It started with depression and led to psychosis
This is the 6th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, depression and psychosis.“Please click here for Part I Part II, Part III, Part IV and Part V if you wish to read the backstory (It might make sense). I actually started writing about my journey some months ago, at the start of this blog, and only intended to write it in four posts. However, it’s become clear that my journey was a lot longer and more painful than I remembered, making it difficult to get the words down on paper at times.
I wrote Part V on 4th December and would have liked to have completed the next part a few weeks later but the festive period was upon us – a time when my emotions run high and my nerves jingle like sleigh bells. I cry at the least little thing; kids singing Christmas Carol’s, watching the charity appeals on t.v. and Christmassy songs in the supermarkets. I took a break from writing but we’re now into New Year 2020 and I had my birthday yesterday so now, I’m ready to pick up my pen again.
Back to uni once the holidays were done and we found out about our next placements and I was off to a maternity unit. I enjoyed twelve fascinating weeks with a midwife called Shirley who was as tough as old boots. She took one look at the four students that had turned up and turned to me saying “Right, you’re with me, you look like you’ve got some common sense,” as she strode away, so I followed.
I could tell by her demeanour that she’d expect a lot from students, which was fine by me. I loved a challenge — at work, that is.
I got the feeling Tony was cheating again, with one of the two ugly sisters (Sheila and Janice) from work that he’d met up with on New Year’s eve. I knew it was Janice, who he’d previously been with because Sheila was seven months pregnant and already cheating with the boss (it was her boyfriend’s baby, not the boss’s). Lovely girls really.
The psychosis was back
The anxiety and panic attacks had returned and were and occurring frequently. I wasn’t sleeping properly and I became paranoid about the police once again, I still thought I’d killed someone. I was seeing things, like red horns on my head when I looked in the mirror. the psychosis (1) was back. I had constant negative thoughts and things were coming back to haunt me. I had this video in my head, fast-forwarding, re-winding over and over, sometimes so fast, it was making me feel physically sick and my appetite was suffering yet again. I felt like a pressure cooker, ready to blow.
Back to counselling
In desperation, I wrote to Linda (my Counsellor) to ask if I could go back to counselling and thankfully, she agreed. At my first appointment back, she said she hoped and thought I would return. I got the feeling she knew there was more than the breakdown of my relationship going on. It took many months before everything came tumbling out — I’d kept it inside for so long — but I just couldn’t say the words.
I kind of tip-toed around the topic but Linda was good at making me stay on track. Towards the end of one of our sessions, Linda held up a book and I burst into tears. It was the first time I’d seen anything in print about what I’d gone through – I felt sick. I was sobbing uncontrollably and I had a panic attack. However, once I’d recovered, I think I felt slightly relieved. It hadn’t happened to just me. Not that I wanted it to happen to anyone else, but others had been through it, come out the other side and had written a book to help people like me.
That afternoon, I took the book home and was sitting on my bed, dazed and afraid to open it, when my brother walked in. Puzzled at my silence, he sat with me, he saw the title of the book, he put his arm around my shoulders and as we read the Preface, we shed silent tears together. I will always remember this moment and I’ll be eternally grateful to my brother. However, I wouldn’t say anything to Tony — yet.
I continued with the counselling, now trying to unravel all of this mess, processing my thoughts and emotions, slowly. I hated myself. I hated that it had happened, that I let it happen, that it went on for so long. I’d known all this stuff for years but refused to confront it. I’d met Tony, the love of my life — I adored him. We were so happy in the beginning and were both delighted when I was pregnant. I was able to push all that stuff to the back of my mind and hoped that was it; in the past — gone.
Life had seemed so great for so long……. tho’ the thought that Tony would leave me one day, was never far from my mind. I suppose I never thought I was good enough – for anyone. In hindsight, I think that’s maybe why I stayed — through the cheating, the screaming and beatings, I wasn’t good enough.
And now my world had crumbled — yet again, but even worse than any other time. I couldn’t believe the pain, actual physical pain, as more and more disgusting thoughts filled my head. I couldn’t wait to see Linda each week, as painful as it was in counselling, so I could dump all this stuff.
Telling Tony was never going to be easy
Because I was afraid of his reaction, it took many more months, with Linda’s encouragement, to tell Tony. One Friday evening, I was off to Germany with the boys for a Karate competition, and I thought this would be a good time to tell Tony – he’d have the weekend to read a bit of the book and mull it over before we returned on Sunday evening.
