Am I Broken?

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“And then I felt sad because I realised that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.” Douglas Coupland

The USA Surgeon General states under the category of mental health:

… severe and repeated trauma during youth may have enduring effects upon both neurobiological and psychological development altering stress responsivity and altering adult behaviour patterns … these individuals experience a greatly increased risk of mood, anxiety and personality disorders throughout adult life.

On Tuesday nights I have a telephone consultation with my psychotherapist and last night this was the question I asked her. “Am I broken? Can you ever mend me? It’s just too hard”. She patiently took me through the complexities of Complex PTSD and the ‘see saw nature of the condition and how it is one step forward, two steps back. Chronic suicidality is a very complicated condition to treat as it has so many triggers normal life is dangerous in itself. It is a minefield just negotiating a standard day never mind a day when depression or trauma is present. She is so infinitely patient with me and never seems to tire of explaining the impact of sexual abuse and resulting Complex PTSD.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder describes the long-term effects of severe, prolonged or repeated trauma, particularly due to child abuse or domestic violence. This has a wide range of effects on personality, identity, memory, mood change and emotional regulation.

  • an inability to control the emotions
  • periods of losing concentration (dissociation)
  • blanking out or losing memories
  • difficulties with a sense of identity or body image
  • physical symptoms that can’t be explained medically, such as headaches, stomach aches, dizziness and chest pains
  • disturbed relationships and cutting oneself off from other people
  • an inability to trust others
  • being vulnerable to abuse or exploitation
  • self-harm, suicide attempts and substance abuse
  • feeling ashamed or guilty
  • difficulty controlling emotions

My biggest struggle is coping with the chronic suicide attempts and the toll this takes on my family. It results in repeated clinic and ICU admissions. My family is so supportive. I marvel at their resilience particularly given our youngest is high functioning autistic. My partner is a tower of strength and keeps the ship moving forward.  With such love and such amazing professional psychiatric support I should be able to be healed but somehow sexual abuse breaks something inside you that cannot be ‘fixed’. The abuser ‘breaks’ some part of your personality and persona. They crush something invisible that I just do not seem to be able to heal. I think it is the destroying of your innocence at such a young age, your trust in those your place faith in, those who have care of you. In my case my parents. Once the love of a child’s parents has been destroyed a piece of the child dies with it. My psychotherapist firmly assures me that she can heal that ‘broken piece’. I want to believe her so I continue to see her. She is my lifeline despite my suicide attempts. So the question remains. Am I ‘broken’?

8 comments

  1. I can feel the pain and anguish in your question as I ask myself the same thing every day. God bless you for the courage and strength you have to share your story! You are a warrior and a true inspiration!

    • Hi Clara sorry that you too have to go through that process. It’s a tough question isn’t it? Thank you for your kind comments. I truly appreciate them. I hope sharing my story will help others. All the best for the future. Erin

  2. thank you for sharing this. im sure you speak for many – because i know you speak for me. your therapist sounds truly amazing and healing. i hope she can fix your ‘broken’ – for it is only damage, not permanently broken (or so i tell myself, too!). my own therapist just dropped me like a hot cake after a week where 3 days in a row i wanted to end my life. i didnt make an attempt, i just spoke about it. 3 nights in a row she sent the police after me because SHE was scare and didnt want it on her conscience. 2 nights i sent the cops away, saying i was fine. the third, i agreed to go in for an assessment. i was released because i wasnt planning on acting on it. then she dropped me after 2 yrs and the recentish C-PSTD and DID diagnosis. she was over it. sadly, im not. 🙁

    keep on keepin’ on, like they say. whoever ‘they’ is. i do believe in healing – it’s out there and you are on the right path.

    • HI Karrie sorry you had that kind of experience with your therapist after a two year relationship. That must have been very hard. Dealing with suicidality is tremendously difficult without your support network collapsing. She acted very unprofessionally. I am glad you believe in healing. I do too though some days it’s hard too!!!! All the best for your future. I am glad the article ‘spoke to you’ and may have helped in some small way. Erin

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences Erin. Your accounts and your articles have helped me immensely in my process… and yes you are so very right when you say something invisible breaks… part of the child dies each time the child is betrayed by any of the primary care-givers… each instance leaves a running wound…

    • Hi Zara, thank you for leaving such a positive comment. I am delighted that the blog has helped you in some way. I agree with you each time a child is betrayed a running wound is created. Hope you are healing well. All the best for the future. Erin

  4. I haven’t been reading blogs here in a while.
    Are you broken? Am I broken? Are we broken? I don’t know. I do know that you’re an inspiration.
    Thank you for sharing…

    • Hi Eliza thanks for leaving such a generous comment. I truly appreciate it. You ask all the right questions and I don’t have the answers !!!!! All the best for the future. Erin

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment. All feedback is much appreciated. Thank you. Erin