More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

The recent opportunities given to me to spend time researching has opened many educational, philosophical and social pathways.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

I am often amazed to discover facts that seem to pass us by without us either knowing or wanting to know. But today, I came across a revelation that got me thinking. I discovered that more people die each year from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts.

By their own hands

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC)‘Suicide in the United States’ (2000) found that more people die by their own hand than are killed by others. In fact, by their own statistics there were 1.7 times more suicides than homicides.

Furthermore, in the UK the Office for National Statistics (Non-fatal suicidal behaviour [March 2002]) showed that nearly one in six adults had considered suicide at some point in their lives. The study also found that over 4% of people between 16 and 74 had attempted suicide.

Biggest cause of death for 15-35 year olds

The World health Organisation (WHO) have discovered that suicide rates have grown by 60% worldwide in the past 45 years. With the statistic provided by WHO who state that in 2000 alone 1 million people died from suicide it is now the biggest cause of death among people aged 15 to 35 worldwide.

Not just a western problem

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

Furthermore, it is not just a Western problem as I have heard mentioned so many times before. Former Soviet states such as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Lithuania have all showed alarming rates of suicide. Also areas such as Uganda and Pakistan have shown a marked increase in people showing ‘depressive disorders’ and suicide (N. Hussain et al. ‘Depression and social stress in Pakistan’ (2000). Psychological Medicine).

Early records

I have also heard it said that depression is a modern phenomenon based on the rise of leisure time. However, again I have found a contradiction to this so-called fact. Depression was once referred to as ‘melancholia’ and the earliest records of such a condition can be found back in the 5th century BC. Philosophers such as Hippocrates and Arateus both described symptoms that sound all too familiar with what we would now describe as ‘depression’. Arateus described melancholia as ‘…the patients become dull or stern, dejected or unreasonably torpid… they also became peeving, dispirited and start up from a disturbed sleep’ (Matthews ‘How did pre-twentieth century theories of the aetiology of depression develop’).

Doubled

Since 1950 suicide rates in men aged 45 or under in England and Wales have doubled. I consider that a change in family circles and a rising lack of security in work may have contributed to this. Could it also be worth considering that there is a rise in drug and alcohol use since the 1950s?

Men and women

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

As a paramedic I can argue with the fact that more women attempt suicide but more men likely to fulfil their actions. This has also been supported by The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) ‘Suicide in the United States’ (2000). In fact, CDC have made it known that males are more than four times as likely to die than their female counterparts. Yet as we know, men are less likely to admit to depression and so it can difficult to diagnose. And here, in my opinion, rests the connection. I would suggest that as a result of men not seeking help they are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs and perhaps, as in my own case, work longer hours.

Elderly

Another shocking fact that I found out was that the elderly are at the highest risk of all. In fact, according to www.suicidology.org white men over the age of 85 are at the highest risk of all with a suicide risk more than six times that of the general population.  But what, in my opinion, is a truly sad fact is that only a small percentage (two to four percent) have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Time and again, I have witnessed our older generation being dismissed as ‘just getting older’ rather than seeking true and professional treatment.

Global burden

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

For those of you who dismiss the idea of ever having or will ever have depression it is time to wake up. It has been predicted by WHO that by 2020 depression will be the second largest contributor to the global burden of disease. And by then . there will be 1.5 million deaths per year by suicide (quoted in ‘Stigma Ties’ Guardian 11 September 2002).

In my opinion these facts show a serious public health risk. Although I have noticed recent attempts to bring depression to the fore front of peoples minds there still carries a stigma. There is also a question on how public health bodies should tackle what is, in effect, an individuals choice. If a person has made a rational choice to die (say after being diagnosed with a terminal illness) then how can society justify in intervening?

Tools of the trade

I fully accept that the state and public health bodies are always operating within the ‘best interest’ policy. When the UK moved away from supplying household gas from lethal coke gas to a less toxic form, the suicide rates dropped. Yet in the US it is estimated that there are some 200 million firearms in private hands, yet it is the only country in the world where self-inflicted shootings is the most common method of suicide (A. Solomon, The Noonday Demon’ [2001]). Would it not, therefore, be a sensible idea that to take away the means to make an impulsive decisions, then suicide levels may drop?

Stigma

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression More people die from suicide than in all of the worlds conflicts

I believe that the crucial question rests with the fact that there needs to be a move away from the stigma associated with mental illness. In England alone, 5000 people killed themselves in 2010, yet only 1,200 had sought help or had had contact with the mental health services prior to their deaths (www.ohn.gov.uk).

I conclude with the on-going debate that more needs to be done. Time and again I have found that, even with the best of intentions, medical staff still struggle to find the best provisions for emergency mental health patients. As I have stated, this problem isn’t going away and it appears to be increasing at an alarming rate. We, or our loved ones could, may and perhaps will be a victim of this disease therefore, it is everyone’s problem.

My ex has been arrested

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

I usually pride myself on my use of words, but I have sat hovering over this keyboard for a while now.

It’s not that I have nothing to say, the complete opposite in fact, it’s just that I can’t quite get the words to fit with what it is I’m going to say.

My ex-partner has been arrested today. There you go, I’ve said it. Seven simple words but they are words that are massive and potentially life changing.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

Invite to the police station

Following my complaint to the police with regards to my treatment I was offered an appointment at Worcester Police station. Obviously, this gave me time to ponder and consider my potential actions. I know what it is like to be arrested and questioned. Furthermore, I can appreciate what it is like to sit in a cell counting the scratches on the door and wonder what will happen next. But with this I am also aware of what it is like to do all of this when you are innocent of the crime you have been charged for.

Dilemma

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

And this was my dilemma. I know how awful it is and I would never want anyone I know to go through this. But on consideration my ex-partner never once gave this a thought although she had a record of abuse and false allegations.

I hadn’t set out the rules, I just played by them.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

Ideally, I wanted this to stop but where had the line in the sand been drawn? I hadn’t set out the rules I just abided by them and she dictated that I should get arrested because I had had enough of living under her regime. I had experienced abuse in various forms, theft and psychological distress. I had also had to defend my good character in the face of false allegations. This is enough for anyone to endure. So why can’t a guilty person also face up to their actions and reap the seeds that they had sown?

Two options

At the police station I was given two options.

