Sat looking at the screen, tears streaming down your face as another torrent of abuse is hurtled towards you. Perhaps this time it’s in person and you’re sat there wishing this wasn’t happening again or that you were anywhere or anyone else. The worst things you think about yourself confirmed in a way, as they’re hurtled at you through snarls, shouts and jeers. You’re fat. No one will ever love you. Nothing you do is good enough. You make me like this. Sort your life out. Why are you such a failure? Slut. Idiot. You’re nothing. Nothing. NOTHING. If this was happening to someone you knew on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis, what would you do? Would you tell them to run? Get out? That this kind of abuse isn’t deserved or okay on any level? Yeah me too. Thing is, what are you meant to do if you can’t? If the person saying and doing these things is your mother, father, sister, brother or even your child? What if, thanks to mental illness, this is your life. On the receiving end.
It sounds like an awful way to put it but I can think of no other way to say that mental health and well being is currently bang on trend. It’s been around a long time but it is only in recent years that it’s actually being acknowledged in all it’s glory. There is still a huge stigma around it and a lot of people still don’t want to admit they’re suffering with mental health problems be it PND, anxiety, depression, bipolar or any of the other illnesses. However, that’s just what they are, illnesses. Just like arthritis, chicken pox, cystic fibrosis and every other physical illness. The only difference is, these are mental.
Those not in the know think people should just “pull themselves together,” “man-up” or “snap out of it” and funnily enough if people with mental health problems could do all of those things, believe it or not, they would. It’s just not that simple. But I am not here to talk about mental health really. I’m talking about being on the receiving end of it. Several people in my family suffer with various mental health illnesses and it’s hard. Obviously it is hard for them but I think the people living with people who have mental health issues often get forgotten.
Several members of my family, myself included, have had to stand or read a screen with a torrent of abuse being flung at them. Abuse we don’t deserve. We haven’t done anything. All we have done is woken up that morning and gotten in the way of the laser beam that mental health holds inside the person it effects.
It is never okay having to deal with this abuse but at the beginning it is easier. At the beginning it is easier to say, “It’s not okay but I UNDERSTAND why you said it and that you weren’t in control.” You can even, rather begrudgingly, accept the fact that you don’t get an apology and that it’s just swept under the carpet and life carries on as normal. In some cases, if you’re like me, you over compensate trying to make them like or love you even more by doing all you can and helping them above and beyond with time, love and gifts.
Years down the line though and it becomes less easy to be understanding. Sitting here and writing that it seems a little ridiculous because obviously they are not cured, their illness is still the same as it would be if it was a physical chronic condition but the trouble is something else has changed and that is you. Years and years of abuse being hurtled at you and the occasional threat of physical abuse takes it’s toll and you become less understanding.
You don’t mean to but it’s hard not to take things personally. Being told that you’re a slut and that your child will always be “a bast**d” child or that no-one will love you or that your life is a mess and you are literally worth nothing takes it’s toll. The tears grow bigger and the hole in your heart grows too. In fact it gets to the point where you simply want to say enough is enough, I’m done and walk away. But how can you? How can you walk away when deep inside you know it’s not the real them, even though it’s the only them you see 90% of the time.
For some unknown reason, for one person I am the reason that everything is wrong in their life. They will still ask for help in every aspect but they won’t thank me. They often won’t even acknowledge me. So do I keep on going? Do I keep on rolling over and just taking it? I’m not sure there is an option to walk away – especially when by doing so this would cause a rift within a family dynamic and have a negative impact on others who get the abusive torrents too.
I thought about it and there is respite for families who have to live with someone who has a physical illness but where is the help, support and respite for those who often on a daily basis have to deal with abuse that if it was done by anyone other than a mental health sufferer would be deemed heinous and unacceptable? There is the odd support group dotted around the country but it’s not enough. Will it ever be enough? I sit and watch the people I love in tears or confused or hurt and it’s hard. It’s really hard.
I understand that the country has money issues (cheers government) and that our NHS is stretched to it’s limits already but having watched people I know try and get help for their mental health problems, I know how hard it is to make it through the system. What’s worse is that it seems once you’ve run your course of 6/8/12 weeks of therapy you’re then “set-free,” to cycle back down into the mental health pit you briefly crawled out of and to take it all out on those around you. Something needs to be done. I don’t know what, but something because we shouldn’t have to live like this.
Mental health isn’t a joke and neither is being on the receiving end.