I am Broken Doll, I was born in July sometime in the early sixties the youngest of 5 children in Sydney Australia. My family was middle class, my father a blue collar worker. Life wasn’t full of privilege or fulfilled dreams. It wasn’t full of hugs and kisses and I love you’s from Mum and Dad. Sadly, my most vivid memories of my childhood are those of my mother screaming at me, belting me with her hand or whatever object was close by. And Fear… never fear of dad, he was rarely there, but never trust in him either as he did nothing to protect me.
As I grew and reached my teenage years for the most part I laid low. Being the youngest I had the advantage of seeing my older siblings get caught doing things and learnt how to avoid those traps for the most part.I spent my years seeking love, but having no concept of what it was. I did the usual things for a young person in the seventies. I experimented with sex and drugs, I partied and went to clubs. I drank to excess.
At 21 I married and without realising it I married a man who wasn’t my father but my mother and more so. Not only was the violence a constant threat, but in addition there was the control of every part of my life, what I did where I went who I saw. Then there was the insults, I was stupid, I was fat, I was ugly, I was useless, No one would ever want me, I would end up in the gutter where I belonged. For years I lived in this world of pain control and degradation. I believed it all.. I was worthless ugly useless stupid. I deserved to be hit. I mean I must deserve it right? But I didn’t see that side of him until 8 months into the marriage, I was 6 months pregnant and he hit me for the first time. The next day was apologies and promises of never again and even a lovely piece of jewellery to express his sorrow. I believed him, over the years I collected many beautiful pieces of jewellery, diamonds rubies emeralds sapphires each one representing a violent attack. Each one holding my pain.
During this time I was involved in a situation that may or may not have begun my down slide, While sitting in a Real Estate office with my sister, who was at the time trying to sell her house. We were in one of the offices but windows allowed for a clear view and as the discussion at hand had no interest for me I was looking about taking in things around me. I watched as a man entered the front door, my first thought was “How strange, why is he wearing a balaclava?” At this point I saw what I later discovered was a sawn off shotgun in his hand, pointed at the young girl behind the counter. At the same time the Realtor we were with saw what was happening and told us not to panic, not to move to stay calm and quiet. I watched in my peripheral vision as the young receptionist got up from her chair and began walking our way. I then heard a voice to my left in the doorway. It was kind of muffled but had a sound of desperation to it.
“I want all the cash”
I turned my head and all my eyes could focus on was those two dark holes at the end of the barrels. My mind began racing, I don’t believe in god,I didn’t pray I just wanted to die with the faces of my two beautiful children in my mind. I truly believed in that moment, I was going to die. the realtor handed over the cash and the gun the man was gone. Then came the police the statements and going home to hold my children.
It was a couple of weeks later, I began to realise that I feared leaving the house. That when I did go to the supermarket or to pick the kids up from school or anywhere else I felt like I needed to watch everyone. I didn’t feel safe. I saw my doctor who referred me to a counsellor for PTSD. After a number of months and sessions it was getting near to Christmas and in our final session he said to me “So tell me your best memory of Christmas when you were young” I think he was trying to help me focus again on the good things in life. This question stopped me in my tracks, I looked at him and said ” I have no memory of “best” Christmases. I have snatches of moments. that were good, but never a whole Christmas” So he let the subject drop… but to this day.. it remains in my mind.
I had two beautiful intelligent wonderful loving children, whom I tried to shield from the truth of what was happening in their home. I hid my pain from them, and I thought I had done so well. I lived for my children, literally….. even then the thoughts of suicide entered my head on a regular basis but my one sane thought was “do I want my children to live with the pain of my suicide for the rest of their lives…. and the answer was a resounding NO!” The marriage was dead, I asked, begged even for him to leave. He refused, for 2 years he refused. Finally I could take no more and with no job nowhere to live and $2000 to my name I left. I left with the agreement that when I had somewhere to live and was settled the children would come and live with me. I moved to Queensland to start over had a job a nice place to live ……
Surprise, surprise….. He Lied.
