As I look in the mirror, I don't remember the person looking back at me. I am trapped in a world of trauma. I start to run the cold tap, splash my face trying to retrace the old me. The young, joyful and innocent child but she was taken away, that day will never fade in my mind.
I was thirteen in a place of safety. I found that wasn't true. Within the first term at school the abuse started to happen and then progressively got worse. I won't go into detail but once the individuals physical, sexually and emotionally abuse me. I lost Rosie, I was fragile and vulnerable. I lost my voice to express the pain and emotional turmoil in my mind. Instead, I buried it instead and slowly grew further from the world. I couldn't speak to anyone at the school, I was fearful of the repercussions, they threatened me into believing they would hurt my sibling. Soon after that I left the school and went home. In my mind, I thought the memories would disappear but they didn't.
Even though I felt safe at home and in my new school. My traumatised mind was chasing me from behind and the cracks began to show. Very slowly my life began to unravel. The pinnacle moment was when my father went away to work abroad for six months. My world craved in and the trauma took hold. I tried to suppress the memories.
Within a matter of weeks I stopped eating and drinking; this continued for two months, in and out of general hospital and then finally admitted into an in-patient mental health hospital. I was having flashbacks, being NG Tube fed and sectioned under the Mental Health Act. I hit rock bottom, couldn't even remember the date, or what year it was, but slowly I put on weight. I started to talk, about small amounts of what had happened to me, but I never felt safe enough to disclose everything. It took two years of being in and out of hospital across the country, then recovering, starting work and then becoming unwell again. It finally took me till 2014 to disclose everything.
For the first time, I felt safe enough to write it down and start the long process of dealing with the attacks. At this time, I was still fragile having flashbacks lasting four hours, disassociating and my body freezing unable to move for half an hour or longer. If I am honest, I lost hope and attempted suicide. Through these dark times, there were glimpse of light. I just knew I had to fight and find my place in the world.
I realised no amount of anger, grief and loss would change my past or bring back little Rosie. To overcome the trauma, I had to firstly had to be honest with 'what would help my in recovery'. Once I thought getting justice in the court would bring closer, instead it reactivated the dormant unprocessed memories.
So, I decided to blog my story through poems and writing to relieve the suppressed emotions and negative beliefs, I truly thought about myself. Finally, I found comfort in the words I was writing and learnt to express my frustration and fears about the past. Honestly, I got lost in the trauma again, through being so open and raw about my experiences. I unintentionally was hurting myself all over again.
Recently, I took up running again. My mentality was that if I could have a flashback for hours then I could run a marathon. I know it sounds crazy but with the physical strain and the bruised body from the flashbacks, running seemed simple. As a child, I would run with my dad on a Sunday morning and as I grew up I was apart of various running teams. So, I put on my trainers and start again. Every step is taking me towards recovery. Every fear and doubt disappeared and the miles became my solace. I am now not ashamed to be open about my past, struggles with mental health. I am running the Richmond Half Marathon for Mind. I am incredible proud to be running for this charity, next weekend.
By sharing my story, I am eventually finding my voice in between the silence. It has taken ten years to reach this point. To be able to look at myself in the mirror and found acceptance. I have realised there is no shame in struggling with a mental health issues. My condition is invisible but I am still human. I am still a person. By opening up about my past and trauma, I have found that words are more powerful than actions. I am not allowing the individuals to hurt me anymore. I am finally free.