Firstly, I could drop it all and consider it done and dusted. However, this would therefore, allow her to act in the way she had become accustomed too and not be answerable for her actions. She clearly had a history of hating men dating back to her first husband. But she was wrong to consider every man is the same. Perhaps having to explain her actions may entitle her to therapy of which she dearly needs.

Secondly, I was offered a full investigation with potential prosecution. As stated above I gave my reasonings and opted for the latter. Should I have not taken this option then everything to date would have been in vein. Furthermore, her next potential victim may not be as lucky or mentally sufficient to deal with the consequences of dating such an evil woman.

Process

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested

The process to far longer than I had envisaged. Initially I thought it may have taken a couple of hours but the whole process took just over four hours.

During this time I was asked about historical events leading upto the arrest in May. They then questioned things such as the relationship itself and what had happened behind closed doors. It was difficult to discuss certain factors but the conversation was open, frank and at times explicit.

Where are the men?

During the conversation an area of concern was raised. The female police officer stated that in her 13 years on the job I was the second male to come forward stating that they had been abused by their female partner. I consider this to be a shocking statistic especially the amount of times I, as a paramedic, have seen male victims within my line of duty. This statistic also reinforced my fact that men are reluctant to come forward. In essence, the fact isn’t recognised because men dismiss it. For things to change it must be down to men to point the finger when the case arises.

Support

Initially, there were two police officers. As stated I was being interviewed by a female officer but in the corner sat another (male) officer. It transpires that this said officer was connected to the domestic abuse unit. He introduced himself and stated that I certainly had a case for support and would be happy to offer this to me.

The support offered was related to counselling and group discussions. Obviously I raised my concerns that I had some issue with being potentially the only male in a room full of abused females. He categorically stated that these groups were tailored to male victims. I was disappointed that this had not been offered from the outset. In effect, the door had been slammed after the horse had bolted. But equally I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth and was pleased to state that I would be delighted to receive any support they had to offer.

The importance of keeping a record

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression My ex has been arrested
Reporting everything

As stated, the whole process took just over four hours with a majority of this spent writing my statement. And here is where I need to make myself explicitly clear. My record of events were essential. Much of what I had said was copy and pasted and letters that were endorsed by my employers were invaluable. Within those letters were dates and a comprehensive explanation of what had happened. I also provided photographic evidence with texts etc. let me hereby state, if I had none of this I would have been found possibly guilty at my trial and this present set of circumstances would have been he said/she said. But here I was with firm and irrefutable recorded evidence.

Feel nothing (again)

I can’t honestly say I feel anything. I don’t feel vindicated or liberated. Furthermore, it is certainly not a victory of my ex-partner. We all have ex’s and some break-ups have been easier than others. But I would have been happy to have walked away several months ago without any consequence or ill feeling. But she had set these wheels in motion and to prove my innocents I had to highlight her failings. It wasn’t and isn’t nice but had become a necessity

I suppose I can now confirm that the events are far from over but I feel a certain sense of warmth that I have at last been listened to. It’s just a deep shame that it had to be done this way.

Psychology of Dressing Well

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on events and what I have discovered is that I hate to use the word ‘journey’, it’s just too cliché.  What I have gone through is a list of experiences that have got me from A to B. This description of events is far better that calling it a journey.

I was looking through some of my recent blogs and I came across a comment that someone had sent about not being comfortable about going out. Together with this I also read an article about rebuilding a shattered life and not being able to go out.

Now, don’t get me wrong but I’m not claiming to be an expert on this matter but I can only reflect and share my own experiences.

Long lasting conversation

I recall a conversation I once heard as a kid whilst travelling on a bus. During this said conversation, some girls were talking about the importance of dressing nice (mainly when they went out) and this has stuck with me ever since.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

As a result, I once put this into practice the first time I went to buy a brand new car. I once walked into the show room purposely wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt. The result was that I was ignored. A week or so later I entered the same show room wearing a suit, shirt and tie. As a consequence, I had more people offering me assistance than I could shake a stick at.

So what does this prove?

 

Well, we have all heard the line ‘clothes maketh the man’. This is so true. We are judged by what we wear or the accents we use. They draw a stereotype which may often be wrong but it is first impressions that count. I must admit that although I am aware of this pitfall I still do it. I’m not going to make any apology for it as it is a form of unconscious defence.

So how does this fit in with not feeling well?

This was a direct question out to me once and I had to think long and heard about how I was going to answer this. Put simply, if you feel good you start to, well, feel better about yourself. Dressing nicely is the first step to building self-confidence because people do judge you. If you are treated with respect you tend to gain and give respect.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

To explain this better I have had many pyjama days whereby I have not bothered to get dressed. As a result, the lazy attitude led to lazy actions. I probably didn’t brush my teeth until 3pm that afternoon and undoubtedly, I probably ate rubbish that day resulting in me viewing that day as a lost day whereby nothing was achieved.

First impressions

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

I can consider that dressing well promotes a good first impression. When you wear an ensemble, you tend to carry yourself in a more confident way, because you know you look good, hence, you feel good. The way you dress is also a unique way of expressing yourself, and therefore allows people to get a sense of who you are. To hell with people who perhaps don’t understand your style or message. This is about you feeling yourself again.

But how you are perceived by others before you open your mouth depends mostly on the physical signals you send with your appearance.

Appearances matter in real and fundamental ways that affect a person’s daily life – from how they are greeted when meeting others for the first time to whether or not they’ll be harassed whilst traveling.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

However, being all dressed up and having nowhere to go is not such a bad thing after all. The task of choosing an outfit with matching accessories can fill a good bit of time. But it goes back to that conversation I once heard on the bus as a kid. If you dress nice, you feel nice. It’s like slipping into a freshly made clean bed. We all know how good it feels but it is difficult to describe.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

But this is the same thing. Putting on a nicely pressed clean shirt feels more rewarding than putting on the t-shirt you found sitting at the bottom of the bed. Or wearing a suit that you had forgotten you had got (because it only comes out on certain occasions) because it makes you feel confident.

One of the first pieces of advice I have found in self-help books is almost always something along the lines of “Get Your Personal Appearance Under Control!”  It’s good advice.  People tend to perform better in life when they feel that they deserve to perform better.  The automatic assumption that a well-dressed person should be treated with respect works when it’s your reflection in the mirror, too.

A few minutes spent spiffing yourself in the mirror before you leave home reinforces the idea that you deserve success and good treatment in your own mind. ‘Just because’ is no longer an option. The game has now moved to ‘I am this and so I deserve this (in a positive fashion).

