as hard as you have. You’re no quitter.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you, Charity, your comment comes from someone who truly understands and I am grateful for your feedback and support. You know, I think you’re right, “abused children don’t ask for help”, although I haven’t quite thought of it in this way

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  6. survivor55

    When you talk about how bright the sun was — my first episode as an adult with suicide was coming home from work one evening in the spring. The colors were so incredibly bright — the greens of grass and trees especially because where I lived there were tons of trees and nicely kept lawns — that, even though I had on my sunglasses, I had to squint my eyes because the brightness hurt so much!! Usually when summer hits it becomes so dry that the green is replaced by brown grass — except for the rich parts of town who have automatic sprinkler systems and/or full-time gardners/gardening services — so this fact, I believe, only added to the brilliance of all that green. I parked, walked into the apartment complex, climbed the stairs — all feeling what I now know is dejected — went into my apartment, sat down on the end of my bed and looked at the closet where my hidden stash of pills were, then looked out my window at the green again. At that time I was a drinker, so I thought about the bottle of bourbon in my kitchen. Then I said to God, “If You don’t do something right now, I’m going to see You face-to-face in a few moments.” He heard me. Suddenly the tunnel vision, of which I had previously been unaware, retreated and the colors changed back to normal. I was still depressed, still dejected — but it had eased enough where I didn’t go through with my plan. Which is a good thing, because I later learned when someone I love killed himself that I wouldn’t have had enough pills, even combined with the bourbon, and would have just passed out and awakened with a horrible headache or I would have gone into a coma. I’ll never know. I’m just thankful God heard my prayer and answered it immediately. I’ll never forget that day, Cat. Never!!

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    1. Cat Post author

      Those days stay with us forever. I also remember the vivid colours that day. I am so pleased you found peace in God rather than a suicide attempt.

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, I am truly grateful for your support

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  7. A Gay Mentalist

    Hi there, this must have been really difficult for you to write, and I admire you for writing all of that out, and in seemingly such a calm way as well. You’ve been through an awful lot, and this blog must be helping you to release some of those very nasty memories. All the best

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi…. you are so right, this blog is helping me release a lot of those pent up memories and the support from you guys makes me feel very fortunate to have people around who are understanding and so supportive. Thanks GM.

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  8. GFixated

    Wow, great articulation of your disorder, I felt like i was there with you, from your resignation to the DR. Sometimes it’s unexplainable how to react, most people don’t know how to react. Depression for some come and goes. Journey on.

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  9. hubertwrites

    Hi Cat, I am new to your world, but wow do I relate, my heart felt every word you said. I am 54 now and just within the last 3-4 years am beginning to remember some horrible ******* I have lived through. I had never heard of Post traumatic stress disorder before I read your post I mean in terms of a long past childhood. I thank you for sharing I am struggling to find out who I am and who I am supposed to be right now as I walk around this house at times in a mental no mans land Saying Lord God I had no idea! Who am I and what no? I just wrote this Poem on my Blog, I hope its okay to share it with you:

    Perfect Love

    Perfect love cast out fear
    Lord why do I feel so alone

    Perfect love fills the heart
    Has a life all its own

    Perfect love rejoices in you
    Perfect as I can be
    I look for light here in the dark

    Perfect Love look for me
    Perfect Love look for me

    It’s Gods perfect Love we all need, He has sent it through His Son Jesus Christ, but so often we miss it because we are looking for someone else or something else.

    All my best Cat Hubert

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      1. hubertwrites

        Hey Cat , I PRAY GODS MERCY AND BLESSING ON YOUR HEART THAT HE WOULD BE YOUR HEALER

        sorry about the caps I have huge hands and sometimes I hit caps lok ….

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  10. RisingSong

    I am so grateful to see these parts of you come out, Cat. This could not have been easy to write. I hope that telling your story, telling your truth…the way it really happened is as helpful to you as doing so has been for me.

    I know it is not the same situation, but I can relate so much to the hyper-sensations and crouching in the bathroom in order to find relief. Often when I leave EMDR (this was especially so after the first few sessions), I feel like I want to shut down every sense. The very air would burn my skin. Usually I work an evening shift a few hours after my therapy sessions. After a particularly rough session, I have found myself crouched in the bathroom at work, with my head in my hands, inhaling and exhaling until I can get enough of a grip to face the public again.

    I’m sorry about Dr. Potty (love that name). It is unfortunate to run into such inadequate “professionals” at such a crucial and fragile time in our lives. I’m looking forward to hearing how you have been able to come as far as you have come.

    Carry on!

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  11. Gel

    This is mind blowing!! I appreciate you sharing your story. I hope it’s healing to do so. I see a lot of value in sharing our stories and listening to others’ stories. It’s so healing to feel heard, understood and cared about. And to give that to others.
    I will keep returning to listen.

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  12. Red

    I am glad you shared this part of your journey with us. We appreciate you allowing us in and your telling helps us know we are no alone.Keep writing and we will keep reading.

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