Below is a message I got from one of my readers recently. He has been going through a really hard time. I want to make it clear, once again, that I am not a medical professional in any form. I am merely someone who has had a rough time of things and want to help. My advice is only that- advice- and should never replace the opinion of a qualified professional. It is always best to seek professional advice when you are feeling low and unable to cope.
I was abused as a boy. I lived with the secret for 40 years before telling my wife. She reacted badly, upset that I had never told her before. The thing is, since telling her I have been having nightmares about what happened. I feel like my whole life has been taken away from me because I can’t cope with the constant memories flooding my mind. I was forced to retire on medical grounds 6 months ago, and since then have been completely lost. I have started having panic attacks and I was hospitalised due to one two months ago. I don’t feel like a man any more, my wife is now the ‘bread winner’ and I am struggling to cope. How do I go back to how I was before. I was fine for so long, what happened? And how can I deal with what is happening now. I can’t do this any more!
Love John **
I am so sorry you have been through what you have. You have already started dealing with this and seeking help, and I am thrilled you have found my blog useful. It can be easy to block out what has happened. We put it in a box at the back of our minds, and move on. However, in most cases there will be a point where that Pandora’s Box will be opened… as has happened here. In my case, that box opened much quicker. However, now the box is opened, I am afraid it isn’t as simple as shoving everything back in and forgetting about it.
You have remained incredibly strong throughout your life, and your story has inspired me no end. I know we haven’t been able to post your entire story, but for the other readers of this blog I must stress this man has dealt with more than anyone ever should have to.
John, I recommend you seek professional help. It seems to me that you might be suffering from PTSD and Generalised Anxiety Disorder, along with a deep depression. The good news is that these conditions can be managed and treated with medication and therapy. I know you have spoken to your GP and have recently started some medication that I hope starts to help soon. Therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychotherapy should help you regain control of your life. We spoke about the recovery time, and I know you are aware that this can take quite a while to heal.
I know from experience you can only bottle things up for so long… but once the bottle top explodes, we have to deal with what comes out. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Once you have been able to work through what has come out, you will find that you don’t need to bottle things up any more. You will be able to share a more open and honest life with your wife, who I know has been a huge support rock for you, despite her initial concerns. I would encourage you to return to some of my earlier blog posts about ‘A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss‘, and ‘Post Traumatic Growth‘, ‘The Truth About Anxiety‘ and ‘The Truth About PTSD‘. I hope they are able to offer some support and encouragement.
I have a strange little bit of advice for you. It is something that has helped me a lot. Why not try writing a letter to your past self… the child that went through that horrific ordeal. Write to let that small child know that things will be okay, that what is happening is not his fault, and that he will have a bright future and get through this. It is important that you forgive yourself for what happened, and accept that they ONLY person in the wrong is the person that thought they had the right to violate you. You need to let go of the guilt you feel, it will only eat you up.
I know things seem impossible right now, but you have the strength to move forward and cope with what has happened. I wish you all the best in your journey. I know we will keep in touch. It is really important that you don’t give up, because we both you know can do this and you have a lot of support around you. Wishing you all the best.
Lots of love,
**I have had to summarise the message I received from John (name has been changed) because it was so long. We have spoken in-depth and John has now started getting the help he needs. He is due to start counselling in the next three weeks. The summarised version of his letter was approved by John prior to posting, and he has seen and approved this post. We are going to keep in touch, and I will report on his progress later on in the year.
If you have any questions you want some advice on, you are more than welcome to email me. I will reply to every email, and will only post on here with your consent and knowledge. I change all identifying features of your question. If you just want a friendly ear you are welcome to email me and it will not appear on this blog. I offer advice because I know how hard life can be when you are going through the tough times. As stated above, the advice I offer should never replace professional help from a qualified practitioner.