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.

Recovery

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

Very often a change in your views or conceptions doesn’t actually hit you until something ‘clicks’ in your head. This is very much like the recovery process of which I wish to discuss.

Like the stages of mourning, there is a process that a person must endure before they can either move on or consider themselves cured from the grief that they had experienced.

5 stages of mourning

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

Put simply Kubler Ross and David Kessler described the five stages as; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But most importantly they are not checkpoints on a linear timeline.

Writing the sequal

Last week I had a chat with one of my potential publishers. It was during this conversation that I informed him that I had started work on a sequel to my book (which incidentally will be called Silent Story). Almost at that point I had realised that I had, indeed, moved onto a new stage.

In essence, I had stopped trying to work out why things had happened but had now tried to understand why things are the way they are. I was no longer a victim but a veteran with a story to tell with a benefit of hindsight. I didn’t have to try and understand why things were the way they were but to try and find a science or formula to share or to understand.

Early work

When I read and re-read my earlier material, I can see and hear the distress and pain that the events had caused. There were so many questions I was seeking answers for and it became a maelstrom of paths and directions I needed to venture down to try and make sense of it all. Yet my later writings were an attempt to answer those questions and to try and gain some form of perspective.

However, it is impossible to identify at what point this change happened. Like the mourning process I mentioned above it became organic and was a slow process.

Recovery

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

But I will now argue that I am sitting comfortably in the recovery zone.

Several weeks ago. I asked if I could return to work but on light duties due to a back injury I sustained. Unfortunately for me there was nothing available, so I just came home and focused my working energy on the publication of my book. Finally, it was decided that I had recovered enough to consider going back to work (on a phased return). However, I had so much leave to take that it was decided to take some prior to my return otherwise I would lose it. So, as I write this I am coming to the end of a period of leave as opposed to a period of sickness. That for me shows a tangible example of recovery.

Ups and downs

A viciously intense roller-coaster of emotions and experiences is how most victims would describe their time spent with an abuser. You’d hope then, that once you break free of their grip, this unpleasant ride would come to an end…but you’d be wrong.

The ups and downs tend to continue long after you’ve left them behind, as if their poison still courses through your veins. Recovery from abuse is just like any other form of mental or physical recovery – it takes time and determination for the wounds to heal.

 Healing the wounds

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

My research identified that abuse in all of its forms, affects so many people that it is too horrifying to comprehend. Yet, I have shown that once you leave the relationship the problems don’t just end there. Time and again in my earlier blogs I have demonstrated and highlighted the consequences of the psychological anguish. Physical assaults don’t just end with a punch or kick, they too become a mental suffering when flashbacks occur. It is similar to a pebble being dropped into a pond. The splash is all too evident, but the ripples are the consequence of that initial violent, penetrative action.

My dreams are no longer focused on nightmares but on future events and potential adventures. I now rest with an element of comfort that there is a strong possibility of a restful night’s sleep. This, only a few months ago was something that I had longed for.

Guilt, shame and blame

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

When I first decided to write I was instantly told by friends and colleagues that I was taking a brave but right step. Indeed, I was expecting some form of backlash. But (to date) I have not. I have had comments from around the world (thank god for the internet) that a majority of what I have written is what a lot of people wish they could say. For me it was the only path available to try and find answers. I searched bookshops and the internet for what I needed. And as there was nothing I decided to write my own.

For me I had lost everything in a moment and so I had nothing else left to loose. And with great confidence I can argue that it has been the best thing I have ever done. I have been able to address old issues, vent my anger and frustrations and reached out to people I would never have had the chance to previously.

Self blame

But, like so many others I too blamed myself for allowing the abuse to occur and continue for as long as it did. Survivors feel guilty for not allowing their better judgement to take over. Unfortunately, I have also found that others blame the survivors for allowing themselves to be victims in the first place. These emotions increase the survivor’s negative self-image and distrustful view of the world.

My advice is that these criticisers should celebrate the wonderful life they have had. It is only luck that has protected them so far. Ultimately, luck does run out and it is the victims they will seek out for comfort and protection when their time comes. In my view life is too fragile to be complacent.

Family Members

I am probably not qualified enough to comment about family members when it comes to my own family back ground.

I was always led to believe that family should stick together regardless of what has happened. Yet, in my case this was not the case.

My children have been fantastic. At no point was their loyalty questionable. Yet, my recovery process found the flaws in my (biological) father.

The knight in rusty armour

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

To put this simply, if I was not related to him I would not have had him as a friend. It was only the recovery process that allowed me to see things from behind a veil. I would never have a friend who would consider women as a tool for the home or a son as a meal ticket. But I was not being instantly dismissive of him as I gave him chance after chance. It’s just that I was no longer prepared to be taken advantage of, especially when he opted to be the heroic knight to a vengeful and bitter ex abuser.

My recovery allowed for me to put people in order of preference based on how they treated me. I was no longer grateful for a glimmer of recognition, but I felt that my worth was far greater than I was being afforded by him. Since writing my last blog I found out that he had suffered another stroke. Interestingly enough, my brother who had previously warned me about him was unable (or unwilling) to visit him and my father is fully aware that he has shot himself in the foot with regards to his relationship with me. It’s a shame really as I had spent 40 years trying to find him. But it was he who opted to behave in an unfatherly way.

Indeed a narcissistic ex-partner can be so persuasive and calculating that your own family will blame you for the breakdown of a relationship. But my father had equal knowledge of us both due to the time we had known each other. But a flash of tit and a wisp of blonde hair and I had lost him.

He who has the last laugh…..

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

But my recovery has allowed me to see them both for what they are. My dad is now alone, and my ex has a new prey. Well as the stronger person I wish them all the best when trying to either play the victim (again) or the superhero of nothing. I won’t say I am laughing but there is a slight curl in the corner of my lip.

Equal Measure

The freedom of recovery can be both liberating and disheartening in equal measure and it will often shift back and forth from one to the other. For me the liberation came when I did not have to seek justification for the behaviour of others. It was a great weight lifted from my shoulders. Yet, this development came with the cost that fake dreams of happiness were just that – fake.