What have you got to lose if you don’t have the courage or desire to go out?

Spend a day dressing nicely around your own home. I know of some women that will never want to be seen unless they are wearing make-up. Well each to their own but it’s a good start. Having a standard is nothing to worry about or fear. It shows that you want to be seen a particular light and depression stops you having this desire. In effect, if you dress well you should also feel well (although this may take some time).

Over many years I have heard women explain the feelings they get after a hairdo or having their nails done. I suppose I get the same feeling when my facial hair sits how I want it to or if my shoes match my trousers.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Psychology of Dressing Well

As I see it once you start feeling good about yourself everything should follow. Such as dressing nice and then having the courage to go for a walk around the block. Perhaps this could lead to dressing nice and going into town for a coffee. Who knows where it could potentially lead to but you never see a well-dressed person and think ‘victim’.

I can say that for me this worked. Feeling nice is a pre-requisite to anything if you are on the road to recovery. Feeling and looking nice gives you a value that cannot be given but it is something that you find yourself building on.

Have a look at:

https://www.riskology.co/dress-well/

100 Things That Happen To You When You Start Dressing Well

 

This Is My Advice

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

It’s been a funny week. A lot has happened. I am aware that for a few people it has been a hard week. But for me, it has made a turn and things have improved.

However, for this blog I want to concentrate on a couple of people who have also had a ‘life changing’ week. I won’t mention their names mainly out of respect, but I want them to recognise who they are through my words.

Study

I had the luxury many years ago to have studied philosophy. Although it was heavy at times it really made me think about everyday things. I was once told that the art of philosophy is to ‘look out of the window and see what is going on.’ There is some truth in this but I also think that philosophy can also require you to look at yourself and your emotions.

I have always been drawn to two philosophers.

Schopenhauer

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice
Schopenhauer

Firstly, Schopenhauer. His main motivation of thought was his investigation of individual motivation. Schopenhauer believed that humans were motivated by their own basic desires, (aka “Will to Live”), which directed all of mankind. These desires can be simplistic like the longing for food and shelter. Or it could be more complicated like the desire to be loved.

Schopenhauer directed us to the philosophy of ‘love’ and its purpose. Love still drives many people into the lunatic asylum. There is a case of some sort every year of two lovers committing suicide together because material circumstances happen to be unfavourable to their union. This was also illustrated within Shakespeare’s tragedy on the suicide within Romeo and Juliet.

Looking at the chaos of life from this standpoint we find that we become occupied with its want and associated misery.

Nietzsche

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice
Nietzsche

Since first discovering Nietzsche I have found him fascinating. He has often been misquoted and his thoughts have been used in error. But this man should be recognised more for an everyday thought that we have all heard at some point in our lives.

It was Nietzsche that coined the phrase – “we need the bad times to appreciate the good”. I was recently told by someone that “if we had constant sunshine then we would be left with deserts”. This holds the same qualities of what Nietzsche said and it still holds true from whatever angle you look at it from.

I know I’m stating the obvious, but sometimes bad times can be so dense and thick that it becomes difficult. No, almost impossible to see any other alternative than what we are experiencing in the present.

At present

I have a good friend who is presently trying so hard to battle his demons. We have had a range of conversations in the past that have stemmed from the down-right stupid to deep and meaningful. Recently, his demons took a greater hold and he found life very difficult. Thankfully, he was given a lifeline before it became too late and he is finding the time to recover. I know he doesn’t know it (although he does read my blogs) he really is precious to many people.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

In our daily lives, we never stop to take the time to tell people these things. It is only really done when it is either too late or our thoughts are concentrated on that individual following a difficult period.

We are not guilty in our negligence. We just assume people know what we are thinking. Or, we may see it as a weakness to stop and tell these people what we think of them in a positive way. However, we are all very quick to say negative things in a heat of an argument.

On the flip side

I recently had some correspondents from a local friend who has been delighted to share her good news with me. I was informed that her life is heading in a new direction. She has made positive steps to shut down and liquidate her old life to replace it with a new hope.

My friend had suffered terrible abuse and accepted it as a part of normal life. She craved love and attention and received counterfeit examples of this amongst bad people.

For her, this desert has now started to flower and offer an oasis amongst a shaded area. This outcome has only come about because she put a stop to what she didn’t recognise as being right.

How does this link?

All events and outcomes stem from things we say or do or the actions of others. Whether this is because of ill health or abuse, I think it is immaterial. But for me, having had bad periods in my life has given me a philosophy of its own.

I know that by surviving events I have the strength to fight on. I hope things will never be as bad as they have done. But if they are I know I can fight it.

Milk and honey

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

If our lives were one of ‘milk and honey’ then life would have no value. I am rich in the value of my experiences and knowledge and this currency makes me know that things will get better. It has to because things can never remain bad forever. That’s life. It has ups and downs.

For my friends

For my friend who has having a difficult period. It won’t last. Believe me it won’t. If you want to survive this then you will because you are too big to drown in this nightmare. Things were bad but your life is too valuable to be beaten by these demons. Once you survive this you will become a greater person carrying the scars of mental health. Everyone has had moments, it’s just that some scars are deeper than others and so take longer to recover.

For my friend who has come through it and about to find a new home. Never lose the focus on what you set out to achieve. But equally important is to remember why you needed to do the things you have done to get this far.

If only we had a book on life

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression This Is My Advice

I would never consider myself to be a philosopher within a classical sense. But I would like to suggest that our lives are not a pamphlet but a thick book with contents and chapters. It’s just that we are all on a different page to each other.

Making Sense Of It All

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

To have an identity.

As a child it doesn’t really matter, as a teenager it’s everything but as an adult we seek high and low to find it. But identity and acceptance is a major vein of a person’s identity.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All
Plato

‘Social Acceptance could be defined as the fact that most people, in order to fit in with others, attempt to look and act like them.’ – Plato 428 BC – 348 BC

A few of years ago I came across an article about men with beards. It raved about them and went into detail about what can be done with them. But here I was carrying mine with a sense of individuality. Nobody else had one. Now when I look around it is unusual to see any male without one. Hence, had I lost my identity as an individual within the crowd? I can never consider myself to be a trendsetter – that would just be hilarious.

