Battle fatigue

Warning- This blog involves mentions domestic violence, depression, anxiety and suicide. Please avoid if you think you will be triggered. PLEASE talk to someone. 

Sometimes it's easier to write then reach out to someone (even if I'm shite at writing!).

I don't have to deal with the feelings of shame and inadequacy for offloading, or imposing my feelings on someone who doesn't want to be exposed to it. Everyone has their own capacities and I feel guilty and selfish about talking about what I am going through. Writing this blog helps me explore my emotions without burdening a friend. Anyone can choose to read as little or as much as they want. Win win for both of us!

I feel sad. 

You may or may not know my story, but to quickly recap: I experienced physical and emotional abusive whilst married aged 20-27.  At 27-28 I dealt with a  difficult divorce which included bullying and intimidation. 28-29 I developed depression and anxiety, this prompted me to start seeing a counsellor for the first time in my life. During the 2nd year of my PhD aged 30, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia. This tipped me over the edge (i.e. wishing I wasn't alive) and I reluctantly decided to go on antidepressants. I started sertraline and titrated up to 150mg. Within 4 ish months I started to feel more myself. I functioned better. Even though I had my moments (little flare ups of anxiety/low mood) I was doing well. 

At the age of 31 the feeling of loneliness got worse. I have many friends and told I am 'sociable and popular', when actually I've never felt so lonely. Everyone has their own lives, family and friends. I felt isolated but wanted to be alone at the same time . Whilst I know friends and family care for me they have their own priorities and responsibilities. I kept ruminating that no one, really understands what I'm going through. 

Recently, I noted that my emotional reserve was worsening. I was getting tearful at small things. I was crying at work and in front of my friends more often. I particularly got upset when insecurities amplified during triggers. I.e. at a social event with lots of couples ' I'm not in a relationship because I'm not good enough/attractive enough and because I'm divorced/have cerebral palsy/dyslexia/dyspraxia/depression/anxiety'. I mean, reading that out loud who would even go next to someone who is so negative about them self- even with a barge poll? Even I feel negative about my negativity .

At work it's 'all the consultants don't think I'm good enough, I'm too slow, don't have enough knowledge and I'm the incompetent doctor with cerebral palsy/dyslexia/dyspraxia/anxiety/depression that they annoyingly have to put up with'.

An incident happened. I can't go in to detail, but I can write about how I felt.

At the time I was  reminded of the time when I was married and the ex-husband would have hugely disproportionate angry/violent responses to minor issues. When this used to happen I would blame myself 'if only I didn't cause him to react like that, I should keep my thoughts/feelings to myself/walk away' and that's exactly what I felt with this incident. After this happened I was a bit shaken and struggled for the next few days. 

Someone suggested having a meeting to discuss and 'resolve' the incident. I was hesitant; I know I'm emotionally fragile and will most likely cry, I was also concerned this would be an opportunity to 'attack' me whilst I had to accept/grovel. It reminded me of a an event that happened shortly after I left the ex.

When I separated from the ex, his father started making false claims about myself to my father and others. My dad took this personally and insisted I went round to stand up for myself. Even though I didn't want to, I felt pressured and reluctantly went.

However, no one from my family could attend to support me and I was subjected to bullying and abuse. I'm not going to go into detail but it included comments such as "if you think I've treated you like shit, watch how I treat you like shit now and shit in the future". When I had enough, whilst crying I said "I don't need to listen to this" and tried to leave. As I got to the door I was pulled back aggressively and told to sit down and 'finish this'. I sat and listened to the rest of what had to be said.

Writing/talking to a friend about what happened doesn't really convey how traumatic I found the experience. I still have 'flash backs' and feelings of disbelief about what happened. I find it stupid- rationally- it wasn't a big thing. Just a few insults and shoves. It's not like someone beat the shit out of me or that I am living in a war zone. I sometimes treat children who are Syrian refugees with cancer. Can you even imagine what it's like to live in a war zone? and have cancer? Here I am having a moment over some silly incident which happened 3 years ago. Pathetic.