So many people wish for the 2.5 children, a nice semi-detached house in a respectable area with a nice car (or two) on the drive. The reality is nothing like this. To obtain a dream you often have to endure a nightmare and then there is no guarantee. It appears that behind every closed door a story is developing and it is often not the story the characters wish to play. The progression of recovery indicates that it is important to be happy with what you have and any positive developments just add to the pleasure. This approach just makes life so much easier. It is both simplistic and helps to avoid pain and disappointment.

Rebuilding

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

The art of rebuilding yourself takes a significant amount of time. For me it had required the big step of facing my demons. These demons were the remnants of the abusive ex; the scars she had left and the false beliefs about myself that grew out of this experience.

Rebuilding is not a straightforward task. Some days it felt as if I was making leaps and bounds. But then it was often followed by days of not wanting to venture out of the bed of which mirrored the early days of my recovery. Alas, there is no straight answer to this. I found that elation and celebration often gave way to fatigue or loss of appetite. But sitting here, right now, I can see that these episodes are getting less and less with the realisation that things are falling into place now. Being and remaining positive is an exhausting occupation of which is great to have but tiresome to maintain when you have not fully recovered.

Retribution

As I have previously said, I have looked back on previous blogs and noticed a shift in my approach to justice. Initially I was so angry and venomous about my ex that it was becoming all consuming. Indeed my focus had changed and I am glad it has.

I have come to realise that a person who does not wish to change never will. For her being abusive is profitable both financially and emotionally. If a person plays the victim they will get sympathy – that is until people get smart to their games. As you know it transpired that she had a history of such actions, and so it has come to pass that my fight could not be with her. My fight had to be with the system that allowed this behaviour to persist unchallenged and unhindered.

As a result I focused my attentions to the police officers that dealt with my case and the social workers that threw their weight around unchallenged.

Just a little shift in focus

This new focus has been more productive and has shed a greater light on the processes that are so wrong.

I know to the reader it may sound evil when I say ‘I am delighted that I got a social worker sacked’. It is a big achievement when the system is stacked against you. But, indeed I got one sacked. My recovery gave me the confidence to know that I was right about the injustice I had experienced. Unfortunately, I cannot name the specific social worker but when he said; ‘how dare I challenge him when he is a social worker’ it was like a red rag to a bull and I went out of my way to prove his unprofessionalism.  But what came as a shock after the event was that he knew he was wrong and gave a false name to try and deflect what was coming. My recovery allowed me to challenge him and gave me peace of mind when I knew a corrupt social worker was now out of the system.

Learning development

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

In fact my drive for truth, equality and justice has now put me on first name terms with a senior police officer at Worcester Police station. I am realistic in knowing that full justice may never be achieved but we have come to an understanding that a learning development is required by his police officers.

Again, I’m not out for early morning arrests or punishments. Time has allowed me to consider that my recovery is the knowledge that the next victim may have better treatment than I experienced. Indeed, the fight with the authorities and my ex is not over but I am seeing a realisation that what they (the police, social services and CPS) did was wrong. And I am starting to feel comfortable with this because the fight has come with a heavy cost.

Listen and be heard

My recovery and open, frank conversations has allowed me to know that she is being monitored about her future accusations and behaviours. In essence she is being watched. Perhaps, by being able to challenge pre-conceived ideas or measure the authorities by their own standards has made them sit up and listen. I knew I had been wronged and I was not going to let it go. It’s not about being pig-headed it is about demanding to be heard (even if I have solicited an interest from the press). To do this you need to have confidence and to have confidence you need to be on the road to recovery.

Questioning

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Recovery

It is all too easy to beat yourself up and subject yourself to self-anger for overlooking things which are now plain to see. Of course, everything is clear in hindsight. I suppose this is why I set out to write in the first place. I wanted to be able to reflect on my own hindsight. But I also wanted to let other readers experience my hindsight and experiences.

These works have been my ability to shout and to point. My recovery has been the ability to do so.

Perhaps by now I have moved on. I am getting ready to return to work. I am planning a holiday of lifetime (of which was inconceivable until recently) and my future writing is now acknowledged to be from a different standpoint from that of the beginning.

For me the recovery has been a process of no return. Put simply I have learnt so much of which still needs to be developed. And so the recovery process will forever continue. Which of course is not actually a bad thing.

 

 

A Happy Goodbye to 2017.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Happy Goodbye to 2017.

I recall a conversation many years ago whilst studying for my A levels. During this conversation we were discussing a psychology experiment that had a long-term effect upon the patient. This particular patient had been brought up to believe the opposite of what was indeed fact. For example, this child (we shall call her ‘XY’) was told that black is white and visa-versa. Unfortunately, I just cannot recall the name of this experiment, but the eventual outcome was that XY ultimately killed herself in her early adulthood. But what was even more tragic was that XY was the daughter of the man carrying out the experiment.

Comparison

Okay, so what has this got to do with the dawning of a new year? Well the comparison is very similar to the last few years and in particular the year I have just bid a farewell to.

…Enemy of the State

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Happy Goodbye to 2017.

We are all growing and adapting to the changes and developments around us in one way or another. Like XY you assume the world around you is how it is because we have been led to believe that this is so. If we marry this thought process with the famous quote by Josef Goebbels stating the value of a lie we can probably understand better.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

An untruth is not just a story

For me I have spent the majority of 2017 realising fact from fiction. Perhaps fiction is too weak a word because fiction in this sense is an untruth and not just a story. The facts were there for show and did not suit the purpose of which they had been created for. 2017 has exposed that the English Legal System is corrupt and innocents does not secure your rightful freedom. 2017 has also opened the casket of recognising that men also suffer with depression as recent television documentaries have shown willing to touch upon such subjects.

It has often been said that there is a book within each of us and 2017 has been that story for me. The start of 2017 was a slight discomfort culminating into a rush of events leading from other events. Yet who would have thought that twelve months later I would be sitting here analysing what the last year had been like? For many it is another year but for me it has been a revelation.

Equality is not an equal

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Happy Goodbye to 2017.

Like child XY I had been led to believe over so many years that the democratic and liberal society I was born and raised in does not actually exist. What else was there to learn? I learnt that as a male victim I did not have the same rights or protection as my female equivalent. Yet, even as a victim I was not afforded the same consideration, protection and, as I found out the same equality in law.

