Neglecting The Truth....It's Not Your Fault
Over the past decade I have had the honour and joy to get to know many other brave and uniquely interesting men and women I now count as good friends who are all veterans in fighting their own tough lonely battles against mental health problems or illness for much longer than I have.
One thing almost all of us fascinating but deeply flawed people have in common is that we suffered some kind of abuse and trauma as children. That abuse ranges from the great social taboo of sexual abuse through the trauma of violent physical abuse to neglect.
I can sense some of your more sceptical eyebrows rising from here as I mention neglect in the same breath as childhood sexual or physical abuse. Perhaps because it can be less obvious or immediately dramatic there is not the same attitude as we have to sexual or physical abuse. There are no vigilante groups and websites set up to publicly shame or hunt down adults convicted of neglecting a child.
The NSPCC say 1 in 10 children suffer from serious neglect and add childhood neglect is by far the most common reason the NSPCC or other charities have to step in to help a child.
So what does childhood neglect look like in the real world?
Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child's basic needs and is the most common form of child abuse.
A child may be left hungry or dirty, without adequate clothing, shelter, supervision, medical or health care.
A child may be put in danger or not protected from physical or emotional harm. They may not get the love, care and attention they need from their parents.
A child who's neglected will often suffer from other abuse as well. Neglect is dangerous and can cause serious, long-term emotional and mental damage - even death.
Sorry if that sounds blindingly obvious but it happens to be sadly true.
Despite a great many of the new friends I have met during this past decade of my own illness being mind bogglingly intelligent and savagely witty, almost every one of them has sadly been unable to grasp the very, seemingly intellectual and emotional obvious concept that the abuse they suffered as a child was not their fault and they do not have to torture themselves by constantly believing the suffering inflicted on them as a child was in some alternative universe and warped way their own fault.
I know most of you out there won't even begin to understand how those who suffered can end up blaming ourselves instead of the adults who cruelly inflicted the pain on us when we were defenceless children. In rational terms it's like getting knocked down by a drunk driver but blaming yourself for the accident.
This seemingly hard wired wrong headed thinking is one of the main causes so many of us genuinely believe we deserve to suffer. Should that be self-harming in any one of its destructive forms which run from self-cutting, drug abuse through issues surrounding food. All of which we do to cause pain to ourselves.
Most of us are on benefits. We all have a string of failed relationships behind us. The experience of abuse is powerfully defining - your wellbeing is shockingly outraged and the chances of you going on to any sort of happy fulfilled life are massively reduced.
These experiences are often internalised and lead to overwhelming feelings of shame, self-loathing, drugs, overdoses, attempted suicides, drinking and self harming are some of the more common ways we try to punish ourselves for the guilt we feel at being abused as a child.
Can you believe a victim's messed up thinking can be so startlingly and obviously wrong? The human brain makes up over 2% of your entire body weight with around 100 billion neurones furiously working away. It is a thing of awesome complex creative physiological beauty. There is a reason for the brain being so large, complicated and powerful but they are not all positive.
The human brain can be cruelly effective and frighteningly devious in convincing us that abuse we suffered as children at the hands of cruel adults was in some way our fault.
To all the wickedly funny and incredibly intelligent fellow victims I have met.
Let's Be Very Clear...
It was not your fault
You were not the cause of any of the hurt.
You were an innocent child abused by evil and troubled adults.
Life and society let you down when you were a child.
In no way do you deserve to keep punishing or harming yourself.
To those reading this who don't quite get or even totally agree with what I am saying let me ask you a personal favour.....the next time you see a struggling homeless obviously mentally ill human being, for just this once go against the instinct most of us have to avoid contact with them. Don't avoid eye contact or turn away in disgust but ask yourself the question... I wonder what happened to that poor wretch as a child to make them feel they have had to punish himself or herself like this?