Anyway, I thought I should try be mature about this, and that I can't use my personal issues as an 'excuse' to avoid these situations, which everyone has at some point in their life. I did communicate that I am currently 'emotionally fragile' and likely to get upset. I reasoned giving a heads up will hopefully make them less exasperated when I have the melt down. After agreeing, I started feeling anxious. I was nervous, I felt like I was running on adrenaline and was struggling to sleep. Exercising temporarily blocked the anxiety but it quickly came back, even after speaking with friends. 

I had the meeting. Naturally, I had a melt down. It triggered another memory. This particular event is probably one of the most upsetting thing to recall. I don't really know why this episode affected me so much. Relative to other incidents it was a 'minor' thing to experience. One of my friend thinks it bothers me so much because a third party was actually privy to his actions. 

At the start I only disclosed to select few about the abuse, but towards the end of the marriage I disclosed what was happening to some close friends. They were perfect, sympathetic and supportive. Although they wanted me to leave they said they'd support me irrespective of any decision I made.

At this point I was desperate to leave the marriage but again my dad put pressure on me to give it one last chance 'divorce is the worst halal in islam, you need to do everything you can to salvage it'. I reluctantly agreed as I wanted to please my dad but I really didn't want to stay married to him anymore.

Some time after this I had a WhatsApp conversation with my friends. They asked how things were in the marriage. I responded saying it was fine (I felt uncomfortable talking about what was happening). One of my friends replied something along the lines of "he is still an arse".

A few weeks after, I went to sleep after a night shift (when I was working as an SHO in paediatric oncology) . I woke up to loud banging of doors, shouting and swearing. He was very angry. I asked him why he was so angry. At first he refused to say but then he came out with it. He had unlocked my phone (guessed my pin) and went through my messages. He read the conversation with this '%$$£^&&** ^%$$^&**^%^$$^" friend "who the duck is she to talk about me, how dare she etc". He said he was going to message her and give her his piece of mind. I said if he did the marriage was 150% over, "fine you're not to speak to her'. Again I repeated the same thing. Finally he said "well ok I don't ever want you to mention her in front of me". That suited me fine and I agreed. There was no way I was going to lose her for him.

The last argument happened. We were sat on the couch. He started swearing and began kicking me. I told him that's it, the marriage is over and to leave. He left.

I was starting a taster week in a lab the next day and was a bit stressed that this crappie episode happened the night before. Apart from contacting my dad (I had recorded some of the argument and sent it) to tell him that I'm done, I didn't contact anyone else. I just wanted to focus on the coming week. I was shadowing a team under a big professor and wanted to make a good impression. I turned up, put on a brave face like nothing had happened. There were strict rules about carrying phones so I had left it in my bag whilst I shadowed one of the postdocs.

When I checked my phone at lunch time I had 17 miss calls from my friend, voice mails, messages asking if I was ok and to call ASAP. I replied saying I didn't have my phone on me and that I'm fine but that the marriage was over. She said she figured- she sent a screen shot of a message he sent to her. I'm not going to repeat it out of respect to my friend but it was honestly one of the most vile messages I've ever read. I felt awful, upset on her behalf and embarrassed. Firstly, that I had chosen to marry someone who could actually behave like this. Secondly, what a horrible thing for my lovely friend to be exposed to. I felt guilty, ashamed that she had been verbally attacked and dragged into my mess. She was wow, amazing and a perfect friend (still is!). She said she didn't care about his behaviour but she was worried for my safety and that she wasn't even bothered about what he said {FYI want to insert a heart emoji here}.

As part of the separation process my dad (yet again) made me go to another family meeting 'for the sake of Allah'. I made it clear I wouldn't go back to the marriage, but my dad put pressure on me I agreed to the meeting.