You can’t polish it but it can be rolled in glitter

Perhaps 2018 will afford me greater riches on knowledge. I am more aware now that the streets that I walk and the thoughts that I have are no longer the same as they were before. I have confidence in saying that male victims are at a disadvantage. It doesn’t make it right, but I am not fooled by the ‘smoke and mirrors’ that have been created by the authorities to paint a picture that doesn’t resemble the facts as they are.

The issues associated with mental health have also had a clean sweep. I have managed to stand tall and inwardly scream that it is okay. I have come to accept that the reality of having depression is as real as the size of my feet or the colour of my eyes. They are what they are and I am who I am. And for people to accept these factors I need to accept them within myself. For once, 2017 has allowed this to happen. And it’s good, it works well.

A new broom sweeps clean

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Happy Goodbye to 2017.

I suppose that the start of a new year can sweep away old thoughts of what I perceived to be right. I am certainly stronger in the knowledge that if any victim of abuse or depression approached me I could afford to give them the knowledge that 2017 gave me. And although the facts are far from pretty the strength I have gained from it could make anyone cope. 2017 has given me new friends with the same backgrounds and experiences that I had endured. And these are good friends I would not have met otherwise.

I have also learnt to pick and choose who I want in my life and this factor will last into 2018 and no doubt, beyond. So yes, 2018 is going to be a better year. Because it has to be.

Resolutions not revolutions

 

I’ve never been one to make new years resolutions as I am fully aware that the changing of a date should never come with unrealistic or (perhaps) unobtainable goals. But, whilst I reflect I think I had made plans for 2018 way back in May when everything I knew had turned on its head.

So if we recall child XY. We have both had a realisation that things were not so. I am also sure that child XY also attempted to gain some form of perspective. And alas, death became inevitable. Child XY took her own life in a terrible and tragic way. But for me the demise of 2017 has created a funeral pyre of false realities, unrealistic expectations and fake beliefs. But I am actually okay with this because whatever outcome or result that 2018 will bring I know it has been my own efforts that have achieved them – it has not been done with the support of (a lack of) male refuges or (the lack of) police support and help. I have also accepted that there is nothing offensive about taking medication.

Knowledge is strength (regardless of what it is)

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Happy Goodbye to 2017.

So what am I saying to you, the reader? Well regardless of how 2017 has been I am sure that it has educated you into finding a new element about yourself – whether good or bad. Any form of learning has to be seen as positive. 2018 will ensure (I hope) that we will have learnt from those mistakes we had made, said or done.

So yes, I wish you all a happy new year. I hope that 2018 will furnish you with a better understanding thus making you a better person.

With kind thoughts and best wishes to you all

 

 

 

 

Is Feeling Nothing An Emotion? – Court Hearing

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Is Feeling Nothing An Emotion? - Court Hearing

Is it right to feel nothing?

I have held off from writing this particular blog. It’s not a negative one by any stretch of the imagination. But because of it’s positivity I’ve been expecting it to come crash and burning around me. But it hasn’t, and that is why I am able to write about it today.

Court hearing

I went to court last week. I don’t want to talk about each ‘nut and bolt’ of the hearing. But it went my way. I won and all the truths came out.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Is Feeling Nothing An Emotion? - Court Hearing

The reason I’ve held back from sharing it all is because I’ve been waiting for it to hit home a little more than it has. When the judge delivered her deliberation I actually felt nothing. Nothing at all. In response to her verdict I just said, “thank you”. I only said this because I had to give some kind of response. But even then I don’t think I meant what I said.

Was it a real victory?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Is Feeling Nothing An Emotion? - Court Hearing

I know it’s a cliché when I say this but it was a ‘hollow victory.’ Her lies were exposed like a pebble being thrown into a pond. The ripples continually echoed exposing more and more untruths throughout the hearing. What did upset me was that she got her daughter to testify and also lie on her behalf. My solicitor stated that he felt awkward exposing a 17 year old as a liar. I would never have used my children (regardless of age) to stand in a witness stand and testify. The poor child was utterly humiliated.

I arrived at the court early (I always arrive early for appointments) and waited around for a while. I met my solicitor who talked me through the case and what he planned to do. It all seemed logical to me.

Delay

However, the trial was supposed to start at 9am but was delayed until 3pm. The waiting was hard work. Almost on a level of psychological torture. I never wanted to go to court in the first place. I just wanted the relationship to be over at the earliest opportunity. It was just events that took hold and it had spiralled to the present situation that I found myself in.

So being at court was a horrible event. By delaying it I just wanted it to be over with. By the time I was called into the court room I literally ran because I wanted the whole thing to be over with. The only analogy I can give is how it must feel to be on death row. The agony of waiting must be worse than the act of execution itself. I had got to the point that regardless of the outcome I just wanted it to be over with.

It wasn’t a game – it was real life

The hearing was like a verbal tennis match. Vile things were said (on both sides) by the solicitors. Yet there were also times of humour of which seemed out of place within the formality of the court room. Glances were passed too and throw when lies were exposed and contradictions made.

Evidence was supplied on a number of factors. Whilst I sat there listening to it all I was hurt by the personal attacks made but equally relieved to have supplied the evidence required to dismiss much of what had been said. I sometimes heard myself giving a sigh at the relief that I had recorded such events of which benefited my case.

Theatrical plays

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Is Feeling Nothing An Emotion? - Court Hearing

The whole hearing was a theatrical experience. There was, as stated, elements of humour and dark scenes of which any human would wince at hearing. But overall, it was a tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. There were character assassinations, repercussions and finally the murder of the old life. The only thing missing was the make-up and the applause at the end of each scene.

Numbness is an emotion

When I left the court, I can honestly say I felt nothing. I stopped for a while making sure that the feelings I was experiencing were indelible. Importantly, I didn’t want to forget this feeling. I knew I wanted to be able to recall this moment and that’s why I wanted to take a second to try and take it all in. But, like I said, I actually felt nothing. I didn’t feel victorious although I should have let the euphoria take hold. But I didn’t. In fact I couldn’t even feel the sun on my face or the breeze wafting past me. I was just aware that my feet were following the usual pattern of walking just to get me away from where I had spent the last few hours. That seemed more natural than any emotional feeling that I was not experiencing.