I tried to fight to gain custody of my children but in the end the pain that it was causing them was something I couldn’t justify so I had to let them go. I called daily and talked to them both… after about six months most days my son would tell me my daughter wasn’t there even though I could hear her voice in the background. Eventually he only answered once a week, then stopped altogether. I visited as often as my limited budget would allow. But I cried myself to sleep most nights for a long time.
I was now in a new relationship, one that while not as damaging or abusive as the last still had its issues. Finally after 10 years and discovering yet another infidelity the relationship ended, but because of the financial position we were both in we remained sharing a house. The first year was rather rough… for him more so than me, as each time he would ask me to help with something or do something for him, I would remind him of the pain and hurt he had caused me and let him know he no longer was entitled to anything from me.
During this time two other things happened, my relationship with my daughter bloomed. She is a beautiful caring loving soul and I so wish we lived closer as I would love to be more a part of her life. The second being my relationship with my son declined into a phone call at Christmas a call to him on his birthday and sometimes (if I am lucky) a call on mother’s day or my birthday.
Things deteriorated, slowly, almost at an imperceptible rate. My work situation had become a nightmare. I had a supervisor who, not only micro managed me, and only me, but who had no comprehension of the nature of depression, I was taken aside and told I needed to smile more because I was bringing everyone down. For me, it was merely an achievement to get out of bed and make it to work and there were days, many of them I couldn’t do that. When I got there all I wanted to do was bury my head in my work and not have to deal with anything else. I could lose those horrible thoughts in the back of my head for a few hours.
Things got better, for a few months I became part of a team traveling about the state training other staff.. I love to teach, and I am good at it. Life seemed to be getting a lot better. My best friend and I hung out together, lunches, getting our nails done our hair done, we had a weekend break which was wonderful..
……then that black hole appeared again.
Probably not quite accurate because it never really went away .. it never does ..it’s just sometimes I get far enough ahead of it to feel good about myself. We all have our names for IT… The black hole… the black dog… the dark tunnel. Anyway, I was thrown back into my old workplace, I was desperate to escape, I knew each day that black hole was moving closer and closer. then it began surrounding me. I begged for help, I talked to management, human resources, my doctor, the work psychologist. I applied for other jobs … but the hole was engulfing me and I fought and fought to keep my head above it….
In April 2011 I woke one morning, got out of bed, made my coffee and began my daily routine. I was feeling a little strange not sure what it was so on I went with my routine…..by the time I finished my shower.. I was in tears, uncontrollable, inexplicable tears. I sat on my bed wrapped in my towel eyes closed focussing on stopping the crying. After 15 minutes it had eased and so I did my hair got dressed and sat down once more to put my shoes on. At this point I shattered. to put my shoes on was the final step before going to work and I couldn’t do it.. my whole body began to tremble, I was physically ill, throwing up until I was simply dry retching and this time it wasn’t just tears, I was sobbing… I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t bring myself to go back there. I felt like I was going to die. My heart was pounding so hard in my chest I thought it would fly out. It felt like I was no longer in my body but a spectator watching this woman fall apart.
I called in that day and said I was taking stress leave that I would let them know where things stood. Always… even in the midst of a major situation in my life there is a part of my brain, a logical analytical part that watches that takes over and deals with the things that need to be done. Sometimes I feel like its my mother brain, making sure the child is ok, dealing with the logical stuff so the emotional child doesn’t have to. Doctor’s, psychologists cognitive behaviour therapy drugs… nothing could get me back to that workplace. Even the sight of a police vehicle would make the trembling commence (My workplace was at the police academy as a civilian staff member). I tried each day to drive to the academy, only going to the point where my anxiety would reach around a level 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. There I would sit using breathing techniques and visualisations to reduce my anxiety. Over 8 months I managed to reach a spot 100 metres from the gate, but could go no further.
