I started small…I did one thing a week that I couldn’t (wasn’t allowed to) do before, and build that up. I changed my hair, took the kids on holidays, went to the cinema, built up to seeing stand-up shows and learning to drive, took back a piece of life one step at a time…It will all add up along the way.
Educate yourself on these things – there are lots of tools out there. Until I was at the point of accepting what had happened to me, to stop protecting my abuser, I had never heard of gaslighting, emotional abuse, narcissists. Once you know them and the games they use, it helps you in realising that you are not to blame, and makes for great armour.
Finances: This still takes a lot for me…I have to remind myself that it’s my money, I am allowed to spend it. I can get the ….. without having to justify it, have an argument etc.
Triggers: I have a lot of trouble when it comes to sleeping somewhere different (holidays, caravan, that kind of thing). I either am anxious leading up to it, or like one night when my little boy had got into my bed after a nightmare and I didn’t know, I rolled over and there was this other person in my bed, I jumped out of bed so fast as in my mind at that moment I was on high alert for danger.
Don’t be surprised if the room that events happened in holds a lot of triggers for you…some hit you like a slap in the face, others take you a while to figure out. But once you identify them you take back a little control. You can either avoid triggers or you can take them and reshape them. Take back control – again, that is your choice.
Redecorating: If you have to stay in the same house events happened in – redecorate! Put your own mark on rooms. If you have trouble with beds or sleeping, I changed furniture (colour and placement), sold all old things and bought new, decorated the room, new bed etc. However, I still had trouble getting into bed. Make it up like they do in the shops – pillows, 1000 cushions, bonus blankets…when you see a display bed in a shop you always think how comfy it looks! Also, find a completely different style of bedding – after years of grey check I now have a paisley set and a yellow set. Like all things, it will take time, just be patient – one room at a time
What I wish someone had said…I say to you…
There is nothing to be ashamed of if you have to resort to medication to help with any mental health issues! You are not weak, you are not alone either. After being on and off antidepressants for the first year, I realised I needed help again recently, and it was the first time I didn’t feel ashamed when contacting the doctor.
You are not going to magically fit back into your old ‘normal’ life – you maybe haven’t known normal for a long time. You have to find a new normal and it’s better in a lot of ways.
There’s no manual, no easy fix. Be kind to yourself, be patient. It will take as much time as you need it to, but you will get there.
Service User 2019