Journey through anxiety & psychotic depression – Part IV

This is the 4th in a series of “My journey through Anxiety, depression and psychosis.If you haven’t read Part I, Part II, Part III and you want to, you can find them here (Part I), here (Part II) and here (Part III).

I began this particular series in recognition of World Mental Health Day on 10th October, when I decided to tell you my story – publicly – for the first time. It’s taken a while and it’s been hard – I didn’t realise how difficult it would be to write it all down and to see it in print. However, I think I really needed to let go of it and I wanted it in writing, in the hope that it will encourage others to open up and raise awareness of how mental illness can happen to any of us at, any time.

Seek support

If you see anything of yourself or your own experiences in this post, perhaps you’ll feel relieved that you are not alone and seek help. Maybe you’ll even recognise some of the symptoms in a friend or family member? Hopefully, you’ll gain insight into different mental health problems and understand how difficult life is for people who experience mental ill-health?

Please click here for Part I, Part II and Part III if you wish to read the backstory.

………… I left the hospital that day after almost four hours with the Consultant Psychiatrist and two Psychologists, one of whom, the female, would be my Counsellor each Friday. I walked home, the long way, because I needed a little time to 1. wait for my face to rearrange itself into something half-normal after all the crying and 2. process what was said, before picking the boys up. I shouldn’t have worried – the boys’ grandparents said they would keep them that weekend.

Pity party

Just like I’d been doing for many weekends, I unplugged the landline and closed the blinds, played sad songs (think pity party before the term became popular) and sobbed uncontrollably – until my crying became just gulps, hiccups and sniffs. Eventually, all cried out and absolutely shattered, I fell asleep on the sofa. I woke with a start just after midnight, hearing voices and having a panic attack. I’d been having a nightmare that I was being chased though I couldn’t put a face to my attacker.

Somehow I had this magic power and just like Super Mario, I could jump up onto the roof of buildings and leap down the other side. My attacker was always waiting for me so I had to jump again, and again. It was exhausting! This nightmare was always the same, only the buildings changed.


My first week in counselling was just history stuff; family composition, normal birth, education level and was I a happy child? – “Everyone told me I was and I’d often overheard people saying what a happy child I was, always smiling.” and I realised the second I’d said it, I’d been acting out what was expected of me. I knew really and honestly, I wasn’t the prettiest child so people probably didn’t know what to say when mum introduced me, but my smile seemed to appeal to people – so I smiled, a lot.

Then week by week, every Friday in counselling, things were slowly unravelling and beginning to make sense. It was painful; gut-wrenching at times and there was always tears, lots of them, along with the snivelling and snot. Linda, my Counsellor, gazed at me constantly, she asked difficult personal questions and waited, just waited – as long as it took – for me to respond. She picked and picked at the plasters I’d long been wearing, revealing one raw wound after another, leaving great big gaping holes.

So many questions

The questions about my mum and biological dad’s relationship answered so many of my own questions. “What was your mum doing when your dad was hitting her with the poker?” I realised that I had been doing exactly the same thing when Tony hit me! Cowering and whimpering! Yes, despite all his great attributes, he had a temper and he’d regularly hit me badly when coming down off the ‘E’s. Damn it, Tart and everyone else got the best of him while under the influence and I got the worst of him on his comedown.

The beatings were almost cyclical; every six weeks or so but he was careful never to hit my face. I got kicked in the ribs, stomach and back or punched in the chest and head; anywhere he could reach as I curled into a tiny ball whereafter, he would pull out clumps of my hair. The more Linda probed about my parents, the worse I felt – “How do you feel about your mum?” I love her. “How do you feel about your biological dad? I hate him – he wasn’t there when I needed him!

Waking Nightmares

My waking nightmares were getting worse, the voices shouted louder and the horns on my head, when I looked in the mirror, terrified me and the panic attacks were crucifying me . The police were still circling my home. I still wasn’t eating and I was down to 6 stone 2 pounds. I decided that I couldn’t go back to counselling; it was dragging up all sorts of horrors I’d chosen to hide from many years ago, so I quit. After two weeks I received a letter from Linda telling me that I could return if and when I needed to. I didn’t.

