L.S. “I felt I had missed the boat on all fronts.”

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I was angry with myself because I had wasted 6 years doing nothing, just staying alive.  I had no real idea how I was spending my time; a bit on the phone surfing for new videos or tinkering with computers but nothing specific. 

At the time, I would probably have preferred to leave this world and what kept me alive was that it would have made things much more difficult for other people.  Still, I wanted to find something worthwhile staying around for!

 I went to the job shop but they could quite clearly see that I was too ill and unemployable.  I was diagnosed with social phobia and agoraphobia and I hoped medication would help me feel calm and clear headed.

But I continued to feel my own little island disconnected from everyone else, invisible, I didn’t matter in other people’s lives, I went unnoticed, I didn’t belong anywhere.   I didn’t feel I had anything to offer and  I felt  I am wasting other peoples time or I got in the way.  

I have always been shy but I was now unable to look into someone’s face or their eyes and my behaviour stood in the way of getting a job.

I tried to make sense of it with my Arty-Folks Mentor but I’m not sure my upbringing explains it all.  My mum had me when she was 18 and my dad was the same age.  There was lots of heated arguing in the house and at one point we got kicked out the house because my dad had not paid the bills.  He never learns his lesson and he carried on asking for money to gamble on horses and greyhounds.

They were struggling in/out of their relationship and later trying it with other partners so that nobody noticed how much I was struggling socially being moved around schools. 

At one point we were 5 kids and 2 adults in a 3 bedroom house.  He looked after us all while my mum was at work but in the end he got arrested because he had been sexually abusing my sister.  I don’t think he had molested his own but he was very aggressive with them. 

There is a massive breakdown of trust between me and other people because they have deeply hurt my mother and my sister.

At present things are stable in the family but we don’t have much to do with each other.  We don’t talk much, don’t watch telly together, don’t eat together, don’t socialise, don’t do anything together, and we don’t see family or friends together.  There is no real day-to-day interaction in the house at all.  Since I have been 10 years old the only meal we have together is at Christmas.  Usually, my mum cooks, calls dinner is ready, everyone gets theirs when they feel like, and we eat in separate places.

L.S. ‘Life is no picnic’ acrylics on canvas

To be honest, I don’t really blame my parents or anyone else for that matter.  They were children themselves when they made me and they both had no real parental guidance.  They made a family hoping that it would mend their own brokenness, fill their own emptiness, and fulfil their dream of happily ever after. 

Inevitably, in this impossible quest all adults pull in their own direction and we children just become collateral damage. 

After a few job rejections I was feeling low and my GP immediately referred me to the Crisis team.  I told them that I get so angry with myself for not being able to do simple things that everyone else seems to do so easily.  I told them that I punch myself in the head sometimes in frustration which made them change my medication.   After 2weeks on the new meds I was completely zonked out and it turned me into a wandering zombie.  At the review I was asked about my sleeping, eating, feeling, but not why I was feeling that way.  I did say that the medication was making me feel worse but they said that I have to hang on in there and give it time. 

My mother and Arty-Folks mentor were present and then explained that I am desperate for a job but feel that I am unemployable.  Crisis then said ‘it’s hard but you have to persevere’ and still felt that I needed to take more meds even though I want to come off them completely.  I am mentally ill.  I am not stupid.  I want a job that will make me feel useful and independent and until I have achieved that I feel lost and discarded.  How is medication going to help?

When I started Arty-Folks 2 years ago I had lost hope and had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. 

I couldn’t really understand how art would help me to progress but I realised after a while that I was learning to communicate my thoughts and feelings verbally as well as visually and and it helped me to connect to others.

I have now finished my Foundation year at University and I have got a place to continue studying. You might not see this easily on me but I am actually over the moon and yes I am proud to be the only person in my family who is at Uni. I am doing things for myself now without being dependent on others like my mum.  I think she does worry about me and she often blames herself that she has made really bad choices. I am hoping to make her proud of me and when she does she might be able to forgive herself.


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