Visitor Anne Halpin talks frankly and honestly about her experiences and what has helped her as she reaches a landmark.
Content warning: sexual abuse, trauma, suicide
I recently turned thirty.
I’d like to start with my childhood. I was physically abused by my mum as a child and I was sexually abused by my neighbour for three years. I first started having suicidal thoughts when I was ten years old and I’ve come so close so many times to ending my life. As an adult the abuse still has a massive impact on my life as I really struggle to make friends or to have a relationship, I’ve got no self-compassion, I always feel worthless, I’m always critical of myself, and I really struggle to be able to get out of bed because I just want to sleep my life away. I’ve got no adult family or relatives as they’ve all passed away.
But I recently turned thirty. I never thought I’d live to see this age.
The groups at Dial House help me to feel safe and help to distract my mind. I started coming to the groups a few years ago but it took me a long time to come to them as I had in the past been banned for struggling with my personal hygiene. This is something I’ve improved on as I certainly don’t want to offend offers and, although I do still struggle a lot, I’m in a much better place than I was. I’m not going weeks on end without showering or wearing the same clothes and I’m trying not to worry about it as much. Even though I occasionally think it might be an issue for people, it’s something I feel like I’m in a OK place with in general.
I have anxiety, severe depression and complex post traumatic stress disorder. Sometimes getting a shower is hard as this is something that can sometimes bring on flashbacks because the person who abused me as a child always used to make me take a shower afterwards. However, I can take showers now without them triggering as many flashbacks or panic attacks. I feel like peer support has helped me, and a lot all the staff at Dial House and the Well Bean Café are really nice – they’re the only two places that I’ve ever felt safe. There’s one member of staff that used to work regular nights at the Well Bean Café who made me laugh so much when he showed me laughter yoga on his phone once in support and when I watch it on my phone it reminds me of that time; and when I say cookies that makes me laugh and I always remember the many times over the last two years that he’s made me laugh. Recalling those times always make me laugh.
But there’s something that I really like about myself: my personality.
I think for me personally peer support has helped so much. I’m currently going to counselling to work through my past trauma and I feel like I’m talking a lot more about my past abuse. I am very critical about myself over a lot of things, I sometimes struggle with money on weeks when I’m struggling more with my depression. But there’s something that I really like about myself: my personality. I’m a really nice, kind, warm-hearted, lovely person, I think I’ve got a really nice laugh and smile it’s so nice to see other people happy. It’s really nice to hear lovely comments about my personality. I wouldn’t want to change anything about my personality it’s something that I really like.