Getting back together

By now, I was terrified of my own shadow, I jumped at the least little thing and my nerves were red-raw so, when after two years, Tony came begging to get back together, I did. Please don’t judge me? I just needed someone to hold me and to tell me everything would be alright. Tony did.

The first six months or so were great, just like old times; he was his usual charming self, nothing was too much trouble so I was happier, despite still experiencing many of the symptoms. I’d explained to Tony about the counselling and some of what had been discussed, hoping we could be more open and honest with each other now.

However, after a few years, Tony’s mask started to slip and my anxiety increased. I visited my GP who prescribed anti-anxiety medication, which helped and within weeks, I was feeling a little less anxious and the other symptoms had reduced somewhat.

Little old me went to university

I’d already applied for and been accepted onto the Mental Health Nursing programme, Project 2000 (on the proviso that I would continue with the counselling and gain some weight) and was due to start in a few months. On my first day, Tony actually drove me round the corner to our local university, with my brother yelling proudly from the windows “This is my sister everyone. My sister’s going to university.” I hadn’t studied since I was sixteen so university wasn’t going to be easy for me and I’ve covered this in a previous post).

I passed!

The course was tough enough but, at the end of our first year at uni, we had four exams which, of course, had me trembling in my little size three’s. I was trying to do everything; take care of the boys and our home, shop and cook for us all, study and cram for the exams so I didn’t have much time left for Tony. But he’s an adult, right? He’d understand? Nope! He became moody and sullen, telling me I was a snob for going to uni and meeting all the ‘yuppies’. However, despite tensions at home, I carried on my studies and guess who managed to pass all four exams?


I was so excited and like all the other students, I queued for the telephone in the student union room and called Tony to tell him my good news. I hadn’t even got the words ‘I passed all four’ out when he snapped ‘Did you take twenty pounds out of my pocket this morning?’ I said yes, and he hung up. I was hurt and mortified but I carried on chatting cheerily into the empty phone, while my heart was breaking, until my ten pence ran out. Why couldn’t he just be happy for me?

Exciting placements

Many months after that, I was on a placement with the Chinese community and met a lovely midwife called Lin, who was Chinese herself. She was very much into colour therapy and during one of our meetings she told Sarah, a fellow nurse – a fiery Irish lass, that her aura was Red. Sarah flipped and yelled at Lin “Don’t say that. Red means angry or aggressive and I’m certainly not that!” Make out of that what you will. Lin told me my aura was yellow/orange, which was translated as being calm and sunny? Whether one is into colour therapy or not, this meeting was a calming and interesting one, despite Sarah’s tantrum.

At another meeting with Lin, she told of her recent split with her husband of ten years and the birth of her three-month-old son. Despite the difficulties of being a single mum, she said she was relieved to be separated as her husband was an arrogant bully. This led to me disclosing my first split with Tony and why I took him back after the beatings and the cheating. Lin said “Do you like him?” and as I started “Yes, I love…….” Wow! I understood exactly. No! I didn’t like him. And at that moment I appreciated how like can be more important than love. Yes, I truly loved him but no, I didn’t like him or his behaviours.

Domestic violence

Still, I carried on and my next essay was themed “Crime in London.” This seemed to be a huge task so, I narrowed it down to something I knew about – Domestic Violence. I did a lot of research over the three months and during this time I visited several Domestic Violence units (DVU’s) and spoke to lots of women of different ages, backgrounds, race and religion.

I spoke with the DV team in police stations, I read the literature and looked at local statistics – I was fascinated. This topic was huge and I was only covering females who’d experienced domestic violence, the male side would also take an age. Did you know, (at that time) it takes around twenty-eight beatings before the woman finally leaves the man who beats her?

With all my evidence gathered, leaflets and books spread out on the dining table, I would sit typing my essay. Tony would pass by and he obviously saw the titles on the books but didn’t mention it. I get the feeling he was cringing inside.

Prior to handing in our essays we had peer review and having to present my findings to my peer group previously made me so anxious. But this time, I was confident about my findings and knowledge on the subject – I suddenly felt fearless as I discussed my essay and I was so happy with my peer feedback.. The lecturer also commented “It’s clear that this is a subject close to your heart and I can feel the emotion behind it.” The look in her eyes said she knew I’d personally experienced domestic violence.