When I got home, I just watched TV. I thought I was concentrating on the events on TV as they unfolded. But I wasn’t. It was a soap opera of which I never follow anyway. I just felt nothing, not even hunger. Nothing at all. And this was my concern – at what point would I feel anything and when it came how would I deal with it?

The only thing I can identify as an emotion was that I felt tired about two days later. That was it. Nothing more. I’m still waiting patiently for something to happen.

Reflection

But I can now reflect. Lessons have been learnt. I’ve discovered a lot about myself and how things work and develop. The value of keeping records is certainly worth mentioning. Keeping calm when the court room actors point fingers and make accusations. Dismissing lies and forgiving. I don’t hold any negative feelings for anyone. Only pity. I pity the ex for her mental disadvantages and lack of humanity, her daughter for being put through it all and her solicitor for fighting an un-winnable case.

So what next?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression Is Feeling Nothing An Emotion? - Court Hearing

Well that’s it. It’s all done and over with in the formal sense. I am aware that I still have a new path to walk of which is exciting. Time and again I have said to a number of people that I am not the same person I was last year. To that effect, I am not the same person I was three months ago. But I’m more than ok with that.

My new path still needs to deal with older demons that need to be shook. Or, and this is why I have been wary – I still think there are new challenges to come. My numbness about what happened recently cannot be maintained. The anaesthetic will wear off at some point I’m sure. I just want to be ready and prepared for when the awakening happens.

What It Feels Like To Want To Die

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

It wasn’t really a request that has drawn me to my keyboard today but a series of conversations that I have either been a part of or that has recently come to my attention.

Having been open about a range of thoughts and feelings I was asked to explain how it feels when depression becomes too much. How does the mind work?

This is massive step to take but I’m going to put this into words. I have contemplated suicide on a number of occasions. Now don’t judge me because I don’t want that. But I’m telling you this because I want to tell you how ‘ending it all’ becomes a logical conclusion in a complicated mind. I want the reader to know how easy suicide can become. But, equally, I want those left behind to be able to work out the mind of that person who has gone.

There is never a single reason

There is never only one reason that people take their lives. Like our lives, things can be complicated or difficult, and therefore very few people talk about it once the decision has been made. These people don’t want to justify or explain their ‘logical’ conclusions. Especially when they run the risk of being talked out of it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

The appeal of suicide is loss of consciousness, and thus the end of psychological pain being experienced. For suicidal people, that leaves only three ways to escape this painful self-awareness: drugs, sleep and death. And of these, only death, nature’s great anaesthesia, offers a permanent fix.

Conversation

During a conversation I had with someone last week, I went into great detail of it all. I didn’t hold back. We discussed the planning, the build-up and then the act itself. What I wanted to emphasise was the fact that when the decision has finally been made a great feeling of relief becomes apparent. The verdict has been made and all other alternatives don’t fit the space in which everything fits. Nothing makes sense anymore other than the drive to finish with life.

Planning

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

Even the grim, tedious details of organizing the act of suicide can offer a welcome reprieve. When preparing, the victim can finally cease to worry about the future, as there is no future. The past, too, has ceased to matter, for it is nearly ended and will no longer cause grief, worry, or anxiety. And the imminence of death may help focus the mind on the immediate present.

Signs

It is not at all apparent that those at risk of suicide are always aware that they are in fact suicidal, at least in the earliest stages. However, signs begin to manifest and show when the plans have been developed.

Firstly, they may appear at ease. In fact, they may even seem jovial.  They are happy with the decision that has been made and a conclusion to their miseries are now within reaching distance.

Secondly, plans are made and things are given away. During my time as a paramedic I came across a number of victims who had spent the previous week or so tidying up the house or paying off debts. In some cases they may have given things away. But in every suicide I came into contact with, a letter was always found.

Letters

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

One well-known “suicidologist,” Edwin Shneidman, once wrote that, “Our best route to understanding suicide is not through the study of the structure of the brain, nor the study of social statistics, nor the study of mental diseases, but directly through the study of human emotions described in plain English, in the words of the suicidal person.”

When I have read suicide notes I have often found that the deceased has tried to reach out after death or try to justify their actions. The notes can be simplistic but a great deal of thought has gone into these words (good or bad). But for them, these words are the most important they have ever committed to paper. And so, because of the rush or the path they have taken it can sometimes paint a picture of a confused and complicated mind.

Everything in its place

From all of this one can conclude that a plan has been made. In my case I too had made a plan. But it is easy. It is easy for the victim at this stage because it is the right thing to do. There are no complications following death. Bills are paid. People have the things you wanted them to have and it is all done with ease.

The mind has been made up and as the ‘time’ rushes towards the victim the relief is more and more tangible. In essence, any troubled mind has a feeling of clarity (probably for the first time in a long time) and everything makes sense because there is a final, logical conclusion.

I cannot think of a single genuine suicide case whereby it has been done to spite anyone left behind. In fact, it is the opposite. A depressive feels like a burden to everyone around them. By ending it all will not only end the victims suffering, but they feel they will no longer be a problem to anyone else left behind.

Taking control for the first time

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression What It Feels Like To Want To Die

For the victim this planning is beneficial. It is better to do this than die suddenly with no plans or provisions made for the ones left behind. The victim will never understand the feeling of loss for those of whom are left behind. They only see their own conclusions and the control they now have over what is going to happen. You see this is the problem with mental illness – there is no control. It takes over and suicide gives ownership back to the victim. This may be the first time they have had control over themselves in a long time – and it feels good.

What is logical?

I’m not claiming any of this makes sense. We are reading this with our own set values and understanding. But to the victim, their views and conclusions are equally valued in their own eyes. In fact the relatives who are left behind may scream it is illogical to do these things – but these are the patterns that suicidal people generally follow.

In fact, you may be able to pin point the actions identified. If you do I hope it bring solace to know that they did it in a state of peace, of which they had not felt for a long time.

In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions and feelings. It is not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are considered.  The final act of suicide as an escape from themselves.

It will never make true sense to those left behind.