I paced the floor waiting anxiously for Tony to come home. Even when he came in, I paced the bedroom, shaking inside until he came upstairs to find me, “I have something to tell you.” I blurted and thrust the book in front of him. You’d have thought it was hot coal the way he dropped it. I watched as his lips curled and he paled as the blood drained from his face, “You dirty f*cking’ wh*re. Why didn’t you tell me about it before? If you told me all them years ago, I wouldn’t have gone near you with a f*cking barge pole.”
Although I knew Tony wouldn’t take it well, he couldn’t have hurt me more if he’d punched me in the stomach. I grabbed my weekend bag, called the boys and went out to the car, hiding my hurt and anger from them. Tony dropped us off at our local dojo where we met with all the others and as I went to get out of the car, Tony grabbed my arm saying, “Have a good time, yeah.”
We had a smashing weekend and as always, the boys returned with more trophies and were excited to show their dad. He wasn’t in when we got home so the boys went off to bed and I started on their packed lunches for school the next day. Tony arrived home, tipsy but in an okay mood and tried to cuddle me but I froze as I remembered his ‘wouldn’t come near me with a barge pole’. “What the f*ck’s the matter with you, you frigid cow? You let some dirty old c*nt ………………… but you won’t let me near you.” I couldn’t speak and I felt panicky, not knowing what he might say or do next. I was so relieved when he just stormed off to bed muttering profanities to himself.
The week passed, with me still keeping an emotional and physical distance from Tony, and I went to counselling as usual on Friday. I sobbed as I explained Tony’s reaction to my news and how that made me feel even worse; I felt dirty and I hated myself, disgusted that I’d let it go on. Linda asked more open-ended questions like why this, why that, why, why, why? until I was totally drained and I left her office thinking I knew what I had to do.
Flowers from Tony
I got home and was greeted with “Ta da” as Tony pulled a large bouquet from behind his back and my stomach dropped as I saw two of our best pals sitting on the sofa grinning. “We’re all going out tonight, the boys are at mum and dad’s.” Nothing should surprise me with Tony by this time really so off we went to our local bar where we met with another crowd of friends and the evening passed without event. Apart from Tony’s phone constantly ringing and him going off to speak to one or other of the ugly sisters, much to the embarrassment of our friends.
On the way home Tony suggested Chinese takeaway but I couldn’t have eaten even if I’d been force-fed. Nonetheless, despite my constant refusal, Tony ordered food for me too then ranted on the rest of the way home about how I was nice in front of everyone else but what a moody cow I was when I was with him.
I repeated that I hadn’t wanted food, that I couldn’t eat and the next second, I watched as he threw the carrier bag of Chinese up into the air. I heard it splatter to the ground and the sight of Hong Kong noodles, spare ribs, curry and prawn crackers decorating the zebra crossing would have been comical in any other circumstances.
Oh how I wanted to kill him
It came as no surprise what happened once we were indoors – but this time I didn’t even try to defend myself. I just let him get on with it; punching and kicking me until he gave up and went to bed. From downstairs, I could hear him snoring and suddenly, angry, I went to the kitchen drawer and grabbed a large knife. I wanted to stab him, over and over. Instead I went to sit in the living room and stared at the knife in my hands. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that I hadn’t told anyone Tony was hitting me. If I killed him, no one would believe me, I’d end up in prison and what would happen to the boys.
A calm came over me and I eventually went to bed — I knew what I was going to do. When we got up the next morning I made us both a tea, took it through to Tony and said “That’s it now. You need to pack your stuff and go.” He saw how calm I was but he smiled and still tried to get round me with “You don’t mean it, Babes. Come on, let’s just talk about it.”
“There’s nothing to say. I told you the last time. Pack your stuff, all of it, today. There’ll be no more chances. I’m done.”
Tony pleaded with me, on his knees at my feet, crying and this time, I felt nothing. “Please Babe, I don’t want to go. I’ll get help. I love you and I know you still love me.”
“I do love you Tony and I think I always will, but I don’t like you.” and I sat back to drink my tea, calm and relieved. I knew this time that it was finally over.
(1) Psychosis: It’s sometimes possible to identify the cause of psychosis as a specific mental health condition, such as: severe depression – some people (me) with depression also have symptoms of psychosis when they’re very depressed. Psychosis can also be triggered by eg a traumatic experience.