Where do I start

I have these pages to fill but where do I start? I carry with me a truck load of luggage and believe me when I say at 40 years of age I don’t travel light. When I think back to when I started to question, sometimes I wish I had just left things alone. It was easier to live in ignorance hence the phrase “Ignorance is bliss”. But that’s what happens when you are in survival, your brain buttons shut down in order for you to deal with the trauma you are facing. You may not even recognise you are in an abusive situation, I know I didn’t. My life didn’t make sense but I would have never in a million years equated my relationship as abuse by a narcissist. It’s only after the break up, the “beast” appeared in full view when the mask was dropped and this was what really caused me to break down. I didn’t recognise this person. My world collapsed. It’s still shattered and with shaky fingers. I keep picking pieces up only for some pieces to drop again because my hand is not steady. I feel like after 4 and a half years of separation and back and forth, I am still uncovering layers. To be fair, it’s only 4 months ago, the final goodbye happened and this time I didn’t even have to ask him to leave. He knew I was done. My energy was different. It’s taken the Divine himself to reveal reality and this was started from a chain reaction of me speaking into existence. My life in 2011 was chaotic and on a downward spiral. I got married to the “man of my dreams” in 2010. We had 3 children, one was my daughter and he moved in to be a family in 2006. We never made sense but I was still living this fantasy that we could make our relationship work, so at that period I was hitting rock bottom again with the pressures of work and home. I confided in the clinical psychologist at work how bad my mental state was. I told her I was waiting for my last child to turn 18 and I would kill myself. I was working on an intensive care unit at the time, I also had a car crash which meant I wasn’t able to work clinically. I was in excruciating pain but I wasn’t really given a role, a little bit of this and a little bit of that; so my structure was out of sync. This greatly added to my anxiety levels and sense of self worth. I didn’t know I was autistic at the time but now when I think about my time and all the struggles I had in intensive care, the knowledge that I am autistic puts everything in perspective. The structure suited my OCD brain but I had sensory struggles therefore the migraines and shut downs on my days off now make sense. I have ADHD so while I really enjoyed the practical side of things and my problem solving brain thrived, I also struggled with timekeeping, time management and i now understand my struggles with documentation. I thrived on the 1:1 nursing which also explains my preference to acute settings. I could deliver high quality care in a hyper focused manner. I struggled with hand overs and often went home beating up myself about what I hadn’t done. It bugged me to receive a patient from theatre just before hand over and hand them over before I had settled them. Reflecting for me helps me process situations I didn’t understand at time and a helpful piece to the puzzle. I am an unfinished piece and different pieces are being found as layers are uncovered to help me put myself back together again. Every experience was designed to mould the warrior on the other side. This mantra is my anchor because the journey is shit scary but I remind myself how brave I am to even attempt to agitate Pandora’s box. I’ve gone one step further and opened Pandora’s box. Inside, I find a stack of boxes. Where do I start because as I pull out a suitcase, it’s clear to see that there’s a graveyard and I am realising to more I shovel, the more there seems to have to shovel.

Opening Pandora’s box was necessary for me. I remember the day, I was a home deteriorating during another break down. I’d sit and think all day, my brain was confused. And in a panic I’d start frantically cleaning before my husband got home from work and became moody for the place being in a state. No one really understood how I was feeling. I was struggling to work out what was going on. I remember I was sweeping the living room and I was thinking about my dual lives and who the fuck I was. It was actually the first time I started to give it some thought after my husband in an argument threw in my face, it was like I was living 2 lives. I think I have delayed processing because I will think about something long and hard and dissect and analyse until it makes sense to my brain. That was the beginning of me recognising and admitting I was a pathological liar. I had created a fantasy life at work which suggested my life was perfect, looking back now I cringe because I didn’t even put on a convincing act. The only one who probably didn’t see through my facade was me. And that’s because I didn’t intend to harm anyone. This was my coping mechanism developed from a very young age. I can talk about it now as I understand myself better through the lens of a childhood trauma survivor and an autistic woman in a mask. However while this knowledge frightened me, I sought to engage with the mental health service and I had an assessment for psychotherapy. This was not my first contact with the mental health service. On 2006, I was hospitalised as a voluntary patient after I had taken an overdose and Self harmed. I also explained my dual lives and I needed help to understand this. I was deemed suitable for psychotherapy and put on the waiting list. Unbeknown to me at the time, the psychologist/ psychotherapist at the time put down a diagnosis of EUPD. This was revealed to me for the first time in 2017 by a community psychiatrist who was in agreement with this diagnosis. My experience of the mental health system has been appalling including treatment by my GP. I have also had to tread carefully because I have come to realise that people with mental illness have no rights especially when they are under section so true to my autism subtype pathological demand avoidance, I have skilfully used extreme avoidance in most situations I find frightening. Due to my upbringing and background I have learnt to internalise pain and fear but like every compensatory mechanism when the system is not reset to equilibrium, everything grinds to collapse. I have finally found who I am, I am an autistic woman who was required to be normal but this was my abnormal and the process of conformity in a very rigid household/ culture/ religion I acquired many demons. Needless to say I was naive in thinking from just acknowledging something was wrong, it would be a quick fix but years later as things reached rock bottom, now I’m out of the flames and I’m processing again, it’s finally dawned on me, this is no quick fix. It’s sad to admit but I’ve been abused all my life and it’s not a straight forward kind of abuse, it’s not black and white. Reflecting is taking me back beyond when I met my husband, it’s taking me back to teenage years and I have flashbacks of early childhood, partial and full memories. I started writing because I should be in therapy. My head was combusting and writing helps to unclog. As I pour out my pain, the Divine rewards my courage and sends me the right people even if it’s just for that day. I cannot do this alone. A kind lady signposted me to Brené Brown today and I listened to 2 TED videos; Listening to shame and The Power of Vulnerability. The messages resonates with my soul. The Divine has already laid the foundation because in my turmoil after I had reached burn out, I heard a voice loud and clear, “in order to live you have to conquer shame”, I had to write but it was the hardest thing to do, put out my business. I started my Instagram page using an alias Jai Aton (facebook), with an instagram account @identity4422. I had to write. The more I got the yuk out I started to feel my cells revive. My 40th birthday signifies rebirth. I revealed my authentic self with images. No more shame.

Shame needs 3 things to grow: Silence, Secrecy and Judgement. However if you put Empathy with Shame, Shame cannot survive. The two most powerful words when you are in a struggle is “Me too”. (Listening to Shame- Brené Brown). I can testify to the power of these words for in sharing my story, the people who have reached out with a me too, have extended an invisible hand of support to remind me that I am not alone and there’s something about strength in numbers when you are united with a common goal. I am reminded recovery is possible and on really dark days I am not alone

Starting to explore my relationship with food

I’ve always had a very strange relationship with food since I remember myself and it was mostly dodging eating something or running away from the smell of something. And I wasn’t a child that was fazed by the if you don’t eat it you’ll get nothing else. Well I would happily starve, I don’t want it thank you and so that’s probably some of the foundation. No one knew at the time I was autistic. I was just a strong headed kid who liked her own way and didn’t like to do as she was told. As an adult I think of the things I liked as a child if I had my way and it was very restricted by I probably had nutrition from every food group and I liked what is now know as the superfoods. Sour sap is now classed as a superfood and I grew up in Nigeria where we had the tree in our compound so I lived off sour Saps and mangoes and guava. I never liked pawpaw (papaya), I can’t tolerate the texture. My taste has expanded as I’ve become older because I guess I haven’t been forced to consume anything under duress so I have slowly tried new things and found it is not as bad as my mind believed. As a teenager, I probably started using food as a form of control, it was the only thing I could control when everything else is a mess and guess this has spiralled into adulthood. As the pressures of adult life mounted executive dysfunction became worse and I started to forget to eat and they had started the downwards spiral in the past when I was not aware. In times of stress my body shuts down. The relevance of my story is that I have to be conscious of my triggers in order to change my responses to them for change to occur. When you don’t walk in consciousness, you have a greater chance of reverting back to your old coping mechanisms. This was my reason for stopping my Ritalin when I did when my body collapsed in January. My body and mind was going through extreme stress and with the addition of the side effects of Ritalin, I didn’t stand a chance. I lost 15 kgs in a month and I was getting to a dangerous place. It’s harder to comeback from that dangerous place (ed survivors will know this so well). My blood pressure was starting to be affected and seeing as no medical professional felt I was a worthy cause, I had to realise I was a worthy cause. I stopped my Ritalin in order to focus on feeding my body. I am far from giving my body the nutrition it deserves but I am proud of myself for not allowing it go to dangerously low levels this time. My mind needed building and you can’t get your mind strong without food. Your chemistry goes out of balance when you starve your body. My end goal is to be as healthy as I can be without compromising taste because I will like to begin to associate food with as a wonderful experience which I also partake in. I’ve never really understood the concept of dieting, low fat foods ( it changes the taste for me), I’d just rather go without so I guess I will have to work with healthier versions of what I like, a better structure with eating including remembering to eat whether I’m hungry or not, regularly. I am aware of the beast within me and I will shame the beast because I am worthy. I am worthy of living a healthy life and my body and mind are worthy of nutrition.