There you have it. I have shared it all in its gory details. I suspect for a few people it has been uncomfortable reading, but you have taken a glimpse into a mind that has been prepared to end it all on their terms.

It’s not nice for the victim or for those left behind but it is a reality. People will kill themselves for whatever reason but for the victim it all makes sense. Their pain is at an end and that is what they wanted.

For me, I have learnt a lot. It’s not about science because science hasn’t stopped people killing themselves. I think it’s all about perspective. It’s how we see things. In a previous blog I wrote that by killing yourself it might be an own goal. I might have missed the best years to come. But for those in this situation that statement would never make sense.

The Art Of Forgetting

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art Of Forgetting

I’m not a psychiatrist, and although I work in the medical profession I mainly work in trauma. I have realised that the power of the mind far out ways physical strength in so many ways. There are various views about how much of the brain is actually being used at any one time, and these theories are still under discussion and investigation. See – how much of our brain do we use

Busy mind – overdrive

I have spent many nights lay awake not being able to sleep because my mind is bouncing with thoughts or ideas. I have also had days when I have recalled past events either from decades ago or more recently, which sometimes triggers feelings of self-doubt or utter sadness. Although on the flip side it is just as easy to recall happier moments which bring feelings of warmth and contentment.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art Of Forgetting

It can be considered that our trains of thought can be built on habits. For example, every one of us can attach a memory to a certain song (either good or bad). Or we may recall when we first had a certain meal. For me, I can recall walking along the River Avon in Evesham every time I consume a chocolate lime (see quite man). This is a positive recall. However, I can now associate a certain song with being punched in the back, or a fragrance being attached to a specific human.

Trying to forget

But is it possible that we can train ourselves to think differently to help improve our mental health or to forget an abusive relationship?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art Of Forgetting

I once joined a slimming club many years ago. It was utter agony. Throughout my period of membership, I was constantly recalling how lovely chocolate tasted, or how lovely KFC chicken actually smelt on an empty stomach. In fact, I failed at being a vegetarian because my will power over a bacon sandwich was just not strong enough.

But is it fair to argue or consider that people who slim, or people who try to refrain from smoking suffer the same torments as someone who has just left an abusive relationship. Are we drawn to the evils because we are used to it and we are only addicted because our minds crave the routine of which we are now used to?

Balloon

Many years ago, I went on a course, I really cannot recall what it was about, but one thing really stuck in my head, and I’m going to share it with you now.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art Of Forgetting

The host said to us all “whatever you do, I plead with you not to think of a red balloon”. Well yes you guessed it, everyone, including myself thought of a red balloon. I don’t know the science behind it, perhaps it was a suggestive thought, but the power that individual had over my free thoughts was phenomenal.

So, to put this into perspective; when you try to avoid certain foods because of a diet – all you can think about is that food. If you are trying to forget an ex, they instantly spring to mind. When you try and forget why you flinch every time a certain word is mentioned you are flashed back to a specific event.

No longer will I be held to ransom by the actions of an ex. I have moved on but she still accommodates an area of my mind. I’m fighting depression, but my life has so many associations attached to such events. I have tried to stop but when I do I often find my mind wonders back to those moments. Perhaps my brain is seeking safety in a place it recognises. If this is the case it’s an uncomfortable state to live in.

Alternative

If you have noticed, to the regular readers of this blog, I have not written much over the past couple of days. Not because I had nothing to say (far from it), but because I wanted to spend my research and writing time trying something new  out.

I heard a song on the radio whilst making a coffee. Instantly, I recalled an uncomfortable memory about my ex. My mouth went dry and I could feel my heart race. It was if they had a presence in the room. I felt instantly vulnerable. To be honest with you I felt quite scared by my lack of strength even after all this time.

It fails to make sense

It was an unreasonable action. I knew she wasn’t there. I know she is miles away. But the power of my thoughts was shocking. It had utter control of my physical self.

It was at this moment that I tried something new. The song was playing but I refused to switch the radio off. So, I picked up the dog and hugged her. I would hope to think that the next time I hear that specific song I will now associate it with hugging the dog as opposed to blocking a punch. Even now as I write this I am recalling lifted the dog and holding her like a small child. That is surely a better memory to associate with.

Ctrl, Alt, Delete

It would be impossible to wipe clean your whole life. We are after all, a product of past events. I remember when my son was younger and he did something which required a stern word. Instantly, I recalled being told the same thing by my parents – or did I just sound like my (adopted) mother at that specific moment?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Art Of Forgetting

I remember as a teenager in the 1980’s I could recall any phone number. Being able to dial the numbers like how a secretary types, with speed and not looking at the phone. I think I could recall probably about seven or eight numbers instantly. In fact if you gave me the first few numbers of a specific telephone number I could probably still continue the rest. 0121 475…., 0121 443….. But we don’t need to anymore. Modern phones only require you to remember the name of the person you are about to call.

But modern life and its instruments almost reinforces negative memories. When I flick through my ‘Pictures’ file for this blog, I come across a range of photographs that were taken many years ago. Instantly, my mind is flashed back to that moment of capture. This is also the case with things such as Facebook, for example. I have read many comments that people have written stating that they have looked up an ex on Facebook. Why, the pictures are fake (see humiliation) but your memories are real. They are an ex for a reason. No-one (that I know of) has stayed in a toxic relationship because they liked their abusers ‘smile’ – of which is all you see in a photograph.

If you look at that picture remember them kicking the shit out of you or screaming in your face. Remember your mind is suggesting something. I would like to suggest a red balloon.

Time will tell

Ironically, I am not asking you to stop reading my blogs in case it makes the reader recall negative events or thoughts. I write these because I want to share my experiences and offer an alternative to what you are experiencing. It might even be that you are reading my blogs and saying “yes, I’ve had that too, I’m, therefore, not alone”.

But I want to offer a glimmer of hope. Perhaps the ability to think differently is an indication that I am recovering. Perhaps I am getting better.  I hope so. My depression took away my best years and my ex tried to smash the remaining. I don’t want to lose any more. Is that an unreasonable ask?

Venture (adventure)

I want to continue to write. And I want to continue with my experiment of disassociation. It’s about time I tried to break the cycle, I hope it works. But I would love to hear from anyone else that tries this approach and to see if it works. Perhaps I might be on to something here and if it makes anyone rich, remember you heard it here first!!

