So where do I start, the present, the beginning or the journey? I have never shared my story before now. I have never laid my life on public display for all to read, criticise or comment on.
I am in a stable place now, however I still have my days/weeks where I have doubts. Why are people getting in touch with me? What is their agenda? What do they want from me? Is it weakness? Why me?
I am a father, a partner, a protector! I stand up for the vulnerable and wronged in society. I have a sense of pride that is second to none. I was physically fit, there was nothing I could not accomplish. I worked hard throughout life to provide for my family, to make them proud. To ensure they did not have to go through life wanting for anything. I wanted to be able to provide a lifestyle that I was not afforded as a child. My parents worked hard, they had low paid employment and strived to afford me every opportunity they could in life.
I gained employment in a job which was well respected, I had secured a well-paid job, one that would be for life. I had comfort that my children would not have to go without clothing, shoes or food. They would be able to take part in any sporting activity, go to all the school activities offered without deliberation on affordability.
In the blink of an eye, I am in hospital after suffering a serious accident. The specialists tells me I will never walk properly again, my injury is so extensive, I won’t be able to return to work.
In an instant my life was turned upside down. How would I provide for my kids, how would I put food on the table, how would I pay the mortgage?
In the weeks after being discharged from hospital, I was angry with the world, the slightest thing that didn’t go right would set me off. My partner wanted me to go to the doctor, in my mind there was nothing wrong with me.
I couldn’t face getting out of bed, not even to engage with my children, I lost my motivation for life. I could never allow anyone to see the impact on me. As my illness to hold, I could not allow the world to see “my weakness”, I had to hide it.
First Steps to Recovery
After 2 years, I went to the GP surgery, within seconds of speaking to the GP, I broke down. In my mind “I was a failure”.
I had let everyone down. Hopelessness was present, in abundance. Shame of not being able to provide for my children. Shame of disappointing my family. Shame of not being able to return to work. I was a manager at work, I had people at work who depended on me. I had let them down.
I was given medication which to my mind compounded my feeling of being a failure. My GP suggested counselling, I was horrified. That is for people that are unwell, and I did not realise that was me – unwell. I was mortified.
My first session I was adamant I would not talk, they would not make me – No way, No how!
I was doing this to appease my partner, my family, my GP. I was in denial as I walked through the door. After my first session, I was convinced the counsellor had special relational powers, she managed to get me to open up, tell her my fears, why I felt a failure. When I think back, I don’t think she said any more than a few words throughout. I left that session with the weight of the world being lifted off my shoulders. I had just opened up to a stranger on my biggest fears, laid my shame out for her to see and she did not judge me. This gave me confidence to go back.
I completed my allocated sessions, and although I still had a long way to go, I was on a path to recovery. I had confidence to seek further support.
I went through 8 months of counselling which included CBT.
I survived! It did not kill me.
Trauma was something that was a technical term I had heard on the TV program Casualty. I was ignorant to what it really meant. It would never be something that would affect me.
During my recovery, I learned that my injury, which was caused by an accident, was my Trauma. This was just the beginning. The months of darkness that followed were horrific, I reflect now and still cannot believe I came through the other side. It was not a walk in the park, (easy to say now when the prognosis was not walking again) and there were many days where I just wanted to give up, lie down and let life take over. The void in life was filled with hopelessness.
I had to learn a way to reduce hopelessness, and replace it with positive focus, to prevent hopelessness returning.
I returned to work after 12 months, and still had a significant journey to go to gain full physical fitness. It took 2 years to seek help for the invisible injury. The one that everyone is scared to talk about. The Trauma.
The damage was done, albeit my smile returned, I was back at work, people did not see the mental scars that were left. I would hide them all day, and as soon as I would get home I was able to reveal the real me. I didn’t have to keep my public face on display. I would breakdown. It was horrific. It was exhausting.
I have a diagnosis of Depression and Anxiety. I am well today. I am medicated and my illness is under control. I am able to identify changes in my mood before my conditions become debilitating. I have come to terms with my illness. My illness will not define me.
As a result of my experience, I have been fortunate to be able to support many, many people, who have experienced Trauma, their own version of hopelessness. Their own versions of shame. I have the absolute privilege in being able to listen, hear their story, supporting them to seek their path out of hopelessness.
I don’t do the work I am doing for the glory; I don’t do it to elevate my career, I do it because it is the right thing, and I am privileged to work with people who can make a difference.
Trauma impacts everyone differently, never be ashamed as to how it impacts you, Trauma does not play by the rules and there is no set guidance. The most important thing I learned is – you never know what pain people are carrying, and we should never judge another human – be kind
Epione wants to personally thank this courageous person for sharing their story for the first time and respect their need for anonymity. This share illustrates how single incident trauma can occur at any time throughout the life course. Speaking out when everything in your being is saying you should stay quiet takes immense courage and so the anonymous person has our full respect and admiration!
If you would like to collaborate with us and share how you have overcome trauma and how you have been recovering, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org – We look forward to hearing from and seeing you in 2021!