Paul: I remember traumatic events from my childhood and very little else
I'm 50 and I was only diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder recently but I think one of the traumas that triggered it all probably happened when I was just three. I was thrown into a bonfire by bullies. I still remember running away from them after it had happened and it was as if I was outside my body looking down on myself.
I've felt like that ever since. Outside myself. I remember a number of traumatic events from my childhood and very little else. I was the youngest of four growing up in very violent part of Newcastle.
I had a banger put down the back of my t-shirt when I was seven. I remember being in court. I remember another incident with a firework when I was 10 - an older lad holding it in my face. I had an older brother who used to violently attack me and a mother who 'over-chastised' us. These events go round in my head hundreds of times a day.
I first thought about killing myself when I was 16. I was going to use my mother's medication but my brother came back home in time.
The mental health problems caused physical ones.
I wet myself a lot and have been incontinent all my life.
I couldn't leave my mother. I felt sorry for her. My brother stopped hitting me but his mental abuse of both us, me and my mother, continued.
In 1998, my own son died aged seven months of a very rare genetic disorder - Gaucher's Disease. I was crying in the streets for years afterwards. I saw a psychiatrist at this time but he didn't realise there was long-term problem. Eventually it was a phone-in programme on the radio that pointed me in the right direction after I'd telephoned them one night.
They put me on to a mental health advocacy organisation Mental Health Matters. I'd be on the phone to them for four and a half hours, shouting. I've no idea how they coped.
I also started writing. I'd started writing poems when my son died and I went back to it. I've had no education but I just write and write. The interest of others in my poetry has helped me to feel more valued.
Mental Health Matters and Mind have helped me a lot. I'm also part of a mental health service users community here in Gateshead now and helping other people helps me a lot.
But I think it's poetry that saved my life. Shortly, I'll be reading out some poems out, for the second time, at a National Survivors Network Event. It's an incredible feeling.
Page created on March 31st, 2008
Page updated on December 1st, 2009