Before my Complex PTSD and Trauma was triggered watching Leigh Sales interview Cardinal George Pell on the 7.30 Report on the Royal Commission in 2012 where he said “the Catholic Church wasn’t the only cab off the rank with child abuse !”, I had a fulfilled life, was happy working in our own business with four happy children, two at University, one doing the HSC, one in the first year of high school and in a very happy marriage. Life was good and with those words, my world came crumbling down and I descended into oblivion. My life as I knew it was snatched from me and it is only the love and strength of my marriage that has remained. Friends bar one have not coped. They have gradually fallen by the wayside one by one. It’s tragic, sad and a sad indictment on the understanding of mental illness in our society. The SANE Organisation conducted a surveyed which concluded “Having a mental illness can make it harder to maintain relationships for a variety of reasons. Stigma and misunderstanding in the community about mental illness can mean people are reluctant to engage with those affected. The minute someone knows you have a mental illness, you are treated differently”. SANE
It hurts really badly that friends you have supported through thick and thin cannot support you. Cannot visit you in the clinic, visit you at home. Accept that, yes, you have tried to commit suicide but it does not mean you do not love your family any less. Why can they not educate themselves about your illness like you did about their breast cancer? Why can they not drive you to a psychiatrist appointment like you drove them to a chemotherapy appointment? Cannot do coffee this week? Suddenly it has been five weeks. Then you realise you have not seen them for five months. Dinner party invitations reduce and are then not non-existent. The phone stops ringing. Has stopped. Except for one loyal beautiful friend who has not given us up and stays in touch all the time and we have wonderful normal time with her and is invaluable to our family. We need the support but we also need the normalcy of her life and want to know what is happening for her, her husband and children. We cherish that. So if you have a friend going through mental illness involve her/him in your life. It is the best support you can give. Do not be afraid of their illness. It is not contagious !!!
Yesterday was yet another reminder of the stigma of mental health in our family. My husband’s family could not cope with my Complex PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder. Unfortunately, with those disorders for me come self-harm and suicide attempts so as you can understand my children and husband need support and his family have provided none instead blaming me for my condition believing I am selfish. They are of the conviction that I am to blame for what has happened to me and my condition. They have provided no understanding even though Complex PTSD and DID has been explained to them and the fact that I was abused as a child.
Yet another Christmas passed without hearing from them or seeing them. We have given up trying to contact them. It is futile. The ball is in their court. It wasn’t doing us any good only harm, hurting my husband each time he had contact with his sister when he realised how little understanding she had of our situation. It cut deeply that she could not offer kindness to our children. We are reminded of this every Christmas and can’t escape it as Christmas is so much about family and togetherness.