“I had the feeling of being just an empty shell.” GROW Mental Health Series

“It feels like I am locked into a frozen state of fear. Even the most basic things, like getting up and boiling the kettle requires a huge effort. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t have a proper conversation. I can’t laugh…. and when it became more serious, I had the feeling of being just an empty shell. Whatever was inside already left and the only feeling left was fear. I believed that it would never ever be different. This is it. I may as well do it now because this is going to be with me forever. I would start planning my death. I would catch myself writing suicide notes…This would be the point when I would go into churches and would start praying. Every day I would plan my death for that night. Then, I would hear my nieces go: Ah no! Auntie Maureen killed herself!!! The thought that I was going to leave this shameful legacy to them prevented me from doing it… My PTSD leads all the way back to my childhood. My father was a chronic alcoholic who was drunk most nights.  He would come home and cause immense stress by being drunk and abusive. It was a shocking environment, to say the least. I never really talked about it to anyone. It became buried somewhere in my head and I never realised how much it affected my life and my personality later in life. When you are dismissed, ignored and negated, it makes you feel you don’t exist. It will make you feel unworthy. I never got any help to expose these hidden rooms in my brain. I used to come out of these episodes by myself. I was always spiritual. I would do yoga and meditation; I would go to retreats. Something about the nature of these would shift me out of this dark blackness. But there were times I was not able to. With the help of other 12 step groups and then finally with Grow, I was able to identify and open those closed doors in my head. With their recovery program, I became functioning again; and after years spent being unable to work, I was finally able to get a job in a DIY shop. It was an unbelievable achievement for me at the time. My confidence lifted and I was able to get a job as a Community Mental Health worker. Using my own experiences and the coping mechanisms, I learnt to help people suffering from similar mental health issues.”

This piece has been highlighted by Grow Mental Health, through funding provided by ‘The Healthy Ireland Fund supported by the Department of Health and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth”