I AM SO A GRADUATE WITH A BACHELOR OF ARTS WITH HONOURS (in the arts and humanities)
I haven’t had my graduation ceremony yet and with all that has happened this year, I totally forgot that I have finally finished my degree. My other half was going ballistic (in a good way) and looked at me and asked me why I looked so down. I guess either I am still in shock or I don’t think it is that big a deal compared to what other goals and shit I have had to focus on this year. So let me high 5 myself and reflect on how the path to get my degree became – the successful one.
Way back in 2007,I had just come out of the hospital with a BMI of 16. I enrolled at my local college in the U.K. to do my BA in acting performance.
I was with a lovely group of talented individuals and managed one term. I was quickly losing more weight again and my mental health went down. I could not maintain a low BMI. I either had to go lower or higher and I went lower. I managed to get merit (when they still called it that) for my classical acting. How amazing is that?
I wanted to engage with my group but I couldn’t shift the anorexia. I had become a sub-host to it.
Back in 2008, I decided to have another go at it. I had gained a normal amount of weight. I met a seemingly lovely man who swept me off my feet. He worked in the army and ended up going on tour for 3 months in Canada. I went to live in Barcelona with my Aunt for a few months and partied hard. Hit Ibiza with my cuz and when I came back to the U.K I was ready to piece my life back together.
The night I arrived back in the U.K. was the same night the army guy got back and he came straight to see me, bringing me little gifts back from his tour. I was so touched and couldn’t believe we had another chance to get to know this one another again and give him my heart. I invited him for a meal at my Nan’s house the following evening as he was rather ‘fatigued'(such an elegant way of putting it) from his flight.
The following day he texted me to tell me he was getting his car serviced and would see me later. Later turned into 6pm And 8pm and then 9pm. The curry was losing it’s cool. I rang him asking him why he hadn’t pitched up and he completely dissed me on the phone and told me he was with his family and I can’t make him choose his family over me! WTAF?
If he had explained that he wanted to be with his family then I would of got it.-The lovely army guy broke my heart. He didn’t want to be with me. I internalised all this as my fault. I had put on weight, I had been homeless and had recently found somewhere in the U.K. to live and I thought I wasn’t good enough. I remember walking my Nan from my new home to the bus stop and I broke down. I didn’t know how much I liked this guy until I felt my heart tearing. Each sob caused another tear and another.
In 2009 I was finally in a better place and I was ready for another attempt to get a degree in the arts arena. I started a two Foundation Degree with 24 students. By week two that had whittled down to 7 students. Again a totally different bunch of lovely people. I fucked up. I stopped taking my meds. I was trying so hard to fit in but I guess I felt a bit intimidated by all the talented actors and talent. I didn’t know then that they were all just as frightened of failing as me. At first I was coping and I managed to go out get wasted and silly and form friendships. Standard uni stuff. One night a girl on my course rang me and told me to come out. She said the night was on her. I got dressed and put on my party face even though at that time I was taking 100 laxatives a day.
When people asked me out I would say ‘Awesome. I will be there’ I had a bad habit and once I had taken those tablets I was ill. I mean of course, I had the shits. Haha. Never thought I would be typing this but the moment before I purged I had stomach cramps that pushed and pulled and stabbed at me from the inside. I couldn’t walk from the spasms. SO that night I gave a big fuck you to Anorexia and went out to have some fun and bond with some friends.
My taxi pulled up at ‘the only reputable club’ in that locality and I saw my college friend wave at me and she was laughing and she gave me £50 and told me to come with her. It was a bit. Well, I was sober and everyone else was hammered. I didn’t find it funny. I wasn’t in the zone yet. I went to the bathroom and then I went to look for the pack and I couldn’t find them anywhere.
My mobile battery died and I turned around to the first person I saw to ask that person if I could use their mobile. I happened to bump into the person who went on to degrade and disrespect me in the most colourful and inventive ways. I couldn’t find anyone so we went back to mine and drank until………… I passed out mid-sentence.
This guy wouldn’t leave me alone. He was lovely at first but really full-on. I tried to back away. My friends told me he looked creepy. Leave him alone.
A guy from uni came up to me and told me that creepy ex was well and truly creepy and to stay away. Did I listen? no, I let my insecurities get the better of me. I melted into his world. At first it was flattering that someone would want to be around me so much. I didn’t think I was going to get in a relationship with him. I was trying to make friends and I had my eyes on someone else.
Out of respect to my daughter, I won’t go into a diatribe of events. He tried to take my soul. When he couldn’t have all of me he came up with a cunning plan to try and take my life away from me. Our daughter. During this time I could feel Anorexia clawing it’s way back inside. Cold, damp and merciless. I couldn’t allow it home again. I reached out to a couple I know and went on to meet my future husband to be. Before you judge- I have had my karma. I nearly lost my daughter as you may know from previous posts. I had time on my hands. Instead of being a full-time Mom to my daughter, I was a 10 hour per week Mom instead.
I decided while I battled it out in the court arena with social services and my creepy ex I would resume my studies. This time not in a mainstream uni but an online one. I worked my toosh off and today I can say I am a graduate. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my partner and my family.
DON’T JUDGE -if you can help it. That is a huge lesson I’ve learned. This piece of paper means so much more than the letters printed on it. It is a symbol – a tangible piece that reminds me of how I got to this place where I am today. I’m a bride to be with a gorgeous daughter who will be four in October. I’m working with mental health charities and I am a stable weight- super healthy. I don’t smoke. I drink mostly water ( with the odd cocktail of course) , I exersise. I am a success. I am proud of me. No one can take that from me. I won’t let them. Always be ready to learn a bit more. I may have officially finished learning but I will not let that stop me from learning in other ways. I treat every experience in my life as a learning curve. Always look for the silver lining no matter how bleak.
There are many types of Child Abuse
Emotional Abuse can be hard to spot and is easy to miss the signs.
- humiliating or constantly criticising a child-
When my Mom was in a Domestic Violent Relationship with my ex step father he would constantly tell me I was chubby, too clingy.
- threatening, shouting at a child or calling them names
- making the child the subject of jokes, or using sarcasm to hurt a child
- blaming and scapegoating
My ex -step father would shout at me for wanting to be close to my mom. He would drag me into my bedroom -my mom would stick up for me and she would get the brunt of my tantrums, clinginess, my eating issues.
- making a child perform degrading acts
- not recognising a child’s own individuality or trying to control their lives
- pushing a child too hard or not recognising their limitations
My ex step father’s idea of teaching me how to swim was to grab hold go me, jump into the swimming pool and stay under the water until I thought I would pas out. He would do this as a joke in front of his friends and laugh at me for being so scared. I was 5 years old
- exposing a child to upsetting events or situations, like domestic abuse or drug taking
My ex step father used to beat my mom up regularly because she dared to challenge him for cheating on her constantly ,for getting a 15 year old pregnant. He was always high and there were always parties going on with strange men and women around. I used to try and defend my mom until I became too afraid. I used to barricade myself in my bedroom. I would wait until he came home from work and hide under the bed.
- failing to promote a child’s social development
- not allowing them to have friends
- persistently ignoring them
I felt like my life was irrelevant. I wasn’t worth anything. I remember having an argument with my mom. She was struggling with her Mental health and the abuse. She came home from work when I was 5/6 years old. I was dressed up in her wedding dress and having fun. She screamed at me to get out her room .She was crying, I didn’t want to be away from her. She locked me out of the room because I started to have a tantrum. I went to the kitchen and got a knife out of the drawer and went to her bedroom door and yelled I was going to stab myself if she didn’t open the door. No reply. I heard her crying. I felt alone and that I couldn’t help her.
- being absent
When I felt helpless and angry. I would act out. I would binge on food, wet the bed conrantly and go and sleep with the dogs in the kitchen. I recall one day feeling so worthless and useless that I couldn’t make my mom better or please my ex step father that I packed a suitcase falloff toys and clothes. I needed to get away. I walked down the driveway (to my child self -it looked like I was walking a long way from home), When I reached the end of the driveway I looked left, right, I looked across the road and I thought to myself: What do I do now? I prayed that a car with two nice people would stop and pick me up and take me away from where I was. That didn’t happen. I had to accept my defeat and I walked back up the drive way angry. No body knew I had disappeared and I didn’t get the attention I wanted.
- manipulating a child
Manipulation can be so subtle. I recall a time when my mom had found out about another affair that my ex stepfather had. He turned up from work with a puppy for me. I was over the moon.
- never saying anything kind, expressing positive feelings or congratulating a child on successes
- never showing any emotions in interactions with a child, also known as emotional neglect.
SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN OLDER CHILDREN
- use language you wouldn’t expect them to know for their age
- act in a way or know about things you wouldn’t expect them to know for their age
- struggle to control their emotions
- have extreme outbursts
- seem isolated from their parents
- lack social skills
- have few or no friends.
EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE
- wanting attention or becoming clingy
I never wanted to leave my moms side. I refused to go to school. I would have tantrums and do anything to be heard.
- not caring how they act or what happens to them
I became a child who started walking home from school on my own from 5/6 years old. I remember a group of older boys pushing me about and touching my breasts and vagina.
- trying to make people dislike them
I didn’t feel very likeable or good about myself so I pushed people away from me. I didn’t feel Could trust people and even today I will show people the worst parts of me to protect myself.
- developing risky behaviour, like stealing, bullying or running away.
The first time I stole anything was a 5 rand note from my mom so I could buy myself and people in my class sweets at the tuck shop. My ex step father refused to allow me to eat sweets because I was too ‘chubby’. I ran away from home many times as a teenager to get away from my mom when I was a teenager and my Nan and my Dad who refused to acknowledge me. I didn’t want my family to dictate to me. I didn’t want them to tell me they knew what was best for me. I wanted to escape and drugs and being around strange men seemed like the right answer.
EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROBLEMS
- feeling, expressing and controlling emotions
- lacking confidence or causing anger problems
- finding it difficult to make and maintain healthy relationships later in life
- higher levels of depression and health problems as adults compared to those who experienced other types of child abuse.
MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
- mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts
I went on to develop serious mental health issues. I developed social anxiety from a young age. My first suicide attempt was at 12 years old
- eating disorders
I became obsessed with my weight. I couldn’t deal with my weight issues and I started taking diet tablets at the age of 15 years old. I abused cocaine and mandrax and ecstasy -any drug to stop me from thinking about food. I used to demand my mother take me to doctors to prescribe diet pills for me even though I was thin. I had huge problems and I eventually developed Chromic anorexia. I was sectioned twice in the U.K. In 2007 I develop Bradycardia. My BMI was 14. My weight was 39 kilograms. I wanted to die.
I don’t know why I felt the need to cut my legs in my Nan’s kitchen when I was 12/13. I didn’t know how else to express myself. When I lost my virginity to a guy who had left his ex and promised to date me and be with me. The next night his ex, myself and him herein his car and he chose his ex over me. I flipped. I couldn’t deal with the pain, the headache and I cut myself with a bottle neck and became uncontrollable.
- language development
- problems forming healthy relationships.
If you want to help some one who is being abused in all its forms or to help some one who is self harming.