Eventually in February 2012 I received a redundancy package which gave me the ability to travel. Even at this point leaving home was not without difficulty but with Xanax close to hand I boarded a plane for the United States to meet My best friend online Marlene in LA. We visited Vegas for a weekend and had an amazing time, I felt safe with Marlene and my anxiety levels were low. Then I travelled to North Carolina to meet Dan. I can say that without exception, Dan is the most wonderful, caring, kind and generous man I have ever met. We met online over a year before this and part of my reason for wanting to meet him face to face was to determine if the feelings I have for him are real. All I can say is hell yes! To this day we have never really discussed our real feelings but I guess once he reads this he will know. He has my heart. I know and accept that our internet relationship may be all I will ever have …. I will take it .. because this man is my rock. The sound of his voice can calm me. He treats me with respect, he talks to me not at me. He listens, he advises, but most of all… he accepts me for who and what I am without judgement. I don’t ever want to lose him from my life. I spent two weeks in North Carolina – overall a little over 3 weeks in the US. During that time the ONLY time I felt any anxiety was when spending a day getting around LA on my own. That city scares me.
I returned home and began applying for jobs, but without success. Slowly bit by bit I again began the backward slide, but at least each day I had a little time talking with Dan to look forward to. Back into routine and effexor at 75mg was no longer cutting it… so.. up to 150mg xanax once a day to take the edge off the anxiety. I don’t know how or why but from April 2012 to February 2013 the slide has continued. I am now incapable of leaving my home without medication, and if I need to go somewhere I have never been before even the effectiveness of the medication is not so good. I do not answer the phone, because I don’t know who is calling (unless someone has said they will call). I do answer my mobile because it is a new number and I know who has it and I feel safe. I wont answer the front door unless I am expecting someone. I try to find ways to cope with my mental issues, to work within their confines and to use various methods to keep myself under control.
I am a broken doll … I have mental illness issues, these are a part of me at this point in my life and some I believe will always be part of me. I believe while some of the causes may be genetic others have been environmental. They are part of my past and cannot be erased. you cannot remove my past this has made me who I am today and I do like parts of me.
Where does the broken doll come from… this is my image of my mental self. An antique porcelain doll once played with and maybe loved somewhat, but eventually tossed aside in a corner of the attic cracked in places, bits broken off but still there, moth eaten clothes, dirty uncared for but …. with a little love and work she could become something special and loved and wanted. This blog is intended to be a journal of my ups and downs. My successes and failures in my journey to work on the parts of this illness that can be improved and to absorb, accept and integrate as part of me the bits that will never leave me. My journey to become whole again.
Here we are in the year 2013,
• I still share a house with my ex … he has become one of my best friends and I know that he is there for me in a way so many others aren’t.
• My Family (parents and siblings) have ceased to be part of my life, their choice not mine.
• My Son married in November but I was not invited to the wedding nor have I been given the opportunity to spend time with my daughter -in-law and get to know her. But I love him and I love her because he loves her. I am always here for them.
• My daughter is still a bubbly bright beautiful loving soul and the light in my very dark place. I love her . Her sense of humour is amazing and I love seeing her happy with her wonderful partner.
• Dan is a very special part of my life. The smile in my day
• As my mental illness symptoms worsened the few friends I had have distanced themselves to the point where I don’t see or hear from them.
• I have been on anti-depressants for around 6 years on and off and anti-anxiety medication for over 18 months now.
• I am Broken
• I am Tired
• I am Lonely
• I know all the parts are there I just don’t know how to fit them back together.
• On Thursday the 14th of February 2013 I began a new regime of medication. I hope this one works….
Please understand, I am not a professional writer, I am not a doctor psychiatrist or psychologist. I am simply a person who lives everyday with mental illness. This journal began as a way of keeping track of all those things that I experience and feel in a day that are not what “normal” people experience, in order for my Doctors to better assist me and see the results of my new and additional or future medications. It began as a handwritten journal very basic facts, from there the vision of the Broken Doll and this blog. A home for all the Broken Dolls in the world a place with no judgement. A place of understanding of sharing and of helping others just like you and I to make it through each day as a person who lives with mental illness.