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its not easy being me

i never once thought about my mental health- as one of a generation that didn't understand its fragility or complexity i poked fun at it as did my peers. sadly it all came back to bite my bum. born to victorian parents i burst into this world in the early hours in the middle of a blizzard that trapped my mum in the prefab that was home. my parents both worked for the mod at AWRE foulness and i had a brother 2 years my senior. childhood was pretty uneventful, long essex days that seemed to blend together in a seamless volume of pleasantry and upright belief that we were right and everyone else was a bit odd in comparison. i could not have known that the negative atmosphere of home life would exact a terrible legacy. my brother belittled me between birth and 16 when i left- just normal sibling behaviour mum said, no body knew any better. as i grew up it got worse- i was feeling pretty inferior when i hit my teens because of the constant bullying, but i wasn't going to let it get to me. my brother was very academic and a hard act to follow so when he went to oxford i did a massive u-turn and went on my own to live in cornwall age 16 to go to sea. it was fab, i was master of my own destiny at last!! i soon put the previous 16 years behind me and had an 18 year sea going career as a deep sea fisherman. the people i worked with were a cross between salt of the earth and pure desperados, church goers and criminals. over the years i got to know them all and they took me to thier hearts. i met my wife of 19 years, married, had 2 boys that are now grown up (i am so proud of them it makes me weep) and just carried on with life. alas european law and fishing quotas meant that i was increasingly viewed as a criminal and in the end i had to turn my back on the sea. one day i just got off the boat and never went back. i was very lucky to get a job immediately and i began a 10 year stint working as a carpenter. we moved to merseyside in 02 mostly for work reasons and have lived here ever since. one day i went to bed and slept. i didn't wake for 26 hours. i had soiled the bed, and inexplicably i could no longer spell. unperturbed i tried to soldier on but was increasingly having issues at work and at home. i had not a clue that i had suffered a catstrophic breakdown. my wife eventually asked what was the matter- she said i had changed as a person and had developed a haunted look as well as some pretty bad behavioural issues. i tried to brush it aside and dove further into earning as much as poss- doing 18 hour shifts and weekends. this couldnt go on though, and before long i was out of a job. my dreams and waking hours were filled with terror, and i was starting to remember.... aged 12 i had been drugged and repeatedly raped by 3 men that i trusted. so traumatised i nearly killed myself, my brain had a coping mechanism that boxed the memory, like squeezing the handle on a grenade. i looked at my parents- the wooden attitude and unapproachability told me i was on my own. in the end i got so good at acting ok that i carried on, somehow, and squeezing that handle i began to find that i could deny to myself what had happened. and thats how it was for 28 years. i no longer had to think about it, i had pushed the memory to one side and looked straight ahead ever since. my doctor said that the part of my brain that held the memory was so badly damaged that i had equivalent of a major brain injury. this was bad. life was never going to be the same. now i get episodes of deep depression, psychosis, and blind rage. in the 7 years since my breakdown my family have been great, "dads just a bit nuts" my lads would say, my wife must be the architect of patience, although our relationship has suffered terribly due to the stress put upon it. i am now "disabled" apparently, and its this that i just cant seem to accept. i can do so many things, but sometimes i get ill so no one will employ me. i have no close friends because they never know what they are going to find. i have no social life, have been teetotal for years so never go out to pubs. its hard. very very hard. each day i try to find meaning, without much luck. i took up guitar 2 years ago and find music is very therapeutic- i really have the blues. despite all this, i am aware that there are a lot of people out there a lot worse off and its this, and hope that keep me going