 

 

 

 

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.

The Quiet Man – Nature Verses Nurture

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture

It was the rain tapping against the window that woke me this morning. I didn’t really have much planned to do today so I intended to sleep in for a while longer than normal. But, as stated this wasn’t the case. As I could hear the rain it dawned on me that I don’t like rain. Don’t get me wrong, it would never stop me going out – unless it was torrential. But I find it uncomfortable getting wet and it’s just an all-round hindrance. Furthermore, it leaves me with the dilemma of what to wear. If I wrap up it will, undoubtable get warm later.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Rainy days

But where did this dislike of rain come from? I was never actively instructed to dislike rain. It just developed. After all, where does the dislike of spiders come from? We are lucky here in England as we have very few venomous creatures to avoid. So, the English fear of spiders is clearly irrational. But this brings me straight to the question – where do we acquire such feelings and thoughts?

Natural father

If you recall, I went into some detail about my relationship with my natural father. He had absolutely no input into my upbringing. As a child and a young adult, he was a shadow. It was only later when I reached 40 that my thoughts became flesh and I had finally found him. We had a few similarities as we both liked history and the arts. We were also within the medical profession. But on reflection that was pretty much it.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Outdated views

I drew the line at his outdated views of the roles of women. We were poles apart politically. I was quiet and he was loud. He just loved the attention. Especially female attention. He took advantage and I was happy to supply. But my views and personality must have been shaped somehow by someone.

Nature verses nurture

Whilst realising that the rain made almost rhythmical patterns it dawned on me that I was stuck in the question of nature verses nurture. There are indeed parts of me that are unidentifiable. I just don’t know where these features come from. But there are others I can directly attribute to key figures in my life.

And this is where I want to reach today. I want to talk about my adopted father.

(Adopted) Father’s father

My adopted father was a good man. He had acquired a lot of his father’s traits. Both were well-spoken and gentle. My grandfather (for ease I will address him as so) always wore a cardigan regardless of the weather and this gave him an endearing character. When he laughed his shoulders would rise and fall – and what was nice, was that he did this often.

Days spent with my grandfather always seemed sunny and I utterly adored him. He would hold my hand and I would smile so any opportunity to spend time with him was always welcome.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Holding hands

I never met his wife as she died two years before I was born, but I know he missed her. I know this because he told me. He had a black and white photograph of her in a frame on the mantelpiece. She was also beautiful. Typical of her time with her hair in a fashionable bob. I also knew that he talked to the picture because I heard him one morning. This made him seem vulnerable yet loveable in equal measure.

He smoked because he lived in a time when it was expected. He loved classical music but enjoyed sharing my tapes (remember them?). Musically, I introduced him to the Pet Shop Boys and he introduced me to Puccini. Food wise, I introduced him to prawn cocktail crisps and he introduced me to chocolate limes. I still love those sweets. But he treated me as an equal of which was lacking at home.

He passed away in 1988 after finally admitting he had cancer. He had known for a while but didn’t want to make a fuss. Not making a fuss finally killed him. But this was typical of him. He would allow me to watch my programmes when he wanted to watch the news or we would eat chocolate instead of salad. I never really recovered losing him. He was really loved by me. As a result, I gave my son his middle name as homage when he was born. It was such a shame that the two never met.

His father’s best features

My adopted father had acquired his father’s best features. He was middle class in ideals and nature. Soft and caring. During my formative years I had considered him to be the most intelligent man ever to have lived. He could explain mathematical problems to me of which I struggled with at school. He could make a sideboard out of an old wardrobe. Furthermore, he tried to see the good in everyone. And that was the problem.

What did they see in each other?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Mismatch

My adopted mother (and I don’t want to go into much detail about her here, that’s a blog for another time) was the complete opposite. Where she screamed he just spoke, where she beat he just shook his head. In reality, I just cannot see how they ever got together. He was middle class in character, yet she was spit and saw dust, working class.

I have often considered that I took the beatings for him. Which was wrong. Many years after I had stood up to her and the beatings had stopped, she was admitted into hospital for a stomach problem. It was nothing major but it required her to be admitted for a few days. It was during this time that he spoke to me in-depth.

I recall us walking through the park on the way to the shops and it was during this walk that he revealed that she was a troubled woman. It took me by surprise, because I had never expected to hear this from his mouth. Furthermore, it had cemented my view of her after all.

Cut me, do I not bleed?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Do I not bleed?

From this point, I knew a mother’s love was not what I had come to accept. It was also a time when it dawned on me that he was not as intelligent as I had considered him to be. He could have stopped the physical chastisement by her hand. Why had he not stepped up to the mark and supported me during the difficult times of my identity struggles? But he didn’t. Why? Well that’s simple, he was too nice to have done any of that. He just wanted the quiet life.

I suppose we would call it ‘hen-pecked’ today. But he was out of his depth with what to do. He had in effect, put his head in the sand to deny any of it. And here lie the similarities. His father had done it before him (cancer) and I had done it with my depression and abuse.  It is only now that I realise this. I had acquired his character. I also wanted the quiet life.

This was not a dreadful thing to have. I would rather be like him than her. But my character dictated my future. I could fight if I had to (adopted mother characteristic) which protected me from being bullied at school. But my failure to admit problems came from him.

Challenged

A few years ago, I took the step to directly highlight my adopted mother’s failures. I identified that comfort and care had been restricted and rationed. Her treatment of me over their child had been unequal and harsh.

I really wanted her to admit it and to try and help me build bridges with her. But her response didn’t come as a surprise. She rejected my claims and dismissed any further comments I had to make. She just failed to identify or admit any failure on her part. Yet she made it clear that I should forever be in her debt and it was my duty to identify this.

Unfortunately, my adopted father was present and as expected he said nothing. He neither defended me or her. And that didn’t come as a surprise either.

Good-bye and God bless

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
Goodbye, god bless

A week or so later my adopted father came to my house. We sat alone in the living room whilst he drank tea. I knew this was his good-bye. We spoke about things that had bothered me and he calmly listened and considered what I had said. Ultimately though, he had to conclude that she was his wife and that he could not be seen to side with anyone but her.

