Stigma Fighters: Shirley J.

On January 20 of 2010 my husband had me committed to the psychiatric ward in London, Ontario. He persuaded our daughter to call me and to ask me to meet her at a restaurant so that we could talk. When I arrived a police officer took me under a warrant. I was taken to the Emergency ward of the London South hospital and spent most of the night there waiting to be admitted. During this time I was not offered anything to eat or drink and ended up asking to go to the washroom where I drank from the tap.

There is no doubt that I was not in the normal frame of mind when my husband wrote up the application to have me arrested under the Mental Health Act. I had been having a rising in consciousness inside me and had been having visions and dreams, insomnia, downloads of inspiration. It was a time of disquiet in my mind. I had asked my daughters to help me do a video early the morning of the 18th of January, and this video, which I reviewed recently, showed me what state of mind I was in.

I was filled with fear and was trying to break through into a state of courage. I was sensing into the bone chilling fear that held me captive in a marriage that was dead. My “normal” self would not tell the truth about how afraid I was of my husband, instead my sub-conscious forced itself out and made me create an imaginary world where there were lord and ladies, kings and queens, a social structure that was constructed in my mind to provide some kind of sense. The funny thing is that now that four years have passed, I see the patterns in my so-called mania, and see wisdom embedded in it. The psychiatrist who saw me then diagnosed a panic attack.

I have since divorced my husband and I have made peace with the fear that drove me into a state of mania. I realize now that much of the reactive and unpleasant behavior that I exhibited was due to effects of post traumatic stress disorder, the roots of which lay in my childhood and also in my relationship to the man who became my boyfriend when I was 15, whom I married at the age of 18, and who became the father of our five children. Now that I am fifty six years old I want to offer an explanation for the craziness. An explanation that is logical, instead of judgmental.

I did not have the chance to develop my own identity before meeting my boyfriend. I was the eldest of four daughters and my mother divorced my father when I was nine. She married again shortly after and had another child. We then moved away from our relatives, including my father, when I was fourteen. Because of the move and the marriage, my parents thought it best to have one family name for all of us so my name was changed against my will. This seemingly logical decision plunged me into a deep depression, where I spent an entire summer incapacitated. I had lost the connection to my home and a void was created in me that quickly became filled with a vicious enemy: self hatred. I did not know who I was and it was easier to allow others to determine my purpose.

It’s important to state, at this point, that I take responsibility for everything that happened to me in my life. I don’t take responsibility for anyone being an asshole with me; I do take responsibility for my decisions. I have taken the time to do the autopsy on my life, slicing thin cross-sections and analyzing the emotions and events in order to better understand what happened and how I responded to those events. I don’t think that everyone has to do such an intense process, however, it was critical for me to do that because it has helped me to evolve and to become true to myself. I do not regret anything, I just seek to understand.

What has helped me the most to overcome those deeply seated feelings of self hatred, abandonment, feeling unwanted and unloved, alone, shame, self-abandonment has been to learn to use a set of tools. These include taking a product called Empowerplus (from a not for profit company named Truehope or also available through Q Sciences), I started taking this in March of 2010 and along with other nutrients has helped me recover from burn-out, depression and PTSD.

I have seen a therapist who has recommended I see a psychiatrist because she believes I disassociate. I have done that in order to cope with trauma. Disassociation is a common response to trauma, intelligent people disassociate so they can cope. It makes it hard for those around you to reach you when you go somewhere else. I used disassociation a lot to cope with being raped multiple times by my boyfriend, the same one who became my husband of 35 years. I was consumed with fear of him which was multi-layered. That fear is coming out of my system and every day I can see improvement in my functioning. I no longer keep all the blinds down in the evening. For as long as I can remember an imaginary man with the loaded gun trained on me would circle my house at night. That fantasy has evaporated in the last few years.

I am now able to hold and contain those traumatized parts of myself. I have forgiven myself for my vulnerability and innocence, for my mistakes, for being co-dependent, for being too religious, for screaming at my children and losing it when they needed me. I have had to forgive myself otherwise I would have stayed in the jail of a marriage where I was a hostage. There is a term for this: Stockholm Syndrome, it is common in cases of domestic violence. I never said anything, I acted out so I looked like I was crazy. In comparison my husband looked sane and emotionally distant. I am here to say that crazy is a coping mechanism.

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My name is Shirley and I have reclaimed both my name and my life and live in Eastern Ontario in a village. I am a writer and am setting my own business as a Soul and Energy Coach through Spirit Matters Coaching. I am taking clients who want to go from crazy to grounded, from spinning to purposeful. My experiences have taught me to use my spiritual capacities to rise above any obstacle or challenge. My passion is playing with my horse Trevor and everything to do with nature. I am in a relationship and between us we have a pack of five dogs, two cats and a fish.