By now, it was Christmas time and the holidays were upon us. We all had a lovely day at Tony’s dads with all the family around. However, only a week later, New Year’s Eve, was a disaster!

I really thought I’d be able to compress my journey thro’ psychotic depression into four blog posts but now I’ve been writing it all down, there seems so much more to tell. I hope you’ll bear with me as I write Part V and bring it to you soon. You’ll read about my flashbacks, return to counselling and ………….

Remember, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms I’ve described, please seek professional support.


Mum to two amazing sons. Following recovery from a lengthy psychotic episode, depression, anxiety and anorexia, I decided to train as a Mental Health Nurse and worked successfully in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I am a Mental Health First Aid Instructor and a Mental Health Awareness Trainer, Mental Health First Aid Youth and Mental Health Armed Forces Instructor. Just started my mental health from the other side blog.

34 thoughts on “Journey through anxiety & psychotic depression – Part IV”

  1. First of all I would like to thank you to tell your story and to empethize with others who are writing. I discovered that it is a hard thing to do and that writing brings difficult things back in the present. So please take your time and what you need.
    Your story is so powerful. Congratulations on passing 4 exams!
    It’s a shitty thing to be asking about the money as a response. The hair pulling also got to me. I feel like the situation is already bad and people experiencing abuse maybe are aware of it or not but for me, these ‘small’ things really affected me. It feels like, it is bad and then we add just this ‘small’ thing to make it extra.
    It’s brave to chose the topic of DV for your essay so close to yourself. Knowledge is power and nothing happens ‘just’ like that.
    But please never think people will be judging you. It is your life, you did the best you could in that situation. No one can ‘judge’ for this, it is just not their place. Much love, Kacha

    1. Thank you Kacha, I know you understand the difficulties of writing ‘tough’ posts. Yep, all the beatings were humiliating – big and small things. I know when I was visiting DVU’s etc and writing my essay, all I could think is “I must be mad”. Here I am researching the topic and yet, I’m letting it happen to me! But hopefully my last post post will show that I do have some strengths 🙂

      1. I think you are very strong. If we knew all the solutions beforehand, nobody had to learn something and that is just not how it works. Everything has its time and place. I’m looking forward to the next post!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing all this. I really look forward (maybe there’s a better way to put that?) to reading the next part. It’s so important to share our stories so that others can learn from them and know they’re not alone. It must be hard going back through all of this 🙁

  3. With all you were going through, I can totally see why you would have wanted someone, especially someone you knew, to hold you. Yet that’s an important insight, the difference between loving and liking that you later touch on. Often we talk as if love is all that matters, but I wonder which would be better, to live with someone you like but do not love or with someone you love but cannot like?

  4. Wow, couldn’t stop reading. Retelling your story can’t be easy, but know that you are helping other people by telling your story. The fact that you were able to go back to school and pass and do well, with everything else going on in your life (especially the mental health part) is truly inspiring. Such a strong woman!

  5. Reblogged this on It's not the mountain we conquer, but OURSELVES and commented:


    Thanks for ALL the follow(s) * (+ likes), as the reason I write is to share.
    * (Though my family and close friends say it would be far more entertaining with a video-camera # in “real life”, rather than in cyberspace!)

    # By the way, do they still make them in today’s ever-faster changing world..or is it all done with mobile phones?

    (get with the times now,”luddite”* c – it should be a smart phone)

    * or so I was often called by my “my techno-geek” friend, Bill (“the gonk”)

    “total non-techno” c (who doesn’t possess a mobile phone, after a rather eventful’ experience some years back, whilst trying to walk, talk and chew gum at the same time)

    Who says men can’t multi-task!

    Kind regards and all the best with your blog

    “early bird” (very) * craig
    * my “best” time (by far)

    “You will do foolish things…but do them with enthusiasm.”
    – Colette


    Best wishes from the First City to see the sun (in summer) …and we’re also the first to see the sunset and the stars (in winter-time)

    “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”

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