I accepted this as I knew from the moment he arrived at my door that this would have been the case.

I never saw either of them ever again. To give her up meant I had to lose him too. It was, alas, a price that I had to pay.

This and that

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Quiet Man - Nature Verses Nurture
keep calm – I’m adopted

There are many things I disliked about my adopted father. He was weak and never really spoke his mind. The opportunity to stop the physical punishments were missed by him. Chances to treat the children equally had passed by.

Yet, I hope that I have the best of him. I hope that I am sensitive when its needed. It would be great if my children thought I was intelligent. His loyalty was obvious. He was just a nice man – simple.

If this is the case (I’m sure people will be quick to tell me otherwise), then parts of the nurture debate are true. I made a positive decision to not be like my adopted mother, and to date I don’t think I am. But I want to care and love and I want to hide from the horrors of life. And that was who he was.

 

A Letter To My Older Self

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

Time goes so quickly

When somebody mentions the 1990’s it feels like 5 years ago, but it isn’t, its nearly 30 years ago. And I find this a shocking revelation. I can still recall the songs played on the radio and I probably still own a few shirts from back then buried deep in my wardrobe. Time has passed so quickly, too quickly in fact. It almost seems unfair to think about the time I have wasted or the positive things I could have done.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I probably won’t have another 30 years left (who knows). But I want to take the time to talk to my future self. I want to be able to, one day, look back and read this letter and say “oh yeah, I remember that”. Or “that problem seemed so massive at the time”. Better still, I hope to say the following; “I survived it all” and “I’m happy now.”.

So much to say

This letter has taken a while to consider. Undoubtedly, I have probably left some important things out, but that’s ok. I can always write another. A part 2 if you like.

But below is my letter addressed to my older self. I want to be in my mid 60s when I read this letter. I can picture myself now. Balder, thinner (I hope). But I want to remain gentle and loving. I want to be warm with a wealth of knowledge to share and appreciate. But most of all I want to be content with who I became and I want to have buried the evils that have plagued my life at present. Did the abuse turn me into a better man than I could ever have envisaged or did it finally take a hold of me of which could not be shaken?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I want to live and be strong. I have a whole lot of love to give in its many forms. Perhaps I just want to know that I eventually had the opportunity to reach my full potential.

Anyway, here is my letter to myself…

My Letter To Myself

Hello

I’m glad you’ve taken the time to read this letter. It has been a long time in the making, but was very hard to submit into words. After all, how do you talk to yourself in an unknown situation, at an unknown time?  Of course, you are older now and I hope that you are well.

Firstly, if you are reading this I want to congratulate you. I’m pleased that you never took your life. I know the depression was hard and although you didn’t want to give in to it, the option of ‘ending it all’ was always there, over hanging your every thought and action. If you recall you never feared dying and that was always admirable. But it never stopped the pain of your past and present.

Fear

Yet this has been my biggest fear. When I was ready to die, I really was ready to go. But it’s all about what came next. Would I have scored an own goal and missed out on the best years of my life yet to come? Would the pain of those left behind been too heavy a price to pay for my weakness? Perhaps it’s easy to suggest, as an alternative, that I may not even have been missed. Do you recall the months of planning and researching the best way to go? If you remember you did indeed discover the painless way and you were happy to keep it a secret for years. I just hope that you put those thoughts down and picked up new revelations. Things that had a bigger and better meaning. Will I see them too, soon? I am trying to seek them out, just need a bit of direction at the moment.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I just hope the future was brighter and gave you everything you ever desired.

Monetary wealth is not riches

I know you never hunted for financial riches, but you spent all your life searching for other riches in life such as acceptance, warmth and love. Please tell me you found them? Are you happier now? If so do you measure your happiness in a different way to how I do it now? Most importantly though, did you learn anything from those awful years?  I keep telling myself that within these grey clouds a silver lining must be found. I must admit, it is only now that I do see glimmer of hope and it’s a warm feeling to know it is there. It’s a happy feeling and I hope to feel its full embrace very soon.

Pets

Do you remember how much you loved animals and how you would go out of your way to show them affection. Animals for you gave you the unconditional love that you had always wanted. You knew it was easier to love animals than people at times. I just hope that your affection for animals remained and that you have a loving dog curled up around your feet as you are reading this. Next to a warm fire with the lights down low. I know that would make you happy.

Children

Your children grew into lovely people I’m sure. Did you maintain a good relationship with them? I know that your parents (in all guises) let you down. I am also aware that their style of parenting shaped yours. You never intentionally hurt them and always told them you loved them – this was a characteristic I liked about myself. I was always keen to let them know that parental love was important. And I always grabbed the opportunity for a hug.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

If you recall, you have recently become a grandfather. We both know that he would be a good father. You will have to let me know how his parenting skills were. He often called or text with messages on what to do in certain situations. This gave you comfort because it showed he cared for his son. Perhaps I had done right by him. After all he has the makings of a good father – that was all you wanted from him.

Country living

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

I was always drawn to the countryside. The early years were spent living in the city and the first opportunity I had to leave I grabbed it with both hands. Living in the countryside was a liberating experience. I would spend hours walking through fields and down remote country lanes. The air was always so much better and the smells made me feel complete in the knowledge I felt at home. I really hope that you did finally find your little ‘bolt-hole’ deep in the country side. As far away from other people as you wanted. Do you remember that time telling your careers teacher that you wanted to be a hermit in response to his question “what do you want to be when you’re older”? I always thought this was a funny response.

I suppose by the time you read this there have been advancements in photographic technology, and you have taken full advantage on your country walks. It would be nice to know that the love for photography never wavered.

Those aims and ambitions

Contrary to what you are probably thinking right now, I did not have any massive demands of me, or false expectations or goals that I might have failed to meet. I was just happy to get through each day. I’m also glad that I broke down my own barriers to accept the help when it was required. I did it for my benefit really, because I wanted me to grow old surrounded by the important things in my life. Those were the simple goals. One day at a time. Not a big house or a massive car. But self-contentment and self-value.  We both know it was difficult to find when the timing was tough but I’m glad we saw it through. Did I achieve those things? Did I achieve any of it?