Yet the dead opposite is the case for teenagers. They try so hard to be a part of their sector. I remember wanting the same trainers as my mate. I had the same school bag as everyone else. It was what we did then and I am fully aware it’s what teenagers still do now. They all want to look the same – perhaps it’s a primeval behaviour that we try and revert to a tribe mentality.

I hate going into certain high street clothing shops as I try to avoid looking the same as the next person. Individuality for me is essential. Both physically, in the way I look and mentally by the way I think.

Banishment

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

It may be difficult to understand what it is I am trying to say. But I think I am recovering. For the first time in my life I am sitting here comfortable in my own skin. Recently, I have banished what people expect from me and took a long time to look at my inner self.

I don’t want to be like the next person. I’m embracing what and who I am. Between you and I, I have discovered that usually the next person is more screwed up than me. And that can be refreshing to know.

I have now given up being the enabler to fit other people’s profiles and expectations. I’m comfortable with that. It suits me because it is me. The problem with being what I wasn’t was that I had, therefore, lost my identity. When I was falling into the crowd I actually didn’t want to be there. Instead I wanted to sit in a corner and happily watch as opposed to partaking in various misadventures.

A clash?

Of course, I will find myself trying to emulate the confident person, it’s a matter of survival at times. And to be honest a part of me doesn’t want to give up that character I had created. He is funny, sociable, and confident. I mean it was who I wanted to be for most of my life and now what? Now I’m struggling more than ever with identity. It feels like an evolution as instead of a revolution.

Misconceived Social Expectations

Going back to creating an identity I have often spent many hours looking around at other people around me. It made me feel mostly like failure. But this isn’t a sob story or anything but was how I felt when I was trying to build a level of confidence.  I would look around at people of my age and see that they were better at their jobs that I, they would be in great relationships, having nice holidays, beautiful homes and so on.

Ironic

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

But here sits the irony that I have only just realised. I know these people have their own battles to deal with. In all of its formats life is tough and I know everyone has their own difficulties to deal with. This was why I felt so guilty about being ill. It explains why I beat myself up about the situation I found myself in and struggled to get better quickly. That was why I rushed back into work before I was ready to return. But this was why I tried to hide my illness from everyone. To everyone I knew I just want to be seen as normal. Just what my understanding of normal was misrepresented.

Acceptance is one thing. Knowing what to do about it is another.

Consciously I can now sit here and see the problems and how they manifested themselves over time. I try hard to write my points down and share them with others (such as yourselves) to try and get some perspective on it all. But the reality at the time was that I could talk the talk but I struggled to walk the walk. Why? Because I tried too hard to be what I wasn’t.

If we take an extensive look at the how this misconceived social expectation is fuelled. I can point my finger directly at social media, adverts, magazines, television programmes, and so on. But it’s obvious to everyone the pressures we are under because it’s constantly shoved down our throats.

Fraudulent life style

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

There is an artificial expectation to succeed, to look good (although everyone wants to look the same), to eat more salads, to look good the gym (although the majority who go don’t), to have money (but this equates debt), to have a fulfilling career.

But the false failure is always around us. You just have to open your eyes to see it. For example, whilst I type this an advert is running in the background. It’s for a sports shoe. The reality is that if you buy this shoe it will not make you into a super athlete as soon as you put them on. No, it requires pain and commitment not being a lazy arse and over spending on a false hope that the advert appears to offer. The reality is that it won’t change my life by not owning them. In fact I will probably save myself a couple of hundred quid by not doing so. So, in effect its 1-0 to me for not bothering to be fooled. My mind boggles that we who consider ourselves as the superior species on the planet are so easily fooled by other humans. It’s a cruel irony really – when you actually think about it.

 Acceptance

I have tried hard most of my life to fit into a category of which I am comfortable with. I have no idea why I used so much energy on this meaningless task but I had/have. In adolescence, I can understand why we do this. At this point in our lives we are trying to create and shape an identity of our own, and that is part of the process of becoming an adult. We desire to be attractive and popular. Perhaps this is a primeval survival technique. But  as an adult, I struggled to accept the fact I didn’t feel I had an ‘identity’ (or whatever that means). I consider now that I never really had the opportunity to finish what I had started. I never really had the opportunity to create an identity of my own because my home life was such a mess. That, therefore, became my identity and would be for a number of years. Now that I realise this error I am enjoying starting again. It’s actually quiet exciting.

Acceptance is a huge part of coping with mental health problems

Acceptance of mental health is still slow. Suicide is still the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 and therefore a tremendous amount of work still has to be done so that people feel more comfortable with opening up and talking about their problems and who they really are.

Writing this website has helped me identify a whole lot of things. I have said things on these pages that even now I would never verbally say and have never been said before. But I’ve said them. And I’m glad I have. I am also glad to know that people read what I have to say. And that for me is the most important thing.

Trying to make sense of it all – again.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Making Sense Of It All

The fact is this. There is nothing to make sense of. Our concerns are a product of fake hopes. I know I will never have the body of a god, or be filthy rich. Together with this I won’t have fantastic holidays on heavenly beaches. But what is important is self-contentment and happiness. Those are things that you can’t buy. You just acquire them – eventually.

 

 

The Modern Shame – The Big ‘D’

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

Depression – The big ‘D’

I was doing one of my favourite past times yesterday. I was sitting in a coffee shop. Nothing special one might think. But it is when you think about it. You can sit in any coffee shop and you can cross the paths of people from every back ground. These people come with a wealth of experiences and knowledge.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

One group of people caught my eye. They were a group of young people, in their twenties. Watching them, they were clearly happy in each other’s company. Although they could be heard laughing and sharing a range of stories, they were not imposing on the rest of us in the shop.

What struck me after several minutes was that by the number of those of whom were sitting around the table at least (statistically) two or three of them will suffer some form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

If it was suddenly revealed by any one of them around that table would the tone of the conversation have changed? Would they have alienated those individuals or embraced them?

Change in age, change in view?

Since thinking about this I have had two trains of thought. Firstly, do we now have a new generation of people who are now more accepting than any generation prior? Secondly, what if there is still no change? Perhaps we have not moved on as well as we believes society likes to think it has.

Society, in my view has moved on with regards to so many aspects of life. Men and women are considered equal (although this can be challenged). Homosexuality is no longer a crime. There are laws in place to protect those of whom suffer a physical form of disability. Yet, I struggle to see equality within mental health concerns.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

I do accept that society no longer chains ‘the mad’ to the walls anymore, but there are some of whom are still subjected to medicinal chains and become restricted due to their side effects.