There was a mediator from his side, and my dad attended from my side. One of the things that came up was how outrageous it was that my friend disrespected the ex and that 'she is a bad influence'. Everyone kept mentioning how rude she was.

Neither the ex/ anyone else apologised/acknowledged how he had violated my privacy, or how he was aggressive and abusive to myself and my friend. They said they understood why he reacted that way. Bearing in mind he sent my friend the abuse 6 weeks (ish) after he read the message. I was shocked  how someone could hold so much anger for so long. But I can't even point all my distress at his family.

Even my dad said he understood their grievances and that a friend should never speak so disrespectfully about a husband, irrespective of problems going on. He wasn't particularly bothered that the ex went into my phone, read through multiple messages, deep into this particular conversation with my friends,  verbally abused me and my friend. "Even if it is a private conversation it shouldn't be said. it is a pride issue for a man".

I felt helpless, bullied and attacked. I felt outraged. How could people (including my own dad) think this behaviour is acceptable? I still get upset thinking about it especially that my friend was exposed to it.

Anyway, this is history and I thought it was a chapter that was closed.

I walked out the recent meeting feeling battered. It brought up this memory and feelings associated with it. It triggered both my depression and anxiety. I felt alone and overwhelmed (still do). Every time I think about the memory and this recent meeting I become upset and I can't really control it. It's daft. Really this meeting shouldn't have triggered such a disproportionate response. Rationally I know I'm being stupid/ sensitive but I can't stop feeling this way. Again, old feelings of regret resurfaced- why did I stay in the marriage for so long?, am I to blame? did things really happen? is my mind playing tricks?

I love my dad dearly and enjoy my time with him but I still hurt when I recall how he responded to the ex’s  abusive behaviour. I don't know why this still hurts after so long. I just need to close that door completely. I know he feels guilty about it. He's been DIY-ing my flat like crazy recently and I think its his way of trying to fix things. He made a recent comment "Hadooli we neglected you. We were too busy focusing on our own problems to realise you needed help". On one hand it broke my heart to hear him say this and on the other hand I still feel so sad and hurt that I didn't have the support when I truly needed it. I remember saying to him after one particular episode when he was encouraging me to give the ex the benefit of doubt (my dad does always see the best in people) "you won't take this seriously unless I'm in intensive care with a serious head injury" and he replied saying I was being  'dramatic' (Arabic equivalent).

As I've been through this before I know what to expect. I know it's the depression/anxiety speaking rather than me. It's easier to sit with and I know it will fade. It doesn't make me feel any better but I can at least reassure myself that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am blessed; I have insight into my depression and anxiety. It helps me manage myself and I know how to deal with it.

However, It is the first time I've wondered whether I have an element of post traumatic stress disorder (an anxiety disorder by default). I don't have nightmares and I rarely get angry. But, I am very sensitive to anger and excessively emotionally fragile. From time to time I do 're-live' incidents. I’m getting upset thinking about it whilst writing this blog.

Irrespective of the underlying 'diagnosis' I still have to work at bettering myself so the exact diagnosis doesn't make a difference in the grand

scheme of things.

I thought long and hard about writing this blog. Part of me is scared. What if the ex/his family come across this. I have described events in detail. Naturally there is always two sides to a story and I'm explaining my side. I'm sure I would be called a liar/crazy etc. Other people may feel that these things are in the past and should be kept private. A silly part of me thinks I will be judged for having mental health struggles and no guy would ever want a relationship with me.

However, I am entitled to write what I want and I can't let my past scare me. I'm amazed and surprised at the number of people (both guys and girls) who have messaged words of love, support and encouragement. I am genuinely overwhelmed especially by the amount of people who have contacted me following my most recent Instagram post. People I knew in childhood, acquaintances, strangers, friends and family. People have actually messaged saying that my blog helps them.

Even though everything seems a bit black right now, all the kind words are comforting. I know life will get more better and you’re helping me . Thank you xx