About: Mersey Care NHS Trust / Adult mental health

(as the patient),

In the 1980s everything hit me at once. I was 37, my mother decided to divorce my father, she ended up in ill health and I ended up looking after her. I was trying to hold down an extremely stressful job and I was assaulted. There had been several traumatic events in my childhood that I thought I'd dealt with but the assault in the 80s seemed to bring everything up and experienced what I now believe to be Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had flashbacks during the day and night whether I was asleep or awake. I slept on the floor in the living room for about 10 years, I couldn't take care of or relate to my children and so I lived apart from them. I became increasingly more terrified, hyper vigilant, hypersensitive and I slept during the day when I felt safer and at night I sat up and kept watch.

I eventually attempted suicide and my mother's reaction to that was firstly to refuse to come and see me, and secondly when the psychiatrist phoned her she came into the ward all smiles but the minute we were alone she told me my hair was an absolute mess and that she wished she'd never given birth to me. Somewhere deep down I'd known that all along and my Mother's lack of love for me is, I believe, at the root of my problems I and the relationships I've made with people who really don't care for or about me. I had nearly just died and that was all my mother could say to me. And I was even more devastated than before. But I think the problem for people like me is - even though we're not loved by a parent or parents, we desperately want to be loved and so we keep on trying harder and harder instead of walking away and ending what is essentially an abusive relationship between mother and child.

I wore myself out trying to please my mother. When she passed away in 2004 I can honestly say what I felt was relief. I no longer needed to keep trying to make her love me. She pushed me away at the end too, so nothing changed. What I want to point out here is that when I was going through the most awful emotional and mental pain during those years, I felt so ashamed of myself, so unlovable and so loyal to my mother that I could not bring myself to talk about it to my GP or psychiatrists. Who wants to admit to anyone that even their own mother doesn't love them? I'd rather people just thought I was mad.

Today I am still struggling with the PTSD due to the assault and the depression due to being told I was not wanted. I've got 'better' and I've slid back down into depression and been suicidal again and I really hate being like this. I don't want to end my life, I just want to end this situation and the sadness and loneliness that I carry around with me on a daily basis and I want to live a happy life. I have children who I've been unable to relate to for the past decade or so, and I have grandchildren who I love dearly and who have kept me going because I really love them all and I really wanted them all. And now I want a happy life with them and to let the past go - but I just don't know how to rid myself of this heavy heartedness where my mother is concerned.

I don't hate my mother, I loved her and always will but I know she was incapable of loving me and in her own way she just used me as her emotional punch bag. I even know the reasons why - but none of that helps. No amount of insight into the why's and wherefore's makes one bit of difference to the fact that a child was unloved and unwanted. No amount of self love makes up for being wanted by that other all important person - our mother. And it's really a grieving process I suppose but I'm mourning more for someone I didn’t have than someone I did have. Hope that makes sense and thank you for allowing me to have my say.

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Response from Kim Guy, PALS Manager, Mersey Care NHS Trust

Grace3, Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences by posting your story on the Patient Opinion site. Your experience has clearly been traumatic and it is sad to hear how difficult it was for you to bring yourself to discuss you feelings with your GP or psychiatrist. Many people with poor mental health struggle to cope due to negative experiences from their past but can find ways to live more fully in the present and value what is good.. Psychological (talking) therapy can help you understand and reflect about your life and how you think, feel and relate to other people. It can also help you make changes, come to terms with the past, and appreciate the many strengths and qualities you have that you can lose sight of when they are down. You stated that you are still struggling with PTSD and want to let the past go. If you have not already done so please consider discussing these issues with your GP or Psychiatrist so that they can work with you to find the best way forward for you. If you would like to discuss any of the points please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service who will be pleased to assist you. You can contact them by phone 0800 328 2941 or by email. Mersey Care offers psychological therapies to people who are using their services. However, anyone not receiving secondary care services and feels that they are experiencing similar symptoms should approach their GP who can refer them to primary care (IAPT) psychological services. On Merseyside these are provided by the organisation Inclusion Matters.
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Response from Sarah Yiannoullou, National Survivor User Network Manager, National Survivor User Network (NSUN)

Dear Grace3, Your courage is to be commended, sharing such personal experiences and thoughts is not easy or comfortable. People who suffer severe trauma and distress have often found comfort and support being with others who have had similar experiences, through peer support we can share experiences with the understanding that each of us has a particular insight into mental distress. The National Survivor User Network came about for that very reason. A number of people had been working hard to have an organised and coordinated approach to reaching the diverse views and experiences of people, bringing them together and influencing services and support for the better. The value of the support and information we can share between us is being recognised, which is why your posting is so important as it will touch others and increase awareness of the many and varied reasons we experience mental distress.
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Update posted by Grace3 (the patient)

I'd like to thank MerseyCare and Sara from NSUN for their responses to my postings, I've found them very helpful, positive and heartening and also I'd like to thank Patient Opinion website for being here and allowing me to vent when I needed it most! I've recently been going through a particularly bad bout of depression which I'm sure other sufferers can identify with as the most horrible dark, overwhelming place to be - but ALWAYS from those bouts of depression comes some form of insight and the re-emergence of a voice once again, an opinion, an understanding and sometimes a resolution and an acceptance. Depression has a purpose. It's extremely unpleasant and no-one wants to experience it but for me there is ALWAYS a fresh perspective after a bad bout. I view depression as the minds attempt to force down and hold in something that really ought to be expressed, but that one is perhaps afraid of expressing. Eventually, depression begins to lift when we find a safe way of expression what we are afraid to speak of or even think of. These websites are potential life savers in that respect because it's not always easy to speak face to face to a particular person, but nevertheless it's necessary to voice our opinion somehow. I am so thankful I've been able to do that here. I'd also like to thank Chris who is a Mental Health Advocate I got in touch with when I was very low and he has helped me through some tough times when I needed the support and the voice of another person because I had lost my own ability to communicate for a while. I find writing much easier than speaking most of the time, probably because my fingers work faster than my powers of speech and I don't get breathless from writing as I would if I had to verbalise what I want to say. I have written another posting on this website which talks about how I feel 'mental illness' can be brought about by the words and behaviour of others towards them for whatever reason. So thanks once again for recognising the medium of the written word as a valid means of communication for some people.