Movement in perception

Society is a fickle madam. It accepts concepts based on a fashion and understanding. Let me explain this better.

I recall a lecture once whilst at university. It discussed how the female form within art has changed. At one point the voluptuous female figure was seen as more desirable as extra weight was seen as healthier and wealthier. Yet magazines today (and certain elements of art) reject this in favour of the stick thin model, who perhaps shows restraint from indulgence and control over image.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'
George Fox

Mental health has also had its ups and downs of acceptance. George Fox for example, the founder of the Quaker movement, clearly suffered schizophrenia. George Fox openly stated that he heard voices which drove him to religious compulsions. After all, how many times have we heard about the return of the new messiah.  Would Jesus be accepted today or would he be locked up? Who knows, he probably has returned but we have rejected him (or her) in the name of self-protection. And he/she is buried on a mental health ward as opposed to turning water into wine.

The big ‘D’

It was during the 80s that certain things were not mentioned. AIDs was considered an illness for those of whom deserved it. Prior to that the condition of shame was cancer and was referred to as ‘The Big C’. Yet, I do feel that depression is the new leprosy.

I have been open and candid during these writings. Perhaps, too open at times. But consider this, I have suggested that it is ok to be open about this condition yet not everyone of whom I know, knows that I have it. It is easy to share comments and views over the internet or by word of mouth yet, I have been very selective about who knows any of this.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'
Shame

When I told someone this, they asked why. They knew the answer to this before I even opened my mouth. I am still scared of being judged. We know depression is not contagious but I fear being cast aside and perhaps being identified as; ‘Keith – the one with depression’. As opposed to ‘Keith – the one with….. the cute smile, or something.’

It’s crazy to state this but I know this is the case. Other suffers have also told me this is so.

Public views of depression

Depression has been a throw away comment used and often misused on a regular basis. I have often heard people say they are ‘depressed’ when in fact they are feeling ‘slightly down’ about a particular topic.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

I can recall a time when the news columns spilling their headlines after a particular boy band split up. The media have the habit of focusing on the inconsolable teenage girl walling like a banshee stating she is ‘soooo depressed’ about the end of the band. That’s not depression, that’s you just her not understanding what depression is and using the title to defend her stupidity. It exaggerates a feeling to suggest sympathy which is not justified.

Instead of understanding depression as an illness, many people view depressed people as simply being sad or refusing to be happy to gain attention. This outlook can harm the esteem of depressed people, because these patients may begin to feel guilty for their feelings if they accept this view.

Burying the head in the sand

It has been said that depression is a western illness. I was once told that because we in the west have more leisure time so we fill it with thoughts which lead to depression. Therefore, I believe that ignorance is more damaging and leads to segregation. It is easier to turn a blind eye than accept that our brothers and sisters are the same as everyone else in every other respect.

Any form of mental illness does not indicate mad, bad or sad. And so society has no right to reject that individual. Yet it does. I have previously stated that when a crime is committed the media instantly find some connection to mental health condition. This is a tragic and dangerous conclusion. Mental health is not a prerequisite to a life of crime, but the true crime is the ignorance of people allowing the preconceptions to continue.

A big revelation

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Modern Shame - The Big 'D'

For those without depression or any other form of mental illness I want to tell you this. It might be a shock but, some of the nicest people I have ever met have depression. I have found them to be far more considerate, polite and understanding than those of whom claim they don’t suffer. People with mental illness have had to be more understanding as they can appreciate what it is like to be judged or to feel unwell. They equally value each day as it comes and take absolutely nothing and no one for granted.

I, therefore, applaud their strength by keeping their conditions hidden to avoid the shame and ridicule that is heaped upon them.

In an ideal world, I want to remove convenient labels that are placed on mentally ill people. Previous scapegoats such as homosexuality, Judaism, colour of skin or gender and so on are accepted without prejudice. Can this not be done for depression too?

Consideration

So, returning to my group around the table. Are we now living in an age where those seated would reject those suffering or not? I would like to think they would accept the suffering into their arms. But alas, I am still sceptical. Society needs a scape goat and those of whom are not protected are the easy prey. Mental illness is not protected therefore, the cycle of self-protection secrecy will continue.

Depression needs to be celebrated not hidden. Many great historical people suffered with depression (Winston Churchill, Buzz Aldrin, Graham Green to name just three) but it is conveniently acceptable to forget that in honour of their greatness.

 

 

The Fear Of Not being Believed

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed

Not being believed is one thing, but having to retell the events over and over again to get people to listen to you involves reliving the events you have tried to bury. And I just don’t know which is the worst.

For me, telling and retelling the catalogue of events felt like a constant kick in the head. I have had to bat off the quizzical expression and the occasional uplifted l eyebrow. I eventually wondered if my story was too much to be believed and started to consider that my comments were hollow and my hopes of being believed unrealistic.

Is it too high a price?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed
High price

The real challenge of not being believed is how big the price will be. It took all of my courage to try and take my self-respect back and fight against the abuse. It was a dreadful step to reveal the shame of being both abused by my partner but also to reveal a lifelong condition of depression.

I had spent all my life hiding the depression from everyone, and revealing it broke my life long conventions. To add to this exposure, I also admitted that I, a fully grown adult male, had been abused by my female partner. Shame on me, this was not supposed to happen. But to admit all that was only half the problem. The other half was not only being disbelieved but to trying to get support from quarters I had expected more from.

I am sure that my ex knew she was doing wrong. Not just once, but every time she let the abuse happen. This was why, during her nice periods, she used so many words to convince me that I had asked for it. And I initially believed her words.

Once I had the awareness that the way I was living was wrong, it took a whirlwind of thoughts to make a plan of action. I was sure I would be believed, I had to be because I was telling the truth. People had to be able to see that? Even the police.

Physical Abuse vs Emotional Abuse

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed
Abuse

It’s strange how people still see physical abuse as “real” abuse and mental/emotional abuse as, a case of ‘get over it’. Both types of abuse are horrible and utterly unacceptable. The scar on my hand from a burn is healing. But words never heal, they never seem to want to leave me. And the deeper hurts have never been forgotten.