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression A Letter To My Older Self

If you are not who I imagine now, I’m ok with it, I’ll support you. Because maybe who I’m imagining is someone else, and you are—well you’re not someone else, you’re me. And what you are now is the product of the decisions I have made today.

For me, at this moment, the biggest lesson I have learnt is the idea of allowing myself to be whoever I am. I am also looking forward to making plans for who I should become. And that for this present moment, is more than enough.

Laying to rest those ghosts

Was there ever a time that you were able to lay the ghosts of abuse to rest? I accept that you may not have ever let your younger years go. They were after all your formative years. But what about the failed romantic relationships? I really hope you have now got to the point whereby you struggle to remember her name. I was always adamant that I would never forgive her but only feel pity. Was this option the best to take or did anger and hate consume me further before I could let it go?

My advice now

Before I go, I want you to heed my words. I want you to love your children even as they are now fully-grown adults. You sacrificed so much for them and they were ultimately your reason for holding on. Really love the woman you may have now. Although you know you could survive on your own, sharing these years with someone special is all that you had desired throughout your life. Let it be. Enjoy her and be what you want to be with her.

I hope you are happy

Love

Keith

 

The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

People are people

When you sit back and think about it, it’s amazing that humans have any forms of relationships at all. We are all different, requiring different needs and requirements. Our desires change over time and it’s a lot to expect that another person can appreciate these changes as you would theirs. I am fully aware that I am not the same man I was ten years ago and I very much expect to be different again in another ten. I am most defiantly not the same person I was a year ago.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex
Two Way Street

Relationships come in all forms. We all have parents and we all have friends. These are relationships and they give us things like support, advice and contact. It is a two-way street. Obviously, relationships are fluid and they change over time. So why can we not accept it with romantic relationships? And here is where I want to focus – I want to consider how we get over a romantic relationship, especially if it is a long term one.

Ownership

Relationships can still ‘own’ us long after they’re over. I find it difficult to understand that the person who was the major part of your life at one stage, you find yourself crossing the road to avoid them the next. That person eventually becomes nothing more than a memory – good or bad. This will take time, but can you recall an ex from 10 or 20 years ago?

Breakdowns are now more difficult than ever. I love the convenience of mobile phones where a text can be so easy to write (who writes letters these days anyway?). Or the ability to look up old friends on Facebook. It’s all so easy and disposable. We can do these things instantly without much effort or physical input. But for some it means that their ex is just a click away.

Photographs

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

I wonder how many of you have looked your ex up on Facebook and looked at their pictures? Let’s be honest, we have all done so.  Old photographs could be thrown away but electronic media owns everything we share and there is no way of disposing these items easily.

But don’t be fooled. These people are not as happy as the picture suggests (see my blog on Humiliation). An ex can be as easily blocked as it is to contact them. I would never message my ex as I would not want her to have the feeling of accomplishment over me. She is blocked and will remain so.

However, there comes a time when we need to accept that what’s done is done and begin to look forward to what might be coming next. Following my break-up, I found a world of opportunity and self-discovery. I can now see that my break-up has had a positive outcome, but it wasn’t that way to begin with.

I am at the other end of it all and can look back on it to see it for what it was. The reality is that if it had not ended then it would have ended at some point. Although, I am prepared to accept that not everyone has this luxury. Like the complications of human nature, break-ups can equally be complex.

What is important to acknowledge at this stage is that I now realise you cannot get someone who never loved you, to start loving you now. It just won’t happen.

Emotions and feelings

I found that my emotions were identical to those I had experienced following a bereavement. I experienced; denial, anger, emptiness, and sadness and they came in quick succession. I even felt betrayed and emotionally robbed, especially as I had invested my hope of a bright future with that one person. The emotional ‘bank account’ has been raided and I had been left with nothing.

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

I have had the discussion with various people from various backgrounds about break-ups. Alas, there is no definitive answer on the correct actions to take. Some suggested that people need to just ‘snap out of it’ or to ‘get online’ and find another one.  The truth is, how someone responds to the end of a relationship is different for each of us: there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

The important thing, from my point of view, is that you give yourself the time and support you need to feel better. I suggest being selfish and start falling in love with yourself again. My relationship beat me down and so I am building myself up to be better, stronger and most importantly, wiser.

Anger and self shame

I found that the hardest thing to let go of was my anger. I was furious that I had let her do those things to me but I was equally furious that I had allowed it to happen in the first place. My anger moved its focus from her to myself. I eventually recognised that I had pity for her as she was never going to change, whereas, I was changing. I felt so disappointed with myself. Wrongly, I had considered that I was intelligent and could work things out, but I failed to see the abuse until it became impossible to change. I was ultimately, disappointed with myself and this added to the shame of the breakdown.

It’s not me – it’s all you

Keith's Story - Male Victim of Domestic Abuse & Depression The Ex-Orcism Of The Ex

I must admit, I am still playing the ‘blame game’ – I am endlessly questioning who did what, what could have been done differently and so on. But I don’t see a problem with this. I have been able to do an autopsy on a relationship that was dead long ago. I can now see what went wrong and how it died. A word of warning though, if you are not careful you can tend to go in circles and eventually draw no conclusions.

The end

I can confirm that the end of the relationship for me was eventually a liberating experience. It meant I was no longer fighting to try and obtain a dream from a nightmare. I felt I no longer had to justify her negative behaviours and abuse. There was no longer any need to feel fear on a daily basis.

For me this new-found sense of freedom eventually (not instantly I must admit) came with a rush of positive emotions. I rediscovered lost loves such as reading and writing. I even went to the ballet, of which I was never allowed to do when living under her regime. Funnily enough, I didn’t have a clue what was going on – but I really enjoyed it. But that’s not the point – I was able to do it without authorisation.

If you’ve been following my blogs you will appreciate that I have been on a journey of self-discovery. I have attempted to establish the meaning of happiness and to share it. My journey has enabled me to self-reflect on events and actions that were previously out of my control. And how they shaped me as a person of whom I didn’t want to be. I did these things for another persons’ happiness and not my own. Please allow yourself to be selfish. I want to suggest that self-appreciation is a liberating experience following an abusive relationship.