Imagine walking down a small stone path, either side there are rows of beautiful geraniums, colours from the deepest pinks to the whitest of whites. Large oak trees standing tall against the bluest of blue skies, the grass the most amazing, relaxing shade of green you could imagine. Walk up the stone path, feel your feet hit the ground and with every step towards the rounded wooden door you feel the pain, the stress and the urges leave your body, leave the world that causes pain behind you and enter the breath taking 'chocolate box' cottage, your mind cottage...
My mind cottage, a place where I can be as beautiful as I desire, where every memory I have ever had is stored.
When I walk into my mind cottage I am greeted with thousands upon thousands of books, the shelves reaching from floor to ceiling, the books are titled and descending in age order. Some books have clear clean pages, the type of hardback you cherish when you first purchase it, these pages contain my love for Rob, my mum, my mother-in-law, they contain recent memories with my pets, my friends...
Other pages have been burnt, these are the memories I cannot remember, that I have burnt out of my memories, the ones I refuse to remember, the ones that I NEED to remember.
But there are the ones, not in age order, but splayed out on the floor, ripped from the binding and consuming the area I am stood, these are the memories that affect my daily life. These are my traumas, my self-hatred, my pain, the times I tried to kill myself and every single time SD hurt me, these show every scar I have created, every event that haunts me, and the faces of everyone who has hurt me.
The memories on the floor, the ones that consume me, cause my Posttraumatic stress disorder, A mental illness brought on by various traumas in a persons life, these traumas create flashbacks, and PTSD often co-insides with depression and anxiety. But although my traumas have ended physically they are still fresh in my mind.
When a person has PTSD, in most cases it starts directly after the trauma has ended, and the person is usually fully recovered within three months, on more serious cases it can take years. This, is me.
My physical traumas ended three years ago, I was then diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, and recently diagnosed with PTSD. And although I have only recently been diagnosed my therapist believes I have had all my mental health problems a lot longer, due to the lack of awareness and stigma around mental health (especially because I was a child) I was not diagnosed for a long time.
But after all my therapy and counselling my past haunts my mind, it ruins my memories like vicious weeds, tangling their roots into my head and corrupting my thoughts. They create my nightmare, they create irrational fears and make me feel unsafe. They make me want to cause fresh wounds on my arms, to shout at the ones I love, but most of all, they cause confusion, I still feel as though SD can hurt me, that, if I walk around a corner he will be there, he will hurt me, or worse, he will do what he promised, he would kill me. And it panics me, even though, I know that there is no way he could hurt me, the police know, I can ring them if he ever tries anything and then he is gone for ever, but it doesn't take that pain away.
This is why me and my therapist have started to create my 'mind cottage'. I was telling him about the new series of 'Sherlock' and how Sherlock Holmes has a mind palace, where he stores everything he has ever experienced. But my mind, my personality is not that extravagant, I'm a small girl, with somewhat amount of intelligence, and I love my books. So although we are still putting down rugs, placing my furniture and building some walls, we are working on my memories, my books.
This feels like an achievement as I'm struggling with techniques, I cannot relax myself, and I cannot sleep. I don't have my sanctuary at Robs home, where as at my mum's, my sanctuary is my bedroom, it is mine and it is safe, it is filled with things I love, and it is created to help me. So my mind cottage, for now, is my sanctuary. A place where no one can hurt me, where I can turn to in times of panic and enter whilst having a flashback.
It is a work in progress, but it feels as though it is helping, especially as my traumas, at times, feel as though it is happening all over again!
One day, I hope, the memories scattered on the floor become far and few, that they get placed on the shelf and covered in dust, an old tale that everyone remembers, but there is no need to read.
Lots of love,