I can’t remember the first time I felt the sharp pain of a cane on the back of my legs from my adopted mother. But I can vividly recall the moment she pointed her finger at me, saying that I was “worthless and would amount to nothing”. After a while, when it is physical pain you learn to ‘harden up’ as you know how it feels when you know it’s coming. But words are unpredictable and knock you off your balance when you least expect it.

I had equally forgotten the first time my ex punched me in the ribs saying it was a joke. But I can now recognise that she had had a life time of inflicting misery on everyone she met. The only difference was that I wanted to fight back. And my arsenal included the weapon of honesty. Her’s was one of denial.

The need for acceptance is like an addictive drug. You need more to feed the habit of desire. The need to be desired by others. And to be loved by someone who seems to be making it difficult. I needed all this from both my ex and my adopted mother because I needed convincing that I had a value in somebody’s eyes (if not my own).

All of this led to a disbelief of my own place in this world. As a result, I believed the untruths to accommodate my own beliefs of right from wrong. As a result, if I couldn’t believe myself, who would believe me when I called out for help?

Listening

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed
Listening

Sometimes when I used to speak to my counsellor, I wondered if she questioned the validity of what I had to say. She appeared honest and kind (and still does), but when I left I often asked myself if she believed me because she had to rather than wanted to. I didn’t blame her. It’s a natural reaction to have a question of doubt. It’s a defensive mechanism I suppose. Even more so when it is a male is talking about being abused by his female partner. Society still has a problem with this concept.

Things changed when I took the time to talk about the history of my events. She implied that she did have a pre-conceived ‘story’ in her head about the events. Now I had clarified things a little she seemed to have a better grasp of where I was coming from.

At that moment, I felt believed. It gave a sense of relief.

Quest to be believed

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Fear Of Not being Believed

It felt like a breath of fresh air when I knew I was being believed. However, it was naturally short lived. Like the addictive drug I needed to feed my validation. I wanted more people to believe me now the ‘cat was out of the bag’. I wanted to share the fact that I was now convinced that what had happened was wrong and I needed to convince others around me.

At the heart of my denial was a core belief system. Mothers should love their children. Fathers should support their children. And partners should ‘love and cherish.’ It flies in the face of what I now know to be true. It is wrong that a Mother have no empathy for her children. It’s beyond comprehension that a father believes the worst about his children. It is crushing that a partner would degrade the very person they vowed to “love.” It just appears to be all wrong. It couldn’t possibly have happened. But, it did.

My abusers knew it flew in the face of what was morally right and each of them used words to convince me that I deserved it, or I had asked for it. Their justifications were the flip-side of my expectations of right from wrong.  If I had not believed their actions to be wrong, then I wouldn’t have been in denial.

I still fear not being believed. All the courage I have summoned to leave myself exposed and vulnerable to other peoples’ picking has been life changing. I have held everything I value up high for other people to value or disregard as they see fit. And this is hard. All my ‘dirty little secrets’ have been forced out of me and it is difficult to cleanse, even more so when people are willing to walk all over it in the name of  belief.

I have spoken after years of saying nothing. I just want to be heard. Not judged or disrespected. Just heard.

Forgive – Why should you?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?

Religion preaches forgiveness

Let’s make this clear from the start. I am not religious. I was brought up as a Methodist but gradually turned my back on formal religion as I grew older. There are many reasons for this but far too many to include in this blog. Not being religious does not make me a bad person. Far from it. I’m more at peace than most of the religious people I know.

Today I attended a funeral. I always enter a funeral with an open mind. When it comes to religion I have a level of respect for people who can have a belief in something that has questionable ‘facts’. I’m not having a ‘pop’ at religion. As I see it, it offers relief and support to those of whom require it. That must, therefore, be a good thing. Anyway, one vein I have found with most religions is its attempt to ‘forgive’. This is a massive request to ask of most people. Especially people who have been hurt or are hurting right now.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?
Religion

From my own perspective, I have experienced hatred (I’ve possibly been hated too). But I have found my hate turn to resentment then pity, and finally apathy. But why is forgiveness not the answer to all the hurt and pain we feel? I know (deep, deep down) that is probably the best thing to do. But I don’t think ‘forgiveness is the ‘be all – end all’ to the pain of abuse.

Does forgiveness deny the pain you have been subjected to?

I am trying so hard to forgive my ex for the things she has said and done. I refuse to excuse the reasons for her behaviours as she is responsible, as an adult, for those actions. And ultimately the consequences, to both herself and I.

I just feel at the moment, a sense of pity. Pity because she has no idea of what she has done, the problems that this has caused and the damage it has done. Furthermore, I feel pity for her as she will one day wonder why she is alone. She cannot depend on her looks for ever. They fade. But real beauty is based on character and personality. And hers, ladies and gentlemen is ugly. I feel pity for all of those things. Yet I still find it hard to forgive.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

I have seen it said in many self-help books that forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Greater spiritual and psychological well-being
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Higher self-esteem

Yet, she was the cause of all these problems. I have been proud of my physical health in general. I have never attended hospital although I do have a history of depression. I’ve never even had a filling. But the abuse I suffered left me with a greater level of anxiety, a greater level of depression and PTSD. And little, if any self-esteem.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?

Yet I still feel pity for her, because I know I will get better. Her life is based on denial and bitterness. Her problems cannot be treated with medication alone. So I don’t need to forgive. I just have pity for her.

Forgiveness isn’t always a good idea.

I have literally found tonnes of literature stating that forgiveness can improve your mental and physical health. It also focuses on the idea of easing anxiety and depression.  Letting go of a grudge, it seems, may be up there with exercising and getting enough sleep as one of the best things you can do for yourself. But I believe that refusing to forgive is a healthy frame of mind that protects you against further damage. It further stops you from being someone else’s ‘door mat’. What’s wrong with that? From my point of view, nothing. I’m more than happy to promote self protection.

I think it is wrong and a fallacy to suggest to anyone that they cannot move on without forgiveness. To even suggest that this is the only way out of unhappiness is a cruel suggestion, especially when no one else has walked in your shoes. Let’s make it clear, it’s not anybody’s place to tell you when to forgive or not. It is your decision when, and only when, the time is right. Whether that is today, next year or never.

Forgiveness isn’t the only way to move on.

I have found that wanting to move away from the damage and hurt (isn’t that what we are trying to do?), does not require you to say “I forgive you”. You can get the same relief and escape from your pains by taking a new approach to problems.

