News & views Members blogs This is my truth, tell me yours A blog by Phoenix Ashes (@PhoenixAshes82) I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. That’s not what this blog is about, but I thought I should get it out there for starters. I could have spared myself and my family a lot of heartache if I’d had the courage to confess that from the off to the numerous individuals who’ve been involved in my life over the years. On occasion I’ve been pushed into a corner where my only option was to appeal for help. However, every time I did confide in anyone – be they family member or health professional – I was let down, every time, by their failure to protect me from further harm. I am also a survivor of nine years of bullying thanks to growing up in a tiny northern village on the wrong side of the Pennines. In case you’re not familiar with the geography and history of the north of England, individuals from Merseyside aren’t too popular with those from Yorkshire. People have long memories. The War of the Roses, don’t you know. Small town folks don’t like freaks. I’ve never been one to go with the flow, fit in, be amenable, or any of the other utterly useless advice I’ve been given over the years. I’m more of a plough your own furrow kind of girl. You could call my teenage years a culture clash. As a result, I’ve suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for most of my life. What’s kept me going? Music. Literature. Art. Beauty. Truth. Integrity. Pride. I have hospital phobia, having suffered two traumatic births and a horrific stay on a cardiac ward during my first pregnancy. I was recently sectioned because the attending psychiatrists believed I was a danger to myself and my children. They made the decision to forcibly remove me from my home, husband and children around five minutes after meeting me. I’ll go into more detail later, but let’s just say for now that by the time these venerable pillars of the community violated my right to the peaceful enjoyment of my own home by attending the house at someone else’s behest I had been having a bit of a stressful day. That morning I was quietly minding my own business, chatting to a friend on the phone, when I was interrupted by my mental health nurse knocking on the door of the bedroom. I trusted this individual, having built up a good relationship with her over years of perinatal mental health difficulties, and admitted her to the room. She asked how I was doing (very well as it happens), but it quickly became evident that the purpose of her visit was to inform me it was time for me to go to hospital. As there is no mother and baby unit in Wales, this would not only be the most terrifying place on earth for me to spend the night, but would also mean forcible separation from my baby, toddler and husband. I refused to agree with her plan (which, by the way, she still has not had the courtesy to discuss with me. But then, the last time I saw her I informed her that the next time we would meet would be in court. Yes, folks, I will be suing the ass out of the three NHS trusts who subjected me to mental and physical torture under the definition of the Human Rights Act. More on that later. For now, let’s just say that threatening people with court action makes them scuttle back under the nearest rock faster than you can say ‘beetle off you fudging a-hole’). She insisted that I had to be hospitalised and would be sectioned if I did not cooperate. I begged her to find me a bed at the nearest mother and baby unit, and she stated that it would not be possible. It was five days before Christmas, and she asserted (without checking) that no beds would be available. Once she left the house I began frantically looking for help from everyone I could call on to stop the inexorable chain of events that held me fast as a fly in a web. But the harder I struggled, the more tangled I became. Everyone I trusted to help me that day let me down. At approximately 7pm, completely out of options, I ran out of the house in the clothes I stood up in and everything I could cram into a handbag. I left my boots off so I could creep down the stairs and out of the front door without alerting anyone. Everyone else had gathered in the kitchen to discuss what was best for me. I managed to get to my neighbour’s house, chased down the street by the sentry they’d posted at the door. Rather than open a dialogue with me like civilised adults, the psychiatrists called the police. My neighbour was threatened with arrest if she didn’t turn me over to the authorities. Minutes later I was escorted into an ambulance, driven to the local psychiatric facility and locked away from society for the next three weeks. Did I hang my head in shame? No. I used the time available to me on the journey to put my face on. I’d been a little busy that day trying to prevent Armageddon, but under normal circumstances I’d rather be damned to hell than leave the house without my makeup. I strode into the psych ward with my head held high, Dave Gahan surveying his new kingdom. Want to know what happened next? Stick with me, friends, and I will be your guide. I am well and truly out of the mental health closet. I’d call getting arrested on your doorstep for being naïve enough to trust health professionals to abide by the codes of their professional bodies and the rights enshrined in the Human Rights Act a declaration of war, wouldn’t you? I’m not physically strong. I learnt at a very young age that girls who can’t defend themselves get fucked. Therefore I am going into battle armed to the teeth with my weapons of choice : my voice. My pen. Oh, and my lipstick.