Previously, my approach usually meant rolling over and accepting her poisons. However, my new approach involves; counselling, medication, keeping a journal and so on. I’ve not forgiven, yet I’m feeling pretty good. I think this is mainly down to the fact that it wasn’t me, it was all her. What is there to forgive when she would never change anyway. Forgiveness would be an utter waste of time. I have no anger, just pity for a lost soul. A soul who think’s its ok to abuse in all of it ugly forms.

Forgiveness gives licence to the abuser to remain blind

There is enough pressure already to try and rebuild our lives without the added pressure of not forgiving.  Especially to those who abused. And by the people who had no idea.

Undoubtably, I will probably get a long line of people criticising what I have said. That is perfectly fine. We are all entitled to our opinions and this is mine (I make no apology for it). But from my point of view if I forgave she would not see the damage she had done. because I had seemed to forgive so easily. I want her to know she has done wrong. Deep down I want her to stop for her own well-being. That does not require forgiveness. It requires pity.

In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed is king

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Forgive - Why should you?
In the kingdom of the blind

But, I firmly believe that you should not be carrying the burden of not forgiving. No one can point the finger at you and condemn you for feeling pain and distress caused by others. After all, would our abusers condemn us for standing up for ourselves. Mine didn’t condemn, she just dug herself in even deeper and I walked away. Therefore, I have no reason to forgive someone who continues to damage everything around her and will continue to do so. I just pity her.


Forgiveness Is wrong

 

How To Hide Depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

I had a thought provoking conversation with a friend last night.  Out of respect, I won’t mention his name, but he will know who he is after reading this.

I took the step to tell my friend about what I had been through. After I had sent him a link to this blog he called within minutes. I wanted him to know because I could see the signs that he was also suffering with depression. The difference between us was that I was more proficient at hiding it. He stated during the conversation that he had no idea that I had depression, but felt refreshed that I was able to share it and identify his plight too.

It takes one to know one

I am able to say with great confidence that I have had depression for most of my life. I briefly touched upon it in my blog My father And I. In that blog I talked about the lack of identity and the complications that that had entailed.

As I grew into a man

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression
As I grew..

Teenage years are often riddled with angst but I lived in a loveless home, I had accepted that I was adopted and evidence of depression was starting to emerge.

As I reached my 20s I was fully aware that there was a problem and started to seek some form of identification of what it was I was suffering. By the time I reached 30 I knew I was a sufferer. I adapted to my life and came  to accept it. By the time I had reached mid 30s I was fully proficient at hiding it. I had learnt this because depression at this stage was seen as a weakness and there was no room for weakness in any parts of my life at that moment. As a result I had adapted and developed clever ways of hiding it from pretty much everyone around me. Unfortunately, this act stopped me from getting the professional help I needed at the time. In effect I had fooled myself into believing that my depression was not a problem and manageable.

 

Tricks of the trade

My depression went unseen and unrecognised. I was able to conceal my depression so well that I became conditioned to deal with my inner demons on a daily basis. This way my depression was not clearly visible to people who were not aware. By being able to do this I knew I had cracked the code of being able to hide my pains. I was not being deceitful, I was protecting myself and those of whom I love.

I intentionally made efforts to appear happy and upbeat.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

The perception that those with depression all have a dreary personality is false. My depression was more than just a mood. It was a way of life of which I had learnt to adapt to. I had learnt to create a happy persona that often required recycling old jokes and actions because I knew they worked at particular times. My depression was my pain and not anyone else’s. I didn’t want to bring anyone else down by exposing my true feelings.

I feared abandonment and rejection.

Depression for me felt like leprosy. I feared being rejected and cast aside. An outsider. Unloved and unclean. I had felt rejection at an early age due to my adoption and this was more deeply ingrained than I had given it credit for.

I felt that if I had let someone in enough to see the depression, they would walk way. As a result, I can see now why I had had a series of failed relationships.  It endorsed my need for secrecy, out of fear of rejection from those of whom I love. There was nothing more painful than to expose the ugliest layer of my personality that I wished to hide even from myself.

I was an expert at deflecting questions.

During my lowest periods I knew how to avoid any unwanted attention. The use of humour was good, but I also used a tactic I called ‘questioning’. I found that people often liked to talk about themselves. From this approach, I would ask an open question that required them to discuss their views and feeling on a subject. By doing this it required them to speak for longer than I needed to, hence I didn’t have to talk or explain.

I had habitual remedies.

My relationship with medication was always a bit ‘on and off’. I took them and then when I felt better, I stopped  (foolish this to do). In-between these periods of medication I used to use activities that offered a routine. This gave me goals to reach by certain times of the day. It was often in the form of music, walks, and so on. If by 5 o’clock for example, I had made it to the time of day for my daily walk, then I was doing ok.

I understood the impact of certain substances.

I have always known that alcohol can be problematic for people with depression. As a result I became tea-total to avoid falling into its grasp. This was further validated by witnessing the effects of alcohol on people around me and ultimately my step mother. I knew that caffeine was an upper and so was sugary foods. As a result, I favoured coffee over tea and could polish off a large amount of sweets quite easily.

I had a very good understanding of life and death.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression

I have spent most of my life trying to work it all out. Especially the meaning of life. Is it a pursuit of something, or are we to reach certain points in various stages of our lives? As a paramedic, I also witnessed a range of deaths. I quickly learnt which were more favourable ways to die over others. I feel I became an expert in death and its aftermath. As a result, even now whilst I feel ok, I have no fear of death. However, I must admit, following my treatments and medication I have given less time and thought to the later.

I needed to find a purpose.

My goal in life was that I had a purpose. What I was needing to do was to find something that was worthwhile otherwise my life had been pointless. But for me I also needed reassurance that I was moving in the right direction (whatever that is or was). Recognising my depression also gave me a feeling of inadequacy. I felt inadequate compared to the people around me. Everyone was happier than I. Other people were better at their job than I and this compounded my feeling of being a failure even though I was fighting a battle to give my life a purpose. I felt I even failed when my best efforts were in place. As a result I was always trying to compensate in my life for the frailties that I had inside. Even now I am still striving and searching for more to validate my purpose in life.

The meaning of life with depression

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression How To Hide Depression
It takes one to know one

The reality of my life with depression is that I have been striving to find love and acceptance. This stemmed from trying to be accepted by my adopted family to the need to find my father. But the reality is that everyone strives for this requirement. It’s human nature. My personal advice is to never turn away from a person who seems to be struggling. Love us, especially when it’s difficult.

I once heard a quote from Stephen Fry who stated that

“I hate the fact that I have [depression]….. but I wouldn’t want to live without it because it is a part of me that I have come to accept…”

What I want to say to my friend who I spoke to last night is this. I knew you had depression from the moment I first met you. How? Because you showed all the signs that I had perfected. As I have highlighted, it takes one to know one. Embrace it, it has made you the outstanding man that you are.

Stephen Fry and depression

 

Adults Who Bully

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Adults Who Bully

Bullying is a negative behaviour regardless of how it is identified. Bullying in an adult relationship tends to be identified as being ‘toxic’ or ‘narcissistic’. But I wish to discuss how we come to accept this behaviour as adults.

When I look back to my school days I can honestly say I was never really bullied. I had the odd skirmish after I started at a new school but that was soon ‘nipped in the bud’. But why am I considering writing about ‘bullying’ on a blog page dedicated to depression and domestic abuse? Well, I think there is an overlap that is worth considering.

I visited my local library this morning to do some research on a future blog I have in mind and came across a book that talked about anxiety and depression. Within those pages came a chapter about how the behaviour of other people can resonate for years afterwards. I thought, therefore, that this of course, is highly appropriate to what we are discussing.

So why is bullying different now we are adults?

What I don’t understand is that if my children came home from school (for example) showing any signs that they were being bullied, I would have been down the school demanding a meeting with the head teacher. So why didn’t I do it for myself? Well a part of my reasoning is down to the fact that I eventually accepted that my ex partner’s behaviour as normal and I felt unworthy of her attention. Therefore, grateful of any form of affection that was occasionally shown.

Definition of Bullying

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (2009) Bullying is;

use[ing] superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.

So was being in an abusive relationship bullying?

Through my own stupidity I had a settled view of what bullying was based on what I saw in my school days. During my relationship I was not punched, kicked or slapped. But I was forced to do things against my better judgement and will. I was manipulated to do things that left me empty or worthless and I was often called names.

People who are bullied are more likely to experience:

Do you see this as a familiar tick list? If you are in an abusive relationship then you will answer ‘yes’ to most, if not all of the above.  I can certainly relate to these outcomes even after the relationship ended.

 

What are the long term effects of bullying?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Adults Who Bully  The experience of being bullied can end up causing long term damage. I found that it is not necessary to be physically harmed in order to suffer lasting harm. Words and gestures are quite enough. I consider that bullying is an attempt to instil fear and self-loathing into the victim. Being the repetitive target of bullying damages your ability to view yourself as a desirable, capable and effective individual. I considered that during my relationship, if my faults were constantly highlighted, then they must be real. I found that I became thankful to the arse who was happy to identify them (yet couldn’t see her own).

There are two potential outcomes that stem from being bullied.

  1. It becomes more likely that you will become increasingly susceptible to becoming depressed and/or angry and/or bitter. You start to believe that you are undesirable, unsafe in every avenue of your life and that you are relatively powerless to defend yourself. When you are forced, again and again, to contemplate your complete lack of control over the bullying process, you are being set up for a learned process which in turn sets you up for hopelessness and depression.
  2. You will start to accept that you are helpless and hopeless.  By virtue of the way that identity tends to work, you are being set up to believe that these things the bullies are saying about you are true.

Conversation with ex school colleague

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Adults Who Bully  Many years ago I attended a school reunion (I always said I wouldn’t go to one, but I did). Whilst there I started a conversation with a girl who was (I would consider to have been) a victim of bullying. Yet this girl was attractive, came from a good home and was intelligent.  During the conversation about life following school she identified some key points that have stuck with me ever since.

  • Firstly, she discussed her inability to have ever maintained any long term loving relationships. It became clear that this was due to her own self-worth and insecurities. Her inability to trust anyone was shaped by the way she had been treated. Not only by the classmates she fell victim too, but the types of men she eventually attracted. She had clearly come to accept everything that was told to her with regards to her position within the school society (and by subsequent ex partners). It appeared, therefore, that this self perception was never shaken. She still carried this burden of worthlessness after nearly 25 years of leaving school.
  • Secondly, because she hated school so much she never reached her academic potential. I always considered her to be a bright girl whilst at school, but she informed me that due to the fear of attending classes she either skipped them or messed about to try and obtain some form of acceptance from the more popular kids. As a result of this her economic well-being was not great. Due to her lack of qualifications she had to accept jobs based on the minimum wage.
  • Thirdly, her mental health was very fragile. She openly admitted to suffering with depression and anxiety. Medication was now a daily long term reality to support her in her failed accomplishments. She was a tragic figure of which did not fit with how she could have been had things been different for her. 

A bullies reasoning?

Perhaps she was everything the bullies desired. I consider now that they had set out to destroy her to address their own insecurities and failures. But this got me thinking that perhaps narcissist  start from an early age and never really grow up or change.

I’m thankful that I was not at school during the cyber age. At least we could go home after school and feel reasonably safe. Technology clearly has a negative side.

Boys verses girls

I think boys have always had it easier. Boys (based on my own experiences) just have a fight and carry on as if nothing has happened afterwards. Whereas, girls linger the bitterness for months (if not years) and involve just about everyone else in (what starts off as) petty little arguments. I often saw this first hand during my career as a secondary school teacher.

Perception of Control

A 2004 Spanish college student sample study (https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/the-long-term-effects-of-bullying) suggested that there is a direct relationship between victim’s perception of control over their bullying experience and the extent of long term difficulties they experience as a result of bullying. To put it simply the bullied students who believed they were able to influence and/or escape their bullies reported fewer negative long term effects from having been bullied than did students who felt helpless to influence their situation while it was happening.

The past verses the present (“living well is the best revenge” [George Herbert])

Rather than try to control the past (either being a victim of school bullies, getting over a toxic relationship or a victim of domestic abuse/violence), it might make more sense to focus on what you can control in the present.

Undoing the Damage

I believe that the road to recovery is to repair the damaged identity and self-esteem that has been broken by my ex. It’s important to feel safe again and to learn  that I have something positive to offer other people. Presently, I am still trying to have more control over my moods and accept that medication and outside support is what is required. I don’t think that these are modest aims, but easily accomplished goals that I can achieve in my own time.